Growing Grapes On A Pergola

Growing Grapes On A Pergola is not that hard if you follow these instructions!

Hi friends,

In the previous post we spoke about summer pruning grapes vines and I showed you a picture I received from Lisa where she is growing grapes on a pergola.  Now, I received quite a few questions regarding the construction of pergolas and about growing grapes on a pergola.

As I said so many times before; growing grapes on a pergola or some sort of trellis is highly recommended, because of the following advantages:

  • It’s much easier to keep the grape vine under control during summer
  • Winter pruning will be much easier, because of an established frame work of the grape vine
  • The leaves of the grape vine are better exposed to the much needed sunlight – better photosynthesis and coloring
  • It allows for more effective summer treatments and spray coverage – less diseases
  • And finally, it will decorate you garden and most probably add value to you property as well!

As so many things in life; there are some disadvantage (con’s) as well:

  • When growing grapes on a pergola, you will have to work with your hands above your head
  • The cost of construction a pergola
  • Manual labor of constructing the pergola
  • And finally; how to train the grape vine to cover the pergola – this is where I come in :-)

1.  Growing Grapes On A Pergola – First Things First

It is recommended that you construct your pergola BEFORE you plant the grape vines.  Once you planted the grape vines, you would want to start training the vines to reach the roof or canopy of the pergola as soon as possible.

There are two very important question you will have to ask yourself before you plant the grape vines.

  1. Will you be growing grapes on a pergola for the grapes as well as for decoration?
  2. Or are you growing grapes on a pergola just for decorating the pergola and not interested in the grapes?

When you are growing grapes on a pergola for decorative purpose only, then choose a variety that will produce no grape – ask your nursery for decorative grapes and not fruit producing grapes.

Constructing a pergola can be a challenge to many, but I think with the right plans, the right equipment and some spare time, anyone who can drill a hole, use a hammer and circle saw can construct one.  This could even be a family project to spend some quality time with the boys (or girls – yes they can help as well!).

Start by planning the project beforehand.  Decide on where you will erect the pergola and what shape and size it will be.  There are free plans available on the internet, but most of the time they are either incomplete, poor quality or very difficult to follow.

2.  Growing Grapes On A Pergola – Planting The Grape Vines

Let’s get back to growing grapes on a pergola, shall we?

When you have constructed the pergola, it’s time to plant the grape vines and start growing grapes on a pergola!

The question remains; what size pergola and how many grape vines to plant?  How vigorous a grape vine grows, depends on many external factors like variety, soil, climate, fertilizer, etc.  For me to give you the exact number of vines per squire feet of canopy is not that easy!

What I can tell you is that, when growing grapes on a pergola, an average vigor variety like Concord, will easily cover an area of round about 32 squire feet arbor space.  Depending how large the pergola is, keep this in mind because planting too many grape vines on a smallish pergola, will make summer treatments and pruning much harder!  Although it will take more time to cover the pergola, I recommend you start with one or two vines for every 64 squire feet – you can always plant more in the future!

After planting the grape vines, you need to train the grape vine to reach the top of the pergola.  When I’m growing grapes on a pergola or on any flat surface, I prefer to use only one training shoot, because this will ensure your grape vine reach the top of the pergola in no time.  When you have achieved this, you will then train the grape vine along the width or the length of the canopy – depending on how many grape vines you plant and where you will plant them.

Important: Remember that when growing grapes on a pergola, you will need to construct a sturdy pergola that will withstand strong winds, snow, rain and the increasing weight of a grape crop.  30 to 50 Bunches of grapes can get quite heavy!

3.  Growing Grapes On A Pergola – Training The Grape Vine

Your goal during the first year of growing grapes on a pergola is to reach the canopy as soon as possible.  You will probably not cover the the surface of the pergola during the first year, but if you train the grape vine the correct year, you will be able to do that in the second year of growing grapes on a pergola.

I made this video for the members of The Complete Grape Growing System, but decided to upload it to a private YouTube channel for you to see – I’ve made a similar video a couple of years ago, and was actually one of the first YouTube videos I made – since then it has been viewed more than 45 000 times – amazing!

