Some unexpected effects of climate change

From tEr1, October 25th, 2018

One of the Culprits

For the non-propagandized, global warming is an obvious and real phenomenon.  But how it is manifesting itself can sometimes be subtle and discomforting at the same time.

Clearly hot dry summers are becoming the norm in Oregon which, by late summer, can stress the vines.  In 2018 the rains essentially stopped by the first of May and only resumed fitfully in early September.  Though we had ample rain during the previous winter and spring, by the end of August, moisture was only to be found very deep in the soil.  For older vines this was not a problem but it of course played havoc with younger plants.

On the subtle end of this phenomenon, a warm winter failed to knock back the vole (small, burrowing mouse-like rodent) population that inhabits part of the underworld of our vineyard.  With ample food stocks from the wet spring, the population exploded.  But as the hot summer left the ground cover parched, the now thirsty and starving voles started to go after young vines, stripping them of foliage and then devouring the rest of the plant.  When they had finished wiping out young plants they took after 35 year old vines, gnawing around the bottom of the trunks for food and moisture.  By the time September came around with some welcome rain, many of our valuable old vines had been girdled and were dying.

Hopefully some of our old vines will recover by sending up shoots from ground level in the spring, but likely many of them will not.  Hawks, owls and our cats have been busy taking down the population so we are optimistic that the issue will not repeat itself next year.  Fingers crossed.

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