2017 West Coast Vintage Weather Thread

Discussions and questions (vintages, winemaking, etc) for those ITB. All are welcome to post.
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Merrill Lindquist
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#501 Post by Merrill Lindquist » September 20th, 2017, 5:47 pm

Paul Gordon wrote:
Merrill Lindquist wrote:
Paul Gordon wrote:Sampled our Syrah again yesterday. Hardly any movement. The berries have rehydrated. Sitting at 20-22b. Heading to a pick the first week of October (which was the estimate based on the flowering date).
I hear other vineyards are experiencing the same halt or very slow brix advance.
Exactly what I am tasting out there. I do not see rehydration up here...there is a point when raisins are raisins. I always look at the stem - if it is brown and in a vertical position, I think it is pretty much done. If it still has some green, I think it is possible it will continue to develop. This is not scientific; this is pure observation.

If a winery does not have a very active sorting system, I think the flavors could veer off into a flavor profile that could be awkward.

I picked 2 weeks ago to preserve flavor that is consistent with my label's profile. I picked because it tasted good! I picked because I could not bear the loss I was starting to see from dehydration, despite irrigating. Some of the conditions out there remind me of 2011, when flavors and Brix were doing the cha-cha: back and forth, go forward, go back, then step back to the center. Where do you want to catch the fruit? Some folks think the thing about 2011 was the rain, but it was goofy well before the Oct 3 rain, and then the bigger one around the 22nd. The flavors and Brix were going ahead and falling back. Just another vintage showing vintage qualities. As I frequently say, "If all you want is the same wine in your cellar and glass, all the time, then find a vintage you love and back up the truck." Otherwise, listen, taste, and learn to appreciate vintage difference.
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Just so I am clear - the (small percentage of) badly desiccated berries have remained so. In the heat many berries dimpled a little. They have generally filled out and hardened. I think it is this uptake of water that is slowing the sugar advance.

I must admit I am one of those that does not get the "flavors" of grapes on the vine. I just look for visual clues to indicate "ripeness" - slackening berries, pulp color, lignification of the stems - and the color/hardness of the seeds. I can recognise the maturity of tannins by chewing grapes but cannot recognise any favor profiles that end up in the finished wine. Of course Cab, with its inherent greenness, could be different.
To me, there are stages of flavor progression for Cabernet. First fruit, then grapes, then (hopefully) Cab! The last two can slip back and forth, and then you have the sugars moving back and forth. I grab it when I taste the 2 in tandem.
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#502 Post by Casey Hartlip » September 21st, 2017, 2:56 pm

We had .05 of rain, barely a dust settler. Back to it tomorrow: Chardonnay for Navarro for two days, Sunday off and figuring what will happen Monday. Over 200 tons yet to pick.
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#503 Post by Casey Hartlip » September 22nd, 2017, 5:04 am

Well crap 36 degrees in the vineyard this morning. Not fun handling grapes.
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#504 Post by Merrill Lindquist » September 22nd, 2017, 8:02 am

It's like a brain freeze from a frozen drink, only on your fingers. I had a cool morning for harvest this year, but not that biting cold. Hot mornings are worse, as the weight in the warm sun crushes the berries from their own soft but heavy weight.
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#505 Post by timmy roos » September 22nd, 2017, 8:45 am

Casey
How are yields on chard? We were substantially down
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#506 Post by Casey Hartlip » September 22nd, 2017, 10:40 am

We are hitting estimates and kind of right at our normal levels. Really beautiful stuff.
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#507 Post by Casey Hartlip » September 22nd, 2017, 10:42 am

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One of my customers gifted this to me today. Guess he's hoping to continue next year! Bribery generally works with me!
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#508 Post by Al Osterheld » September 22nd, 2017, 8:15 pm

Cheap date, dude.

