From the tons of emails I receive at www.my-grape-vine.com, there seems to be many newcomers to growing grapes each year.  Most of them struggle with more or less the same problems and ask me the same questions.  I’ve been trying to reply to most of them, but surely cannot reply to all – there is just so many hours in a single day. 

I’ve made a list of what the problem areas are, when you are new to growing grapes and will briefly discuss each of them over the next couple of weeks.  I cannot go into too much detail about each of them, that is why I wrote the Complete Grape Growers Guide off course J. but I will try to shed some light on a few problems areas. 

 

Okay, let’s have a look at what new grape growers find difficult…

  • Pruning 

It seems like pruning grapes is still the number one headache for new grape growers.  The fact that pruning is one of the most important manipulations of growing grapes, and that so many people do not understand or know how to prune grapes, is why so many new grape growers tragically fail.  I get the feeling that people don’t realize how important pruning really is!

 

You must have some sort of structure or plan you follow each year.  Most new grape growers just randomly cut off canes to make grape vine smaller – big mistake!  What is very important to remember is; a grape vine reacts to the way you prune. 

 

In other words, if you prune for fruit, you will have fruit; but if you prune for shoots, you will have only shoots!  The “self-taught pruning methods” of new grape growers are normally “to prune for shoots” and that is in most cases why their grape vines do not produce grapes!

 

Developing a pruning method or structure, start the very first year of training a grape vine.  Without developing the framework of your young grape vine will make pruning much harder in years to come.

 

We develop what we call cordons or arms, with spurs (short bearers) situated on the arms to be the fruiting zone of our vines.  You cannot simply cut canes left and right, and expect your vine to produce grapes – it simply doesn’t work that way.  In most cases, if you get your pruning done properly, your grape vines will produce grapes.

  • Training

As said earlier, the key to having a productive grape vine starts with training a grape vine from year one.  Many new grape growers just plant the grape vine and then expect it to climb to the trellis or arbour by itself.  Although sometimes this happens, it is not the ideal way to train a grape vine.

 

You need to make sure that you train only one training shoot the trellis or arbour – if you prefer to have two main stems one day, then train only two shoots to the trellis.  Your vines will reach the trellis or arbour in half the time – I promise.  The methods I use and explain in the Complete Grape Growers Guide, get my grape vines to the top of ANY trellis within one year.  The second year I develop the framework and then BOOM!!! Tons of grapes!  The key is – “Train your grape vine with one goal in mind – to reach the trellis wire in year one!”

  • Soil pH

The third most asked question is about the pH of the soil.  Strange enough, but so it seems, new grape growers are more concerned about soil pH than about planting the correct variety and training the vines.  Don’t get me wrong, soil pH is very important, but just as important is planting a variety that suits your climate, suits your needs and suits your soil type.

 

To answer the pH question; grape vines can grow in a relative wide range of pH soil. The best pH for growing grapes is slightly acidulous; between 6.0 and 7.2, although you can go as low as 5,5 and as high as 7.8.   Soil with a pH outside these ranges are not suitable for growing grapes – or should be corrected first. 

 

Hope this gives the new grape growers some guidance to where they should focus their attention on. 

 

Take care,

Danie

www.my-grape-vine.com

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