How to Grow Grapes

A guide to growing your own grapes

Planting your own grape vine can be a fun undertaking and yield delicious rewards! Many local nurseries sell varieties such as red Flame Seedless or Crimson Seedless, green Thompson seedless or black Concord grapes for home growing. Many people often wonder how to grow grapes at home and how they can go about planting their favorite Sun World grape varieties. All of Sun World’s branded varieties are exclusively grown on our farms or those of licensed growers around the world. However, we are pretty well-versed in growing all varieties of grapes and happy to share some helpful tips to consider when planning, planting and caring for your grapevine:
How to Grow Grapes

Climate

Before taking up grape growing, it’s important to consider the environment they will thrive in. Grapes generally require a hot and dry climate and are successfully grown in areas where the temperature range is from 60-105˚ F (15-40˚C). The climate should experience fairly mild winters, little humidity and limited annual rainfall. If your home is not in this type of climate, grape may not grow well.

Soil

Soil is what will provide your grapevine with the nutrients it needs to grow. While grapes tolerate a fairly wide range of soil chemistry and conditions, there are a few things you can do to give few things you can do to give your grapes the best soil possible:

  • Prior to planting, conduct a pH test with a commercial testing kit (available in stores). A pH of 5.5 – 7.0 is generally recommended for grapes.
  • Drainage is a very important part of planting grapes. To test your soil, dig a 12x12x12 inch hole, fill it with water and allow it to drain for 30 minutes to an hour. Refill the hole with water and let it stand. If it has drained within 24 hours, your soil drains well enough to support healthy grapevines. If not, it may be too dry.
  • As far as soil types go, sandy loam, silt loam and clay loam drain well, contain nutritious organic matter and lie within the preferred pH range.

Planting

The best time to plant grapevines is in early spring. When choosing where to plant, it’s important to remember that roots will grow about 3-6 feet from the base. Therefore, a grapevine should be planted with a gap of 8 feet between it and any other plant

Watering

When grapevines are young, proper watering is essential. Newly planted grapes need immediate watering to minimize transplant shock. Throughout the first growing season, new vines should be watered at least weekly in the absence of rainfall. Water should be sufficient to wet the soil 6-10 inches beneath the surface (3-4 cups).

Fertilizing

When it comes to growing your own grapes you’ll need to keep track of whether or not your grapevine is getting adequate nutrients by checking its leaves. Dark green leaves are good. If the color seems to be fading, add fertilizer. You can use store-bought fertilizer, or you can use compost.

Trellis

As your grapevine starts to grow, building a trellis will be very important. A trellis will help to support the plant’s natural desire to climb. Teaching your vine to follow a trellis is necessary and it will take a lot of patience.

Pruning

Pruning a grapevine the correct way is important for grape growing. Letting the vines continue to grow without pruning will cause them to produce little fruit. In your plant’s first growing season, trim back most of the shoots leaving only two to four to grow. Over time, continue to prune branches that have already produced fruit. Pruning during spring is recommended.

Harvesting

A good way to determine whether or not grapes are ready for harvest is to sample them! A grape’s sweetness and flavor is the true test for maturity. Ripe grapes should taste sweet, flavorful and mildly acidic. As another option, ready-made kits that help you determine the ripeness of your grapes are available in stores.

We hope these pointers on how to grow grapes at home help you get started on cultivating thriving, beautiful grapevines of your own! With the right kind of care and a whole lot of patience, you’ll be able to enjoy grape growing at home for years to come.

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