Study, Learn and Work in Viticulture
This is a course for the career vineyard operator, manager or worker. It provides a substantial level of training in broad based horticulture; as well as a very strong foundation in vineyard operations and practices.
There are two parts to this course:
The Core units (15 lessons) provide a broad based foundation in general horticulture. While some of these topics might not at first seem directly relevant to Viticulture, there all are valuable and can have relevance in vineyards. (eg. Consider many vineyartds today make a percentage of their income from tourism, cellar door sales etc. A vineyard often needs to not only grow grapes, but also present itself well to the public through it's gardens & surrounds. Other aspects of horticulture such as tree management for windbreaks etc, all have relevance).
Above all though, this foundation provides a basis for learning horticultural practices specific to grapes (eg. You need to understand about soils in a broad sense before you can start to understand how to manage soils for a particular crop such as grapes).
The second part of the coursse focuses 100% on viticulture. It is divided into the following:
|1. Introduction To Viticulture
||2. Introduction To Grapevines
|3. Propagation Of Grapevines
||4. Improving Grape Quality
|5. Climate & Other Factors In Siting Vineyards
||6. Grape Varieties & Selection
|7. Establishing A Vineyard
||8. Harvest & Post-harvest Handling
|9. Managing A Vineyard
||10. Machinery & Equipment
||12. Plant Nutrition
|13. Agricultural Chemicals
|15. Increasing Efficiency|
Fees do not include exam fees
How Can You Get More Fruit on a Grape Vine?
Grapes (Vitis vinifera), have what are known as bisexual flowers - both the male and female flowers parts occur on the same organ. The inconspicuous flowers of grapes are held in racemes (bunches), which after fertilisation, become the seed bearing fruit. The fruit/seed is not considered to be either male or female - it is a self-contained organism capable of becoming a new plant. However some plants do have sexual parts on different organs. Monoecious or unisexual plants have separate male and female flowers on the same plant. Dioecious plants (such as kiwi fruit) have male and female flowers on separate plants.
At the start of spring, the leaf buds burst open to produce a vegetative shoot well before the flower opens (up to 8 weeks).
When the flower buds do burst, the flowers need to be pollinated for good fruit set. This is assisted by light winds. It is not affected much, if at all, by insects. Warm dry weather helps though. Two or three days after flowers appear.
Unfertilised flowers usually either:
- Drop off quickly
- Form a berry that falls off later
- Form a berry that does not grow very large.
Occasionally, and on certain varieties decent berries may develop from unfertilised flowers.
There are three ways to assist better fruit set:
- Prune the tips of growing shoots a few days before flowering. Doing this removes the competition for nutrients between the flowers and rapidly growing tips of shoots. The theory is that temporarily removing the vegetative competition for nutrients and water will provide a better supply to the flowers during this critical period.
- Girdling - see below
- Applying a chemical growth retardant. By reducing shoot growth, fruit set is increased. This works on light yielding grapes; but it is not suggested for grapes that do not have a fruit set problem. It has the same affect on the vine as girdling.
What Grape Should You Grow
Grape vines are not all the same. Some are grown as cuttings, others are selected varieties, that have been propagated by grafting onto a cutting grown plant.
Grafted plants are commonly used as a way of controlling a serious health problem caused by an aphis
Grape Phylloxera is a small aphid which lives on the roots (and occasionally the leaves) of grapevines. This aphis is native to the eastern parts of North America, but during the 1800's was spread to grape growing areas throughout the world.
It has been a significant problem in not only North America, but also Australia and other parts of the world.
Phylloxera aphids cause galls or swellings on the roots of vines which eventually decay. This process gradually reduces the vigour of the vine, and over 3 to 10 years a healthy productive vine can turn into an unhealthy, unproductive plant.
Phylloxera can be devastating to a vineyard, and once infested it is difficult to bring under total control. The best method of control is to graft plants onto phylloxera resistant root stocks. Such grafted vines produce consistent and reliable crops, even when phylloxera is present.
Rootstock varieties which have a high resistance to phylloxera include: Ramsey, Schwarzmann, 5A Teleki, 99 Richter, 100 Richter, 5BB Kober, Freedom, 140 Ruggeri and 34 EM.
- Ramsey is best suited to hot to warm areas and sandy soils.
- Schwarzmann grows in any type of soil and most climates.
- 5A Teleki and 110 Richter grow on most soil types but only in warmer climates.
- 5BB Kober grows on most soils but prefers milder climates, certainly not hot areas.
Quarantine is used in some places to prevent phylloxera spreading into unaffected vineyard areas. Because the aphis only occurs on grapevines, it is relatively easy to control by quarantine if policed properly amongst new plantings. It is most important that you always use phylloxera free and phylloxera resistant plants when planting vines.
- never take vines or any part of a vine from a phylloxera affected area
- never take soil from vineyards in a phylloxera affected area
- do not grow cuttings or grafts taken from a phylloxera affected area
- do not enter a vineyard without the owner's knowledge or permission
In some regions of the world it is illegal to remove grapevines, or any part of the grapevine, from a Vine Disease District.
More than Meets the Eye to Growing Grapes
You can see from the issue of phylloxera, that growing grapes can be more complicated than what the "beginner" might think when they start studying or working in the field of viticulture.
As you go further into this subject you will realize that it ius a discipline that you will never stop learning about. There is always a better variety to be developed, with a better taste, a greater resistance to pests and diseases, and a higher level of productivity. There are always new developments in this industry, and new ways to improve production on a vineyard.
This course lays the foundation for a career, a productive business and a fascinating lifelong love affair with the grape.
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