The Birds and Bees
A time comes in every person’s life when someone sits them down for “The Talk”. And for you, dear readers, that day is today- yes, I am about to explain about the birds and bees. So, here it is, the birds and the bees…
Birds are a nuisance- we don’t want them in the vineyards and go to great lengths so keep them away, particularly when the fruit is ripe. Bees on the other hand- wait- you thought this was going to be a topic on s-e-x? Well, actually it is. Just how do a mommy vine and a daddy vine come together to make baby grapes? To get back to the bees, actually, they are an innocuous presence in the vineyard i.e. grapes don’t need them for pollination. Grape vines are self-pollinating- they’ve got all the parts contained in a single flower- ok, that’s a little racy. Just because they can do it all themselves doesn’t mean that it’s just a “wham bam thank you m’am”- there is a process to get ready to get busy.
First, the calyptra (cap) drops off the male and female organs- kind of like a chastity belt. Five stamens (the boy bits) pop open and the pistil (lady parts) protrudes out from the center. The stamens then drop pollen onto the top of the pistil, called the stigma. The flower is officially “pollinated” . Gestation for the “baby” then starts, with the berry beginning to show a few weeks later, an event we call “berry set”. Whew, that was only a little embarrassing- much easier than having to help my 7th grader with his sex-ed homework.
Of the flowers in a cluster, only 30-50% develop all the way into a berry. Some just don’t get “laid” but environmental conditions also affect berry development. Heat, in humans, is often associated with an increase in libido, but in grapes, it’s more of a buzz (or berry) kill, as is bitter cold. The winds we tend to get this time of year also have a deleterious affect on reproduction- it’s unwanted contraception for grapes. The male part can’t impregnate the female part if his stuff gets scattered in the wind. Nutritional deficiencies and lack of water can also contribute to lower berry counts. As with all things, the healthier the parents, the healthier the child is.
Bloom just started at Naggiar last Friday- Sangiovese, Malbec, Tempranillo, and Viognier have all started to bloom- and yes, it is a couple of weeks ahead of schedule. In a couple of weeks we will come to berry set when all of the energy that had formally been directed at vertical shoot growth, moves to developing the berries. Thus, the countdown to “delivery day” begins.[jetpack_subscription_form]