Hi grape growing friends,

With the Soccer World Cup fever at it’s highest here in South Africa, and my farm workers on annual vacation leave, I took some time off with my family as well.  I traveled to a few places aroud our beautiful country and just enjoy all the visitors to South Africa and the great football.  I hope some the readers of my blog were here and would love to hear what your comments are – maybe break the rule, to never talk about anything else than growing grapes on this blog, and put up a post for this??  Great game by Spain yesterday!  I think it will be a cracking final on Sunday.

Anyway, now I’m back in business and back in front of my PC, bringing you some fresh grape growing info to start the second half of the year.  With that said, let’s look at planting distances and row distances for grapes.

Gardening space is normally a big problem for home grape growers, so they cramp three to four grape vines into a 10 squire feet area in their garden.  Of course this seems logical; they hope to get a bigger crop because they planted more grape vines, but unfortunately, this is where it all goes wrong!

Planting a row of grape vines or a vineyard, starts with proper planning.  Before you even buy the cuttings, asses the area where you will plant the vines and measure the length of the row you will construct.  If you plan to plant more than one row, then measure the width of the area as well.

During the first couple of years (year 1 to 3), grape vines that were planted with too little space between the vines, will most probably not show any stress or symptoms.  As the vines grow older, the rooting zone and the canopy area gets bigger and sooner or later the adjacent vines will start to grow into each other.

When this happens, the canopy of the vine will compact and prevent proper airflow and sunlight penetration into the vine.  Not only is this bad for disease control, but will also have a huge influence on the fruitfulness of the grape vine.

I’ve personally seen the effect this has on a grape vine.  One of my friends decided to plant his vineyard 1.2 (+-4 feet) between the vines x 2.8m (+- 9 feet) between the rows. At first the vineyard was doing just fine, but round about year five, the production of the vineyard dropped by almost one third and in year six, it dropped even more! 

We assessed the problem and decided that the problem was nothing else than unfruitfulness; the variety (Sugraone), he grew is genetically an unfruitful variety itself, which made the problem even worse.  He decided to removed every other grape vine in the row, changing the planting distance to 2.4m x 3m (8ft x 9ft).  The next season, the vineyard produced a normal crop and since then went on to become one of his top producing vineyards on his farm.

Now you may ask; “Then what is the best planting distances?”  To answer the question, you will have to look at how you will train and prune the grape vines; how vigorous the variety grows and if you will use tractors and implements in your vineyard.  For varieties you prune with spurs, I would recommend the absolute minimum between the vines to be 1.2m to 1.5 m (4ft to 5ft) and for cane pruned vineyards 1.8 to 2m (6 to 7 feet).   The reason why I recommend a greater planting distance for cane pruned vineyards, is because it takes up more space on the canopy wires and we usually prune vigorous growing and unfruitful varieties with canes.

As said earlier, the distance between the rows depends on the way you will cultivate the vineyard and your variety so you will need to know the width of the tractor or spray pump and add about 15 to 20 % for the movement of the implements in the rows.  If you will not be using tractors and other implements in your vineyard, the same rule as for planting distances applies to row distances.

What is most common planting distances for grapes?

I would recon it would be 8 to 9 feet between rows and 6 to 8 feet between vines giving you round about 600 to 800 vines per acre.

Here is an email I received from Judy:

Danie,
     Wow! What a wealth of information you have.. I recently moved to Carson City, Nv,from Torrance, Calif. I am at 2,800′. I have a home on a nice acre of desert soil.   I have planted 4  bare root Thompson seedless. I had potted the plants until I replanted a few weeks ago… .  I dug 4, 3′ holes and filled them with my compost, potting soil, mixed with the desert soil.. I know 3ft., holes are a bit deep, but, I figured it wouldn’t hurt..  I also planted them 4ft. apart.. It will be only one row.. I still have concord to plant.. How far away should the concord be planted.. Will they cross?  I’m 67 and  digging these holes aren’t easy, but, I figure it’s good exercise.. If you have any information that would help me in this climate.. It;s 101 today.. I eventually want to add  more Thompson and Concord. Thank You for your time,
                              Sincerely,
                              Judy

First of all, thank you Judy for the email.  You have inspired me to write this article so here is what I think you should do.

1st: 101’F is no problem for a grape vine, they will adapt to these conditions easily.

