Protecting Graft Unions – OSU/AARS Field Day Demonstrations

In light of the winter damage suffered by the majority of Ohio’s vinifera grapes, the Ohio State University’s 2014 Grape and Wine Field Day program included a demonstration of machines used in vineyards across Ohio for hilling up soil around graft unions. I don’t know about all the growers who were there, but having multiple machines in one location demonstrating their abilities was enlightening. (Psst – if you were there and made a decision on a machine due to the demonstration, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!)

There are a few things to keep in mind when one is trying to decide how best to manage cold climate viticulture, especially when it comes to hilling up. There are many ways to go about protecting vines and graft unions from cold damage, and it certainly bears repeating that site and variety selection will go a long way in protecting you vineyard investment. Assuming all other factors have been considered and mitigated, what’s the best way to prevent winter injury in the graft union? Hilling soil around the delicate union, which growers in Ohio have been doing for decades. What’s the best way to hill up around graft unions? Depends on the soil type, slope, and machine/equipment being used, and each grower will need to consider these factors to select the best strategy. I managed to get in the way of a bunch of folks and take some videos and pictures last week, so I’ll lay the pictures out here for your perusal.


Rinieri Disk ($10,000-$15,000)

The Rinieri disk in action. Click here for more information.

OSU AARS 2014 Field Day Measurement Stick

One of several measurement sticks in the vineyard during the demonstration. Each line marks 6 inches.

OSU AARS 2014 Field Day Rinieri stick

After the Rinieri disk went through the vineyard, 12 inches of soil covered the sticks.


Unverferth Maximus Disk 6525

OSU AARS 2014 Field Day Maximus Disc Still

The Unverferth Maximus Disk is a behemoth, but effective in hilling up soil.

OSU AARS 2014 Field Day Measurement Stick

One of several measurement sticks in the vineyard during the demonstration. Each line marks 6 inches.

The Maximus disk hills up a comfortable 12 inches of soil.


Clover Hill Disk ($3,800 – $4,000)

OSU AARS 2014 Field Day Clover Hill

The Clover Hill disk in action.

OSU AARS 2014 Field Day Measurement Stick

One of several measurement sticks in the vineyard during the demonstration. Each line marks 6 inches.

OSU AARS 2014 Field Day Clover Hill Measurement Stick

The Clover Hill disk managed to throw almost 12 inches of soil over the markers.


Braun LUV disk ($7,500 – $8,000)

OSU AARS 2014 Field Day Braun

The Braun disk (16″) was demonstrated, although not the favorite of the growers present, at least, not for this particular site (AARS, North Kingsville).

OSU AARS 2014 Field Day Measurement Stick

One of several measurement sticks in the vineyard during the demonstration. Each line marks 6 inches.

OSU AARS 2014 Field Day Measurement Stick Braun

The Braun disk created a mound that was barely 6-8 inches high. Again, this might be due to the soil, and in some vineyards, the graft union would be protected at this height.


Green Hoe ($3,300 – $3.500)

OSU AARS 2014 Field Day Green How

The Green Hoe was the final hilling up/weed management device to be demonstrated during the field day.

OSU AARS 2014 Field Day Measurement Stick

One of several measurement sticks in the vineyard during the demonstration. Each line marks 6 inches.

Green Hoe

The Green Hoe might not be the best option in this vineyard for hilling up, although it’s a great weed management tool.


Buckeye Tractor’s Bedder/Hiller* ($2,900 – $$3,500)

This demonstration was done at  St. Joseph’s Pinot Vista vineyards and Harpersfield Vineyards. Kurt Ackerman from Buckeye Tractor brought 4 units, all configured a little differently. Along with feedback from the growers at the demonstration, he kindly adjusted and re-adjusted the disks and tool bars until the optimal configuration of angles was determined for the best graft union coverage. Below are some images from that demonstration (Sept. 25, 2014). Ranging from $2900 to $3500, this disk option certainly provided a great deal of flexibility at a low cost.
 
Buckeye Tractor's Bedder/Hiller. With a few adjustments, this versatile disk setup can be optimized for each grower's individual vineyard site.

Buckeye Tractor’s Bedder/Hiller. With a few adjustments, this versatile disk setup can be optimized for each grower’s individual vineyard site.

BT Disk bedder_hiller 2

The bedder/hiller disk setup can be configured with toolbars of differing widths, which then can be adjusted to best fit individuals growers’ vineyards.

Disk demo measuring stick

The “official” OSU hilling-up sitck. Each line marks 6 inches.

Disk demo measuring stick 1 pass

After the first pass of the BT bedder/hiller, a 6″ mound was measured roughly throughout the row.

Disk demo measuring stick 2 pass

After a second pass with the hiller/bedder, the soil mounds measured from 6 to 8 inches. But the speed at which this could be done was so great that a third pass could be made later in the season, once the initial mounds have had a chance to settle.

*The KSUA Wine Degrees Program does not endorse any one disk over another. We just have more information on the BT Bedder/Hiller because we were able to spend nearly an entire day with the Buckeye Tractor representative who graciously adjusted and re-adjusted the disks for different sites.

Want to read more on OSU’s hilling up demonstration efforts? Check out the latest OGEN newsletter!

Advertisements
This entry was posted in General Grape and Wine, Vineyard Management, Viticulture and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s