In Vineyard establishment

Winter in the UK is well underway and the cold task of pruning, trellising repairs and planning for the new season is evident, even in the snow during the last few weeks! The chilly weather is reminder of vineyards next concern – spring frosts, especially where the advancement of budburst in response to warmer spring temperatures increases the risk.

Frost is a significant risk in U.K. vineyards from mid-March to May when freezing and damage to cells in buds and young shoots can put the current season’s crop at risk but also, because of the perennial nature of grapevines, the productivity of vines in the following season. The degree of damage will depend on the phenological stage of the vine, the frost severity (critical temperature), the frost event(s) length, the type of frost (radiation or advection), and of course the success or otherwise of frost mitigation measures.

Because each vineyard site is different, we recommend the creation of a vineyard frost risk mitigation strategy well before the risk season approaches. This includes site topographical and surface mapping, identification of ‘vulnerable’ areas / risk zones, reviewing historic weather data and ascertaining the most suitable protection approach and, as required, equipment for the site. The ability to protect vineyards from frost events is fundamental to a profitable vineyard enterprise and below we set out our top tips to help vineyards prepare.

Top 5 tips to help frost prone vineyards:

  • Late pruning: Late prune to delay bud break and/or leave sacrificial canes.
  • Remove barriers: Ensure any inter-row and headland ground cover is minimised and remove or thin barriers such as hedges, to allow cold air flow (as cold air flows down-hill).
  • Minimise ground heat loss: Do not till or cultivate soil immediately before or during the risk period, instead encourage firm inter-row soils and uncultivated ground to reduce heat loss.
  • Test frost protection equipment: Position and fully test all frost protection equipment and ensure all weather sensors are operational to provide critical frost warnings.
  • Communicate: Create and communicate to staff and/or helpers an operational plan for the frost risk period.
Frosted Vines Across Rows
By Dr Glen Creasy

Effectively fighting early season frost risk is not straight forward and getting it right is key. At Vinescapes, we have spent the last decade undertaking scientific research and advising clients on the best way to mitigate this significant issue.

If you would like our help and advice, or for us to undertake a frost risk and mitigation audit for your vineyard, please don’t hesitate to contact us via email or phone 07967602670.

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