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#509 Post by Roy Piper » September 22nd, 2017, 10:51 pm

My Moulds is coming off Saturday morning, about 7 hours from now. Will need to sort out 5-10%. But it's gonna be nice. Seeds not a brown as I might like so maybe not as much skin contact after fermentaion completes. The coming week of heat would not have worked for this fruit.
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#510 Post by Steve Nordhoff » September 23rd, 2017, 8:28 am

We are picking our Tench Cab Monday, will post back with some details.
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#511 Post by Casey Hartlip » September 23rd, 2017, 5:04 pm

Here comes the final push. No more Sundays but we are fully booked out as far as I can see. Chard and then Pinot for Navarro the last two days. Young block of clone 548 picked right at estimate. Pinot was another converted from-cordon-to-cane field that did great. Monday a big lot of Chard for Copain/KJ and a whole week of multiple customer multiple variety picks. Season is gonna go out with a bang!
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#512 Post by Stewart Johnson » September 24th, 2017, 12:11 pm

Picked chard from my vineyard last night. This is the first vintage on grafted vines, and I was way off -- barely 50% of what I expected. Lots of clusters hanging out there, but I never took cluster weights, and they came off really light. Kind of the same story with the viognier this year -- looked good on the vine and amounted to little in the bin. Syrah is all I have left hanging. It was 21.8B yesterday and showing no signs of wanting to be picked. The last stuff out there is going to bear the full brunt of raccoon, skunk, possum, fox, bird, etc. pressure, and I'm hoping some midweek heat will push the syrah toward the finish line so that I'll have something left to pick.
On picking decisions -- I'm mostly with Paul in looking at other markers, but I do pay attention to the very rough berry profile of the samples I take. With the pinot, I want to get past the bright red strawberry/raspberry flavors and catch it before it goes all the way to blackberry. Boysenberry is about where I'm aiming. This year, there was no chance for that happy middle ground. I was bright red and immature on other fronts before the Great Labor Day Heat Blast (GLDHB). So, I irrigated like crazy and got thru it with decent sugars and acids and another 10 days of hang-time, but definitely into the blacker end of the flavor spectrum than I would have otherwise chosen.
On vintage variation -- all well and good, and we'll see about this one, but I'm not I'm not real pollyanna-ish about anything that was on the cusp of ripeness around Labor Day. We had a relatively "normal" timing of veraison in much of CA, and that means, what, a four week ripening period to get grapes off before the GLDHB? Hard to envision greatness developing in that short a ripening period, though I'll be happy to be proven wrong. And, as I've said of my own "flagship" variety, gutting out the GLDHB with the pinot was sub-optimal also, though I'll be even happier to be proven wrong there. In short, I think the adoption of the "challenging vintage" euphemism is probably in order for lots of us.
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#513 Post by Roy Piper » September 24th, 2017, 5:24 pm

Stewart, I wonder with numbers like that if Marin (I assume that is where your vineyard is) might be the promised land for sparkling wine, someday?
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#514 Post by Roy Piper » September 24th, 2017, 5:27 pm

I am picked-off at Moulds. Very relieved. Flavors are great but that has to do more with Steve's vineyard management and really nice terroir than any genius on my part. Nine Suns Cab I am getting needs every ounce of the 87-93F we are now expected to get all this coming week.
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#515 Post by Casey Hartlip » September 24th, 2017, 6:46 pm

Roy Piper wrote:I am picked-off at Moulds. Very relieved. Flavors are great but that has to do more with Steve's vineyard management and really nice terroir than any genius on my part. Nine Suns Cab I am getting needs every ounce of the 87-93F we are now expected to get all this coming week.
Wow a winemaker giving credit to the grower. Must be a blue moon!
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#516 Post by Nolan E » September 24th, 2017, 7:36 pm

Things all over the place here. We have some barrel ferments of sparkling base and rose, one red ferment around 8 brix and processed 12 tons of Pinot Noir yesterday. Some Dundee Hills vineyards still hanging around 16-18 brix, most others in the 20-22 range. The rains last week helped a little but overall pHs are higher and TAs are lower than they could be at the current brix levels.

My bosses are comparing our hot summer and so-far wet harvest to 2013, so we'll see.
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#517 Post by Stewart Johnson » September 25th, 2017, 9:25 am

Roy Piper wrote:Stewart, I wonder with numbers like that if Marin (I assume that is where your vineyard is) might be the promised land for sparkling wine, someday?
Schramsberg has been buying Marin fruit for years and is now farming a pretty spectacular pinot vineyard in Nicasio for sparkling. Pt. Reyes Vineyards is way out near Tomales Bay on Hwy 1 north of Pt. Reyes Station, and they have been specialising in sparkling for a number of years.
I had some kicker canes that partly extended above my bird netting this year, and I thought (probably too late) of selling that fruit for sparkling before the birds would get excited about it. There are some pluses to selling to sparkling producers, but the major downside is that they pay much less than what still pinot producers do. That's especially problematic in a year like this when picking costs are so high. To make a go of growing for sparkling, I think you'd have to crop really heavily, and Marin frequently struggles to set much fruit.
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#518 Post by Merrill Lindquist » September 25th, 2017, 12:42 pm

Lots of Cab, Petite Syrah, and Cab Franc being picked in the Pickett Road area. Still a lot hanging, though.

