I hope everyone is staying warm and planning for brighter days ahead. It's been an interesting winter to say the least; +18 on Christmas Day, and rain through much of January only to get thrown into the deep freeze in February! It really makes you wonder what effect this weather is going to have on the vines. This might be a good year to do some bud assessments before you start pruning for the season ahead... if you'd like a refresher on doing this, click here for a factsheet put together by the Cornell Fruit Extension Team - there are also some links to video clips on their website.
Freeze injury is one of the greatest threats and potential limiting factors for successfully growing Vinifera grape vines in Nova Scotia. In Nova Scotia, only a few areas of the province would be considered 'suitable' to grow Vinifera, and even there, practices such as hilling are common place for winter protection.
In November of 2014, Cape House Vineyards in Mahone Bay initiated a research trial to test a couple of different geotextile fabrics for their ability to protect Sauvignon Blanc vines through the winter. The two geotextiles were chosen based on work that has been conducted in Ontario in 2013 and they included Texel's Arbo-Therm (white polyester felt with a black waterproof addition), and Soleno Textile's Hibertex (white UV protected polyester fiber). Fabric was installed on the treated plots during the final week of November.
Data loggers were placed underneath the two different fabrics as well as in 'ambient' conditions to measure any differences in temperature and humidity during the duration of the trial.
The fabric will be removed in March and an assessment on timing of bud break, bud survival and vine performance will be made. In the final year of the trial (year three), there will also be a yield assessment from all treatments. Please stay tuned as we continue this experiment through 2015 and determine whether or not covering vines is a viable winter protection strategy!
Lower Vineyard during the growing season.
Lower Vineyard On November 26th, after Arbo-Therm and Hibertex were installed.