CEDAR RAPIDS – I thought I wouldn’t be ruthless enough during our viticulture class tonight at Kirkwood Community College. The opposite proved true.
If there is a vineyard axiom akin to “measure twice, cut once,” I learned it tonight.
Our instructor expertly demonstrated how to train 1- to 2-year-old grapevines onto a rod to reach the second, higher wire. Excess branches are pruned off to leave the single strongest, straightest trunk, which, oftentimes, is more subjective than objective. The width at the top should preferably be at least the thickness of a pencil and numerous ties, called T-bands, are fastened to hold the vine in place.
Trouble is, even in dormancy, the vines are somewhat of a tangled mass and deciding which branch to keep isn’t always clear-cut. The frigid, 30 mph winds at the top of the vineyard tonight didn’t help, either. Nevertheless, my class partner and I found one branch that was the obvious choice to keep. I thought I followed it down to clear away the excess branches near the ground, but one errant clip proved to be the fatal blow for the prime “keeper.” Fortunately, we hadn’t clipped the secondary trunk, which was tall enough, but not quite as straight as our first choice. Keeping the “lesser” branch reminded me of this episode of Seinfeld, so at least there is somewhat of a happy ending.