2nd:  You will plant only one row, so the distance between rows is no problem :-)

3rd:  The varieties you will grow are Concord and Thompson and both these varieties are cane pruned (long bearers).  Thompson Seedless itself, is a variety that is known for it’s vigour and unfruitfulness, so if you read what I’ve said before, I would recommend a planting distance of not closer than 6 to 7 feet. 

I know this is bad news for you, as you will have to make new planting holes, but rather do it right from the start than to have a row of grape vines that does not produce a proper crop.

Just to show you how we lay out our vineyards before we plant the posts and vines; her is a picture of one of my vineyards.  You will see the chalk lines on the ground; this is where the the canopy posts will be planted.  The planting distance I will use is 3m (between rows) x 2m (between vines).

Right, so I hope you guys have a learned something new from the article and again thanks for reading my blog and supporting the effort I put in.

Good luck to the Netherlands and Spain for the final match on Sunday!.

Cheers for now, and I will talk to you soon.

Danie

www.my-grape-vine.com

 Remember, once you planted your grape vine, it will be part of your life for many years to come;  so doing it right the first time is important!

The Complete Grape Growing System is an online product.  All the grape growing info I have will be at the tips of your fingers within 5 minutes from now. 
You will not receive any physical product with your order. 

Grape Vine Grafting Video

Hi friends,

With this article I want to talk about grape vine grafting.  This is quite a common question among new grape growers.  The reason I think why so many people want to know how to do grafting, is because they planted the wrong variety when they started out.

Deciding on the right grape variety to grow in your area, is probably the most important decision you as a grape grower will take.  I will stick my head out and say, that your grape growing success depends on this decision.  Choosing the wrong variety for example in cold climates, can result in loosing the grape vine through frost – yes, some varieties are more cold hardy than others.  Disease susceptibility from variety to variety also differ, if you live in a climate with lots of rain during the growing season, it would be inadvisable to choose a variety that is more susceptible to downy mildew or powdery mildew.

Luckily, if you have chosen the wrong variety, there are a few tricks up the sleeve to “change” the grape vine into the variety you prefer/want – it’s called “grape vine grafting”.

Grape vine grafting is where you take some tissue (called a scion), whether it is a cutting or just a bud, from the desired variety and unite it with your existing variety.

There are quite a few methods grafting, like bench grafting, field grafting, green-to-green grafting, chip budding and so on, but the most effective and probably the easiest of them all, is T-budding or also called shield budding.

For T-budding to be successful, you need well developed DORMANT canes from a disease free grape vine.  The canes are normally pruned in winter, after enough cold, so the canes will be in full rest and then stored in a plastic bag in a refrigerator (not a freezer).  Ensure you choose healthy canes, that from the exterior of the grape vine – not those that didn’t get enough sunlight during the growing season.  The thickness of the cane should be more or less the diameter of a pencil – don’t use slender cuttings and canes with closely spaced, small buds.

At the beginning of spring, as soon as sap flow within the vine starts, it is time to graft the the new scions on the the old grape vine – we call this time of the year “slip barking” – this means that the cambium is actively growing, and the bark can be peeled easily with little damage.

The nice thing about T-budding, is that you can start a new grape vine on a 5 to 10 year old vine.  I wouldn’t recommend grafting on a 10 year and older vine.

With a sharp (and I do mean very sharp) grafting knife, cut a scion from the dormant cane (see the video below how it’s done – let me warn you, it takes some practice).

A vertical cut is then made on the stem of the old grape vine and should be deep enough to insure that the bark will separate at the cambium (this is where the term “slip barking” comes from).  A horizontal cut is then made at the upper end of the vertical cut to finish the “T”

The bark is carefully slipped from the stem by spreading the flaps alongside the vertical cut – this will expose the cambium.  The scion is then placed in the “T” and taped with a rubber band or grafting tape.  Care should be taken not to tear the flaps of bark in the process of spreading them and ensure you tightly wind up the grafting tape.

If the bark does not slip easily, this indicates that the stock is not in active growth and the process should be conducted later when active growth has resumed.

Take a look at the following two videos how it is done.

Good luck and happy grape growing.

 

Let me take you by the hand

and share with you all my grape growing secrets!

