30 September 2020

Grape harvesting Tempranillo

When summer is over, the tasks in the field change significantly and the crops we should focus on also are different. The tasks of harvesting cereal and pulse vegetables have finished, although the sunflower harvesting works are in progress.   

The province of Cuenca is one of the most important area in Spain for the cultivation of sunflowers, but in particular in our village, this crop has been discontinued for some years now. The low price, the difficulty of cleaning the stubble and the reduced yield of the field next year have made us rotate the fields with pulse vegetables instead of sunflowers.  

Another of the main crops in La Mancha is the grape. Grape harvesting takes place in the months of September and October. Therefore, right now all the wineries and cooperatives are working to receive all the grapes which will be processed to obtain the quality wines that are generated year after year.  

On this occasion we visited our friend Rubén, who works in a company dedicated to the grape harvest, as they have several New Holland grape harvesting machines. We went to a field located between Villarrobledo and El Provencio (these villages are very wine-growing) to see the New Holland VX7090 BRAUD at work. I was harvesting Tempranillo grapes and as you can see, the working speed was quite high (around 4km/h) as the production was not excessively high. For those of us who have harvested by hand many times, watching the machine work is a real pleasure... However, harvesting is not entirely effective as some grains are left behind (perhaps around 5%), as is the case when harvesting by hand. The price of grape harvesting is around 200 €/he and this machine can harvest about 12 he/day if there are no problems with downloading and grape harvesting machine works in large fields. 

Regarding the grape harvesting machines, in Spain the two most used brands are New Holland (69 new units sold in 2019) and Gregoire (23 new units sold in 2019). You can also see some Pellenc (15 new units sold in 2019) working for the Spanish vineyards, but these are the least. On some occasions we have been able to talk to some workers who work with this type of machine and they all tell us the same thing. New Holland is the machine that gets the most yield and therefore more hectares can be harvested per day but Gregoire is the one that takes best care of the vine... or perhaps as a good friend of ours said: for grape harvesting my vineyard uses Gregoire but to grape harvest other vineyards uses New Holland. 

The sector of grape harvesting machines is complex because there are many factors to be taken into account, especially in the harvesting mechanism since each manufacturer implement different technologies. In this case, we will speak about the New Holland buckets system which is capable of absorbing large quantities of grapes.

Vineyards of red grape varieties can generate around 13,000 kg/he of grapes and vineyards of white grape about 25,000 kg/he (if we talk about vines, we can have yields from 4kg/vine to 25kg/vine)... for example in the Airén variety is quite common to have large quantity of grapes (a grapevine can have a yield of 25 kg of grapes). It is in these vineyards that New Holland's shakers and buckets system gets the most out of it. 

Versión en español.