Earlier this month we were very fortunate to have international wine expert, Peter Hayes, visit the vineyard as part of the Wineskills programme.
One of the topics we discussed was the need to understand Bud Fruitfulness and how it might impact on the level of pruning in the winter. Fruitfulness is the weight of fruit produced by each bud and can be affected by the weather conditions during the previous year.
Pruning establishes the number of buds retained for each vine. Buds produce shoots which in turn produce clusters, so the greater the number of buds per vine, the greater the potential yield. Shoots also produce leaves and therefore pruning also determines the vine’s leaf area and therefore the vine’s ability to produce sugar; the building block for aroma, tannin and color compounds (essential the quality of the wine).
Proper pruning creates a balance between the vine’s leaf area and the amount of fruit produced. If pruning is not severe enough too many buds are retained, which can result in over cropping which stresses the vine and is likely to result in poor unripened fruit. If pruning is too severe then the optimum yield potential isn't realised. Quality can also be adversly effected as the vines energy is concentrated on fewer shoots creating an over dense canopy. Pruning decisions not only affect the quality of the current season’s crop, but impact on the quality of next year’s harvest by also affecting “bud fruitfulness".
The poor summer last year may well adversely affect the bud fruitfulness this year, and for this reason we are pruning the vines a little longer with a view to cutting them back further once initially budding has taken place. Next winter we will investigate the possibility of getting a lab to analyse the potential fruitfulness of cane samples from the vineyard, so that we can better judge the level of pruning necessary to give us the best chance of producing the optimum crop levels.