My first grapes!
5/25/03 I'm writing to you because I planted grapes here in O'fallon, Illinois, and I'm new at this! My grape vines are taking over my yard. I bought them at Wal-Mart and they are called 3 year grapes. This is the 2nd year and they produce branches which look like grapes and have small green-like grapes on them, then they fall off. I have no idea where or how to prune the plant, please help, they're taking over and I live in a mobile home court...Thank You. L.K.
Greetings L.K.! Thanks for your question. I wish I could be there...I'd tend to that little rambling-grape problem in about 10 minutes!
Grape "vines", from the very first year, need to be pruned...and pruned almost brutally. Aside from those long canes that are allowed to remain for training and shaping purposes (as in working them across an arbor or trellis, or along a fence), all other canes are ideally reduced to 2" or 3" long stubs (with 2 or 3 buds on each) ....every year after dormancy begins. If you were to watch professional vineyard pruners work, you'd be genuinely appalled at the extent of pruning!
Here's what's happening: A grape vine is capable of producing a certain volume (weight) of fruit, limited by what the root system is capable of providing the plant. Extensive, redundant vines absorb (and actually "waste") those limited resources, greatly reducing the amount of nutrition arriving at premature grape clusters. They know enough to realize that there's not enough to produce the best fruit and seeds...so immature clusters are eventually aborted to reduce stress on the plant. A very clever survival tactic....so, rather than reproduce themselves by seeds (the ultimate goal of almost all plants...the reason they bloom), they produce even more long canes that will root as they reach the ground.
Plants are smarter than most gardeners realize!
I'd like you to go to: http://newfarm.osu.edu/crops/grapes.html -- that's Oklahoma State Univ's site, where you'll find instructions and pictures (or at least diagrams) to show pruning and training....and virtually everything you'll ever want to know about grapes.
Grapes can be pruned any time (though the ideal time is early in winter dormancy)... and a little dripping of sap at the site of cuts is of little consequence. I'm guessing that your vines are already leafing out. You can prune them now, but just be ready to see a fair amount of dripping when you're done. You should have a BIG pile of prunings when you're done. Fred
Dark Round Spot on Grapes
Dear Sir, or Madam, I have a few blue concord grapes in my garden. I also have one small problem. The first couple years they did very well, LOTS of sweet fruit. But now I'm seeing a dark round spot on the fruit it self. The leaf of the plants looks OK. The spot reminds me of a "eye ball" dark blue fruit with an even darker spot. Not all the fruit has this spot but it seems to be spreading yearly. Any help you can give me would be very welcome.
Greetings, Dave! Thanks for your question. Sounds suspiciously like one of a number of possible bacterial or fungal diseases that affect grapes. I'd like you to go to: http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/pp/notes/Fruit/fdin012/fdin012.htm - that's North Carolina State University's site...and you'll see pictures there that may help to identify. Treatments as well.
Michigan State U. also has a very helpful site: http://www.canr.msu.edu/vanburen/e-1732.htm. You should find what you need to know at these 2 sites.
Most plant and fruit diseases are easily controllable...some people use some pretty powerful chemicals; I think you'll find that wettable powdered sulfur and strict sanitation, coupled with first-rate maintenance of moisture and nutrition will solve the problem. Fred
New To Grape Growing
5/22/03 Hello. I am searching for info about the care of grape vines. I co-worker purchased a home in Holden, Maine last December and has a beautiful grape arbor as part of his deck. He told me that it was covered with grapes, both red and white varieties, when they looked at the property last September. They are from the Ukraine, not gardeners and asked me if I could help them find out what the vines need for proper care. Can you suggest some resources? I will check out the two listed at the bottom of the page. [grapes.htm] Thanks. Jan
Greetings, Jan! Thanks for your question. Please extend a warm Welcome-To-Maine from us to your friends from the Ukraine.
About all that can be said about grapes -- including pruning instructions -- are at those two sites....especially the one at: http://www.muextension.missouri.edu/xplor/agguides/hort/g06085.htm. You might also try: http://newfarm.osu.edu/crops/grapes.html (that's Oregon State...similar climate to ours). There's a list of additional culture resources there.
Your County's Cooperative Extension Service Office will have free (or nearly free) printed instruction sheets. Good info.
The important thing to remember is that grapes need to be pruned back and trained almost brutally every year. Best when they're dormant, but can be done anytime if you don't mind a little harmless "bleeding" of sap at the cuts if they're pruned during active growing periods. They want twice-annual feeding -- at first sign of growth in spring....again in early July in our climate zone (4 to 5). Since fruit production is important, use a fertilizer with a high middle number (phosphorus). The Missouri site will give you the correct fertilizer formula/blend. Since grapes are meant to be eaten...I prefer to fertilize with something non-chemical like bonemeal (phosphorus) and Jersey Greensand (potash), plus ample compost for health and minor-elements. Fred
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