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The Complete Grape Growing System is an online product where you can download all the information about growing grapes.  You will not receive any physical product with your order.  For a once-off payment of only $29, you get instant access to all the grape growing info you need to succeed.

Growing Grapes – Jaques’ vineyard

Hi grape growing friends.

It’s been a while since I posted on my blog, because I took a short break after the harvest season.  Well, I’m back with some new posts and some new tips on growing grapes.

Those of you who have followed my blog posts since last year, will remember that I uploaded some pictures of Jacques’ grape vines in 2009.  With the help of the Complete Grape Growing System, Jacques established a beautiful wineyard in his backyard – one he can be proud of.

A week or two ago, he send me some more pictures of what the vines look like this year.  The vines are still young, but you can see the amazing results he got.  Here are some of the pictures from last year and this year.

Compare the pictures to one another and see what can be done!

At the end of the post, I will give you and Jacques some tips on what to do next.  Enjoy …

2009 Pictures

2010 Pictures

Jacques’ email to me:

Hi Danie, I wanted to send you some pictures of this year’s vines. Last year you posted my vineyard on your blog and said some very nice things about it, but there were no grapes on the vines. You did say that the grapes will come next year and you were right again. This year’s vines look nothing like last year’s vines. The season is young and the heat and rain is yet to come but for now in South East Louisiana my vines look great. I can’t wait for harvest but for now I’ll work it into the summer and look forward to the fall harvest.

Your Friend

Jacques

The Grapes!

Jacques, first of all, I must congratulate you on a job well done – the vines look great!

Now for some tips on what to do next:

  1. Remember what I teach in the Complete Grape Growing System; although the vines are well developed, they are still young and cannot ripen a full crop yet.  Limit the number of bunches to not more thean 10 – 12 per vine.  Your vines will develop the cordon (arms) this year and need enough energy to that.  The bunches hanging against each other are the first ones you want to remove to ensure proper ripening.
  2. Prune the canopy on the sides, where the shoots hang down, so there will be proper airflow into the vine.  Those that are half way to the ground, can be pruned 8 to 9 inches from the canopy wires.
  3. I see you did remove some leaves – great job, just remember that new ones will develop, so keep doing it.
  4. Lastly, keep your spray program up to date, as you mentioned that the raining season is on it’s way.  Downy milldew and powdery milldew is now your greatest enemy – watch out for these diseases.

Once again, great job Jacques.

For those of you have similar pictures, I will be more than glad to post them as well.

Take care and talk to you soon.

Danie – “The Grape Guy”

To get the same results as Jacques did, you need to do it right!

Let me take you by the hand and walk with you every step of the way.

Join the Complete Grape Growing System Today

The Complete Grape Growing System is an online product where you can download all the information about growing grapes.  You will not receive any physical product with your order.  For a once-off payment of only $29, you get instant access to all the grape growing info you need to succeed.

The Key Elements To Growing Grapes

Growing Grapes – the key elements for having a great vineyard

So many times I have heard this question: “Danie, what are the key elements when it comes to growing grapes?”

This is really an important questions, as there is much more to growing grapes, than simply putting a cutting into the soil, watering it and hoping for the best.

The video below will show you the 4 key elements for growing grapes and for being a successful grape grower and outlines what The Complete Grape Growing System shows you in detail.

 

What more can I say?

Al four of these key elements for growing grapes TOGETHER makes you a successful grape grower.

So, if you are ready to show your family and friends, and more importantly yourself,  that you can be a successful grape growers, then click on the button below and invest a very small fraction of what it will cost you if you do it wrong.

Remember, once you planted your grape vine, it will be part of your life for many years to come;  so doing it right the first time is important!

growing grapes

See the bottom of the page for more details

Enjoy the rest of the weekend and I really do hope to see you on the inside of the Complete Grape Growing System!.

Cheers, your friend grape growing friend.

Danie

The Complete Grape Growing System is an online product where you can download all the information about growing grapes.

Pruning a grape vine

Pruning a grape vine – where does is come from and why?

Pruning a grape vine dates as far back as 1876, when French viticulturists trimmed their grape vines to keep them in shape, as they grew older.  They learned that without pruning a grape vine, their grape vines grow out of hand and produce smaller crops, with lower grape quality as years go by.

