Spring frost strikes again – can later winter pruning help?

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The frost has hit French vineyards again this year. So far, however, it has not been as bad as 2021. But in several places, measures have been required to heat the vineyards in some way to raise the temperature in the wee hours by a few degrees. This is very costly and sometimes not very environmentally friendly. Another way to protect the vineyards, which many are talking about right now, is to postpone winter pruning.

You can start pruning as soon as all the leaves have fallen off the vines in late autumn. And that has been the standard procedure. The winter pruning is done mostly manually, and it takes time. You need the winter months because you have to be finished before the sap rises in the spring. But the advantage of late pruning is that the budding is also delayed, which is good when summer temperature arrives in early spring, followed by a cold spell.

But not all wine estates can handle the logistics when the entire surface is to be pruned in a much shorter time. Making a pre-pruning in January, perhaps with machine, and a final pruning at the end of March or beginning of April is also being considered.

A syrah vine in winter in the Rhone Valley
A syrah vine in winter in the Rhone Valley, copyright BKWine Photography

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