While a seemingly trivial matter, vine tying, typically performed during the winter months after pruning, should be well thought out. Generally speaking, grapevines are either cane pruned or spur pruned, while occasionally you can find spur pruned vines with a kicker cane left in place. Choosing the proper vineyard tie should be based predominately on the type of pruning performed.
Historically, tie tape (generally green but can also be transparent), has been widely used as a hand tie on the west coast and to a lesser extent on the east coast. Most likely, tie tape has been used because of it’s low cost and ease of use. Passing through vineyard country in the winter months it is not uncommon to see crews out in the fields with rolls of green tie tape in aprons tied around their waists.
The problems associated with tie tape are #1- it loses its elasticity after a year or two so girdling of cordons can be an issue unless it is cut, removed and retied every couple of years; #2-it needs to be cut along with the cane when cane pruning because it does not degrade – adding to the cost of pruning; and, #3- it is made of PVC, an environmentally harmful product that is known to be highly carcinogenic when burned. According to the EPA, PVC is dangerous to humans throughout its entire life cycle, from its production, through use and disposal.
Choosing the appropriate vineyard tie should be based on the pruning methods used.
When tying canes, a degradable tie makes the most sense: the tie only needs to last through harvest. If the tie lasts too long, it will need to be removed one way or another at pruning time, which can be yet another job to be done by the already overworked crew. If the tie is designed to last just a season, the tie should degrade sufficiently so that it easily breaks when pulling brush at pruning time.
The low-cost, fast-tying Prothec line of degradable ties (and inexpensive, manual tie tool) is the perfect tying system for cane pruned vineyards. The degradable and bio-degradable ties are designed to last 1-3+ seasons depending on the tie, with the 1-season 2-wire beige and 1-season 3-wire ties being most popular. The envelope breaks down (via UV degradation) and the free-floating fine wires rust into iron ore. Watch Video
For high wind coastal sites , the 18-24 month 2-wire brown tie is suggested for tying canes. For organic growers the bio-degradable 1-season ties are available. The Prothec bio tie is the only certified bio tie, containing an outer white envelope made of grape juice and milk protein. The tie transforms into compost after falling onto the ground and mixing with the soil.
For vineyard crews using battery powered tie tools, such as the Pellenc AP25 tie tool, Prothec offers a truly degradable tie. Because of its degradable feature, pruning the year after applying the tie is faster and easier for workers.
For tying cordons in spur pruned vineyards, Prothec’s CEP is the ideal tie. CEP is a long-lasting, stretchable hand tie, designed to last 10 years or more. Tied exactly like standard tie tape, CEP never loses its elasticity so it does not need to be cut, removed and retied every couple of seasons, providing for a considerable labor savings compared to traditional methods of tying of cordons. Additionally, CEP is ideal tie for machine harvested vineyards, capable of standing up to the most aggressive harvesters.
CEP is made of food grade polyethylene so it is safe for the environment, and because of its long lifespan, less tie material ends up in landfills, streams, rivers and oceans.