 

They developed a pruning method, where only a few old canes are removed during winter to keep the basic structure of the vine under control.  The method or style of pruning a grape vine changed quite a bit since then, but the basics of keeping the structure of the vine as small as possible, remains until today.  However, the most important thing they discovered, is that with pruning a grape vine, it will produce the best crops, EVERY YEAR.

 

Why?  Without pruning a grape vine, the structure of the vine will get bigger and bigger every year, pushing the most active growth to the very end of the vine.  Have you seen a grape vine climbing up trees? 

 

An “out of control” grape vine produce lots and lots of flower cluster, but seldom produce good quality grapes to wine or table grapes and in the end, no grapes at all.

 

What most new grape growers don’t know, is that a grape vine produce grapes from buds that was laid down the previous year – in other words, the buds on a green shoots during this year’s growing season, will be the fruit bearers for the next season!

 

Although there are many reasons for pruning a grape vine, the 4 most important one’s are the following:

     1.  Pruning a grape vine to develop the young grape vines:   

I cannot stress this enough!  The key to having a productive grape vine one day, starts with the training and pruning of pruning a grape vine.  If you grow grapes commercially like I do, you need to get that young grape vine in production as quick as possible and the only way this can be achieved, is knowing how to prune and train that young vine.

 

This is really the starting point of having a successful, productive vineyard – no matter if you grow one grape vine or a thousand, it is essential that you prune and train the young vine the correct way.

 

2.  Pruning a grape vine to maintain a proper balance between growth and fruit bearing: 

 

Incorrect pruning or even no pruning at all, will result in thousands of buts to open in spring.   At first, this will look quite lovely, but eventually, these new shoots will be under-developed and will for sure produce less quantity and quality grapes. 

 

What not many grape growers know, is that when a bud open in spring and reveals a new shoot, this shoot grows from food stored in the vine the vine during winter and not from nutrients in the soil.  Only when the shoots are about 2 to 5 inches, the roots of the grape vine become 100% active.  Obviously, the more shoots there are, the less food there is for each shoot to develop during the early stages of shoot development – which by the way is the most important stage and that is why pruning a grape vine is so important!

 

So you haven’t pruned the vine, and it still produced good shoot length, despite the fact there are thousands of new shoots on the vine.  The next critical stage in the development of a grape vine is flowering and fruit set.  During flowering, the grape vine is under a tremendous amount of stress, as the grape vine needs more and more nutrients to maintain the proper physiological activities within the vine.  Once again, it is quite obvious that the more flowers there are, the less nutrients per flower there is – the result; the grape vine will naturally aborts the flowers to save itself and in the end produce strangely grape clusters with low quality grapes.

 

      3.  Pruning a grape vine to maintain a proper crop size:

Over-cropping is probably the biggest mistake new grape growers make, as they try to grow as many grapes per grape vine possible.  Over-cropping will not only delay the ripening process by a week or two, but will also influence grape quality.  

 

The more grapes there are on a single grape vine, the more nutrients and basic elements like potassium is needed to maintain a proper balance between fruit development, fruit ripening and keeping the physiological processes intact – this is also the reason why having too many grapes per grape vine, will result in poor coloring of the grapes.

 

In the end, to produce insane crop sizes, you need to find the point where your grape vine produce optimum number of grape clusters, without negatively influencing the quality of the grapes and pruning a grape vine is the starting point of proper growth vs crop size balance.

 

      4.  Pruning a grape vine to maintain a proper grape vine structure:

The last, but for sure not the least reason why we prune our grape vines, is to develop and maintain the structure of the grape vine.

 

Most grape vines nowadays are grown on some sort of supporting object.  Whether it is a pergola, wired fence or trellis system, the maintenance of the structure of the grape vine in this supporting object is very, very important.

 

Keeping any grape vine in shape is impossible without pruning a grape vine during the dormant season.  There is also something known as “summer pruning a grape vine”, which I will explain how to do in a later article. 

 

Pruning a grape vine and keeping the cordon (arms) of the grape vine in shape, will not only allow sunlight to penetrate the vine, which on the other hand is needed for disease control and fruit ripening, but will also make future pruning, a breeze.

 

I hope you catch my drift with this “pruning a grape vine” article.  Without pruning a grape vine, or let me say, proper pruning, you will most likely fail to have great quantity and quality grapes.

Learn the art of pruning a grape vine right now!

