We will be planting another 5+ acres of grapes in the spring – 4 1/2 acres of Montepulciano and 1 acre of Aglianico – that equals 16 more rows! While we will not be doing the actual planting of the vines until sometime in March, we are already getting ready! Our slow season (fall after harvest until late winter pruning) is a good time to prepare for the new vines by installing the drip system. We use underground drip irrigation which supplies the vineyard with water much more efficiently than above ground since you loose no water to evaporation.
We use a flat black tape which comes on a big spool and has holes in it. Once connected, the tape is expanded with water which escapes through all the holes watering the vines. The tape is buried about 18 inches below ground and is tied off at one end and connected to the water at the other. First, the rows were marked – we will continue the 1/3 mile long rows.
Then, using a tractor with a ripping shank – a hook which rips the ground – the rows are broken and “ripped”. Since we have had no rain recently, this is quite a task with the ground so dry and hard.
The taping rig is a platform with a holder for the spool of drip tape, a place for someone to sit/stand and rides over the ripping shank. As the tractor drives along, the person holds the tape making sure it goes into the feeding tube straight and not twisted. The ripping shank breaks the ground and the tape is fed into place.
As you can see in the picture below, the new rows are easy to see.
Once all the drip tape is installed, the tapes will be connected to the water pipes, filled with water and checked for leaks.