Trendy Trellising Techniques
The use of trellising systems has always been regarded as an integral component in viticulture, predominantly being used to assist with canopy management. Viticulturists need to ensure foliage growth takes place via photosynthesis but they also need to be able to limit shading which could potentially hinder grape ripening. Besides, the primary concern of canopy management, these systems pave the way forward for irrigation, pruning and simplified harvesting methods.
Backsberg’s trellising has progressed along a rather logical sequence which has been in keeping both with the times and our South African climate. Initially, Backsberg adopted the Conventional Vertical Shoot Positioning (VSP) System; however, we soon noted its flaws and moved onto the VSP Narrow System. This was until the Lyre System made its debut. The Lyre System has now become firmly rooted here at Backsberg.
The Lyre System was developed by Dr. Alain Corbonneau in the 1980s in the Bordeaux region of France. It soon became the favourable trellising technique for most New World Wine Regions, such as South Africa. The strengths of this system are numerous.
First, this system trains the vines to grow upwards, allowing greater air circulation and sun penetration. Second, it provides greater canopy space, enabling superior yields on the same hectare of land. Saving space is always a bonus! There is less driving up and down between the rows which in turn leads to lower fuel usage. This factor allows farmers to cut down on tractor travelling distances and speeds things up considerably. With less driving there is also less soil compaction which enables greater vine growth. Finally, this system uses less drip irrigation. This cuts down on our water usage, particularly in trying times.
At Backsberg, we are totally committed to the Lyre System. In the near future, we hope to implement nifty little four-wheeler tractors in the vineyards. These little guys will be able to assist during harvest and go where larger tractors are unable to. Be sure to keep an eye out for this development in our trellising timeline!