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pruning a grape vine

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Growing Grapes – Grape Bunch Sizing

Bunch Sizing for grape vines:

With this article, I will discuss an important part of preparing the grape bunches for harvest and its called bunch sizing.  We are about 3 weeks away from starting to pack our first Flame Seedless grapes, and although we had a hard time thinning out the bunches, the crop size an quality at this stage is excellent.

Bunch sizing, as mentioned before, is an import part of preparing your grape crop for harvest.  This is not so vital for wine grapes, but for table or eating grapes it is absolutely imperative that you know how to do bunch sizing and when to do bunch sizing.

As we are entering the final stages of berry development, just before coloring, the berry sets out about two thirds of the final size.  Off course this means that during this stage, you must know exactly what to do, to maximize the berry size, and one of the methods you should consider is to make the bunches smaller.

Not only will bunch sizing improve berry size, but will also improve coloring, disease control and also makes the harvesting and handling (packing) of the grapes bunches much easier.

If you look at the picture below, you will see a variety called Sundance Seedless.  This is an early/mid season, white seedless variety that naturally produce large bunches.  If we do no do proper bunch sizing, the bunches will weigh in access of 1.2 kg and the berry size on these grapes will most probably end up being 13 to 17 mm.

Bunch Sizing Pictures

Growing Grapes - Bunch Sizing

By just doing proper bunch sizing, we actually decrease the crop size, but will increase the berry size.  Hopefully, if everything goes as planned, the size of the bunches in the picture below, will around 600 to 800 grams, making it much easier to pack into cartons and also to handle.  An increase in berry size will increase bunch weight and all-over export quality.

Growing Grapes - Bunch Sizing

The actual size of the bunch above is just larger than the width of my hand.  Some varieties like Red Globe, Thompson Seedless (Sultana), we size the bunches even smaller.  I use this method of bunch sizing to size my Flame Seedless and Crimson Seedless bunches as well

The best advice I can give you on bunch sizing is to experiment with your own variety to find the size that suites your needs.  A rule of thumb for bunch sizing is to use the width of your hand and ad about an inch.

Bunch sizing will help you produce the best grapes in the neighborhood and make your neighbor envy your grape vine!  :-)

If you need a COMPLETE proven system to help you succeed, then join the Complete Grape Growing System right now – CLICK HERE

Take care and happy grape growing my friend.

Danie

www.my-grape-vine.com

To Learn Even More About Growing Grapes,

Join The Complete Grape Growing System Today!

bunch sizing

The Complete Grape Growing System is an online product.

For a once-off payment of only $29, you get instant access to all the grape growing info you need to succeed.

Layering a grape vine – update.

Those of you who were subscribed to My Grape Vine a year ago, will probably remember the article I wrote on the 30th of September 2008, about layering a grape vine – where you take a cane from an existing grape vine, to establish a new one.

This is a neat little trick you can use, if you are trying to get a new grape vine growing in an established vineyard, which by the way is not easy to do.  Why?  Remember that the older grape vines will over-shade the young vine and preventing proper sunlight to reach the vine.  The root system of an established vine, will have reached deep into the soil by now looking for food and water.  Therefore, the watering or irrigation of an established vineyard differ from that of a newly planted vineyard, so you will have to give the young vines water on it’s own – for the home grape grower, this is fine, but if you have a farm full of grapes, this is practically impossible.

For those of you who didn’t read the article back then, here is the link:  http://www.my-grape-vine.com/blog/layering-grape-vines/ (this link will open in a new window)

With this article, I want to give you an update on how that specific grape vine is doing.  Never mind the weeds, it was sprayed yesterday  LOL :-).

In the picture below, you can clearly see the cane coming from the established vine, going into the ground and then up again.  Notice how well the new vine developed and that I started to create the frame work already.  Yes this was done in one single year using the training methods I teach in the Complete Grape Growing System!

An added bonus is, that I will be picking a few bunches of grapes from this grape vine as well!  You can see these bunches are still small , but I promise they will be worth picking in about 2 months time.

I will keep you updated as the season progress, to see what the grape look like in the end – hold your thumbs! :-)

Take care

Danie

www.my-grape-vine.com

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For only $29, you get instant access to all the grape growing information you need, PLUS get some bonus videos of how to prune and train a grape vine.  The Complete Grape Growing System is a digital product.  You will not receive any physical products.

