Aside from just trimming, another important process that occurs at this time of year is suckering. "Suckers" are not unique in the vineyard, as you'll notice they exist on pretty much every tree or shrub. They are the shoots of the plant that protrude from the roots or the trunk, and if not removed, energy and nutrients will be diverted to the suckers rather than the main part of the plant. Much like trimming, the suckers on each vine need to be removed individually by hand. It is, without question, a long and grueling process but is another critical component of a successful harvest.
Lastly, and perhaps most important of the 3 activities mentioned in this post, is the task of leafing. Leafing is what it sounds like: it is the removal and thinning of the leaves on each vine to increase proper exposure to the fruit clusters. As stated above, growth on the vine at this time of the year is rampant. That means that each vine is a mass of vegetation and the clusters of fruit can be engulfed ina cocoon of leaves. By thinning out the leaves on each vine, it serves multiple purposes; firstly, it reduces the likelihood of fungus and the inoculation of other diseases by boosting the airflow to the cluster. Fungus and diseases like to spread in a hot, humid environment, so if we can open up space around the cluster, it will reduce the amount of moisture buildup in the area. In addition, leafing also will expose the fruit to more UV-rays, which not only further serves to prevent fungal diseases, but it increases the efficiency of ripening. Obviously not all the leaves can be pulled off, as the vine needs some leaves present to produce carbohydrates, so determining what is appropriate to remove is a technique that is developed through exhausting experience.
So, in a nutshell, that is the current state of affairs in the vineyard. Trimming, suckering, and leafing. Even though these tasks may seem insignificant, any successful grape grower will tell you that rigorously adhering to the mundane details is the difference between a great harvest and mediocre one. Thankfully, we always dwell in the mundane. :)
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