Rain, Rain, Go Away!
One man’s blessing is another man’s curse…and actually, it can be the same man, just at different times in the year. Ooh- cryptic! The title might just give away what this blessing/curse is- rain in May. Just today someone (definitely not a farmer of any kind) was remarking what a blessing the rain of the past few days was. Derek and I looked at each other with mutual, simultaneous, epic eye-rolls. While nearly 3 inches of rain in 5 days in -say- March, is certainly a blessing, the same amount in May is definitely a curse. While rain in May is not unheard of, and even June occasionally sees a bit of rain (most notably 2 years ago as my son graduated high school in a ceremony held outside), the amount we have received thus far in May (and more is on the way) is causing problems on multiple fronts…
Raindrops on vine leaves
Complicating the rain is weather that surrounds it. Where there is rain, there is likely wind as well. The wind can easily snap off the young vine shoots. The shoots have not lignified yet as they are still in the growth stage. In this growth stage, they are very easy to snap off, with some varietals more fragile than others- Malbec and Petite Sirah seem to snap off if you just look at them wrong.
Another component is whether the storm is warm or cold (pun not intentional but duly noted). These storms definitely fall into the latter category. The temps have been crazy-low for mid-May. Daytime highs are usually in the high 70’s to low 80’s and we have been seeing our daytime highs struggle to break 60 degrees. This leads to nutrient issues in the vine and what we call “spring fever”.
Wet baby baby grapes
As for the amount of rain itself, one of biggest issues is the threat of mildew. This is compounded by the fact that we haven’t finished shoot thinning means restricted air-flow causing wide-spread mildew. Add the fact that our crews can’t get out to finish the shoot thinning in the rain and you have a vicious cycle.
Finally, rain makes the green grass, weeds, etc. grow. All of the seeds that have been dispersed- the good and the bad- will germinate and grow rapidly, necessitating another round of mowing in about 3-4 weeks.
Many, many posts ago in the middle of a stretch of scant rainfall, I asked if anyone knew of any rain dances that could bring some rain… on behalf of the farmers of California, asking now for some that can stop it![jetpack_subscription_form]