Electric secateurs help reduce the risk of grapevine trunk disease
7th February 2023
There are very few vineyards in the world that have only ever been pruned by just one person, but Annie Lindo has been proudly pruning her own 5,000 vines in Annie’s Vineyard on the Camel Valley estate in Cornwall since 1989.
Having always used a pair of manual Felco pruning secateurs in the past, Annie’s son Sam decided to treat her to a set of battery-powered FelcoTronic 801s, which were supplied by the viticultural machinery specialist, NP Seymour, in time for Christmas 2022.
“Mum has only just changed to the electric secateurs because now she is in her 70s she is just starting to lose the grip in her hands,” explains Sam Lindo, second-generation winemaker at Camel Valley.
“The rest of the pruning team moved across from manual shears a long time ago because otherwise your hands struggle to recover from one day’s pruning to the next.”
Pruning with the electric secateurs might not be hugely quicker when comparing the cutting time per vine, but it does mean that the team of three pruners, who cover approximately 7ha of vines at Camel Valley, can keep going all day.
“Previously, before we had concerns about grapevine trunk disease, we paid little attention to the weather, and it would not be uncommon for our team to do lots of half-day sessions even if it was raining,” said Sam.
“Now, however, it is important to make use of the better weather to reduce the chance of disease. This means longer sessions if we know the weather is going to change. And it is much more realistic to expect people to spend a full day pruning with the electric secateurs over the manual ones.”
Having recently upgraded their fleet of secateurs, the team at Camel Valley is now operating Felco’s latest 812 PowerBlade XPRO.
This new generation of professional electric pruning shears is made up of three different models including the 802, capable of cutting up to 30mm, the 812 for pruning up to 35mm and the heavy-duty 822, designed for making large, powerful cuts of up to 45mm.
Made from special high-speed steel, the XPRO blades have been put through an additional hardening process to provide cleaner cuts and a longer blade life compared to conventional steel.
All models come with a fully adjustable Power Pack which is two times lighter and more compact than Felco’s older version.
“The main difference for me is the backpack,” said Sam. “I know some people don’t mind, but I certainly prefer the smaller, more compact version on the 812.”
The Felco Power Blades have also been fitted with Bluetooth connectivity, enabling the shears to talk to the operator’s smartphone or tablet.
While Sam doesn’t personally use the new app, explaining that he is able to keep a mental note of how much pruning has been done and that he didn’t want another reason to be on his phone, it does offer the ability to keep a precise count of how many cuts the shears have done, when the next service is due, battery life, and cut size statistics.
When it comes to moving from manual to electric secateurs, Sam’s advice to others would be to still carry a manual set with you in your pocket for making cuts close to the wires.