Donald Mouton is the Fairview farm manager, responsible for all agricultural management on the farm. This includes looking after the goat herd and of course ensuring that our vineyards are in good shape. He gave us this report on a busy time on the farm.

On Tuesday 07 September we started our suckering, maintenance and tidying up program in the vineyards. Suckering is the removal of extra unwanted shoots from each of the vines. We have finished the Chardonnay the Barbera and Nebbiolo and have then moved onto the farm’s older Viognier block in from of the manor house, and then on to the Pinotage and Shiraz. We have 150 Ha of suckering to do on the Fairview farm!  Over the past three years we have planted new blocks of vineyard on the adjacent Klein Diamant and Groot Diamant sites. These need special care, as we we are still shaping and establishing these vines and this is where we expect some of our premium wines are going to come from in the coming years.

We are busy spraying for weeds on the vine rows. We are making use of the two small Kobuta tractors as well as five workers with knapsack sprayers,  busy spraying the bush vine Chenin Blanc and other problem spots. We have a  problem with Rye grass being resistant to most sprays. In the work rows where we have a rye grass problem, I’m using the rye grass as a cover crop and we are just keeping in mowed with the slasher in order for the grass not to re-seed.

The cover crops on most blocks are looking good and I’m very happy with the growth of the Vetch and Serradella (legumes) that I used on alternative rows on some of the blocks. Cover crops are important in a vineyard as they prevent the loss of topsoil through wind and erosion as well as inhibiting the growth of weeds. The legumes also return vital Nitrogen to the soil.  As the cover crops are either slashed or rolled before summer the organic material acts as a mulch to retain soil moisture.

Attie Adams and his team is busy doing maintenance on the trellissing and replacing vineyard poles. Some of them were snapped by the harvester during the 2010 harvest!

Samuel Qumsa and his team has just finished pruning our olive orchard.  It is the first year that we have done our own pruning as it was done by contractors in the past. Pruning olive trees is a discipline that is new to Fairview but under the watchful eye and mentorship of the experienced John Scrimgeour our guys are learning fast. Olives have an intensive spraying program of natural supplements and we have done our first application of Copper, Boron and other nutrients.

We are also busy planting replacement vines in some of the newer blocks where the vines have either died before establishing themselves or were broken due to wind or human damage.

Riaan Weyers and his assistant are busy doing a full maintenance check of the irrigation installations including all pumps, filter pots, pipelines supply and drip lines. At our Paarl vineyards we use supplementary drip irrigation during the dry summer months.

So there is plenty to keep us busy, but this is a great time in the vineyards, as the next couple of months go a long way in determining the quality of the grapes that will arrive at the cellar in six months time.

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