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Grapes: Organic Production

Grapes: Organic Production

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Published by: Organic Fruits - ATTRA on Nov 03, 2010
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A Publication of ATTRA - National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service • 1-800-346-9140 • www.attra.ncat.org
ATTRA—National Sustainable
Agriculture Information Service
is managed by the National Cen-
ter for Appropriate Technology
(NCAT) and is funded under agrant from the United StatesDepartment of Agriculture’s
Rural Business-Cooperative Ser-
vice. Visit the NCAT Web site
html) for more informa-
tion on our sustainable
agriculture projects.
By Rex DufourNCAT AgricultureSpecialist© 2006 NCAT
Grapes: Organic Production
rapes are grown in many parts of theU.S., in a wide range of climates and
conditions. Certain considerationsand practices in grape production will be
the same for both organic growers and con-ventional growers within a given region. For
instance, site selection, pruning and train-
ing, and planting techniques are similar for
both conventional and organic grape cul-
ture. Information on these topics is available
through the Cooperative Extension Service,
grape growers associations, and commonvineyard texts, bulletins, and trade maga-
zines. Accordingly, this publication focuses
primarily on organic controls for pests,diseases, and weeds. Forgeneral information onorganic fertility manage-ment in tree and vinecrops, refer to ATTRA’s
Tree Fruits: Organic Pro-
duction Overview.
In some parts of the country, grapes are
among the easiest fruit crops to grow organ-
ically. Diseases can be managed with a
combination of cultural strategies (including
c pruning and training techniques,cultivar selection, and proper siting of thevineyard) and organically acceptable oilsand soaps, and mineral- and biologically-based fungicides. A similar range of prod-ucts, but including pheromonal controls,
can be relied upon to control most mite and
insect problems. Cover crops, mulching,
mowing, and mechanical cultivation can be
used to control weeds, and fertility needs
can be met with ecological soil managementpractices and purchased organic fertilizers,
when necessary.
Organic grape production provides a fairly predictable economic return in irrigated parts of the arid
West. In the East, organic grape production is complicated by a climate that fosters insect and diseaseproblems. Production is compounded by consumer preferences for grape cultivars (both dessert and
wine grapes) that are difficult to grow in the East. This guide presents organic management options
for diseases, insects and weeds, discusses cultivar choices in terms of disease resistance, and brieflypresents marketing ideas for eastern labrusca-type grapes and organic wines. References and an
appendix on disease resistance rating follow the narrative.
Introduction ........................1Geographical Consider-ations and DiseaseManagement ......................4Diseases ................................5Geographical Consider-ations and Insect andMite Management ..........12Plant ParasiticNematodes ........................18Vertebrate Pests ..............18Weeds ..................................21Alleyway VegetationManagement ....................21Grazing Options ..............25Economics andMarketing ...........................25Wine Making andSustainable Energy.........28Summary ............................30References .........................30Further Resources ...........32Appendix I: DiseaseResistance Rating Chartfor Grape Cultivars ..........38
Photo by Rex Dufour, NCAT 
“Simply put: the principles of organic farm-ing and sustainable practices are the singlemost important tools you can employ toimprove wine quality.” John Williams, owner,Frog’s Leap Winery, Rutherford, California,speaking at the 54th Annual Meeting of theAmerican Society for Enology and Viticulture(ASEV). June 20, 2003. Reno, Nevada.
Page 2
Grapes: Organic Production
GrapeSpeciesCommon NamesCultivarsand HybridsNative toClimatic/pestconsiderationsAdditionalInformation
Vitis vinifera
European Grape,Vinifera grapeManyAsia Minor
Widely planted in westernUS, but on hybrid root-stocks, as
V. vinifera
root-stocks are susceptible tophylloxera. Generally notas cold hardy as native V.
grapes, so lesswidely planted in theNortheast. Vinifera grapescan be generally charac-terized as requiring a longgrowing season, relativelyhigh summer temperatures,low humidity, a ripeningseason free of rainfall, andmild winter temperatures.
Vitis rotundifolia
(Please note that someauthorities place thisspecies in a separategenus, Muscadinia.)
