March in the Axarquia is one of the busiest months for the fruit farmer. Oranges lemons grapefruit and all other citrus are coming to perfection. The last olive trees are netted and beaten and the muscatel vines are threatening to burst their buds. Before they do they must be pruned and the earth around each one laid bare of weeds by the application of herbicide.
The weedless bald hills of the Axarquia are all laid down to the muscatel vines. The hills are so steep that the vines need not be supported by wires. The fruit will hang in the air as it swells in July and August, so the vines are cut back to four thick stumps. The pruned vines look as though armies of knotty little men are running across the bare soil.
Like all cultivated fruit, the fruiting wood is grafted onto vigorous root stock. The root stock is planted first, and then grafts of muscatel fruiting wood are struck into the growing root stock. In subsequent years the vine is heavily pruned to yield four stubby gnarled branches.
Muscatel grape, with mango and avocado, is the main cash crop in this region.