It is a truth universally acknowledged, that shoot growth in response to warm temperatures increases accordingly- and thus, a sucker is born every minute.
I know, you’re dying to find out what could possibly be the subject of that random mash-up of Jane Austen and P.T. Barnum (possibly inspired by a touch of heatstroke from the warm weather).
I said, it has been rather warm with temperatures in the 80’s, and the warm temperatures make the new shoots grow like crazy.
simple equation: warm temperatures=crazy kids (I mean shoot growth)
Some varietals, such as Viognier and Sangiovese, like to throw shoots from the trunk- the area between the graft union and the crown of the vine. We call these shoots coming off of the trunk- wait for it- “suckers”. The buds on the trunk that have been dormant up until now decide to grow, thus necessitating another pruning of the vine.
So what’s wrong with the little suckers? Well, they aren’t called suckers for nothing- they literally suck away some of the water, energy and nutrients from the main part of the vine. We want the shoots that come off the cordon or canes to receive the energy and nutrients, not the trunk; this ensures even top growth and proper fruit development. If we let the suckers grow, we would have to put more fertilizer into the ground and the whole shebang becomes a nightmare to manage. We do the trunk suckering at this time as the shoots are still green and are easily removed by hand- just running a gloved hand over the areas with the suckers and brushing them off.
If we wait another month or so to do this, we would need to break out those red-handled clippers to remove them- more labor intensive- and by that time, the suckers will have already drawn off some of the nutrients. Are there machines that can do this? Of course, there are machines that can do anything, but like many things that keep machines from making people obsolete, they cannot do as good a job as good old human elbow grease. The machines have a greater chance of damaging the outside bark of the vine and are not as thorough as hand suckering. When you have a large production vineyard, the ability to get through the pruning in a timely matter makes the machines desirable, but the size of our sweet little piece of paradise doesn’t warrant it.
So, at Naggiar, a sucker may not be born every minute, but they do die about every 20 seconds (in an 8 hr day).
A job well done. Death to the suckers!
* On a side note, I will no longer be using this wordpress address- we have a slick new website at naggiarvineyards.com that is through wordpress. Supposedly, every one following me has been imported to the new site, but my last post was a little quiet, so I’m putting this out there to cover my bases 🙂