Not quite Spring
Two week ago I was writing about the end of winter. Whilst the mid-March has felt quite spring-like at times, we have a few more days until it officially begins on Tuesday and the snow's back to remind us of that.
This bring back memories of last spring though... After a mild, wet winter we saw very large numbers of slugs all over the vineyard which needed to be controlled. Then in late April we were hit with the worst air-frost in 30 years. These led to a lot of extra work and lost growing time, but the summer made up for that thankfully.
This cold weather of the last few weeks should go some way to controlling some of the pests we typically see in the vineyard, and I'm hoping we'll have a milder April too, or at least no late hard frosts.
Rabbit guards are an interesting dilemma. They protect the young vines from being gnawed by rabbits, but they also create a microclimate; warmer in the warm weather, but colder when it's cold outside and the cold air sinks inside the tubes and gets trapped there.
Some advise removing them in winter completely to prevent the frost risk. That's an on-going debate and whilst I can see the benefit, it's a large job to remove and store those tubes so for now they're staying on.
The usual advice is to keep them on for the first 2-3 years, but after two years in the field these are starting to weather, often blowing off in strong winds. I'm trying out a new technique for holding on aging rabbit guards this year, band ties around the outside. It'll just be on the worst tubes for now. Fingers crossed they stay on this time.
I guess it all goes to show you can try to plan for everything, but the weather just has its own ideas and we do what we can to keep the vines happy and safe.