The weather is gorgeous: 50 in the morning and going nicely up to about 85. Still very breezy. Perfect late summer weather.
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#519 Post by Casey Hartlip » September 25th, 2017, 6:17 pm

22 tons picked by 10:45 without picking at night. Beautiful stuff going to Copain although it went to Vinwood Kendall Jackson' s big winery in Geyserville.
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#520 Post by Eric Lundblad » September 25th, 2017, 7:56 pm

Stewart Johnson wrote:(stuff deleted in various places for brevity)
On picking decisions -- we'll see about this one, but I'm not I'm not real pollyanna-ish about anything that was on the cusp of ripeness around Labor Day. We had a relatively "normal" timing of veraison in much of CA, and that means, what, a four week ripening period to get grapes off before the GLDHB? Hard to envision greatness developing in that short a ripening period, though I'll be happy to be proven wrong. And, as I've said of my own "flagship" variety, gutting out the GLDHB with the pinot was sub-optimal also, though I'll be even happier to be proven wrong there. In short, I think the adoption of the "challenging vintage" euphemism is probably in order for lots of us.
This has been the challenge/conundrum of the year. I've always felt (and acted on), heading into a significant heatwave, that picking any/everything that's close to ready is the right decision. I picked some chard the end of august that was near-ish...I just got my other lot of chard (not close to ready at the GLDHB). Will be interesting to see which one wins out.
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#521 Post by Steve Nordhoff » September 26th, 2017, 7:04 am

We picked our Tench Cabernet Monday late night/early morning. Yield was quite good. The big V arms sustained a large canopy so any sunburn and raisining was minimal, even after the blistering heatwave. Quality looks great for the sixth year in a row!
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#522 Post by R. Frankel » September 26th, 2017, 8:12 am

Really good summary from across Napa here. Last Thursday, but seems to indicate a lot of picking in October.

http://napavalleyregister.com/star/life ... 8c803.html

Does this match what you ITBers are seeing?
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#523 Post by Paul Gordon » September 26th, 2017, 10:49 am

Rich

Brix development really stalled the first three weeks of September - the heat the beginning of the month seemed to stop brix accumulation and acids stayed high. It will be interesting to see how the moderate warmth this week changes that.
Ironically, given the heat, it seems (at least in Mendo) that we are getting phenologically ripe grapes (well developed tannin, woody seeds and good pulp color) at lower than normal brix. We picked our first fruit - Bearwallow Pinot - last Friday. It had great color, mature seeds at 22b.
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#524 Post by Casey Hartlip » September 26th, 2017, 11:52 am

Finally picked our first truly damaged fruit. Young vine clone 2A Pinot. Young vines don't quite have the reserves or canopy in such extreme heat. Lost some tons there.
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#525 Post by Merrill Lindquist » September 26th, 2017, 1:55 pm

Casey Hartlip wrote:Finally picked our first truly damaged fruit. Young vine clone 2A Pinot. Young vines don't quite have the reserves or canopy in such extreme heat. Lost some tons there.
IMG_20170926_110235439.jpg
Casey - what sorting method is being employed on that fruit? It's a tough one, for sure.

We have 93 degrees here at my place this afternoon, but it is quite pleasant on the covered porch and a strong breeze blowing. We are on Fire Watch until late tomorrow: hot, dry, and windy.
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#526 Post by Casey Hartlip » September 26th, 2017, 6:20 pm

Although they are a rather large producer for our area that fruit get hand sorted on a sorting table. With as many tons/lots/wineries I pick for, there's going to come that time when it's just "time to get it in" and might not be optimum. Last year might have been our best in many years where we picked very little of that type of fruit.

Tomorrow we'll get back into some wonderful stuff: clone 76 Chard for Navarro from a 12 year old field totally in it's prime, and a Roederer clone 31 that we pick for a high end Napa customer.

Weather seems to be holding and although I can't quite reach out and touch it, I can see the end on the horizon.
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#527 Post by William Segui » September 28th, 2017, 1:15 pm

Casey Hartlip wrote:Last year might have been our best in many years where we picked very little of that type of fruit.
I know no one wants to hear it, but 16 is shaping up fantastically in the cellar. I prefer them to 15 at the same point.

