March 2008 Douro Insider

March in the Douro was certainly interesting enough because there was plenty of the variation that is so typical of the spring to keep everyone entertained.  The month got off to a bright, sunny and warm start although the clear skies ensured that the nights were still very cold.  This produced a bit of a scare when we woke up to a heavy frost on the morning of the 7th.  The concern stemmed from the fact that younger vines (before they enter into production) characteristically have earlier budburst than adult vines.  By this date there were already young vineyards with two or three leaves unrolled but fortunately the frost was not intense enough to damage the new shoots.  It is fair to say that at this time of the year frosts usually only occur on the cooler high ground, where budburst of course comes later on.  However, if budburst progresses uphill faster than the risk of freezing temperatures tails off for the respective altitude, the possibility remains of a potentially dangerous combination occurring whereby frosts and green plant tissue are present simultaneously.  Frost damage of the primary shoots has serious implications for yield because, although the vines would still be able to burst again from the secondary buds, these back-up shoots are noticeably less fertile. Full Report

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