Being Different On Purpose

Why does Apical Texas do things differently?  It’s a common question people ask us while looking at us skeptically. We get it. Different can be risky. Different can be scary. Different is uncharted.

We believe that not being different is far riskier than doing things differently, on purpose. Different by choice and with specific intent is not the same as just being different for the sake of being different. In reality, our clients are the ones seeking different and better solutions, and we are simply the technical side that enables and facilitates those missions. They deserve all the credit that comes with being different.

But enough about semantics. We wanted to show you what we mean by different and show you real examples of why being different on purpose is important. All of our clients have made commitments to explore different approaches and they regularly result in many benefits. Here’s real examples of things they are doing that few others in Texas have tried.

Pepper Jack Vineyard has several varieties that can be…. very vigorous… and reigning them in is not an easy task for any winegrower. This season, they performed what’s called “early season shoot tipping” to regulate and moderate the vines desire to grow very long shoots (Lodi Wine Growers). This is done in other wine regions around the world, but Pepper Jack Vineyard tweaked it to their specific vineyard to maximize the timing and utility. Pepper Jack Vineyard found they were able to promote better shoot height uniformity across the vineyard, which will enable them to prune more uniformly next season. All the while, they didn’t cause any excessive lateral growth that is common when hedging and tipping are not done properly.

One Elm Vineyard and Kubacak Vineyard have committed to permanent or semi-permanent cover crop. See, they are confident that in most cases, the benefits of a permanent cover crop outweigh the costs. It has been shown to suppress weeds, even before planting (UC Davis). It has compaction and moisture benefits, even in sandy soils (UC Davis). And we haven’t even talked about how cover crop keeps the vineyard micro-climate cooler and limits soil reflectance.

Bayer Family Vineyard and Young Family Vineyards are using row spacing and orientation that is counter to many newer plantings, but clearly works and often works well. There is definitely something to the East to West row orientation in the High Plains even though some research has shown North to South is “better” for solar radiation (UC Davis). Row orientation and spacing is not well understood in the High Plains but fortunately we have clients who can be examples of how “different” can be better. Different varieties prefer different things, and these growers are fine tuning that.

One Way Vineyard and Branded H Vineyards have a wildly different climate than the rest of the High Plains. They are growing varieties that seem much better suited for their cooler and wetter climate, like Roussanne, Marsanne, and Dolcetto. Because their climate and soils are so different, they developed their own irrigation strategies to thread the needle of introducing some water deficit stress but not so much that they cannot catch back up when the vine has high water demands. They are exploring Partial Root Drying strategies that are different than Deficit Irrigation, but as has been shown, can have very similar benefits (UC Davis).

Crooked Post Vineyard always sees the possibility of a better future and the potential of trying new products and techniques. This season, they are testing a calcium carbonate product that is applied with a fungicide sprayer. If there’s one thing we have too much of in the High Plains, it is sun exposure. So it is an art to allow enough but not too much. Crooked Post Vineyard is working to show that maybe we can have plenty of sun exposure while also limiting the risk of sunburn. They are taking some of the work showing the benefits of early exposure (AJEV) and then layering over protection against too much exposure to avoid the consequences of that (UC Davis). Additionally, they have experience with thermal imaging and have been using that to better understand the stress occurring in their vines as they try different approaches (UC Davis).

Lilli Of The Vine Vineyard and Phillips Vineyard are always digging deeper to better understand vine nutrition. The have very, very diverse soils across the vineyard and they know they need to bring their A-Game to nutrition. They are working to understand the role that Nitrogen plays in their aroma compounds, which has been shown to impact trimethyl-dihydro-naphtalene (TDN) and ß-damascenone (UC Davis). When it comes to Potassium, they are working to understand the role it plays in quality and how they can ensure sufficient Potassium in the vine without over applying, which is not as easy as it sounds (UC Davis).

Holladay Vineyards and Texas Vine Country have been planting A LOT of acres of grapes this season. And to facilitate uniformity, survival rate, and general vine health, they have ventured into using mycorrhizae and rhizobial inoculations to give them the best chances at these desirable outcomes. The role that mycorrhizae play in Phosphorous availability, water uptake, and general health, is well documented (UC Davis). They have chosen to kick it up a notch and add this to their planting protocols.

So yes, we do a lot of things differently and we do so with great purpose. Because our clients have the fortitude, temerity, and desire, to be different. Hopefully, this sheds some light on truly different activities occurring in the Texas High Plains and how exciting it is for us to serve clients who want to push the boundaries of what is possible. The only way we are able to be different and perform the impossible is because of our great clients.