Cheesy title, isn't it? But this time of year, it is a consistent thought for me. The hope of a new season [A New Hope? with apologies to Disney et al], the promise of what this season can be, all of the things that every farmer every where in the world has at the beginning of each growing season.
We are just starting to see bud break over the last few days. Yesterday, 19 April 2018, was a slightly-cooler-than-average day with a high temperature of 57F [13.9C] and a constant 20-25mph [32-40 km/h] wind. The day before, it was 80F [26.7C]. Last night and tonight, the forecasted lows are just above freezing, and with temperatures that low, frost is always a concern. If the wind stays steady, the frost will be avoided, but if the wind goes still, we could see damaging frost.
So how does one stay optimistic in moments like this? Wine, of course! Today has been one of the more challenging days. We had started to do our first spray last Monday, and we found an issue with our pump. So we ordered parts to rebuild it, and what should have taken no more than two days took NINE days to receive parts. It seemed we were the only ones with a sense of urgency about getting the equipment repaired. The day before yesterday [18 Apr 18], Eddie rebuilt the pump. I want to say Eddie and I rebuilt the pump, but the reality is that I was a gofor. You know, "Son, gofor a 5/16" wrench. No, better gofor a 3/8" But if I do say so myself, I am about the best gofor around.
Rebuilding the pump really only took us about an hour, and most of that was trying to find the right tools, so we put some water in the tank and went to test the system. And promptly blew a hose. And a fitting. The hose we could get, might even have a piece in the barn somewhere, but that fitting? We KNEW it would set us back at least another week, if we had to order it. So we improvised. Our improvised solution worked for about three rows, failed, fixed, worked for a bit again, failed, fixed, worked for a bit, and failed again. After that, I sprayed the rest of the vineyard with a single side of the sprayer working. It, of course, took twice as long, but it is finally done, 11 days after our initial planned spray day, and likely the very last day we could spray lime sulfur.
Lime sulfur is approved for organic use [disclaimer: we are not organic nor am I claiming or trying to mislead here to believe that we are], but we do want to be minimally impactful. Lime sulfur smells like, well, sulfur, and it gives us a really good head-start against any disease spores that have over-wintered on the vines. It is not a 100% eradicant, but it is a very effective first spray.
Here's hoping we avoid that mid-April frost!