Here's a bit about our weed control in the vineyard.
Now you can see the vineyard after harvest. If you look carefully, you can see in the upper left, a drilling rig - to the left of the barn. No, we are not drilling for oil! We are drilling a well to a deeper aquafer for water- but, more about that later!
You might think that since our last grape harvest of 2013 is finished, we would be kicking back and relaxing.
That is what our children thought!
Quite the opposite is true.
We have finally finished hoeing the vineyard (all 27 acres of it!) for the last time of the year.
Yes, it was a wonderful workout, great exercise and time to work together as a family. But, ask any of us and you will get the same answer - we are glad to be done! In fact, "glad" doesn't accurately describe the feelings experienced upon completion.
Reasons for Hoeing the Vineyard
We had to hoe for 3 reasons. The main one was to remove all the organic material from under the vines - this was a safe haven for wintering over bugs. Secondly, we wanted to get rid of the weeds before they went to seed (especially the tumbleweeds) and since we were so close to harvest, we were limited as to what could be sprayed. And thirdly, a dirt mound had built up under the vines as a result of tilling (discing) the rows - next year we will be going "no-till" so this will not be a problem.
To keep the weeds under control we can spray Roundup. But, since this can also kill vines, we like to minimize our use of it. So, that brings us to our latest activity...
Treflan is a chemical classified as a pre-emergent. It allows the seeds to germinate but stops them from growing roots, thus they die. It is really quite amazing. The draw-back to Treflan is that it must be incorporated into the top layer of the soil (by raking, tilling or rainfall) otherwise, it is broken down very quickly by the sunlight. Because our hoeing prepared the ground so nicely and since we do not have much rainfall here in west Texas, the best method of incorporation was to rake it in.
Our oldest son at home is using a spraying rig modified by John and the boys just for this. The rig is pulled by our 4 wheeler and spray nozzles across the back near the ground deliver the predetermined amount of Treflan at the sides under the vines.
The photo below shows the yellow Treflan on the dirt. The yellow color makes it very easy to see what has and what has not been sprayed and then raked into the surrounding dirt.
Here is the rig going up a row - look closely and you may be able to see the yellow Treflan. Hint: there are 2 spray nozzles on either side of the tank and wheels.
Raking the Treflan into the Dirt
Now, for the raking crew.
John drives the tractor pulling a trailer which carries - you guessed it, children holding rakes! They rake under the vines as the tractor drives up and down the vineyard rows to incorporate the Treflan.
This all seems easy enough but there is one catch - nothing is ever as easy as it seems is it? The difficulty seems to be holding onto the rakes - they get caught on vines and yanked out of hands. Since it is such a problem, we now have a designated rake-picker-upper who follows the tractor and returns rakes to the drop-ee!
It is difficult to tell from the above photo but there are 2 children on each side of the trailer raking the rows and that's the rake-picker-upper in the orange shirt (he's getting a ride until a rake is dropped!).
Rain is actually in the forecast for today. If it does indeed rain, that would insure an even better incorporation into the soil for the Treflan (actually it is a generic equivalent = cheaper) and hopefully fewer weeds to deal with later.