... build a chronology of live wood: first year, second year, third year and so on
“Our principle rule is ramification. Build a chronology of live wood: first year, second year, third year and so on”…
But how much do we actually know about the health of vines?
Surely it is time to stop uprooting vines that are not even “of age” and to rethink proper pruning for their well-being? And if they are sick, why not treat them?
These might seem like trivial questions, but few used to ask them in the world of viticulture.
We already began asking them 30 years ago?
Since then we have observed and experimented, including some novel techniques, and in the process, developed a branched pruning method, which can be adapted to all forms of vine cultivation. This reduces the devastating impact that incorrect cuts have on the plant’s lymphatic system. That is because we are convinced that the first task is prevention.
Why are the old vineyards the healthiest?
It all started about thirty years ago, when – from the observation and study of ancient vineyards from all over Europe, we wondered why modern vineyards were uprooted after about twenty years due to the decline in production, the number of plants with symptoms of trunk diseases and missing plants, while the 60-100 year old vineyards were still productive and healthy.
The vine is not a tree, but a liana. Its feature as a liana in nature leads it to grow in space, crawling at ground level and then climbing trees to reach the light. In nature, therefore, the plant has no wire or other constraints, but can grow freely.
We started studying the vineyards, first of all observing the appearance and structure of the plant.
It was then after seeing the cutting traces of several generations of pruning, we began to understand the origin of the invasive pruning so prevalent today. In recent decades, thanks to technological innovation and the advent of agricultural vehicles, viticulture has been redefined based on a geometric idea to facilitate mechanical processing and also to meet innovations in the oenological field.
From this moment on, man therefore began to impose strict limits on the vine plant, respected through mutilating pruning, in order to maintain that perfect geometry and contain the plant within the spaces defined by modern viticulture: the height of the bending wire, the distance between plants, between rows, and the surface of the canopy
All this has favoured and accelerated the decay of modern vineyards and the increase in the incidence of trunk diseases, among which the most widespread in the world is Esca disease.
“We immediately realized how pruning, which is and remains a mutilating technical act for the plant, causes consequences within the plant”…
Whenever a wound is caused, either through pruning or through other mechanical processes, the plant reacts naturally by closing the lymphatic vessels that carry the lymph to the removed portion of wood. By doing this, portions of dead or dry wood are created inside the plant, which we have defined desiccation cones.
The continuous execution of pruning cuts, and the consequent desiccation cones, over the years increases the amount of dead wood inside, reducing the amount of living wood. The latter is very important for the plant, because it constitutes the warehouse for the reserve substances that the vine uses at the time of bud breaking.
The size of desiccation cones is directly related to the size of the cut. A cut made on a one or two year old wood causes a smaller and shallower desiccation cone, compared to a cut on an older wood
We have also noticed how the desiccation cones, caused by the close and crossed cuts on the perennial structure of the plant, reduce the number and efficiency of the lymphatic vessels present within the living wood, hindering the circulation of the internal lymphatic flow, both towards the canopy than towards the roots.
In the most extreme cases, it causes the death of the plant, especially during the summer period: a period in which the internal circulation of the plant is severely tested by the high demand/loss of water from the canopy.
“… a rethinking of pruning, so that it was more respectful of the physiology of the plant”…
We therefore believed that the first thing to do was prevention and that prevention must necessarily transpire from a rethinking of pruning, so that it is more respectful of the physiology of the plant. We therefore codified our Simonit&Sirch Pruning Method, behind which there has been, and still is, a constant commitment to research and practical application in the vineyard.
The Simonit&Sirch Pruning is based on 4 simple but important principles, and can be adapted to any variety, climate and form of training: allowing the plant to branch with age, occupy space with the
trunk and branches; guarantee the continuity of the lymphatic flow; make small cuts on young wood, not very invasive; and use, when necessary, the so-called “respect wood” technique to remove the desiccation from the main sap flow.
One of the big principles for respecting vines is independent of the training system you use, or the variety, it is ramification.
You first build the trunk (the first structure), then the arms (the second structure). It is like a chronology. You need to build a chronology of wood. Our principle rule is ramification. Build a chronology of live wood: first year, second year, third year and so on”.
continuity of the sap flow
The third principle of the method is to make small cuts on one-year-old wood.
It is necessary to make a cut that preserves crown buds on the sap flow path, such as on the trunk and branches.
The fourth principle of Simonit&Sirch Pruning concerns cuts on 2 or 3-year-old wood. When making a cut on wood that is 2 years old or older , it is necessary to maintain a portion of reserve wood. This is a wood portion where the cone of desiccation will form. The purpose is to keep the area of desiccation caused by the cut, away from the sap flow.
The reserve wood will gradually dry to the next diaphragm, thus preventing the development of necrosis in the lower wood.
“We have observed how the application of a dynamic and physiological pruning of the plant promote an increase in living wood over the years, with a consequent intact and efficient lymphatic system”…
To be successful, the application of the Simonit&Sirch Pruning in a vineyard requires training and accompaniment for those involved in pruning and managing the vineyards. The training course is always tailored to the companies, adapting the principles to the situations present in the vineyard.
The training course with the pruners takes place together with a Simonit&Sirch technician, who accompanies them and shares the know-how and experience with them, helping them to gain confidence and autonomy in the work.
We are increasingly convinced that there is no good or bad pruner but there is a trained and an untrained pruner.