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Id 126

Id 126

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Published by: hassan_maatouk on Jan 17, 2010
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entucky has a long record of good grape produc-tion. As a home fruit crop or commercial crop,grapes have many benefits. Grapevines are relativelyinexpensive and easy to propagate. They reach fullbearing potential in four years and bear annually. Themany varieties of grapes can be consumed fresh orused to make grape juice, jams, jellies, and wine.Grapes are also easy to manage. Vines are trained ontrellises or arbors and easily can be sprayed usingsmall equipment for control of insects and diseases.
Planning Your CommercialGrape Vineyard
Establishing a new vineyard requires considerableinvestigative work, and planning ahead is vital, espe-cially for beginning growers. Using a thoughtfulapproach can prevent or minimize future problems. Aseven-minute VHS tape titled
Planning for a Commer-cial Table Grape Operation
is available through yourlocal Cooperative Extension Service office.Before planting a vineyard, consider your physical,mental, and financial abilities as well as your experi-ence with the crop. You should also ask yourself thefollowing three questions.
Will growing grapes be economically viable?
Whenassessing the economic feasibility of growing grapes,explore the market potential for grapes to determinewhere and how they can be sold profitably. To gaininsight about potential returns, consult informationsources and determine:• the average cost of vineyard establishment;• yearly production costs;• anticipated short- and long-term returns;• labor costs or inputs;• which varieties meet market demands.A marketing system for Kentucky’s table grapesdoes not exist. Marketing will be your own responsi-bility. Kentucky has two types of winery licenses,determined by production volume: the Farm Winerylicense and the Small Winery license. Several wineriesID-126
Growing Grapes in Kentucky
G. R. Brown, D. E. Wolfe, J. Strang, T. Jones, R. Bessin, and J. Hartman
operating in the state are interested in purchasingcertain cultivars of high-quality, Kentucky-growngrapes.
 If you are considering growing for a winery,consult the winery prior to planting to find out whichcultivars are needed.
The Kentucky Vineyard Societyhelps bring together buyers and growers of tablegrapes. The Cooperative Extension Service also hasuseful information concerning marketing of freshproduce. As information on potential markets andmarketing strategies develops, it will be availablethrough your local county agricultural Extension agent.
Is the climate suitable for sustained production?
Grapes can be grown successfully in a variety of climates. They require about 200 frost-free growingdays. You should know about minimum winter tem-peratures and spring frosts in your area and in themicroclimate of the site where you intend to grow thegrapes. When you have decided which varieties youwant to plant, look up information about those variet-ies to make sure they are suited to the climate (precipi-tation, heat, drought, cold) in your area. Find out if anyone has successfully grown those varieties in yourarea. You can obtain variety performance data from theUniversity of Kentucky.
Will the site support a healthy, long-term vineyard?
The best locations for grapes have plenty of brightsunshine, warmth, good air circulation, freedom fromfrost, and well-drained soil (soil with good internaldrainage is more important than very fertile soil).Because cold air settles in low spots, late spring frostsoften damage new spring growth in low areas. The bestsite is above the level of adjoining land, so that cold airdrains away from the planting. Disease control iseasier on these higher sites since better air circulationdries off the foliage sooner on dewy mornings andafter rains. Steep hillsides with well-stabilized soil aresatisfactory for growing grapes; however, culturaloperations are easier on level or gently sloping sites.In identifying a suitable site, the first step is toobtain a
soil survey
of the intended planting site fromyour local Natural Recources Conservation Servicesoffice. Then dig several backhoe pits to verify the
accuracy of the survey. Examine the survey results,paying particular attention to the depth of root-restric-tive layers (hard pan, rock, plow soles, high waterlevels, etc.) and the rooting depth of existing vegeta-tion. Observation of crops growing nearby also cangive clues to potential problems. If the site seemssuitable, determine whether soil modification isnecessary or possible by sending a
