Friday, July 19, 2013

A tale of shortpod mustard.

Identifying common vineyard weeds and strategies for managing weed populations were the subjects being discussed last night at the Napa Valley Small Vineyard Association's quarterly meeting/wine social.  John Roncoroni, University of California Cooperative Extension Farm Advisor (Weed Science), was the guest speaker and just let me say this, he really knows his weeds.  An extensive PowerPoint presentation was followed by a lengthy Q & A session.  There was a lot of discussion about certain weeds and grasses that are becoming herbicide-resistant, although none of the guilty suspects have made it to the Napa Valley...yet.  Good stuff. 
Mr. Roncoroni is actively involved in advising farmers on all types of weed eradication (not just chemical weed control) and has an ongoing vineyard floor project at the UC Davis Oakville Station comparing several weed control practices with and without herbicides.  The day before he had held a field day in which he took groups through the Huichica Creek Demonstration Vineyard in Carneros to train attendees on how to identify and control weeds that commonly occur in vineyards.  Unfortunately, I missed it because I had to work.  Drat!
One weed that was profiled by Mr. Ronocoroni was shortpod mustard (Hirschfeldia incana).  He explained the mustard's growth habits and how it can thrive under certain vineyard conditions - those in which the weed is faced with little competition from other weeds.  I can attest to the fact that it doesn't like to compete with other weeds, as hitherto Vinoland had been an any-type-of-mustard-free zone and now there is a sizeable stand of this weed on what is normally a weed-free gravel access road to the barn.  I have to begrudgingly admit that the mustard looks very cheery and honey bees really seem to love it.  Yes, Vinoland's pollen-pluckers have been at work daily, from dawn until dusk, minding their own business whilst performing flower related bee activities.  That is until somebody (me) walked through the mustard and disrupted their apian-industriousness.  Consequently, one particular bee displayed his displeasure, perhaps because he was unceremoniously catapulted down my left welly, by stinging me on the foot.  Ouch!
I have always maintained that mustard is bad for a vineyard.  To emphasise my point of view I have been walking around like the Emperor Claudius all week.  Sigh.

9 comments:

Dennis Tsiorbas said...

Vinogirl,"Drat!" fits, because everything you know about weeds, must somehow weed-out vineyard dilemmas? No?
Sorry to hear that you look like the Emperor Claudius, but like him, you'll survive while the critter didn't;-)

Vinogirl said...

NHW: There are always more weeds out there to learn about...
And, as I was hopping, yelling and ripping off my welly, I did consider the sad fate of the poor, now stingless, honey bee :(

Thomas said...

I get the reference to Claudius, and I get the mustard weed information, but what is a "welly?"

Vinogirl said...

Tomasso: Short for Wellington boot (rubber/rain boot).

Thomas said...

You British and your affectations. It's enough to drive a man to watch the telly.

Vinogirl said...

Tomasso: I like to keep my colonial cousins on their toes!

Thud said...

apian industriousness...your having a giraffe arnt you?

Leon Stolarski said...

Lovely photo - I hope it wasn't that one that stung you! Seriously, though, the bees need all the help they can get. Have a look at http://qz.com/107970/scientists-discover-whats-killing-the-bees-and-its-worse-than-you-thought/
(I hope you don't mind me posting a link, but it is a serious subject).

Vinogirl said...

Thud: Always.

Leon: That's sad, I like bees.