Thoughts . . . by Mark Rich

. . . scribbled . . . scrawled . . . trimmed . . . typewritten . . . grubbed up . . . squeezed from circumstance . . .

Monday, March 1, 2010

Luxuriant but Unproductive

Our Kay Gray grape vines, two in number, are so far our least productive. They were two of our first three planted -- it must be three years ago already. Nursery-purchased, potted and not bare-root, they have done well in establishing themselves and in growing luxuriantly, if not in producing fruit. The fault may lie in our not having purchased them bare-root: for our other bought-potted grape vine also has barely produced. Perhaps more likely, my inept pruning of them in their second winter is to blame. Had I done better at that, we might have seen more fruit last year. I was too timid, apparently, to take the vines down to properly spare winter skeletons.

Before December I had pruned the other vines in the back yard, leaving these Kay Grays for another day. I finally started on one of the vines on a cold day in January or early February, and then finished that vine and did the complete pruning of the second one yesterday afternoon. Although we have thick snow on the ground, as of yet, the air temperatures climbed into the thirties, making for pleasant working.

At this point, for me, pruning calls for a goodly amount of standing and thinking: a vine, especially one incompletely pruned the prior winter, offers quite a few decisions to be made. That second Kay Gray -- what a wild unruly longhair of a grape vine! I had left on shoots growing from the lower trunk, had let a second trunk start to thicken ... but even given the wealth of choices for this pruning, I had to weigh each snip of the shears twice and three times before committing myself and the vine to the irrevocable.

Kay Grays are a white grape, one of the Elmer Swenson hybrids developed in Wisconsin. Its reputation as being one of the heartiest of Swenson varieties helped guide our choice, as I recall. As to how the fruit is, for winemaking -- we have no idea, as of yet. A vanishing few went into this or that wine, last year. So few bunches formed that I put little effort into defending them from the feathered grapivorous fleas that clustered so to our clusters last summer.

Cheers ...

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