Vitis acerifolia
 (Le Conte),
Vitis angu-lata
(Le Conte),
Vitis cordi-folia, Vitis hyemalis,Vitis incisa
Vitis musca-dina
Vitis mustangensis,Vitis peltata
Vitis rotun-difolia Flowers, Vitisrotundifolia Scup- pernong, Vitis taurina
Vitis ver-rucosa
Vitis vulpina
 (Linnaeus).Arkansas Grape, Big WhiteGrape, Black Grape, BullGrape, Bullace Grape, Bul-let Grape, Bullit Grape, BushGrape, Bushy Grape, CurrantGrape, Flowers Grape, GreenMuscadine, Hickman’s Grape,Muscadine Grape, Musca-dinia Rotundifolia, MustangGrape, Roanoke Grape, Scup-pernong Grape, SouthernFox Grape, Warty Grape,White Grape, White Musca-dine, White Musky Grape,and Yellow MuscadineBlack Beauty, Black Fry, Bountiful, Car-los, Chief, Cowart,Darlene, Dear-ing, Delight, Dixie,Doreen, FloridaFry, Fry, Higgins,Hunt, Ison, Jane-bell, Janet, Jumbo,Loomis, Magno-lia, Nesbitt, Noble,Pineapple, Regale,Scuppernong,Sterling, Summit,Supreme, SweetJenny, Tara, Tar-heel, and TriumphSouthern Delawareto southern Illinois,south by southwestto northeastern Texas, south to theGulf, and east to theAtlantic.Adapted to humid south-east. Lacks frost hardi-ness and can be injured byminimum winter temps of 0 degrees F. Should avoidgrowing in areas that oftenhave 10 degree F temps. Itis most abundant on sandy,well-drained bottom landsand along river banks andin swamps, thick woodlandsand thickets. They toleratehot summers but do notwithstand drought and donot adapt well to semi-aridconditions. Satisfactorygrowth in warmer grapegrowing areas of Washing-ton, California and Oregon.Nearly immune to phyllox-era, Pierce’s diseaseand nematodes.Because of its resistance tomany pests,
V. rotundifolia
 would be the ideal rootstock candidate for Vinifera graftswere it not for the fact that itwill rarely accept a graft fromany but its own species. Someauthorities consider that thisspecies (along with the related
V. munsoniana
) should bein a different genus, due toa number of morphologicaldifferences (not to mentionthat
V. rotundifolia
has a differ-ent number of chromosomes(n=20) than other Vitas spe-cies (n=19). California RareFruit Growers website providesmuch information about plant-ing and care of this species, aswell as a listing of the variouscultivars and their characteris-tics:
Also, Jack Keller’s website has a wealthof information on this species:
Vitis labrusca
Vitis blandii 
Vitis canina, Vitiscatawba
Vitis ferruginga, Vitislabrusca alexandrer,Vitis labrusca cham- pion, Vitis labruscavar. subeden tata
Vitis labruscavar. typica
Vitis latifolia, Vitisluteola, Vitis sylves-tris virginiana
Vitis taurina
Vitis vinifera sylvestrisamericana
(Pluk), and
Vitis vulpina
 (Marshall)Alexander Grape, Alexan-dria Grape, BeaconsfieldGrape, Black Cape Grape,Black Champion, Black FoxGrape, Black Grape, Buck Grape, Cape Grape, Cham-pignon Grape, Clifton’s Con-stantia Grape, Clifton’s Lom-bardia Grape, ColumbianGrape, Constantia Grape,Early Champion Grape,Farker’s Grape, Fox Grape,Frost Grape, Madeira of York Grape, Northern MuscadineGrape, Plum Grape, Rothrock Grape, Rothrock of PrinceGrape, Schuykill Muscadel,Schuykill Muscadine, Skunk Grape, Springmill ConstantiaGrape, Swamp Grape, Tal-mam’s Seedling Grape, Task-er’s Grape, Tolman, VevayGrape, Winne Grape, andYork Lisbon GrapeAlexander,Catawba, Cham-pion, Concord(80% of 
V. labrusca
 production), Dela-ware, Niagara,Lakemont, Reli-ance, and HimrodNortheast andeast of US.Nearly immune to phyllox-era.
Vitis labrusca
has longbeen used as rootstock for
grafts andfor development of hardyhybrids. Tougher skin than Europeangrapes. Deep purple in color.Major use is for sweet grape juice (Welch’s) and associatedproducts–jelly, jam, preserves,some wine.
Table 1. Wine Grape Species
Grapes grow all over North America, except in the most extreme desert and tun-dra. North America is home to more than half of the world’s 50 or so species of grapes. Various authorities recognize between 19 and 29 species of native NorthAmerican grape. Table 1 lists the four American grape species used in wine pro-duction:
V. rotundifolia, V. labrusca, V. aestivalis
, and
V. riparia
. Please note, how-ever, that except for
Vitas rotundifolia
Vitas munsoniana,
these “species”readily hybridize, resulting in a situation where one specie’s traits and rangeoverlap with another (or several others!). Some areas may have two or morespecies co-existing and with the various permutations of hybrid offspring pos-sible, identification becomes diffi cult. This is why there are so many names listedunder “Grape Species”—some authorities described “new” grape species thathad already been described by others under a different name.
(Table adapted from:Winemaking Homepage, Jack Keller, 2005.
Page 3
Grape SpeciesCommonNamesCultivars andHybridsNative toClimatic/pestconsiderationsAdditionalInformation
Vitis aestivalis
(Munson), also:
Vitis nortoni, Vitis lincecumii,Vitis bicolor 
The later twoare considered varieties of 
V. aestivalis
Cynthiana Grape,Arkansas Grape, Nor-ton Grape, NortonVirginia Grape, Nor-ton’s Seedling Grape,Norton’s VirginiaSeedling Grape, andRed River GrapeNorton, Cynthiana,America Tolerant of Pierce’sDisease. (Rombough,2002)Dormant cuttings of this species donot root well and this trait is com-monly passed on to hybrids (anexception is the hybrid America, across with
V. rupestris,
which rootsreadily from dormant cuttings).Green cuttings will root on mistbenches (Rombough, 2002). Thisgrape can make an excellent redwine that can compete in qualitywith that made from vinifera grapes.
