Arctic Vortex: How has it affected Virginia vineyards?
by Sébastien Marquet — -0.9F – that was the low temperature at my house in Loudoun County, Virginia at 7 a.m. on 1/7. Damage to Virginia vines is ethereal and often defies logic or explanation, why one vine died and another did not. But if the vines are in a low spot where the soils may be wet and cold, air can be trapped, then the vines are at greater risk. Luckily, we don’t have this problem at Doukénie and since I’ve been at Doukénie for more than seven years, I know where the high risk areas are located.
The Arctic vortex was an epic event and the cold took over. I’m not sure how the persistent frigid wind will affect our vines. We will certainly want to cut buds and make pruning adjustments, and given the way this season is going (cold) the timing and choice of pruning varieties is important (a blend of value of variety and cold tolerance), usually the Bordeaux reds would be pruned last.
It’s hard for growers not to be in the vineyard but it’s better to wait to the latest possible time to prune and still get it done before bud break. The good thing about the cold is that it should help to suppress disease and insects overwintering populations.
In my experience, trunk injury will reveal itself later in the year – I have seen shoots collapse as late as August in Virginia vineyards, but checking trunks for necrotic tissue can give an indication of the extent of damage.
Watch her for more vineyard updates here.