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Grapes on the Praires

Yes, you can have a vineyard -- sort of

Grapes are pushing the envelope and even the best of them are borderline hardy here. I frequently hear of plants dying down to the snowline in a cold year. Most European grapes are zone 7. French/American ones, down to zone 5. (Seyval) Concord grapes are zone 4 but like 150 frost free days to do well. (Edmonton has 110-125)

Most are self fertile -- you don't need two different cultivars. Remove flowers the first two years. Takes 3-4 years to bearing decent amounts. 5 to 15 pounds of grapes per vine.

Best soils: pH 5.5 to 6.5. Amend soil with 1/2 lb of sulfur prills spread over a square meter. Mix into the top few inches of soil. Add compost, but no fertilizer the first year. Full sun. Plant 8 feet apart.

Year 2. Late winter prune. Thin the fruit. Leaving all the clusters in place will result in lots of tiny grapes. Fertilize 10-20-20 2 oz per plant. Too much nitrogen will give you lots of leaves and not many grapes.

Year 3.

Mulch may cool the soil, which delays fruiting. In our climate I think there is merit in having mulch on the soil most of the year. Remove at sun melt until full leaf break, or bloom, then replace.


Very Early spring, before bud break:

Remove older wood. Grapes bear on this year's growth. They prouduce more tops than the roots can support. Cut out 70-90% of previous year's growth. Prune vigorous vines harder than weaker ones.

At planting, cut back to 2-3 good buds.

Youtube is your friend for info on pruning.

There are three ways tender plants die here:

  1. Too much cold. The plants thicken their sap with sugars and glycols in fall to reduce the chance of damage, but if ice crystals form in the tissues, it will usually kill the cells.

  2. Too long cold/ too much wind. The roots are frozen and can't supply water to the top. Wind, and long periods of cold dry out buds to the point they die.

  3. Too much heat. Say what? In winter? If they are sheltered from the wind on the south side of a wall, a pocket of warm air forms there. Warm air holds more moisture than cold air, and the top dries out.

Ask in our local garden groups for tips. At this point my thought is to put a row of pallets that will give a leaky border to reduce the warm pocket effect, but give them the heat that they love. They do NOT overwinter well in pots.

Status of Grape Research

Note: I have found that I cannot count on articles remaining in one place, so instead of linking to them, I save them on my own server. Usually a search for the title on Google will find the original article if it is still available.

Breeding of Grapes and Apples with Emphasis on Juice Products and Rootstocks Funded by the Agriculture Development Fund, research done at U. Sask. fruit program.

Top 10: Vitinord Conference By Bob Bors, U. Sask.
* Short review of book "Northern Winework: Growing Grapes and Making Wine in Northern Cimates" Plocher & Park. * Production differences between red and white wines. TL;DR Make white wines. * Drawbacks of attempting icewines. * Go with blends, not variatals.
* Where northern grape varieties come from * Good grapes require lots of pruning.
* Acid wines -- yeast selection is important. * Benefits of making regional wine maker's associations. * Plant disease resistant varieties to the northwest.

Grape Breeding on the Prairies This was the report of 3 years breeding work at U.Sask. Alas, the project wasn't funded longer, and so much of the research was lost or incomplete.

Recommended Grapes Anyway I have two grapes so far

Valiant Valiant produces a very sweet, very flavourful grape (much like concord grapes). It's a juice, jelly, and wine grape. (I'm told you get a wine much like Mogan David, but much depends on your skills as a vintner) It's not a good table grape: The grapes are small, only about 3/8 inch across with thick skins and lots of seeds.

Kay Grey
This is new to me this year (2016) It's supposed to be a decent white table grape. Kay is supposed to be hardier than Valiant.

Inventory tables are double rows to make them usable on small screens.
Common name and container in column 1.
Count is how many we think we have left. Price is per tree.
Height will be there next year, we hope.

Food -- Grape

Common Name
Grape, Kay Grey
#1 Std pot (3 qt)
Last Update: 2021-Apr-20

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