Umbrella Kniffin System for Growing Grapes
David Handley: I'm David Handley, with theUniversity of Maine Cooperative Extension, and we're here to talk about pruning grapes.Very simple system for farnorthern production. Here in Maine, we need to protect the vinesas best we can through the winter, but at the same time try to get enough light andexposure to the canes that we're going to get good fruit set, and good fruit quality. One of the systems you can use for labruscatype or concord type grapes, which are the ones that do best here in Maine, which isthe umbrella kniffin. As opposed to the four arm kniffin, the umbrella kniffin puts allof its canes up at the top, or the first year
growth that's going to fruit. What we're talking about with cane growthhere is one yearold growth that has a chocolate brown color, and nice smooth bark with budson it. We're going to be saving four canes, plus the permanent trunk, to give us all ofour fruiting structure. Everything else is going to be coming off of here, and that includesanything that fruited last year. You can tell the two yearold canes, or thecanes that fruited last year, because they'll be thicker, and they'll have gray, peelingbark. All of these are going to come off, and we're going to save the one yearold canewith the chocolate brown color, and the smooth
bark. The first step in pruning is to look at ourpermanent trunk and remove all of the two yearold growth, the growth that fruited lastyear, saving a few canes that we'll be using for fruiting this year. Our first step isto cut some of these off, looking at that older bark there. We just cut that out, getit right out of there. This will open up the planting, and that twoyearold wood is not going to fruit. Unless we take it out, we'll find that our fruitingwood gets further and further away from the trunk. Part of the reason we're pruning isto keep that fruiting wood concentrated right
near the trunk. With the umbrella kniffin, which is what we'repruning to here, we're only going to maintain four of those fruiting canes. We want themall concentrated near the top of the trunk, or the top wire on our twowire trellis. We'regoing to take each of the canes that remain behind. As you can see here, here's my nicefruiting cane, smooth bark. All these are buds that are going to breakand give us long, green shoots that will have bunches of grapes on them. We're going todrape them over the top wire, and then we're going to attach them to the bottom wire, togive you that kind of quot;umbrellaquot; look, thus
the name of the system called the quot;umbrellakniffin.quot; Then we're going to cut off the ends of thecanes, so that there's only about 10 buds on each one. We just count those from thetrunk. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10. If I need to leave one ortwo on there to make it reach the bottom wire, that's fine. I'll just go to where I can attachthis to the bottom wire, like that. I need two for the other side, to completeour umbrella. You can see this leaves me with several other fruiting canes, and I need tosave some of those as well, but they don't need to be as long. What I'm calling theseare quot;renewal spurs,quot; because we need the buds
from these shoots to come out and give uscane that we'll be able to put up on the wire next year. For every fruiting cane that I'm leaving behind,I also need to cut some renewal cane, or renewal spurs, to provide us with fruiting wood fornext year. I just cut these back to one or two buds, and if they're not where I wantthem I can cut them off completely. But for every fruiting cane, I need to leave at leastone renewal spur. I tend to leave a couple of extra renewalspurs here in Maine, because I'm very sensitive to the fact that I'm likely to get winterinjury almost every year.
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.
Texas Wine Teaser Drew Tallent
So much of the Hill Country is dreamers. Most people want to be in the wine business,and as soon as they get a little dose of the vineyard they don't want anything to do withit. If they could just buy the fruit somewhere and be in the wine business thatswhat they'd want to do. Wine growing is a lifestyle as well as an occupation. We'rein it for real. We got harvesters, we got sprayers, we got the equipment, we are doingthis. We had been peanut farming and cotton farming and things like that for years, astime goes by those things become less profitable and more problematic. We currently grow grapesprimarily for Becker Vineyards, we also grow
for Grape Creek, Texas Hills, and WilliamChris. We're in the grape growing business, in a big way. We have the highest producingvineyard in the Texas Hill Country region now. The grapes took off growing that firstyear and it looked like they liked the soil, the nextyear we planted 18 acres we won several silver medals from the wine that was made with that.I got really enthused, I was on to something now, we know what we're doing, turnedout we had a lot to learn. We have so many nemesis in this business it is hard to describe,other regions may have some of these problems but they don't have them all.We can have them all in the same year, spring
frost, hail, if your not flexible and willingto change you're going to have lots of problems. My family has been here for 4 generations,I'm a 4th generation farmer and rancher. I came back to run the family farm when my dadretired. and I decided I had enough of the city. I think the reason a lotof people are getting into this industry now is to escape the cities and get into the rurallifestyle and get away from the traffic and all the other things. We frequentlyhave lots of people ask us and tell us that they are interested in getting into the grapebusiness, and usually they are not very sincere and its easy to waste a lot oftime talking to someone that is not really
going to actually become involved in thisindustry. I met Dan McLaughlin somewhat by accident and have been working with him tohelp him establish his vineyard. It was one of those things where I knew what he was upagainst, where he was. I had been to the Buist Vineyard so, when I met him the firsttime he was out in the vineyard working and that was a pretty good sign, so we went fromthere. Grape growing is a very serious proposition it requires a lot of dedication,it's not nearly so romantic as it is just hard work. My favorite time is the harvest,because that means we're almost finished! We're a believer in the machine harvest. It'sa pretty interesting machine and how it works
it sorts out and blows all the leaves off,it sucks out all the leaves out of the fruit and cleans it us. Hand picking is veryvery slow, its very inconsistent, it's hard to get people trained, and then you cant keepthem after you train them. we did fifteen tons of fruit in about two and a halfhours. That's a lot to pick by hand and stick in a bucket. It takes fifteen hundred gallonsof water to wash it after the harvest. After weighing they're taken anddumped into a destemmercrusher and then that all goes into the tank to fermentation.If they are a red grape they will be in that steel tank probably two and a half maybe 3weeks, and when the fermentations are all
finished then they go to barrels. We've continuedto grow and expand and the medals have kept coming and the wineries like our fruit,so were going to be in it for the duration I guess.