Mt father-in-law had beautiul red grapes last year in NJ. He wants to know
when he should trim branches and if he should fertilize. Any suggestions would
be greatly appreciated.
He is an author on the topic, and also propagates several dozen varieties
for sale, including many rare and unusual types.
In general, grapes are pruned during the winter months and need very little
fertilizer beyond mulching with compost. You can harm the crop by applying
too much nitrogen.
Bio/Organics Supply Center
3200 Corte Malpaso, #107
Camarillo CA 93012 (Near ocean N. of LA)
Grapes are one of the longest cultivated plants in human history because it
is able to use marginal soils and lots of neglect. It doesn't need much
fertilizer, but mulch it anyway every fall, or starting right now if you
haven't been mulching at all.
Too late to prune: you needed to do that before the leaves and new branches
started growing. I've seen feral grapevines over 100 years old, so you can
miss a year of fussing over your plant(s) and they most likely will survive
just fine. You get better fruit production if you do what the vineyards do,
which is train the plant for five years to grow how you want it to, and then
prune in early spring. After the berries (as grapes are called in the biz) are
full sized the vineyard workers prune away leaves shading the bunches so they
can sunripen better on the vine. This late, light pruning does not seem to
harm the miles of vineyard fields I's seen this done on.
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