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  1. #1
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    Default Working a very small vineyard with only a BCS

    Love to hear any input or see any related links. I am considering a small vineyard with extremely tight row spacing.

    Anyone use that little 30 gal sprayer they have on Earthtools? Would a pull behind with a self-contained motor be a better choice?

    Anyone know someone who works a small vineyard with two-wheelers?

    A friend of mine is a vineyard manager and he says that "no one has ever done that". Funny because I was under the impression that the Italians had most certainly done that and he manages a vineyard owned by an Italian family.....a huge one, but still. You think it could work? Say 2-5 acres. Mainly mowing, plowing and spraying followed by hauling out fruit. They say tight row spacing and keeping vines very small, making up for the vine size and resulting lower yield per plant via the intensity of planting, will produce very sweet grapes.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Working a very small vineyard with only a BCS

    Did they also tell you a narrow vineyard spacing will
    cause the rows to have poor ventilation and low
    sunlight exposure for the internal rows? The last
    thing you need to deal with is mold, mildew, and rotting
    leaves same.

    Are you going to plant the vines in raised beds to
    prevent them from getting wet feet.

    If you use the BCS and a rotary plow to build the
    raised beds before planting the vines you will be a
    step a head in managing the vines as they will
    not be damaged by a tiller and vines will grow
    downward more easily because of the raised beds.

  3. #3
    Gold Member
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    Default Re: Working a very small vineyard with only a BCS

    Quote Originally Posted by PGC View Post
    Love to hear any input or see any related links. I am considering a small vineyard with extremely tight row spacing.

    Anyone use that little 30 gal sprayer they have on Earthtools? Would a pull behind with a self-contained motor be a better choice?

    Anyone know someone who works a small vineyard with two-wheelers?

    A friend of mine is a vineyard manager and he says that "no one has ever done that". Funny because I was under the impression that the Italians had most certainly done that and he manages a vineyard owned by an Italian family.....a huge one, but still. You think it could work? Say 2-5 acres. Mainly mowing, plowing and spraying followed by hauling out fruit. They say tight row spacing and keeping vines very small, making up for the vine size and resulting lower yield per plant via the intensity of planting, will produce very sweet grapes.
    Could you explain what is extremely tight row spacings?
    Mowing easy just get a ride on. Same with spraying make a little buggy behind it.
    Plowing???? Different thing altogether on 2 to 5 acres. It would be a slow tiring job and the 2 wheel tractors I have used don't do any kind of job in heavy ground.
    Picking and transporting grapes could be fun. Tight row spacings mean narrow carts for the grapes which in turn means unstable carts if they carry any kind of load.
    When we pick the smallest size grape bin we use is half a ton and with a gang of 14 pickers they fill pretty quickly. Anything smaller than these and you lose to much time in transporting them.
    There is a book and the title is Wine from a 100 vines
    http://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&rc...flmbVhEA8TSe_w .
    The author had a very small vineyard with again from memory something like 2 or 3 foot spacing. He details spraying and fertilizing etc....... may be a worth while read for you........try your local library.
    What varieties are you going to plant............table or wine grapes?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Working a very small vineyard with only a BCS

    kubota's B2320N narrow tractor is just 35.4 inches wide outside tread. Most 3 point tillers are too wide for it in practice. I think Agric makes a 30" tiller that would give you some leeway riding down the rows.

    If your young/strong and have the time I don't see why you couldn't use a walk behind or at least try it. But you might ought to think about putting the rows wide enough so that you could go to a small narrow tractor someday to increase your productivity.

    All that said I don't know anything about wine grapes or their culture. Just throwing out that Narrow Kubota in case you've not considered it as a option.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Working a very small vineyard with only a BCS

    Leonz – Still just an idea, but yes I’m told mold and mildew are a problem, which is why I want to make sure I can rig up a good sprayer. Hadn’t considered raised beds for vine planting, but from what little research I had done so far I understand that tighter rows will help conserve irrigation water.

