Vitis spp. – Grapes

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Vitis spp. Grapes

Planting position: Full sun.Ideal for regions with winter rainfall, warm summers and mild winters (although some cultivars have been bred for summer rainfall regions).Spacing of 1,5m for those growing on a trellis or fence.
Requires regular watering, never allowing soil to dry out completely. Leaving the plant a little drier while the fruit ripens will ensure sweeter fruit. Well-draining, compost-enriched loamy soil and generous layers of mulching.Pruning is done to encourage the growth of fruiting wood. The make-up of its fruiting wood starts with its oldest wood, from which two-year-old canes arise, from which one-year-old canes arise, from which the fruiting shoots arise. Pruning trellis-grown vines, 1st year - remove all top growth during winter, leaving the strongest, upright cane. Cut this cane to 3 buds above ground level. Bind the down-line of the T-shape to the bud. Wait for further growth and remove all but the strongest one. Train and tie the stronger up the T-shape. Pinch out the growing tip when plant has excelled the top wire to encourage lateral growth. Train and tie lateral shoots, one to each side. Remove any new growth during summer. The 2nd year’s winter pruning will be to cut the arms back to mature wood. Remove any unwanted growth during summer (if the frame is not strong or satisfactory, you may need to cut it back down to 3 buds above soil level again). In the 3rd year the arms will have to be shorten back again, similar to the previous year’s cutting. Select canes for development of secondary arms and cut back to 2 buds, do not make the cuts too close! The spacing of these canes should be first 20cm from the T-line, then with intervals of 20cm. These upward, outward-pointing spines should be the only ones left. Manipulate foliage and fruit for better lighting. For the 4th and rest, prune fruit-bearing canes to 2 buds. Always seal cuts.
Propagate from cuttings and grafting.
Fertilising programme: (avoid the stems and water before and after applications). 1st year - midsummer application of 250g LAN, and 500g magnesium sulphate; 2nd year - spring application of 750g of 2:3:2 plus 500g magnesium sulphate and a summer application of 250g LAN; 3rd year - spring application of 1,5kg of 2:3:2 plus 500g magnesium sulphate, in summer 750g LAN; 4th year - spring application of 2kg of 2:3:2 plus 500g magnesium sulphate, in summer 750g LAN; 5th year - spring application of 2,5kg of 2:3:2 plus 500g magnesium sulphate, in summer 1kg LAN.
Harvesting is done when the berries are sweet and ripe and is cut off gently with secateurs.
Pests, diseases and their cures: Snout beetles and Cockchafer beetles - spray with Karbakil weekly; Powdery mildew - spray with wettable sulphur; Downy mildew - spray with mancozeb or copper oxychloride as needed, before flowering.

Grapes need no introduction and are popular for eating raw, making currants, raisins, sultanas and jams. Wine, brandy and vinegar are also made from the grape berries.

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