Greg Schultz
November 25, 2013 | Greg Schultz

Pencil Rods

The most common materials are bamboo or steel:  we chose steel.  Steel pencil rods are ¼ inch diameter, 4 feet long, and come in bundles of 100.  They are used to mark the planting locations of the grapevines, and will be used to support the young plants as they grow toward the trellis.  Installing them is easy—all you need is a hammer.  Locating and spacing them is not so easy—after all, we want our plants equi-distant apart and in straight rows.

Since our vineyard rows will be 7 feet apart and our plants 4 feet apart in the row, Chris Hubert of Results Partners (OVS) suggested we divide the task into 84 square foot “blocks”.  Each block represents 12 rows (12 x 7 = 84) and 21 plants per row (21 x 4 = 84).  Chris also suggested we use a transit (an instrument like a telescope used by surveyors for measuring angles) to make sure our blocks are indeed square.  Since we don’t have a transit, we decided to lay the vineyard out the “old fashioned” way—remember the 3-4-5 right triangle method from high school trigonometry?  It’s not as straightforward as using the transit and requires a lot of re-measuring, but it works!  For longer distances, it is more accurate to convert 3-4-5 to 30-40-50 or even 60-80-100, so that’s what we did!  The idea is that if pencil rods A and B are 60 feet apart, A and C are 80 feet apart, and B and C are 100 feet apart, then there is a right angle and the sides are square.


Debbie and I got to work.  We got out our string and tape measure, marked off our 84 foot squares using the right triangle method, and hammered in our pencil rods.  One thing we learned quickly is that the slope and roll of our site make it a bit more challenging in trying to layout straight rows.  When we finished installing all 1900 rods, we called Chris over for a site visit.  “How’s it look, Chris?” “Looks like you did a good job”.  Chris made a few suggestions that would help make the vineyard easier to farm so we ended up pulling a few rods from some areas and adding some elsewhere.  It was a lot of work, but very satisfying as the layout of the vineyard is starting to come into focus.


One day closer to a vineyard…


Commenting has been turned off.