Congrats on the home stretch, been a wild ride out there I’m sure.

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#528 Post by Merrill Lindquist » September 28th, 2017, 1:28 pm

William Segui wrote:
Casey Hartlip wrote:Last year might have been our best in many years where we picked very little of that type of fruit.
I know no one wants to hear it, but 16 is shaping up fantastically in the cellar. I prefer them to 15 at the same point.

Congrats on the home stretch, been a wild ride out there I’m sure.
I can't get my mind around comparing 2015 at a year in with 2016 at a year in. I have my own notes, and cellar staff notes, and notes of others who have tasted with me along the way (and I miss you guys who have gone on to other things). I will have to check back on the written "pulse." Will and Piper and some others get to taste more than one winery's wines as they go through the life cycle. So they are generally in a better position to make vintage comparisons.

But yes, indeed, 2017 is very interesting. I start to wonder if some of the fruit that is hanging out there is hanging by choice. At certain points, availability of harvest crews and winery crush/tank space can keep some fruit on the vines past prime. Nothing new in that.
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#529 Post by William Segui » September 28th, 2017, 2:05 pm

Merrill Lindquist wrote: But yes, indeed, 2017 is very interesting. I start to wonder if some of the fruit that is hanging out there is hanging by choice. At certain points, availability of harvest crews and winery crush/tank space can keep some fruit on the vines past prime. Nothing new in that.
Merrill — The heat moved some things forward, but pushed some things back, as the vines spent a lot of time shut down. There was/is a lot of fruit out there and this year wasn’t as early to start as some of the recent vintages, so things were going to be ‘late’ to begin with. Not to mention, the first three weeks of August were cooler than normal, as was the middle of September.

Lots of eyes on the forecast next week, looks like there might be some rain. Which isn’t necessarily problem, but quantity, duration, weather after etc.

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#530 Post by Merrill Lindquist » September 28th, 2017, 2:49 pm

William Segui wrote:
Merrill Lindquist wrote: But yes, indeed, 2017 is very interesting. I start to wonder if some of the fruit that is hanging out there is hanging by choice. At certain points, availability of harvest crews and winery crush/tank space can keep some fruit on the vines past prime. Nothing new in that.
Merrill — The heat moved some things forward, but pushed some things back, as the vines spent a lot of time shut down. There was/is a lot of fruit out there and this year wasn’t as early to start as some of the recent vintages, so things were going to be ‘late’ to begin with. Not to mention, the first three weeks of August were cooler than normal, as was the middle of September.

Lots of eyes on the forecast next week, looks like there might be some rain. Which isn’t necessarily problem, but quantity, duration, weather after etc.
I can see fruit out there that, in my opinion, can't be salvaged. Not with the finest of sorting and end up with anything that tastes like Cab or is of any quantity. But many vineyards have been picked and my trip to Napa and back today witnessed huge truckloads of fruit moving around. Lots of crews along Silverado Trail picking - big crews in big vineyards.
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#531 Post by Casey Hartlip » September 28th, 2017, 5:55 pm

Tomorrow we'll break the 500 ton mark. Still have 100 out there.
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#532 Post by Casey Hartlip » September 29th, 2017, 10:22 am

Nice looking load of Pinot shipping out.
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#533 Post by William Segui » September 29th, 2017, 12:29 pm

Merrill Lindquist wrote:I can see fruit out there that, in my opinion, can't be salvaged. Not with the finest of sorting and end up with anything that tastes like Cab or is of any quantity.
I have a few vines in the block that I work with that just don't throw a ton of canopy and are susceptible to sunburn. The back side of that cluster however, is perfect - so you have to think twice before throwing baby out with the bathwater.

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#534 Post by Karen Troisi » September 30th, 2017, 6:20 am

We still have fruit out there - cab sauv on Mt. Veeder and Stagecoach Vineyard. Also some merlot in Oak Knoll and some Sonoma Coast chard. Canopies look pretty healthy and the forecast looks good so thinking another week or so and all will be in.
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#535 Post by William Segui » September 30th, 2017, 5:02 pm

Karen -- where are you getting you merlot from?

