Pest Contol in the Vineyard

Animal control, protecting the vines, is an ongoing struggle. Deer, especially in dry years, when they come down from higher elevations looking for water can be a serious problem and a 7 foot  fence is the only solution.

It is very costly and we use it only where we know there is recognizable deer traffic. Deer can damage the vines by eating the green growth tips during the summer and at harvest the grapes themselves.

Wild boars are also a problem at harvest, they can go through rows of vines and clean them so thoroughly that you think they have been picked. Fences are not of much use since they can burrow under. We a have built a large steel cage to trap them but with little success so far.

In the Spring it is gophers and here is an Email that David Lafond sent me:

As Part of our sustainable farming practices particularly this time of year .. we use trapping to control of our gopher population. The gophers now are mostly on the outside of our vine rows where we did not till at the end of last season. it is important to trap them before they reach critical mass and move to the interior..We employ two men twice a day, morning and afternoon when the gophers are most active..they maintain about 200 traps..This is a constant effort. So far our best score has been 144 in a 48 hour period..The trapped gophers are left for other predators and scavengers coyotes, hawks, owls, buzzards, a food source .

This is really the most humane way to control the gopher population. We have never used poison or any of the other exotic methods sometimes recommended. There is nothing sadder than to see a mature vine killed by these subterranean villains. In the picture below the flags mark the trap locations. Click image to enlarge.

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