I risk repeating myself every season when I’m asked to blog about pruning.
Yes, it’s cold. No, we don’t prune in the rain (Yes, it is possible in England to not prune in the rain). Yes, we are using local labour (Yes, they do want to work).
This year we have changed our tact slightly, we are still using our local workforce but we’re subsidising with contract labour.
We are still 100% committed to building a local workforce, and we have a great bunch of locals who have been working for us, in some cases for the last couple of years, but what we find is we have such a high loss rate of people year on year that it becomes counter productive to train them all to prune.
So this is where the contract labour comes in, these guys and girls are seasoned professional vineyard contractors who know what is expected and can get the job done quickly, some have been pruning for many years. Because they have the experience they are fast and very good at what they do, so we’ve got them and our regular workforce who have pruned before doing all the cuts. The new crew (who worked the harvest with us) are doing all the hard yards, pulling out the pruned canes and then tying down this years cane. I find it helps to go through a season to understand the growth habit of the vine and the practical aspect of what we are doing at pruning, so this time next year if they’re still with us we’ll teach them how to prune- there will be some. Others will go off to do other things. Some realise that vineyard work isn’t for them- its usually this time of year that does that. Others get full time work elsewhere, and were just using the vineyard work as a stop gap.
I will repeat myself now, pruning is an art and takes years to master.