Anyway, I think you will get the bigger picture of what to do when you will be growing grapes on a pergola.

4.  Growing Grapes On A Pergola – Summer Manipulations and Winter Pruning

Growing grapes on a pergola is very popular among backyard or home grape growers.  So many of these grape growers fail miserably, because they think that once the grape vine covers the pergola, all is fine – NOT TRUE!

As with any other grape vine; when growing grapes on a pergola you must continue to look after the vines.  Believe me; working on a grape vine that is 6 to 8 feet above the surface of the soil is not very comfortable.  Where I live, the guys with commercial flat roof trellises tells me that the productivity of their farm workers is 50% lower than on normal trellis systems and that is understandable and that is also why so many home grape growers tends to neglect the grapes on a pergola.

Remember to keep on doing summer treatments.  Prune the grape vine EVERY year and prune hard, especially if it is a vigorous growing variety.

Growing Grapes On A Pergola – The Final Thoughts

I am growing grapes on a pergola next to my swimming poolTo sum this up:

– Construct a strong enough pergola BEFORE you plant the grape vine
– Plant the grape vines at strategic points so covering the canopy will be easier but DO NOT   plant too   many grape vines for your pergola size.
– Using proper training techniques when growing grapes on a pergola will ensure you cover the canopy in the second year
– Summer treatments like leave pulling, suckering, removal of water shoots etc. is still important
– Use proper pruning techniques

 

 

Thanks for reading this article and I hope you now understand the basics of growing grapes on a pergola.

Cheers

Danie

www.my-grape-vine.com

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.

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Update on layering a grape vine

In the previous post, “Layering A Grape Vine“, I showed you how to layer a grape vine.  As your grape vine starts showing signs of new growth, you need to manage these layers in order to maximize the shoot growth of the new grape vine and to develop the frame work (cordons) of the new as quickly as possible.

This is what the new layer looks like after just a few weeks.

When the new shoots start developing from the buds on the cane you layered, you should remove them as soon as possible.  This is a very simple process; just break them off by hand. 

For those of you who has the Complete Grape Growers Guide;  keep an insurance shoot and new training shoot as shown in the guide and train them up the training string as the pictures in the e-book shows you.  Once the vine reach the trellis wires, you can split it (if your training system requires it) or simply train it to the cordon wires and start developing the frame work (as shown in the guide).

You will notice that a training shoot from a layered grape vine grows much faster than from a newly planted cutting.  This is because it gets energy and nutrients from the original (old) grape vine.

I do hope this will help you manage your layered grape vine. 

Take care

Danie

P.S  For your own copy of the Complete Grape Growers Guide, you can simply click on the picture below.

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You can use your PayPal account to buy the e-book!

This is an e-book that gives you instant access to all the information.  You will have to download the ebook after you make the payment, so you will NOT receive a physical book.

Growing grapes from seeds

As I mentioned in the previous post, I will do a series of posts about questions new grape growers ask.

Today I want to discuss another question asked by so many grape growers: “Can I grow grapes from seeds?”

Because it is very hard to get hold of planting material or cuttings, in some parts of the world, grape growers are forced to try and grow grapes from seeds extracted from the grapes they buy in supermarkets or grocery stores.

Growing grapes from seeds is not the ideal way of reproducing a grape vine as the genetics of a variety is not completely carried over by the seeds – in other words, if you plant a Concord seed, and you successfully get the seed to germinate, the chances are good that the new grape vine will not have all the true Concord characteristics!

This is a very time consuming process as it can take up to three years to propagate a new grape vine from seeds.

Another big problem with growing grapes from seeds is the fact that a very low percentage of the seeds will germinate.  The grape seed is covered with a very tough seed coat that keeps the seed dormant until ideal conditions for germination.  The seeds from grapes, needs to go through a process called stratification to obtain a higher germination percentage.

Stratification of grape seeds:

The stratification or cold treatment of grape seeds is essential if you want to succeed with growing a grape vine from seeds. 