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#536 Post by Karen Troisi » October 1st, 2017, 9:53 am

William Segui wrote:Karen -- where are you getting you merlot from?
Orchard Avenue - really beautiful fruit.
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#537 Post by Merrill Lindquist » October 1st, 2017, 4:06 pm

I was away for the weekend and came back to find the crops I was watching have indeed been picked. Still plenty up fruit out there visible from 29 and Silverado Trail.
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#538 Post by Roy Piper » October 1st, 2017, 7:32 pm

I am down to 9 brix. Tastes really good. Really glad I came off when I did. Not much left out there on the floor that is not having a lot of cave-in.

Mountain fruit still a week off or more.
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#539 Post by William Segui » October 2nd, 2017, 8:25 am

Karen Troisi wrote:
William Segui wrote:Karen -- where are you getting you merlot from?
Orchard Avenue - really beautiful fruit.
I used to live back there, drove by every day. Love that west of 29, south of Yountville area for merlot (I get some too).

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2017 West Coast Vintage Weather Thread

#540 Post by Casey Hartlip » October 2nd, 2017, 1:59 pm

37 degrees and pretty heavy fog this morning. Such brutal conditions confirms my deepest respect for my pickers. I hated being out there today and I was just driving the forklift and walking around!

The end is now in sight. Picking every day the rest of the week and should finish on Saturday. Already ordered a taco truck for lunch that day. I usually don't do harvest parties (too many crazy ones back in the 80's) but I want to show these folks a little love.
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#541 Post by Casey Hartlip » October 3rd, 2017, 7:37 pm

Lost a few of our pickers to Mendocino's other crop. You can smell it everywhere you drive. Stumbling to the finish line. Still on track to wrap on Saturday. Shit the taco truck is booked we HAVE to finish!!
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2017 West Coast Vintage Weather Thread

#542 Post by Roy Piper » October 3rd, 2017, 7:39 pm

3.5 brix. Guessing 6 more days til dry. And then I pick Nine Suns and start all over.
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#543 Post by Casey Hartlip » October 4th, 2017, 7:33 am

Man, 35 this morning. Roederer had a field hit 29 yesterday but of course the sparkling guys are done. Hopefully a bit warmer tomorrow morning.
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#544 Post by Merrill Lindquist » October 4th, 2017, 1:00 pm

I swear I heard a wind machine go off this morning around 6? It did not last long, but cold mornings are upon us.
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#545 Post by Roy Piper » October 4th, 2017, 5:10 pm

Cold nights but days still 75-92F the next week to 10 days. The mountain stuff will all try to hang as long as possible and then come off en masse, is my guess.
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#546 Post by Paul Gordon » October 5th, 2017, 8:37 am

Picked our Halcon Syrah yesterday. The most mature fruit in a few years - seeds almost black, if you break a seed with your teeth the snap is like an explosion in your head. Amazing vivid purple after a foot stomp. Skin tannins tasted smooth, round.
The berries were incredibly small - the size of BBs. I think it goes back to a period of heat at set plus the hot August plus the fact that we dry-farmed.
Initial sugars were an average of 22.8b.
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#547 Post by Kim Z » October 5th, 2017, 9:55 am

Paul interesting how low your Brix is given the flavor ripeness. Is this normal for your site? What was pH if I may ask?

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#548 Post by Casey Hartlip » October 5th, 2017, 10:36 am

After today, just two more. Another horribly cold morning for my crew. Even though the afternoons have been delightful, these last three mornings have hurt.

One of my guys squash plants saying "no mas"
IMG_20171005_070259966.jpg
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#549 Post by Paul Gordon » October 5th, 2017, 10:52 am

Kim Z wrote:Paul interesting how low your Brix is given the flavor ripeness. Is this normal for your site? What was pH if I may ask?

Kim
Rather extreme this year. The last few years brix has been closer to 24 with slightly less maturity.
This year it seems like vines shut down brix development/acid reduction in the heat but seed/fruit maturity continued.
Last edited by Paul Gordon on October 5th, 2017, 10:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
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#550 Post by Paul Gordon » October 5th, 2017, 10:54 am

Paul Gordon wrote:
Kim Z wrote:Paul interesting how low your Brix is given the flavor ripeness. Is this normal for your site? What was pH if I may ask?

Kim
Rather extreme this year. The last few years brix has been around 24 with slightly less maturity.
This year it seems like vines shut down brix development/acid reduction in the heat but seed/fruit maturity continued.
I forgot - will let you know the acids once we get our ETS report.
Paul Gordon
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