soil sample
foranalysis (pH, Ca, Mg, B, P, K).You should also determine if the site has adequatewater for irrigation. Supplemental water during thegrowing season can often improve grape yield andquality. Peak usage is from June to September. Is asuitable water source available at the site? Is frostprotection needed?Also before planting, investigate the site’s poten-tial biological problems, such as perennial weeds,disease organisms, insects, and birds, and devisecontrol strategies for these problems.
Which Grapes to Grow
There are many grape varieties (cultivars) fromwhich to choose (Table 1). Each category of grapes hasits own characteristics, and each cultivar within thecategories has advantages and disadvantages. Whilethe traits attributed to American grapes, American-French hybrids, and European (vinifera) grapes aregenerally true, there is great variation among thecultivars. When selecting cultivars, obtain localrecommendations if possible. Relative disease suscep-tibility of various cultivars is presented in Table 2.All species of grapes can be used to make wine.Wine quality is influenced by cultivar, fruit quality,and ability of the vintner. Vinifera types have thepotential to make the best quality wine. In Kentucky’senvironment, however, American types are the easiestto grow and vinifera are the most difficult.American bunch grapes (
Vitis labrusca
) arederived from native American species. They arecharacterized by their hardiness and insect and diseaseresistance and are generally well-adapted to Kentuckygrowing conditions. American grapes have slip skins(the skin readily separates from the flesh) and tend tobe more acidic toward the center of the grape berry.Concord is the most important commercial and homegrape cultivar grown in the eastern United States. Awide selection of other varieties is also available toextend the ripening season and to give diversity inflavor and color.American-French hybrid grapes are crossesbetween European grapes and, primarily, the nativeAmerican grapes
Vitis ruprestris
Vitis lincecuni
.These varieties are considered to be more suitable thanAmerican grapes for wine because they produce aflavor more like European grapes and lack the “foxi-ness” unique to American grapes. (Foxiness is the tastethat comes to mind when you think of grape juice orgrape-flavored Kool-Aid.)European grapes (
Vitis vinifera
) are the primarygrapes grown in the western United States and Europe.These varieties are characterized by the adherence of the skin to the berry flesh and are sweet throughout thegrape. They are known for making the highest qualitywines. European grapes are difficult to grow in Ken-tucky and are generally not recommended. They aregenerally susceptible to downy mildew, powderymildew, and crown gall, and they are all susceptible towinter injury. Only the hardiest cultivars can begrown—with difficulty—using the best culturaltechniques on the very best sites.
Table 1. Grape cultivars for Kentucky.CroppingHardinesshistory into winterCultivarsColorMaturity
KentuckyinjuryCommentsAMERICAN (all varieties are seeded)
Buffaloblue/blackAugustgoodaboveConcord-type. Mediumaverageberry, medium to large,well-filled, sometimesshouldered clusters. Heavy,regular bearer. Disease-resistant; slip skin. Spicy-sweet, vinous, non-foxyflavor. Marvelous grapearoma. Excellent for tableuse, jam, juice, or wine.Fredoniablue/blackAugustgoodvery hardyFormerly a leading earlyblue variety. For fresh use, jelly, and roadsidemarketing.Aldenblue/blackAugustplantedaverageHeavy bearing with largesomewhatclusters; hence, needsheavy pruning. Non-slipskin. Fine eating quality;for fresh use as a dessertgrape.NiagarawhiteAugustgoodaboveMost widely grown whiteaveragegrape in Kentucky. Largeberries and clusters andgood yields. Good fruityflavor. Used for fresh fruitand wine.Steubenblue/blackAugustgoodaboveConcord type. Heavyaverageproducer. Vines have goodvigor. Sweet. Excellentflavor. For general use andhome and roadsidemarkets.DelawareredAugustplantedaboveHigh quality Americansomewhataveragebunch grape. Small grapeswith small, compactclusters. Vines are slowgrowing and never getlarge and should be setcloser together than othervarieties. Requires heavypruning. Yields less thanConcord.ElvirawhiteAugustplantedvery hardyCompact clusters. Vinessomewhatare vigorous.
Arranged in order of maturity within each category, per trials at Princeton, Kentucky.

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