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! 

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