Wednesday, September 22, 2010

It's the Equinox, by Jove!

Well, today's a big day: Jupiter was in opposition yesterday and Uranus is in opposition today, then Jupiter moves into conjunction with Uranus today, then the Equinox occurs, then we have the full Harvest Moon in the sky (which frankly was spectacular in the near-full state this morning setting pale yellow-orange on the western hills of the Russian River valley....)!
Good lord! Where do we begin with all this?

Hmmmm. If you're a believer in biodynamics - or the impending Mayan Apocalypse - then maybe today's the day to pull out that "special" bottle of 1941 Inglenook Cabernet you've been saving just in case there's a preview of the Universe-in-all-Her-Glory smacking us poor humans about the ears! Earthquakes?! Tsunamis?! Tax breaks for the rich?!
Who knows what evils lay in wait for us at this troubled time. 
Wait- what's that up in the sky? It's a's a plane...No! It's Steiner-man, here back from the dead to protect us all with his wisdom of the ages!!
How would Steiner advise us to conduct ourselves today? Surely the father of biodynamics had some words to keep in mind?

First I should mention that Steiner's cosmology didn't include Uranus (discovered 1781), Neptune (discovered in 1846), or Pluto - though we have to cede that Pluto wasn't discovered until 1930, six years after his death. His philosophy was essentially a regurgitation of the Ptolemaic system based on Aristotle's armchair philosophy centuries before. So even though Steiner was no doubt aware that Uranus and Neptune existed, he didn't have a place for them in his ramblings on agriculture and the Cosmos since he wasn't creating anything new - just rehashing tired and outdated cosmology whereby the heavens were perfect and complete while the earthly sphere was the realm of decay and imperfection...
All of which had been tossed onto the rubbish heap since Galileo!

So there is nothing mentioned by Steiner about any opposition of Jupiter, Uranus (or any opposition, conjunction or even solstice for that matter), even though one would expect there to be some discussion of these events in relation to Jupiter, or the harvest moon, both of which he did know of...
What he did say about Jupiter was that it was...
"...the force of Jupiter, supplementing the cosmic force of the Sun, brings forth the white or yellow colour in the flowers..."
...and that Saturn influenced (controlled) plants with blue flowers, and Mars reddish ones. So perhaps we should swap that Cabernet for a Chardonnay, or maybe just any white wine would do today. And is there any omens, evil portents or warnings about a celestial line-up?
No, none. So even if someone believed that Steiner was brilliant, he couldn't apparently predict the Mayan Apocalypse, which he should have foreseen.

If you believe in Biodynamics, today would be a good day to go to the beach...and be sure to bury your head in the sand until the Heavens calm down again.

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Monday, September 20, 2010

An ill bit of rain

0.4" inches of rain fell here yesterday - which really isn't that much - but nothing good can come of it. It isn't uncommon to get a few showers starting in August and September (maybe one per month), and generally those are very weak with perhaps a half inch of rain total for the period Aug~Oct.

This year has been very cool and the threat of molds & botrytis have been on the horizon for months now with all the fog and dampness we've had in the Russian river basin. One of my neighbors was out last night spraying Stylet oil or Serenade on the vines with the hope of halting any further development of the rot. And at least it is clear this morning, though the forecast is predicting more fog midweek as the system which was here moves eastward. Otherwise the weather is supposed to be fairly sunny, which is good. But unfortunately what we really need is a bit of wind during the days following a rain with sunny days in the mid 80's to dry things out...and the breezes in the valleys probably won't be above 5~8 mph this week.

I'd estimate our pinot & chardonnay at roughly 4% rot going into the rain, and our zin a little bit less for the blocks which are nearest creeks or the river, but it is still present in the blocks with the tightest clusters even away from the river. The syrah is very loose, as is the cab and merlot, and there shouldn't be too much loss to botrytis in those, but the zin and syrah got hit a bit harder by sunburn and raisining during the hot dry weather we had a few weeks back, so they won't come through this unscathed either. There is a good probability that our loses due to sunburn and raisins will be 10% in the zin and 5% in the syrah. (most of that was self inflicted when we pulled more leaves and repositioned branches trying to get more sunlight on the fruit to speed ripening and help combat mold by allowing more air to circulate thru the canopy - just in time to get slammed with the 100+ degree heat!)

All in all it's going to continue to be a weird year as far as growing conditions are concerned, and now the biggest decisions to make are when to spray to keep the rot down, and which product will be most effective with the least application....

Pray for some dry wind to start blowing through the region for a few days!