What are those numbers on a fertilizer package?

Suzana, one of the first members of My Grape Vine, send me this question a few days ago.

She wanted to know what those numbers on a fertilizer packaging means.

With this article, I will show exactly what they mean and how you can calculate, precisely how much of a certain fertilizer mixture you must apply, in order to get the right amount of an element in your soil.

The numbers on a fertilizer mix like for example a 10:10:10 fertilizer, probably the most common of all, means:

10 : 10: 10

N  :  P :  K

10 parts nitrogen (N), 10 parts phosphorus (P), 10 parts potassium (K)

 

But that’s not all!  On many fertilizer packages you see a 4th number in brackets; for example

2:3:4 (27)

 

From what we have just learned, we will have

 

2 parts nitrogen (N),  3 parts phosphorus (P),4 parts potassium (K)

 

The fourth number (27) – in brackets – is the total percentage (%) of nutrients in the mixture.  

So we have a total of 9 parts ( 2 + 3 + 4) nutrients in that mixture, that ads up to 27% of the total mixture.

 

In other words; for every 100 kg of fertiliser there will be a total 27 kg N, P, K in the mixture.

                                            2          27

the nitrogen (N) is                  9   x     1      =   6     kg N for every 100 kg of fertilizer mixture

 

Therefore, two ninths of 27 kg, or 6 kg, of every 100 kg of mixture will be nitrogen.

 

As for a 1:0:0(40) mixture, 40 kg Nitrogen will be added to the soil for 100kg fertilizer and no P, K

 

I hope this makes sense? :-)

With this formula, you can easily calculate how much of a certain fertilizer mix you must apply to add a certain amount of N:P:K to the soil.

To Learn Even More About Growing Grapes,

Join The Complete Grape Growing System Today!

For a once-off fee of only $29, you get instant access to all the grape growing info I use on my own farm, plus some bonus pruning and training videos!

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What To Do In Winter On A Grape Farm

31 October not only means Halloween for people from the USA, but means the end of the growing season for most grape growers in the Northern Hemisphere as well.

 

 

This brings us to a question I received after yesterdays blog post.  Tracy asked if we are on vacation the whole winter, because the grape vines are dormant!

LOL, if only it was true!

No, there are some important things that need to be done during the dormant season.  With this article, I will try to give you an overview of what to do when you finished harvesting your grapes.

As soon as you have picked your grapes, it’s time for a post-harvest fertilizer application.  Post-harvest fertilization is really important.  Although the grape vines will soon go dormant, it still actively takes up food and water, until the average temperature drops below the point where vegetative growth completely stops.

During this period, the grape vine stores nutrients in the canes, stem and roots of the vine in preparation for winter – the term we use is hardening off.

Not only are the grape vines preparing for winter, but the energy that is stored inside the vines, will be used for when next spring arrives.  When a grape vine starts to break bud, very little food and nutrient uptake takes place, instead, the energy stored inside the vine is used to feed the new shoots.  As a rule of thumb, about 20kg nitrogen per hectare should be enough.

The grape vines will start loosing it’s leaves, but before this happens, we normally spray a contact fungus control product, to kill all fungus spores that may still be on the grape vines.  Remember, these fungus spores can over-winter on the grape vines.

If your winter conditions allow you to, now is the time to prepare the soil for new vineyards or cut off old grape vines that needs to be replaced.  If you are a commercial grape grower, it’s a good practice to take soil samples before the snow comes, as this will tell you what is needed inside the soil before you actually rip or plough the land.

Once this is done, we start repairing trellis systems.  The growing season and while harvesting the grapes, is an extremely busy time on a grape farm.  Little time is available for maintenance and general welfare of the trellises and the rest of the farm.

Off course, dormant season means pruning season as well.  Depending on your climate, you will start pruning once the vines are fully dormant.  In very cold climates, we wait until just before spring.

Prepare you planting site well before spring, as you want to plant your grape vines before spring actually arrives.

Yes, during winter, everything on a grape farm slows down, but never comes to a standstill! 

Why aren’t there any grapes on my grape vines?

At least one out of every ten emails I receive, has something to do with either “no grapes on a grape vine”, or “too small berries”, or “not enough grapes”.

