July vineyard update: a dance with downey

The upside to the last years droughts was that we didn’t really have to spray a lot. The spores of downey mildew need rain at first to be catapulted up to the leaves and once they’ve arrived humid conditions to keep spawning. Which they had this year. June was already showing some serious infections on the leaves and as it kept raining at some point it arrived on the grapes. It was clearly vines growing on nutritious soil being affected. There, the plants are even faster and stronger than they already did under these perfect growing conditions leading to thinner cell walls and a faster increase of unprotected surface area. Worst case scenario looked like this:

Scary, right? In a case like that the vineyard got an extra round of copper and we worked hard to remove leaves, side-shoots and suckers so the soup could cover as much as possible. Often in the rain.

The thing is: if you spray and spray and then you get another 50l of rain it’s completely washed off. Like that one day where the street was flooded and we couldn’t drive back from the vineyard anymore.

And while you’d need to spray again after the rain the tractor wasn’t able to drive up the steeper vineyards. So it was a tricky season, that’s for sure. Damage is done. One Müller-Thurgau is pretty much gone, the Bacchus and the Riesling lost about two thirds, a few more vineyards maybe a third. It’s frustrating. But still better than last year’s frost or the terrible flooding the growers in the Ahr region had – and still have – to deal with.

It was a blessing having such a strong crew to deal with the challenges. And every now and then there were a couple of sunny days lifting the mood.

So now we’re done with vineyard work despite another (hopefully) last round of spraying to protect the leaves – still need a bit of photosynthesis going for the sugar! It doesn’t look like we’ll have to deal with sunburn this year, the last challenge ahead is rot. Sadly a very realistic scenario considering the thin skins. Oh and there is drosophila suzukii lurking. Let’s hope at least the rain stops towards the end of August until the grapes are in …

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