In order to take root and grow, the vine needs an ideal environment and the preparation of the soil is fundamental for the success of the plant (the haste and approximation can cause sensational failures that have repercussions for several years (Marenghi, 2007)). In general, the vine prefers loose, well-drained soils (as the plant suffers a lot of water stagnation) and tends to be warm, but it also adapts to more clayey soils.
First of all, it is necessary to understand where the soil in which the planting was decided is located:
- plain: temperature range not too high, risk of water stagnation if the soil is not properly arranged, possibility of mechanizing most of the operations;
- hill: thermal excursion greater than that of the plain, less risk of water stagnation, need to make appropriate soil settlements to make certain operations mechanizable.
In the case of hillside vineyards, it is also necessary to evaluate:
- the planting side: south (the best side, as the light is present on the vineyard from sunrise to sunset), east (intense light during the morning, lower temperatures, fresh air; - suitable for the production of fragrant white wines) , west (light during the hottest hours of the day, warm air; suitable for the production of red wines, grapes need higher temperatures for ripening), north (not to be considered for Northern Italy, in certain southern regions, like Sicily, it can be interesting, as it can overcome the risk of too high temperatures);
- valley floor: possibility of late freezing in spring (one way to avoid damage from late freezing is, for example, to manage the vineyard with high training systems).
Subsequently, the chemical-physical analysis of the soil is carried out, from which the type of soil, the presence of nutrients and therefore, what type of bottom fertilization is necessary, the type of hydraulic arrangements that can be implemented, the type of rootstock to be used (to avoid the risk of nutritional deficiencies), the presence of nematodes (especially in clay soils).
At this point we move on to the actual operational phase, which consists of (Marenghi, 2007):
- possible extirpation of the existing vineyard;
- soil leveling (important precaution: conservation and carry-over of the surface soil, to avoid problems of having areas without chemical and microbiological soil fertility);
- predisposition of drainages (to avoid risks connected to climatic and pedological factors found in excess of water and humidity);
- background fertilization (chemical and organic, to improve any anomalies, due to the pH or excessive salinity of the soil);
- preparation of the soil for planting: burglary with a plow 90-100 cm, which can be replaced with a deep ripunatura at 100-120 cm (avoiding to bring back to the surface layers of poorly fertile soil); distribution of fertilizers and surface plowing at 30-40 cm;
- refining operations of the soil in view of the plant of the cuttings.
For more detailed explanations regarding the arrangement of the land in the plains and hills (retouching, terracing, girapoggio), please refer to more specific texts on agronomy.
Planting of cuttings
It is preferable to plant the cuttings as soon as possible from the moment they arrive on the farm, in order to avoid dehydration or, worse, drying out: the plants, in fact, did not appear radical and take a few days to form the first adventitious roots. Before carrying out the planting operations, it is advisable to put the cuttings in contact with the water for 12/24 hours, in order to favor a faster vegetative recovery of the plant.
In principle, the periods for implantation are:
- spring: especially in Northern Italy; summer drought problem;
- summer: it is necessary to set up a plant for irrigating the cuttings; risk of phase shift of the plant cycle;
- autumn: in Italy, from Emilia downwards and where conditions permit; risk of winter frosts.
The most widespread planting technique is certainly the use of transplanting machines, which reproduce the technique of planting by hand and in particular, with the use of the GPS system, the direction of the tractor, the starting points and the distances between the rows are automatically adjusted ( Marenghi, 2007). The plant can also be followed by the drafting of a mulching film, which allows to reheat the soil, to contain the excessive perspiration of the same and to avoid the presence of weeds in the area close to the plants.
During the first year of planting, it is advisable to work the soil in the inter-row to contain the weeds, avoiding the use of weeding. It is then necessary to insert the guardians for each plant and tie the most vigorous shoots (usually two are chosen, the most vigorous; the others are either cut or topped).
Planter in work phase (source www.venetoagricoltura.org)
Fact sheet by Enrico Ruzzene