This is for sure the most common question asked by new grape growers.  Unfortunately, it is on the most difficult to answer as well, because there are a couple of reasons why this happens.  I’ll try my best to give you some tips on how you can improve the fruitfulness of your grape vines.

The first and most important thing you should always remember;

A grape vine needs proper sunlight to initiate the development of flower clusters inside the buds.  When you look at a the green shoot of a grape vine, you will see hundreds of buds situated between the leafstalk and the shoot itself.

 

 

The grape vine bud is actually a compound bud, with a primary, secondary and tertiary bud situated next to each other.

 

Generally, the primary bud contains leaf and bunch primordia that produce 6-10 leaves and two bunches, respectively. If the primary bud develops into a new shoot in spring, the secondary and tertiary buds remain small.  Anything that cause the primary bud to under develop or die, is what we call Primary Bud Necroses (PBM) and will greatly influence how many grapes your grape vines will produce.

 

Have no clue what I have just said?  Right, let me explain in laymen’s terms.

 

The green shoot with buds shown in the picture above, is one-year-old growth from the current growing season.  These buds will produce shoots in next years growing season.  In other words, the small shoots and bunches that will appear next year, is initiated inside the buds during the current growing season.

The following pictures shows a bud on a shoot that is starting to go dormant.  This bud will produce grapes next year.

 

So, if your grape vine grows in the shade, or is too compact, and no sunlight can penetrate the canopy, then next years crop will be lighter.  That is why I always keep hammering on proper canopy management and choosing the right spot to grow your grape vines.

One of Crimson Seedless vineyards is situated close to my garden.  On average, the grape vine closest to the garden, produce only half the number of bunches it is suppose to have because of an over shading tree that grows in my garden.

Incorrect Pruning Methods

I didn’t mention this first, but it is just as important as having proper sunlight penetration into the grape vines.

Remember, the fruitfulness of varieties differ, that is why some grape varieties are pruned with spurs and some pruned with canes.  The buds on variety like Crimson, initiate flower clusters from the 4th bud onwards (counting from the base of the shoot).  If you prune the dormant cane back to 2 or 3 buds, you remove the most fruitful part of the cane where most of the grapes are!

I’ve seen pictures of grape growers, who prune almost all of the previous growing season’s growth away.  Remember, without properly planning your pruning actions and by simply pruning everything away, you will reduce the crop size.

Too vigorous growing grape vines

Over fertilization or a too vigorous growing grape vine, will cause problems in the blooming stages.  Just like any other plant with flowers, the grape vine produce flowers as well, that needs to be pollinated to reproduce – the basic instinct of the grape vine is to survive and reproduce new grape vines.

If your grape vine grows too vigorous, the vine will get the “message” , “Okay, I’m doing fine, so there is no need for too many grapes!”.  The grape vine then shed flowers to make the crop lighter – not what YOU want isn’t it?

Another problem with a too vigorous growing grape vine, is sunlight penetration into the vine – mentioned above.

Diseases

Not only will diseases like powdery mildew and botrytis attack flower clusters, causing the flowers to abort, but there are mites that attack the buds on the grape vine themselves.  Rust mites feed predominantly in the outer bud scales and bud mites feed on internal bud tissue, causing damage to the small flower clusters inside the buds.

The use of Gibberellic acid (GA3)

Gibberellic acids are naturally produced plant growth hormones that affect cell division and cell elongation in stems and leaves. Commercial grape growers use GA3 to increase berry size and also for thinning out of bunches with varieties like, Thompson Seedless, Flame Seedless and many more.

Unfortunately, GA3 cause unfruitfulness to the grape vines, so proper use of this product is of the utmost importance.

Male grape vines

Most of the commercial grape varieties grown these days, produce male and female flowers, so no cross pollination is needed.

However, some grape species like vitis Reparia, produce only male flowers.  For the average grape grower, this looks promising during flowering, as they produce literally thousands of flower clusters, but these flowers will never produce grapes, they will only fall off.

Some nurseries sell these grape vines to people who wants to cover a pergola for the beauty of it alone, and not for grapes.  If you bought a house with a grape vine on a pergola or fence, that doesn’t produce grapes, then the chances are good that it is a male grape vine.

If your grape vine produce no grapes, then I do hope that this article gave you some insight on how you can correct the problem.

Remember, correct pruning and canopy management is crucial!

 

Take care,

Danie

www.my-grape-vine.com

 

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