Driven by a desire to do better, each year Eudes and I think about aspects of our craft that we can improve.
This year we met Roman Mirc, a young consultant specializing in vine training and pruning. Competent, passionate and full of a farmer’s common sense, he quickly opened our eyes on the improvements we could make with respect to our approach to pruning in general and accompanying our young plantings, in particular.
The principle is clear, and puts the individual vine front and center. Man needs to adapt to the plant and not the opposite. Of course there is a specific type of architecture that we seek to put in place but it is the plant that dictates the pace of its own progress. The pruner evaluates the vigor of the vine by observing the quality of the growth of the past year: how many branches were produced? Were they big, medium or small arms? Did the initial branches create other branches? Did they ripen completely? This analysis is important because it determines the way the pruner will approach the vine.
In some ways, a plant works like plumbing. The roots are like a “pump” that sends the sap to the aerial part and every branch that grows is like an open “tap” in the “circuit”. If the “pump” is sluggish, we shouldn’t open too many “taps” if we want a correct amount of “pressure” (or growth). The observation of the this past year’s growth will give us an indication of the power of the “pump” and shows us how many “valves” (buds) we can keep so that each one has a chance to become a strong enough branch to become a part of the framework of the vine. The strength of this “foundation” ensures the continuity of the “structure”.
This approach, so obvious to the mind, is complex to implement. Unlike a standard size, this approach requires concentration, spatial vision, and decision making, giving all its nobility to our vocation of farming. Our team’s open-mindedness has enabled us to develop this new approach and after a few days of training with Romain, we are now attacking this next step in our progression, building off of what we started several years now (see our previous articles on the blog: “Vineyard pruning: a delicate and essential task” and “Gobelet Pruning.”)