Vitis riparia,
Vitis amara,Vitis boulderensis, Vitis cal-losa
(Le Conte),
Vitis canaden-sis acceris folio
Vitis colombina, Vitis con-color, Vitis cordifolia
Vitis cordifolia riparia
 (Torr. et Gray),
Vitis cordifoliavar. Riparia
Vitis cor-difolia var. culpina
Vitis dimidiata
(Le Conte),
Vitis hyemalis
(Le Conte),
Vitis incisa
Vitis intermedia
Vitis missouriensis
Vitis montana, Vitisodoratissima
Vitis palmata
Vitis popu-lifolia, Vitis riparia var. pal-mata
Vitis ripariavar. praecox 
Vitis rubra
Vitis sero-tina
Vitis tenuifo-lia
(le Conte),
Vitis virginiana
Vitis virginana
Vitis virginiana sylvestris
Vitis virginiensis
Vitis vulpina
Vitis vulpina var. praecox 
Vitis vulpina var. riparia
(Regel), and
Vitis vulpina var.syrt.
(Fernald and Weigand).Bermuda Vine, FrostGrape, June Grape,Maple Leaved Cana-dian Grape, Mignon-ette Vine, River Grape,Riverside Grape,Riverbank Grape,Scented Grape,Sweet-Scented Grape,Uferrebe Grape, andVignes des Battures The better root-stocks in Francehave been givenvarietal names suchas Riparia Gloire,Riparia Grand Gla-bre, Riparia Scribner,Riparia Martin andothers. There are noAmerican or Cana-dian counterpartsto these Frenchvarietals.Riparia is the mostwidely distributedof any Americanspecies of grape.It is found in NewBrunswick andnorthern Quebecto Manitoba andMontana, south to Tennessee, north-ern Texas, Colo-rado, and Utah,and from the Atlan-tic to the Rock-ies in all areas inbetween.It is known to with-stand temperatures to-60 degrees F., is mod-erately drought resis-tent when naturalizedto such conditions,and is found along thebanks of streams, inravines, on the islandsof rivers, and in wetplaces. It is very resis-tent to phylloxera. Itis less resistent to rotthan Aestivalis, butsomewhat more resis-tent than Labrusca. The foilage is rarelyattacked by mildew,but is susceptible tothe leaf-hopper.Riparia grows readily from fromcuttings and makes a good stock for grafting, where the union withother species is usually permanent.Native Riparias are early bloomersbut late ripeners, and their fruit isbest for wine when left on thevine until over-ripe and evenslightly shriveled.
Vitis rupestris,
Vitis populi foliis
Vitis rup-estris var. dissecta
Vitis vinifera var. rupes-tris
(Kuntze).Beach Grape, BushGrape, Currant Grape,Felsenrebe Grape,Ingar Grape, JulyGrape, MountainGrape, Rock Grape,Sand Grape, andSugar GrapeCultivated Frenchrootstocks are vari-ously known asRupestris Mission,Rupestris do Lot,Rupestris Ganzin,Rupestris Mar-tin, Rupestris St.George, and othernames. These haveno American coun-terparts other thansimple Rupestris.Southern Mis-souri to Kentucky,western Tennes-see, Arkansas,Oklahoma, easternand central Texasto the Rio Grande,westward into NewMexico. Wild standsin Pennsylvania,Delaware andWashington, D.C.are probably due toescaped cultivars.Rupestris is remark-ably resistant to phyl-loxera. Its propensityto put down deeprather than lateralroots make it espe-cially suited to dry,rocky soils on south-ern slopes.Rupestris bench-grafts well but isless successful in field grafts. It isnot widely cultivated in the UnitedStates as rootstock and its own fruitare unprofitable. It is considereddrought-resistent, but not if theland dries out deeply. It was widelyand successfully used in Franceas grafting rootstock where deeproots were desired.
 A note about French Hybrids: Seibel is the common name for a number of Vitis vinifera hybrids that have been introduced over the years in a quest to develop climate tolerant grape varieties that are resistent to rot, mildew and phylloxera. Some of these, notably the bunch rot resistant Chambourcin, were widely planted in France in the 1970s. How-ever, stringent European Union rules forbidding the blending of hybrids in traditional wine varieties have led to their disappearance from most European vineyards. Nonethe-less, several hybrids have found acceptance as wine grapes in the Eastern United States, Canada and England, including the dark-skinned Chambourcin (Noir), Chancellor (Seibel 7053), Chelois, and Vignoles (Ravat 51). Widespread light-skinned hybrids include Seyval Blanc, Vidal Blanc and Villard Blanc. Seyval Blanc is in fact so widely planted in parts of the Eastern United States that it is sometimes referred to as “Indiana Chardonnay.” It is also quite widespread in England. (from: Grapes, Wines, and Vines, BellaVista Ranch webpage, 1999. http://members.aol.com/bellavue/grapes.html)
Table 1. Wine Grape Species (continued)

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