D as in dry, S as in stress

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For the last 20 years we’ve seen different types of winters. Some freezing. Some snowy. Some have been rainy without snow, others lukewarm. However this has been a winter season with such a fluctuating temperature that I think it’s unique. The land is dry and dusty. It hasn’t rained hard since the end of September 2015. December was so springlike that between Christmas and New Year’s I was worried about premature budding. You can’t even find snow with a telescope. Mid-January the temperatures dropped below zero and I breathed a sigh of relief, but the end of January has had unseasonably-high temperatures once again. How can I manage the vineyard in these conditions? I delayed pruning. Trimming in 15°C is madness – you need to wait for the plant to be “sleeping”. Management problems have popped up because of this since the workers need need to be busy with tasks not easy to find in the winter. The risk that there won’t be enough time to cut before real spring arrives is high. We’re at the end of January and no atmospheric precipitation is in sight, but fortunately we are always straddling zero degrees.

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There’s a high chance that the vines will begin the season with a good dose of stress. Working the land carefully and improving the soil structure is of fundamental importance. These are activities, however, that require years of work and they can’t be done in a few weeks. The potential stress is due to both the lack of water and the constant instability of the weather. I don’t mean the atmospheric precipitation, but the seesawing temperature. One week is spring, the other below zero. There’s still time for a beautiful, healthy snow, but it’s not realistic to increase the immune system of the plants so that they’ll suffer less if the spring will just be rainy again like the last two years – we’ll just have more problems.

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In these days of no rain, mass media has shared news related to the increase in pollution in big cities as well as their response, such as: circulation for alternate license plates, free public transportation, etc etc. Meanwhile we hope for wind and rain. All of this makes me laugh – as if wind an rain could solve the problem. They would simply move it. Heavy metals and pollutants will remain, but maybe instead of breathing them, we’ll eat or drink them. Ridiculous.