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Brian Talley, Vintner
 
January 25, 2014 | Winegrowing | Brian Talley, Vintner

Strange Weather

Followers of this blog know that I often write about the weather.  Given the kind of weather we’ve experienced so far this year, it’s apropos that I take up the topic again.  As I write this, the East Coast is suffering through another massive snow storm to be followed by the second extremely cold snap of 2014.  On the other hand, California is in the midst of a severe drought that has resulted in Governor Jerry Brown declaring a State of Emergency.  More locally, San Luis Obispo and Arroyo Grande have experienced record high temperatures during the first weeks of January, including January 16 when it was over 91 degrees at San Luis Obispo airport, making it the hottest place in the US.

There is general consensus that a high pressure system is sitting over California that is blocking the Jetstream, and any storms, from coming into the state.  There is less consensus on why this is.  Local meteorologist John Lindsey wrote a very interesting article citing a theory that melting of the polar ice cap is at least partly responsible for this phenomenon, as well as lower pressure over the East Coast that has resulted in the severe weather they have experienced.  To read the detail on this, go to www.sanluisobispo.com/2014/01/18/2883449/loss-of-arctic-ice-leads-to-drought.html.

What does all this mean for us?  First, we are frantically pruning our vines right now in anticipation of early bud break.  This means that our frost season (which lasts from bud break until about May 1) will be longer than normal.  Second, we are irrigating more this winter to substitute for lack of rainfall.  Finally, we have little to no covercrop established on our hillsides.  This means that should we receive significant rainfall, which could still happen, we may experience erosion.  We also depend on our covercrop to improve soil conditions and host the beneficial insects that protect our vines.

As bad as all of this sounds, I remind myself all the time that if you don’t like the weather, you shouldn’t be a farmer.  Cheers!

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