Most of the 2023 grape harvest at Bingham Family Vineyards is finished, but there are still a few grapes on the vines. These photos were taken last Sunday of some Mourvèdre grapes.
Then there are some Tempranillo grapes that needs to be picked in the near future.
Row Spacing of the Vines
People often describe the size of their vineyards in terms of the number of acres. We have 200 to 250 acres of vineyards. But the question is how many plants does that include? Back in 2004, we planted five acres with the rows eight feet apart and the plants four feet from each other.
This made for a dense vineyard requiring the use of smaller, narrower vineyard specific tractors rather than our larger tractors which we use on the rest of our farm for our organic row crops. The thoughts behind this narrow spacing had something to do with stressing the vines, so that the trunks of the plant would be thinner and less likely to split during cold winters.
In 2019 and 2020, Cliff decided to go to a twelve foot spacing with our newer plantings of grapes. This allows for us to use our regular larger tractors which are equipped with GPS. This also allows more rainfall to be available per plant, so that perhaps we can use less irrigation for heathy plants and canopy of leaves. You can see those wider rows in this photo.
This photo is also an example of what we are busy with right now when we aren’t harvesting grapes. We take care of the weeds at the base of the plants and then send a large tractor through to plow those weeds to clean things up before winter.
Plowing the Weeds in the Garden
The difference in row spacing can of course effect the number of plants, so I had Cliff calculate how many plants that we are currently tending to in our vineyards. He came up with approximately 240,000 thousand plants. That figure was eye opening for me.
Ready for the Planting of a Cover Crop
Here you can see a row that has been plowed and is ready for us to sow a cover crop.
After the plowing, we like to plant a cover crop if there is enough moisture. This year Cliff is using a mixture of seeds rather than just one seed such as wheat. This mixture includes: balady berseem clover, Austrian winter pea, spring forage pea, cosaque black oats, Hazlet Cereal Rye, Nitro Radish, purple top turnip, white gold mustard, trophy rapeseed, brown flax, super bee phacelia, Baldy safflower, and mancan buckwheat. What does that look like you says?
The cover crop is planted to help with water retention, to improve the fertility of the soil, and to prevent soil erosion.
Just looking at the seeds is interesting, but I am looking forward to seeing the vineyards after the seeds have budded and grown into little plants. We can check back on that later.