Planting Grapevines

After a soil survey and soil analysis add any amendments to balance the soil and incorporate the material into the soil. If the soil tends to com-pact or is rocky, deep ripping where the row will be placed is beneficial. This will allow ease of post-placement, vine planting and ensures good aeration of the soil. If practical install irrigation and water in any added fertilizer and offer the newly planted vines a moist bed.

Increased plant density requires row spacing to be narrower and with this the necessity of straight rows. The use of a laser system will help ensure this.

Strong healthy plants of desirable clones should be purchased.

Greenhouse grown plants should be planted as soon as the risk of frost is past. Dormant vines should be planted as soon as possible, preferable in March. Remove from cold storage only two days supply at one time. Soak in water until planted and ensure the root system does not dry out. A small amount of a balanced fertilizer such as 20-20-20 may be added to the water used for soaking. When planting ensure the roots are distributed in the soil and aimed downward to ensure good growing characteristics with all roots functioning. If necessary plant a little deeper and pull the vine up to the required level. Ensure the graft union is 4-6 cm. above the soil level. A rigid stake should be planted with or added shortly after the vine is planted.

Immediately after planting irrigate or provide enough water to completely soak the soil around the vine roots. This eliminates large air pockets and brings the soil in contact with the root. Young vines should be protected from stress and competition from weeds. Milk cartons, plastic tubes or other devices will help protect young vines from wind, weed spray or mechanical weeders. Ensure young vines are weed free and do not suffer water stress – at least for the first two years.

As the young plant grows tie to the rigid stake every 10 – 15cm of growth to ensure a straight trunk and minimize wind damage. Regularly check for pests and disease. Mildew, leafhopper and species of flea beetle can cause extensive damage to the developing plants.

The goal of the first year is to establish the vine with a trunk of at least pencil thickness (8-10 mm) and trained for at least 30cm along the fruiting wire.