Pruning Niagara Grapes

Prairie Yard Garden Growing Grapes

(gentle music) Prairie Yard Garden is a production of the University of Minnesota Morris in cooperation with Pioneer Public Television. Closed captioning is provided by Mark and Margaret YackelJuleen in honor of Shalom Hill Farm, a nonprofit rural education retreat center in a beautiful

prairie setting near Windom in southwestern Minnesota. Shalom Hill Farm, shalomhill Did you hear that a new crop is appearing on the prairieé Growing grapes has created an interest among a few individuals who like the challenge of adapting it to our region. Join me on Prairie Yard Garden as we visit a vineyard to learn about the process and challenges

of growing grapes on the prairie. (soft lighthearted music) A new crop has appeared on the prairie: growing grapes And today I have Florian Ledermann with me who's been involved with the process for the last four to five years. Florian welcome to the show and tell me, how did you get interested in growing grapesé ^We got interested actually at the

University of Morris's Horticultural Night. We sat down in a tent and learned that the university just released four new varieties of grapes that are actually coldhardy. And before that, I always kind of figured grapes were the crop that just kind of came up and never really bore and died every winter and died back. So that's what spiked our interest.

And so that very nextspring, we bought five. And they survived and I did a little more research and decided to go with an acre. And a year later, another acre so we ended up with 1,350 vines as a result of that little adventure in Morris. Larry That's interesting. 1,300 vines, how long does it take you

to put all those in the groundé Florian We used family labor. (Florian laughs) So we had, it took us, I think probably when we were planting, it took us about threedays to put one acre in. That would be for the planting. The posts and the trellis system and everything

Pruning Grape Vines

Hi, I'm Tricia, an organic gardener. If you want bunches of grapes on your grapevines this summer, then you need to do your winter pruning. I'll show you how! There are two types of pruning: cane and spur pruning. And both of them should be done late in the season, between January and March. We're gonna start with cane pruning, because all table grapeswill be productive with that method.

For cane pruning, I'm gonna choose one to two canesfrom last year's growth on each side of the vine and I'm going to cut the rest! You can tell the age of a cane by its bark. 1yearold canes have smooth bark,older canes have shaggy bark. When choosing which canes to keep, you're gonna choose a cane that's coming off very close to the trunk, as compared to onethat's coming off of a branch, like this. The canes that you keep should have about 15 buds along the length of the cane. And they should be close to the top of the vine.

Don't choose canes that are too thin or too thick. Choose them when they're about pencil size. I'm gonna tag the canes that I'm gonna keep with this ribbon, and I'm going to cut the rest. I want to make sure and not cut a good cane. These are the 2 fruiting canes that I'm going to keep. For every fruiting cane that I keep, I'm going to cut another cane into a renewal spur. A renewal spur is a cane cut to 2 buds and these buds are going to create next year's fruiting canes. If your cut starts to bleed, don't worry, that's normal. It won't hurt the vine.

After seeing how this vine is shaping up, I don't think I need this cane after all. So you're gonna cut your fruiting cane back to about 15 buds. And if you have any lateral branches coming off this cane, that's the time you would cut them. For grape vines growing on arbors, the first thing you're gonna do is cut off any suckers that are coming offthe main vine or cordon. And then you just want to cane prune. You want to keep one cane and one renewal spur for every 1 2 feet of cordon. This grapevine has been neglected and hasn't been pruned in a couple of years.

So, before I actually start the spur pruning, I'm going to clean it up. Typically, spur prune varieties are trained to a bilateral cordon, which are these thick branches on either side of the trunk. These cordons can be pruned to length, but they're never pruned all the way off, back to the trunk. Mine are maintained at about 3.5 feet. A spur is last year's growth, cut back to 2 buds. Ideally, you're gonna want 7 spurs on each cordon. And on this cordon, I'll probably get close.

