Growing Grapes in Texas Jim Kamas Central Texas Gardener
I love Tait Moring's sense ofgardening style. Thanks so much for opening your gates for us. Right now we're going to talk aboutgrowing grapes. One of the hottest topics here in Texas because of all the wineries. We have Jim Kamas with us. It's great to have you back on theprogram. Welcome. Thanks, Tom, I appreciate it. Welcome back to Central Texas Gardener. You've just published a great new bookGrowing Grapes in Texas.
Congratulations on that! Thanks a lot. It took a couple years to get done, but I'm I'm pretty happy with it. Well you know, like I said, it's a hottopic. A lot of people are very interested in growing grapes in their backyard. Maybe one ofthose famous table grapes, like Concord or something like that. Well Concord ispretty tough to grow here. Concord likes acid soils which we don'thave. And it's much more adapted a cooler climates. If you wanted to grow Fredonia or some of the other lebrusca types, they'll work, but
Concord is a pretty tough one to grow here. Ok, well your book is filled with tips aboutvarieties and things like that. Let's focus on that home grower. You know , I know for example I go out to hillcountry every now and again to go to Fredericksburg, places around there. And I see wineries springing up like mushrooms now. And it kinda makes me wanna grow grapeshere in town. What does a home gardner need to know to get startedé Well if you're a homeowner and you want to grow enough vines to produce a little bit of wine
my advice is plant what you like. If you're planting a commercial vineyards we're going to have a very different discussion. But if you like Merlot, plant Merlot. If you like Syrah, plant Syrah. For smallscale, you have no big economicinvestment, so plant what you like and go with that. Yeah okay, that makes sense. In terms of the space needs, the sun,
all those kinds of things, grapes arerather particular and disease prone. Yes. So let's give people an idea of whatthe basics are that they would need to have any kind of success. Sure. Commercially our rows are spaced nine to ten feet apart, but in the backyard if you are maintaining the row centers with alawnmower or something, you can place the rows as close as six feet apart.And you can also go as tight as five to six feet between vines. You can put a lot of vines in arelatively small space.
So small space is OK. When we talk about the rows, we are talking about providing structures on which the the vines can grow and supportthemselves. Yes, a lot of times in California you'll see these free standing vines that are called head pruned vines. They don't do very well here because we need to keep our vines up off the ground because it rains here duringthe summer and they are very disease prone as you mentioned.
Over Wintering Strategies New vineyard management practices
Light, electronic music fades in. Narrator: Canadian winters can be tough on wine grape vines. A single extreme cold snapcan damage vines and reduce crop yields by 20 to 30%. When temperatures drop below 20 for an extended period, the whole crop is at risk. And it takes two years for a vine to recover, amounting to a significant financial loss for growers and vintners. Carl Bogdanoff and his team at the Pacific AgriFood Research Centre, in Summerland, British Columbia. .are working with grape growers to better protect vines against the deep freeze. Carl Bogdanoff: In the past, say about 30 years ago, the wine industry was fairly small.
.and also was based on winter hardy hybrid varieties. .which produced fairly medium quality wines. The wine industry here in British Columbia decided to focus primarily on. .quality and to do that they replanted all their vineyards with premium vitus vinifera varieties. .such as merlot, cab franc, chardonnay. All those wine varieties that we know and love. Vitus vinifera can tolerate some freezing but they are seriously tested when temperatures become record low temperatures. And when we do get these really freezing temperatures, grape buds are killed. .vine tissue is damaged, the flowum or zylum or even the roots are damaged, or the vine could be totally killed outright. Narrator: It is a multidisciplined initiative that is fully engaged with the industry.
The team monitors temperatures and bud hardiness at many locations across the Okanagan and Similkameen valleys. Participating growers receive a biweekly, bud hardiness report for major wine grape varieties. They use this information to assess risk of winter injury before and during an arctic event. .to help them decide when to operate fans that draw warmer air into vineyards. Knowing bud damage levels also helps in deciding how much to prune. Carl Bogdanoff: Last winter, this vine was compromised. It's flowum and zylum cells were damaged. It wasn't completely girdled, so this vine broke bud.
.sent up some shoots and had some crops but when it got really hot this summer. .this vine totally collapsed and now is dead. Narrator: Additionally, the research team collects data in several other current research projects. .that are looking at the effects on hardiness of rootstocks and varietal selections. .irrigation practices, use of fans to mix air in the vineyards. .amount of crop on the vines, ground cover between vine rows, disease. .leaf removal and cluster positioning. .and how a plant hormone, one that improves grape colour, is also contributing to bud hardiness.
Mike Watson: Anything we can do to make the vines hardier, even by 2 or 3 degrees. .is huge. It's the difference between up to 50% damage. .and replanting crop loss to having a total successful year in the succeeding year. Carl Bogdanoff: It is really important that we understand. .how we can help these vines weather these cold snaps that occur periodically. .and to develop new vineyard management practices that can improve the cold hardiness of the grape vine.
Narrator: Each summer, the team's interim results are presented at the BC Wine Grape Council's Enology and Viticulture Trade Show. Final results will be made available to growers in 2019. For Canadian vintners, smart science ensures you can enjoy Canadian wines room temperature or chilled. Light, electronic music continues. Light, electronic music fades out. Light, electronic music fades out..