After extracting the seeds from the berries, you need to put the seeds in peat moss or damp paper towel, inside a refrigerator for at least 2 to 3 months.  The peat moss must be kept damp throughout the whole process, but not too wet (soggy).  The ideal temperature for stratification is 35 – 40 ºF (1 – 3 ºC) and should be kept at this temperature throughout the whole process.

Grape seeds can be held in stratification for a long time (even years), as the seeds will not germinate under these cold conditions.

Planting out the seeds:

After stratification, take the seeds from the refrigerator and plant them in seed pots and ensure the temperature is about 70ºF (20ºC) during daytime.  If your climate is cold, you can use heat mats to increase the minimum temperature.  Heat up the seed pots at night if your temperature is lower than 15ºC.

After a few weeks (if you are lucky), then some of the seeds will germinate.  After the seedling is about 1 – 2 inches high, it can be planted out in a bigger pot.  Make sure you keep the soil moist, but not too wet.  It is advisable to grow the seedlings in the pots for a full year, before planting them out.

If you have successfully grown grapes from seeds, let us know about how you did it by adding a comment below.

Take care

Danie

Bird damage on grapes

Hi Grape Friends.

Hope you had a wonderful festive season and that 2008 will be a great grape growing year for you.

In this post, I would like to talk about birds damaging (eating) your grapes. If you are like me, a true nature person, fond of all wild animals (birds included), it is hard not to hate these feathered friends when you are a serious grape grower.

All over the world, grape growers have problems with birds ruining grape crops and the extent of damage to crops, caused by birds of varying types is often significant. Birds damage grape crops by either pecking or consuming whole grapes from bunches.

The former feeding method causes secondary spoilage as bacteria, moulds and insects attack the damaged berries, which may ruin an entire bunch , like in the picture below. Further more, in the table grape industry, which is my speciality by the way, grape bunch appearance is an important feature of the produce and even minimal feeding by birds cause cosmetic damage, making the fruit unsuitable for the export market.
Secondary infection because of bird damage

Now the Million Dollar Question is: “How can you prevent birds from damaging your grape cop?”

Studies showed that strategies to try and eliminate birds species, that damage grape crops have a poor record of success and the fact that environmental consciousness is on everybody’s mind these days (as it should be), makes killing these birds not an option anymore.
There are a few methods, you as a grape grower, can use to try to reduce damage to grape crops.
Grape growers use bird netting to drape the grape vines with a special net developed to keep out birds. Although bird netting give some sort of protection, it is not fool proof. Draping the netting over grape vines is a time consuming job and no mechanical manipulations (like mechanical harvesting) can be done before the netting is removed again.
2. Propane Gas Cannon
The Propane Gas Cannon is a bird scarer, controlled by an electronic timer and 12V battery and create periodic load explosions in an effort to scare birds from the vineyards. These Cannons are quite costly and should be placed at strategic places throughout the vineyard. Some grape growers where I live tried to use these cannons, but it seems like birds become acclimated in time to new sounds introduced into the vineyard and tend to ignore the cannon shots after a while.

3 Visual Repellents
I’ve seen grape growers use shiny streamers and other shiny and fluttering objects like small mirrors hanging from strings, to repel birds, but as with the propane gas cannon, birds acclimate to these objects quickly. Some grape growers stretch plastic strings over the vineyard and these strings will vibrate in the wind and make a low irritation sound that could (notice I said “could”) repel unwanted birds.
4. Chemical Repellents
No proven chemical repellent (to my knowledge) has been successfully used in vineyards. Normally, the grapes are almost ready for harvest and applying chemicals to the grapes, could lead to artificial flavour to grapes and in the end to the wine – and it could be dangerous to humans! I do not recommend this!
In the end, there isn’t much else we can do – sadly. As my dad always say: “Danie, always remember, you planted the rows on the sides of the vineyard for the birds and grape thieves to eat!” :-) LOL , thanks Dad, maybe I should design a vineyard without any side rows!
Hope you enjoyed the post, try some of these methods, even if they work only for a week or two – it could just be enough to save some of your grapes.
Have a great day
Danie