Latchford Vineyard creates vine balance and increases root development.
In 2001, Bill Latchford, a horseman-turned-winemaker, harvested his first wine grape crop after planting a vineyard on the southfacing slopes of his once upon a time horse ranch.
What began as a hobby, quickly turned into something more serious for Latchford when the California Mid-State Fair started recognizing his Cabernet with gold medals. A few years later, in 2007, when he became more serious about growing wine grapes and making wine, Latchford planted some Rhône varietals and began expanding the Latchford Vineyard.
Due to the rocky hillside, Latchford had a difficult time growing the vines. His plants weren’t yet mature and their feeble roots weren’t taking to the rocky soil. He sought the help of Westbridge
regional sales representative, Paul Crout, who introduced some products from the Organic BioLink® line. Crout tailored a program unique to Latchford’s predicament with the land.
It was slow-going the first couple of years for Latchford, but after incorporating Crout’s recommendations, he began to see an incredible reaction in root growth and fruit
production. “It’s like turning the light on,” Latchford said, noting that the program turned his vineyard right around. “It just took off.”
Unlike table grape growers, wine grape growers are more concerned with the quality of their grapes, than the image. Since the skin influences the flavor of the wine, a berry that is too small or
too large may throw off the flavor. While a uniform berry is still important, small- to medium- sized berries are more desirable.
“With wine grapes, we tailor the program to the specific needs and issues to a particular vineyard,” Crout said.
At Latchford’s farm, they were dealing with root systems of young vines shutting down early because they were unable to support the growing shoots. “Without promoting root growth, the plant would grow for a short time and then stop much too early,” Crout said. With this knowledge, Latchford took Crout’s advice and incorporated four specified BioLink® nutrient products to
build the root-to-shoot-ratio and create vine balance.
Organic TRIGGRR® increases root development so that the vine can access more nutrients in the soil. Organic BioLink® 3-3-3, Organic BioLink® Micronutrient and Organic BioLink® Cal Plus help
to replenish the nutrient deficiencies that are created when the shoots outgrow the roots.
Unlike the use of a conventional nitrogen-based application, TRIGGRR® and the BioLink® program increases root development by addressing the specific nutrient deficiencies in that soil. Organic
TRIGGRR® is a proprietary product made up of natural biological components which elicit a great response from the plant.
Latchford started with an initial drip application in the post-harvest season of Sept. 2010. Crout pointed out that at this stage, plants maximize the amount of nutrition they take up
before going dormant and store up the nutrients for the next season.
That following season , Latchford applied two soil applications, one at bud break and another at six inches of shoot growth. A third, foliar application was applied at 18 inches of cane growth to create vegetative growth and stronger canes and spurs. At this stage, there is a 50-70 percent increase in photosynthesis within a few hours, which increases the production of plant sugars, proteins and enzymes. A final post-harvest drip application completed Latchford’s rotation.
Latchford was able to visibly notice a difference in the growth of the vines. He said they were stronger and healthier as a result of the post-harvest root growth. With the frost of 2011, they had anticipated reduced crop loads. But, “we ended up getting more tonnage than we anticipated and the quality was outstanding,” he said.
During a frost it’s not unlikely to get half of what is expected because the secondary buds aren’t as fruitful. But Latchford said that his returns were “surprisingly higher than what we had anticipated for the harvest.”
While Latchford’s vineyard is not certified organic, he switched to the Organic BioLink® products because the plants seemed to have a better response to them. The reason for this, Crout says, is because they are meant for fast and complete absorption.
Today, Latchford Ranch and Vineyard has been sold to another group who will continue use of this program as they expand to a commercial winery. Clark Company of Paso Robles, and Barnes and Associates of Cambria, were the procuring brokers for the sale. “I don’t think we’ve seen the best yet,” Crout said. As a plant gets stronger and continues to build a more solid root foundation and access more soil volume through the use of TRIGGRR® and the BioLink® program, it should be able to absorb more nutrients. Crout expects to see even healthier plants as a result.
“As far as I’m concerned, it’s the way to go,” Latchford agreed.
For more information on the
different BioLink® programs offered,
please visit www.Westbridge.com. ■