Back in 2012, a very good article appeared in the November/December edition of Fruit & Vegetable magazine. It outlined some nutrition fundamentals to follow in viticulture. The article was based on information from Dr. Kevin Ker, a consultant and research associate at the Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario. The article was so informative and helpful we wanted to publish it again in The Grapevine for your benefit. Dr. Ker’s advice is paraphrased below:
- The most important elements in the vineyard are the three macro-nutrients nitrogen, phosphorus, potash, secondary nutrients calcium and sulphur, and the micro-nutrients boron, copper, zinc and chlorine.
- Grapes are lean feeders. Over-application can be harmful. For example, too much nitrogen (N) can cause excess flowering, and N applied during blossoming could result in poor fruit set. Dr. Ker also advised to not apply N prior to bud break and not within 4 weeks of bloom. Too much potassium (K) can result in unstable sugar levels in the grapes. Finally, an excess of calcium (Ca) or potassium (K) can displace manganese (Mn), which in normal amounts aids fruit quality.
- Phosphorus (P) is related to root production and disease control.
- Potassium (K) helps the transportation of nutrients into the cells of grapevines.
- Calcium (Ca) helps make grape skins become harder; Dr. Ker says it should be applied foliarly to help against the botrytis spore.
- Sulphur helps build proteins, as well as helping in the regulation of growth and plant hormone production.
- Boron is involved in germination, fruit set and shoot development.
- Dr. Ker also commented on soil structure, recommending that vineyard managers try to keep organic matter between 2% and 4%, and also to consider sub-soiling to avoid compaction.
- Finally, Dr. Ker recommended to use tissue tests to monitor the nutrient levels inside the grapevines.
These comments are similar to the recommendations given by TerraLink agronomists, including building and improving healthy soil structure and nutrient levels. TerraLink can assist also through processing and recommendations of both tissue and soil tests. Our on-site Plant Science Lab, at the Abbotsford location, processes tests quickly to get information back to the grower fast in order to make decisions in real time. Call 1-800-661-4559 for more information on lab services and agronomic recommendations.
Reference: Fruit and Vegetable Magazine, November/December 2012