    Zonta223 – I thought 4-6’ would be considered pretty tight spacing. With a 30’ tiller box, two passes between rows would cover 5’…about the spacing I was thinking. The way my friend does it they only cultivate/plow every other row each year so that the cover crop seeds from one row to the next. I have a half ton cart for my tractor. Thank you also, for the book link. I purchased “Vines to Wines” last night, so maybe that’ll be my next one. Wine grapes is the idea…Chardonay (I was a commercial propagator and have access to lots of cutting material so I’ll grow my own....going to look into grafting onto native California rootstock maybe).

    Bilrus61 – Wow, that is a narrow tractor….only 6” wider than the BCS 853. The option of upgrading to a 4-wheel tractor in the long run is nice to have, you’re right.

    As you can see it’s still just an idea (I have little knowledge on the subject) and I have a lot of research to do. I ordered that book From Vines to Wines last night, and soon I’ll be working for a huge winery/vineyard as a Business Analyst and learning a lot about the business side of things. My entrepreneurial mind just wants to know more about the whole operation and whether it is feasible to operate a small vineyard with the tools I have now...a very small one...Thanks for the input from all.
    Last edited by PGC; 09-28-2012 at 02:39 PM. Reason: messy weird stuff happened pasting from MS Word, so I'm pasting from Notepad instead

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Working a very small vineyard with only a BCS

    The other major issues are-

    degree days
    trellis type
    trellis canopy

    No matter the trellis type or the width you need solar exposure to aid in grape growth.

    I would seriously consider a hoop house for your vineyard as it is small enough in size and it will
    permit you to power ventilate it and also protect it by its ability to warm up the raised beds with
    lots of sunlight.

    A hoop house would permit you to have high grape vines for trellising to
    create a wide vine canopy which will reduce weed to a minimum.

    Also a wide trellising system would allow you to have more vines in a smaller area as the wooden T post trellising sytem
    would allow huge vines to be created and supported by the trellis wires from end to end and and you would have a much greater number of clusters as long as you drip irrigate if possible to prevent mold and mildew.

    If you build raised beds in the hoop house you can bury the irrigation drip tape in the raised beds and thus prevent them from being damaged.

    Planting the vines in a raised bed also negates the need for covering and uncovering the roots every fall and spring with a grape hoe.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Working a very small vineyard with only a BCS

    We had a 1.5 acre muscadine grape vineyard (eating grapes in the Southeastern USA). Grape roots are close to the surface. Why do you plan to till between the rows every year? The Europeans occassionally spade between the rows and it likely damages the roots but nothing like what a tiller would do to the root structure.

    I have an Antonio Carraro TTR 4400 and a Tortella spader. The Carraro is 53" wide and the spader is 47" wide. The spader does a fantastic job preparing the soil in all types of moisture conditions. A Goldoni 20? is about 42" wide and there are spaders in the 40" width range, as I recall. John Deere sold a re-branded version of the Goldoni for vineyard applications like yours.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Working a very small vineyard with only a BCS

    I highly recommend that you don't short yourself on space. Its not worth it as the spacing decision is something you will have to live with for a long time.

    You get the best grapes when they have to struggle. Struggling doesn't mean you need to go with a tight row spacing.

    A lot depends on your soil and climate. But you can plant grass or something else in the aisles between the rows and what you plant will compete with the vines -- thus causing the vines to struggle.

    I went with 10 foot spacing between rows.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Working a very small vineyard with only a BCS

    [QUOTE=PGC;3015946]Leonz – Wine grapes is the idea…Chardonay (I was a commercial propagator and have access to lots of cutting material so I’ll grow my own....going to look into grafting onto native California rootstock maybe).


    Not trying to put your choice of grapes down but there is a world wide glut of Chardonnay. It caught all the large wineries in the world out I think. Almost overnight everybody became an ABC drinker. Anything But Chardonnay. Do you have a buyer locked in for your grapes or are you going to make your own wine?. Moscato is the white wine of the moment. If I had a $ for everyone that asked for a bottle of this when we sell our wines I would be rich and retired instead of just being semi retired.
    As far as tractors go you can cheaply purchase one of the older grey market kubota or Yamna 18 or 20 hp tractors which with the wheels set up correctly would fit your required spacing. I used a Kubota L2000DT for years to spray my vineyard did a great job with my little sprayer they only reason I don't use it for that job any more is I bought a bigger sprayer.

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