Win­ter tem­per­a­tures not cold or warm enough to con­cern Val­ley grape grow­ers

The Queens County Advance - - THE BACK PAGE - BY KIRK STARRATT KINGSCOUNTYNEWS.CA Kirk.starratt@kingscountynews.ca

It was a rather odd win­ter in the An­napo­lis Val­ley with re­gard to weather and tem­per­a­tures but not ex­tra­or­di­nary enough to worry grape grow­ers.

Light­foot and Wolfville Vineyards viti­cul­tur­ist Matthew Pat­ter­son said he isn’t overly con­cerned with the im­pact the strange weather had on vineyards. Tem­per­a­tures turned cold in the late fall and this per­sisted into the early win­ter. The mid­dle of the sea­son was mild and although tem­per­a­tures turned colder again as win­ter winded down, he doesn’t an­tic­i­pate any dam­age to grapevines.

“The low­est low we’ve had was -17.5C, at least in our vine­yard,” Pat­ter­son said. “We have a weather sta­tion, so we mon­i­tor that.”

He said they start to get wor­ried when tem­per­a­tures drop to -20C or lower but the mer­cury stayed above this point through­out the win­ter. He said the vines were in good shape head­ing into the sea­son.

Pat­ter­son said on March 20 that the vines re­main dor­mant and he doesn’t be­lieve that tem­per­a­tures dropped down far enough dur­ing the colder snap in mid-march to make any sig­nif­i­cant im­pact.

Grape Grower Stephen Ells of Ell­slea Farms in Sh­effield Mills said grapevines re­mained dor­mant through the mild mid-win­ter and he isn’t con­cerned about the weather im­pact­ing on their 32 acres of vine­yard, which they be­gan prun­ing in Jan­uary.

“As much as we don’t have frost and ev­ery­thing, the soil re­ally hasn’t warmed up to a tem­per­a­ture where it’s sim­u­lated the vines to start grow­ing or come out of dor­mancy,” Ells said.

They have a lot of Vinifera grapes and are more con­cerned about se­vere cold stretches caus­ing bud dam­age. They ex­pe­ri­enced tem­per­a­tures as cold as -16.9 C this win­ter but Ells said they wouldn’t be wor­ried un­less the mer­cury dropped to about -20C or -22C.

At this point, he said, you have to start wor­ry­ing about va­ri­eties such as Chardon­nay and Pinot ex­pe­ri­enc­ing bud dam­age. With high­bred va­ri­eties like L’acadie and Sey­val, Ells said he wouldn’t get overly con­cerned un­less the tem­per­a­ture dropped to -25C.

He said if there is an early spring in the sense that tem­per­a­tures re­main warm, bring­ing vines out of dor­mancy and lead­ing to an early bud break, his con­cern would be a late frost dam­ag­ing the buds.

Ell­slea Farms is in the midst of ex­pand­ing its grape grow­ing ca­pac­ity with plans to dou­ble acreage within the next four years. Ells said it’s a grow­ing in­dus­try and an in­ter­est­ing one to be in­volved in.

Long-time agrar­ian Glen Ells of Sh­effield Mills said it’s been a de­cent win­ter over­all. If there are very cold tem­per­a­tures com­bined with strong, cold winds, grapevines can ex­pe­ri­ence freeze dry­ing and that’s when dam­age oc­curs. For­tu­nately, the Val­ley didn’t ex­pe­ri­ence th­ese types of con­di­tions this win­ter.

He said they were a lit­tle con­cerned over ris­ing tem­per­a­tures in Fe­bru­ary but the warmth wasn’t in­tense enough or sus­tained long enough to bring vines out of dor­mancy and make the buds swell.

KIRK STARRATT

Jamie Alexan­der, Ari­anne Janes, Al­lan Spin­ney and Matthew Pat­ter­son of Light­foot and Wolfville Vineyards didn’t let the cold breeze blow­ing in from the Mi­nas Basin stop them from prun­ing grapevines in an Avonport vine­yard on March 20.

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