On the other cordons, I'll have to wait until next year because this vine was neglected. The canes that make the best spurs are the ones that are going upward, close to the cordon. Prune all the canes to spurs and then select the best 7 for each cordon. Ideally the spurs should be spaced about 6 inches apart. Don't worry if they're not, just strive for some nice spacing between the 7 spurs on each cordon. Even though this is a nice cane, it's growing too far from the cordon, so I'm gonna snip it off. Tame your grapes and Grow Organic for Life!.

Knowing when to harvest your grapes

gt;gt;TOM VAN DER LINDEN: It's a beautiful Septemberday in Minnesota. We're at the Horticultural Research Center at the University of Minnesotaand it's time to harvest the grapes. But how do you know when it's time to pické I'll showyou how to tell when the grapes are ripe and I'll show you some measurements to be sure,because it's important. After all, better grapes mean better wine. The most important day of the year is theday you pick. It sets in motion the annual harvest and it also determines the kind ofwine you'll make. As a grape grower and a wine maker you should keep a notebook. You'llbe glad to have records in the months and

years to come. Let's start with sight, touch, smell, andtaste. You want your grapes to be rich in color, not green. A ripe grape will crusheasily, but not be shriveled. A ripe grape is plump, and thickly juicy. It's a balancebetween sweet and tart. Each variety develops special flavors that we call varietal flavor.A fully ripe grape develops its varietal flavor more fully. Does the skin have varietal flavoré Is itherbaceous, or is it vegetal, like a green pepperé Is the aftertaste pleasant or is itbitteré Chemical or vinegar tastes or smells are flaws so take good notes if you have thatproblem. One more time, taste the grape and

imagine what the wine will be. Then we'llmove on to some lab work. It's good to use your senses but it's alsoimportant to measure. You need to measure sugar content, pH, and acidity level. Grapesare mostly water and sugar which will ferment to make wine. Brix is a term that the brewingindustry uses to measure the sugar content of grapes. Brix level helps estimate the alcohollevel of your wine. Like temperature, Brix is measured in degrees. Brix is measured witha refractometer, which you can buy at a winemaking supply store or online. Drop some juice onthe test plate, close the cover firmly and look through the viewfinder. You'll see aline where your juice registers on an internal

scale. In this case, the juice registers 24degrees Brix. A somewhat less convenient, but cheaper methodis to buy a simple glass hydrometer which has a builtin scale. Simply pour your juiceinto the cylinder, float your hydrometer and read the Brix level right off the builtinscale. The more sugar in your wine, the higher your hydrometer will float. As your grapesmature, they store more sugar so the Brix level rises. Different wine styles requiredifferent Brix levels. In general, for white wine, 22 Brix is good. We'll keep an eye onour grapes, testing them periodically, and when we reach our Brix goal, then it's timeto pick.

We now know about sugar and how to measureit. Next let's quickly shift to pH and the pH meter. You may remember pH from high schoolscience class. It's a measure of free hydrogen ions. As our grapes ripen and the sugar rises,the pH will rise too. You can buy an inexpensive, portable pH meter. Be sure you buy pH referencesolutions so you can calibrate your meter. Grape juice is full of natural acids, whichlend important qualities to wine. Every time we measure Brix we should also measure acidlevels. In a way they're opposites; as the Brix goes up, the acid levels go down. Youcan buy a simple acid test kit. It takes a little practice and a little care and you'llwant to make good records, but don't worry,

you can do it! So enough with measuring and tasting, let'sgo pick! Are you ready to pické Let's start by pickinga good sample. Yes, you can pick one grape, put it in your refractometer and take a sugarsample, but it won't be very representative of all your grapes. Instead, pick individualgrapes from many clusters. Sample from both sides of the vine, high and low, in sunnyareas and shaded areas, and pick from different parts of each cluster. An ideal sample mightbe 50 grapes. But if you only have a few vines, it'll be okay to take a smaller sample. Makea note about how they felt, how they smelled,

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