Backyard Vineyard Woes

Discussion in 'Grape Growing & Vineyard Forum' started by Mizfitjon, Jun 22, 2019.

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  1. Jun 22, 2019 #1

    Mizfitjon

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    Hello everyone! I’ve planted 9 cab. Sauvignon and 9 Chardonnay vines in 2016. I’m located in Olathe, KS agricultural zone 6A.

    upload_2019-6-22_16-53-33.jpeg
    Start of my backyard vineyard in 2016.

    upload_2019-6-22_16-56-0.jpeg
    Summer 2016

    They grew very well this first year. But didn’t survive winter and had to retrain the next year. I’ve read this is common on young vines?

    upload_2019-6-22_16-59-33.jpeg
    Spring 2017 starting the retraining over
    upload_2019-6-22_17-0-47.jpeg
    June 2017.
    upload_2019-6-22_17-2-44.jpeg
    September 2017. Trunks and cordons reestablished.

    upload_2019-6-22_17-4-9.jpeg
    August 2018. The vines survived winter and was my first year of grapes! I also learned the damage of Japanese bottles the previous year so late June-early August the rows are covered in agro netting to keep them off.
    upload_2019-6-22_17-6-40.jpeg
    September 2018.

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    Present 2019. The Cab. obviously didn’t survive winter and never pushed buds this year. This was the first winter I mounded dirt and piles of leaves about 12-18” tall around each trunk also. This winter was also very mild! No early spring frost also.

    upload_2019-6-22_17-13-31.jpeg
    Some of the cab. trunks were pretty thick/nice sizes. 2” diameters or so.

    upload_2019-6-22_17-15-30.jpeg
    The Chardonnay I’ve stripped leaves around the grapes to ensure the sun/air is keeping the grapes dry. Last year I had black rot issues!

    I spray weekly with neem oil. It’s suppose to be a natural remedy or aid for fungus? I try to do all gardening with natural products.
     
  2. Jun 22, 2019 #2

    Mizfitjon

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    upload_2019-6-22_17-20-53.jpeg
    The Cab. does have several spots on the cordons like this. Looks like buds splitting through the bark and about to emerge.

    I’m wondering if I’m pushing my luck trying to grow Vinifera vines my first try and pushing Chardonnay and Cab. Sauvignon beyond there agricultural growing zone limit? Am I doing something wrong? What am I missing? Should I remove the Cab. Trunks and cordons and just retrain new ones this year?
     
  3. Jun 22, 2019 #3

    Mizfitjon

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    I’ve though about installing heated wires strung across the fruiting wire over winter and early spring with a thermostat to kick on during winter if it goes below 10 degrees or so and in spring to 35 degrees Incase of late frost. Beyond this I’m out of ideas. I just want to grow grapes and make some wine. But not surviving winter just keeps pushing it back and back again.
     
  4. Jun 22, 2019 #4

    sour_grapes

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    Can't help you, but welcome to WMT!
     
  5. Jun 23, 2019 #5

    Masbustelo

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    Just recently I read of someone growing citrus in Oklahoma in the following way. He places two layers of anti frost fabric, he has thermostats in place, and uses Christmas tree lights to heat the little tents. When real cold spells come he throws lightweight tarps over the top as well. Something like this could maybe work in your situation. With grapes you could probably set it all up after leaf fall and be ready to go. It looks like you know what you are doing, your pushing the envelop with these varieties in your zone.
     
  6. Jun 23, 2019 #6

    Johnd

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    If you’re really serious about covering and heating, you could use one of these small torpedo heaters with thermostats. We use one at our hunting property, it heats an uninsulated 1600 sf building to 60F when the temps are in the teens. Plenty BTU’s to keep your vines safe on the coldest nights, since it’s not a huge area. Burns kerosene, oil, or diesel, we use diesel, it’s pretty clean burning.

    https://www.grainger.com/search?searchBar=true&searchQuery=Torpedo+heater
     
  7. Jun 23, 2019 #7

    ibglowin

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    Unless you want heartbreak after heartbreak until global warming completely takes over you should just try a cold hardy hybrid of sorts. If there is one thing I know well its that Olathe, KS is cold as hell in the Winter and hot as hell in the Summer with plenty of humidity year around.

