Posted by: Thomson Vineyards | December 29, 2009

Playing Chicken with the Weather

The Farmer, for all intensive purposes, is a Risk Taker but not the definition of a Gambler. Just what is the difference between a Risk Taker and a Gambler?

A Gambler  looks for excitement and danger,  will risk more than can he can afford to lose, and counts on the one big win that will result in bliss.

A  Risk Taker concentrates on a realistic long-term strategy, is hardworking and open to new ideas, and proceeds in a serious intellectual manner.


The Farmers (plural reference to George and David) are right this moment sitting around the kitchen  island having a serious intellectual discussion while eating left over Marie Callendar’s pie and debating the Old Farmers debate: Wait out the rain before pruning? Or play chicken and get started?

The 10-day forecast for Napa as of December 30 calls for “few-showers” and “showers”. The Farmers reason that they MUST get started pruning in order to tackle the job themselves before early spring. When they filed their field  report earlier today from Thomson Vineyards and Iund Vineyards they attempted to play it off as, “debating the costs of farming.”  Now everybody knows you don’t try to spin the spin doctor (aka the marketing & sales department) and the marketing department knows darn well that those two old farmers are eating pie, channeling their inner-Kevin Bacon and planning on playing chicken with the weather.

In an attempt to re-focus the discussion and  “proceed in a serious intellectual manner” the marketing & sales department fired off the following email to keep them firmly grounded in the Risk Taker category and not label them as Gamblers:

Playing chicken with the weather ain't gonna make you Kevin Bacon.

Dear Old Farmers,

Be advised, while it may make you feel young and alive to sit on that tractor, shake your fist in the air and take on the weather – you can’t beat Mother Nature. If that’s not enough to convince you, here are three things you should know about Eutypa and the risks of pruning in this kind of weather:

1) All grapevine cultivars are susceptible to eutypa dieback, however, some vary in the severity of the symptoms. Grenache and Shiraz are considered susceptible as the symptoms are more obvious than in some other cultivars such as Riesling, Semillon and Merlot. Chardonnay has high levels of chemicals that assist in wound healing, and this may play a part in its greater tolerance.

2) Pruning wounds can remain susceptible for 2-4 weeks, so an estimate of likely weather conditions in the month following pruning can indicate the risk factor for infection by eutypa dieback. Pruning tools should always be cleaned between vines, and avoiding horizontal cuts in favor of angled cuts may reduce the chance of infection.

Electric pruning shears - the only way to fly.

3) Eutypa dieback is unlikely to occur where rainfall is less than 250mm per year and is most common where rainfall exceeds 500-600mm per year. This also applies to vineyards which receive the equivalent in overhead irrigation. The fungus reproduces in areas where 350-500mm or more of precipitation occurs annually. Spores are spread by wind, potentially traveling 100km or more and are present in most districts during wet conditions.

So please, get off the tractor, put away the pruning shears, and get back to the kitchen island and your custard pie from Marie Callendar’s. It’s okay to have an intellectual debate about “the costs of farming,” that assures you stay right where you belong, in the Risk Taker category and not among the Gamblers.


The Spin Doctor

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