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Growing Grapes

The concord grape.

The Concord grape, which gets its name from Concord, Massachusetts, is a marble sized fruit that fills you entire mouth with a burst of robust sweetness! Developed in 1849 by Ephraim Wales Bull, today more than 400,000 tons of Concord Grapes are produced each year. Although most are grown commercially, Concord Grapes are one of many grape cultivars grown in the flower and fruit gardening guides home garden.

When choosing a grape cultivar, your best source of advice on growing grapes is a reputable nursery. Besides directing you to those that grow successfully in your area, a nursery will also help you choose a cultivars suitable for your intended use.

There are many choices in Grape cultivars.

The choices are many. Grapes are green, red, purple, or black. Some have seeds; some do not. Some grapes separate easily from the fruit (slip-skin) and some do not. Some are best for table use, some are best preserved in jellies or jams, some are grown especially for winemaking, and some (like the Concord Grape) are multi-purpose.

One thing all grapes have in common is the way they grow. Plant in early spring after the frost leaves the ground in thoroughly tilled, weeded, and composted soil. Pre-conditioning of the soil makes it rich in organic matter, yet provides good drainage.

In addition to growing in your garden, grape vines are a beautiful ornamental and valuable as shade or screen plants around your flower and fruit gardening guides home when trained on a trellis or arbor. Grapes love full sun. Cultivars will produce best if planted on the south slope of your garden. It typically takes three years to establish a grape planting, but once established, one grape arbor will produce up to 40 years, a single vine producing up to 20 pounds of grapes per year!

Pruning your grapes

The most difficult part of growing grapes is the hefty amount of pruning required. When pruning, keep in mind that the current season?s growth produces fruit from last season?s wood. Too heavy pruning results in an abundance of foliage, but very little fruit. Too light pruning results in large yields of poor quality fruit.

Depending on your location, prune grapevines once during winter. However, this can be tricky because you should neither prune vines when sap begins to rise until leaves are fully developed nor during periods of severe frost.

Grapes grow new shoots from early spring blossoms. If left unattended, these shoots will transform your grapevine into an unproductive and unruly problem. Remove all weak, thin shoots and leave only the strongest shoot to develop. Flowers from this shoot precede the development of fruit.

Keep your vine tidy throughout the summer. Prune shoots back to the third or fourth leaf after the fruits. Remove any new growth. Also remove all leaves from around growing clusters to get maximum sun.

And when all is done.... picking grapes.

Grapes change color long before they are ripe. To avoid picking clusters before they reach their peak, taste the grapes first. If they aren?t ripe, wait for them to develop. Since grapes will not improve after harvest, this way you will avoid ?sour grapes?.


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