05 November, 2000

Autumn cleaning

Diseased wine cut to bits and pieces.

Blue columns of smoke meander towards the sky from the now mainly yellow leaves on the wine plants. Many make advantage of the mild weather with grey skies and more than ten degrees Celsius of warmth to clean the rows and parcels of wine. Old and diseased plants must be taken away, before the crops will become too bad or the disease spread to the neighbouring plants.

A wine plant typically lasts 50 years, sometimes shorter, sometimes longer. What matters is whether it produces good and healthy grapes. Only when the amount of fruits start to lower a lot, you start thinking about removing the plant and put another, since it is expensive and demanding work. If the entire field is to retire, you can use the heavy machinery, tractors and other machines that can pull and drag the up to 15 meters long roots into the light. But if only a few plants are to be changed, you must use your big scissors and spade instead and do you best to get at least some of the roots out of the soil. Which normally means no more than down to one meter or less.

The other part of the cleaning job is to help diseased plants further towards the final death. In our 200 meter long rows in average 5-6 plants in each row carries the disease esca, that in few years kills the plant from within, while it produces less and less grapes. On top of that the disease easily spreads. Especially during the harvest, where touching one diseased plant and then a healthy one is enough to spread the disease further. The only thing you can do is to team up with your biggest pair of scissors, cut the plant completely and finish by destroying the eyes in the stem, where the new leaves would normally start next spring. This treatment will lead to the final death.

Sad, diseased leftovers.

The sad leftovers - several meters long branches with yellowish leaves and wet grapes - I carry through the row to pile everything up in a corner below. Not excactly easy, since each plant participate to the party with several kiloes of branches, leaves and rotten grapes, that preferably must be carried in a way, where they dont touch any other plant to prevent further spreading of the disease. All I can do is to either lift everything with my arms over my head with the juice from the rotten grapes drip-drip-dripping down my hear or to carry everytning in front of me with the juice drip-drip-dripping down the sleaves of my shirt.

Three hours work end with quite a mountain of cut branches. Enough for one tractor to take everything back to the farm, where it will have to dry in a corner before it will finally be burnt. Only when there is no risk of spreading any disease the branches will be burnt straight away in the fields.

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