Weed Management - Riesling
June 1
June 21

june 2023

Not unlike two weeks in May when away from the vineyard due to grandparenting duties (covered in May 2023 Chronicles), we were also away the first three weeks of June visiting family in New England, and tending to out-of-town needs. Leaving my three-year-old tilled and pruned vineyard we came back to overgrown vines with weeds taking over. We also came back to an invasion of pests, an issue at a level not experienced in the previous two growing seasons. Oh goodness, my work was cut out for me.

I should have known better leaving the vineyard during spring’s explosive growth spurt but visiting family in New England is always a joy. We ate multitudes of seafood and took the time to visit a winery. One of our favorite places to visit is Westport, a small village on the coast in Southeast Massachusetts. Per tradition, we never miss an opportunity to visit the Bayside restaurant in Westport. Matching pan-seared scallops with Westport Rivers’s clean and crisp Chardonnay proves a perfect pair. Located around the corner from the restaurant, the winery benefits from a cool maritime climate and rich soils. The accompanying bay provides a climate-stabilizing influence, supporting Vinifera varietal cultivation such as Riesling, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier. We also make a habit of frequently visiting restaurants in the town of Bristol, Rhode Island, in particular Quitos Seafood. At Quitos one evening I captured a “one in a million” shot across the bay of a seagull crossing the plane of the setting sun.

In the “back to work” category, it was time to get the vineyard in shape before a large family group came a visiting at the end of the month’s looming long Independence Day weekend. Our aforementioned grandson would soon arrive, at which vineyard time takes a backseat. It took a few days to tame the vines and complete hoeing between the rows. Overall, the vines were doing well with no apparent growth issues. Riesling as usual was growing vigorously while Pinot was a step or two behind. There were small beautiful grape clusters, which had just flowered.

The 23 grape rootstocks planted in May were beginning to push out green vine growth. It was time to deploy Blue-X grow tubes that provide shelter from pests and promotes new growth. Speaking of pests, after working a few vines I came across several fat caterpillars, munching away on tender new leaf growth. They are probably sphinx moth caterpillars. I’ve seen quite a few of these moths around the landscape. While they are great pollinators, I can’t have them munching on young tender vine leaf growth. My vine tending quickly evolved to a “search and destroy” mission. Using my pruning shears I’d cut them in half.

Big Fat Caterpillar
Big fat Caterpillar having its way with new leaf growth
Tended to Riesling and Blue-X grow tubes for the new rootstock

Along with tending to the vines, the vineyard row-end roses, raspberries, and raised vegetable beds also required attention. As I soon discovered, almost all the plants were affected by one pest or another. More than likely the abundance of pests is associated with the wet winter followed by a wet early spring, which in turn promoted exuberant vegetative growth in the adjoining fields and valley. Plant-eating insects and blight were running rampant at a level not experienced in the previous two seasons. Sphinx moth caterpillars in the form of the tomato hornworm, were also making short work of my tomato plants. I removed them by hand once again, using my trusty pruning shears to cut them in half. I haven’t applied pesticides in my gardens for over 20 years but I “chucked it in”, applying the organic pesticide Neem Oil to the vegetables and roses. Hoping for the best. 

Asian Lady Beetle or harmless Lady Bug?

A pest I’ve not come across during my entire adult life living in Colorado until now is chiggers. Really? This season, when it would seem every pest imaginable is going to make an appearance, chiggers wouldn’t have been on my list of possibilities. I grew up with chiggers. Especially when spending time on the farm in NE Texas with my grandparents. Grandmother Sally had a homemade repellent. She’d soak rags with kerosene and apply it to my legs. Thankfully, not having kerosene handy, I wore long socks and jeans for a few days. I am confident the chiggers didn’t originate in the vineyard though. A stroll through the long grasses in my landscape was the probable cause. The first 48 hours were itch hell, then with the assistance of ointment, the bites and itching subsided over several days.

Get me some geese and ducks
Lizard entrapment

The arrival of our son-in-law and grandson was now upon us. Glory be! I substituted my time in the vineyard and landscape to accompanying Levi to the local Paonia playground, reading him books, romping with our Airedale Bella Rose, and finding other fun things for him to do. We even visited Yvon at Leroux Creek Inn, allowing a bit of time for the boy to chase the ducks back to his small lake.

Are these allowed in the vineyard PoPa?
Love to swing

While the last few days of June were happily spent tending to Levi (see video below), we can’t leave the month without a weather review. Rain was scant, with .24 inches, May had come in at .23—not quite half an inch over two months. For the year, nearly four inches were on record (with an inch in December), not including accumulating snow. Things were clearly drying out in western Colorado, the valley was beginning to turn a bit brown around the edges. Denver and the front range, however, were receiving record-breaking moisture, having almost met its full annual average through June of 14.42 inches!

On several days I found the wind oppressive. Wondering how the month compared to June 2022, I open my comparison weather app SmartMixin, associated with my Tempest weather station. No comparison, 2022 was much worse. In 2022 there were five gust events over 30 mph, two over 40 mph, and one near 60 mph (this had knocked out part of the valley’s electricity for two hours). While in 2023, there were three gust events over 30 mph and nothing over 35 mph. A relative calm, data is a wonderful thing.

Get you some levi time!

2 thoughts on “June 2023”

  1. I love Levi’s Boston Red Sox hat!
    Summer is so hot here now in Denver. I don’t know how you can deal with it over there on the western slope.

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