    Good luck in your endeavors.
     
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  8. Jun 23, 2019 #8

    Mizfitjon

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    Yes the weather is definitely extreme in hot and cold. Guess I’ll retrain this year and try frost covers & look more into using electric heat wire. If that doesn’t work guess it’s time to retry with another type of vine. The father of Cab. Sauvignon Cab. Franc is rated by Double A vineyard to zone 6. Still, I’m sure would require lots of winter care though.
     
  9. Jun 23, 2019 #9

    balatonwine

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    Neem oil is not a universal curative to all fungal problems. You have to use targeted solutions to specific problems.

    In your area, I would expect downy mildew and black rot are a significant problem. Maybe even Botrytis. Neem oil may not be the best solution for all these. So, also consider Serenade, Potassium carbonate (one commercial product is Armicarb), or Bordeaux mix (Copper sulfate and slake line -- it is considered a natural product since it can be "mined". That is squeezed from plants or mined from the soil are both considered "organic" and thus "natural" products).

    Also, Neem oil is very toxic if ingested, so don't spray too soon before harvest (often suggested it is best to wait at least a month before harvest). And that period of waiting may leave the vines open to fungal attack in your area.

    Other than that, yes, you are pushing the limits of vinifera in your area. Even if you can grow it, the wine may be disappointing. Just keeping the vines alive does not mean your grapes will be wine making quality. I know someone with banana trees in their yard. I am amazed they grow here. But he found a unique micro-climate for them. They struggle, but they grow. But I have never seen them bear quality fruit.

    So, in other words, you may create a better wine using an American hybrid tolerant for your region.

    But... on the other hand.... experimenting is the spice of life. Where would we be if the Wright brothers did not experiment? Or Bell labs and the transistor (shamelessly not referencing patents held by Oskar Heil).
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2019
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  10. Jun 23, 2019 #10

    salcoco

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    you are definitely pushing with these varieties. I was growing grapes in KCK for about 15 years and hybrids are the answer. check out Stone Pillar Winery at Pflum and College Blvd. they have many hybrid varieties that they grow. best for this region is chardonel a Chardonnay hybrid and Chamburcin a red grape variety. Norton is also a favorite. Other winery to check are Holyfield on State Ave KCK and Rowe Ridge Winery on Leavenworth Road in KCK. I know Rowe Ridge has good luck with Sevyal Blanc there Chardonel has declined over he years. Your efforts on vinifera are commendable but you are wasting hours of work for little benefit as noted you may get grapes at great effort but not of great quality. additionaly hybrids can be more disease resistant
     
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  11. Jun 24, 2019 #11

    Mizfitjon

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    Sounds like I should order some new hybrid varieties next year and start over. Thanks everyone
     
  12. Jun 24, 2019 #12

    Obbnw

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    I'm curious about your weather history because I'm also growing vinifera at the limits of there climate tolerance. How cold did it get? Wind? Do you have a cold microclimate?

    Did you have a warm spell then a significant freeze? I was looking at some Kansas gardening info and they mentioned that they have problems with some plants that should grow on your zone but don't because they lose cold tolerance from warm spells.

    Salt Lake City is zone 6b but meets 7 criteria most years. I also have a warm microclimate. My malbec are against a retaining wall are 15' from my tempranillo but literally have 3 to 4 weeks more growing season.

    I'm going to try the Christmas lights if we ever get a cold spell.
     
  13. Jun 24, 2019 #13

    Mizfitjon

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    This winter was one of the mildest in history. So I’m shocked I lost my Cab. Sauvignon. Historically it can get down to single digits in winter. July-Aug is upper 90s-100 degrees usually. This winter I wasn’t even worried about them as it wasn’t super cold. Even spring there was no frost warnings. I’m debating on trying one more winter with them or not....if I do decide to keep it’s a small enough crop that I’ll cover the entire rows in insulating tarps or something and then I’ll install a heated wire across the trellis on fruit wire wrapped around the cordons. Lastly mound dirt again 12” or so up and around the trunks.

    Kansas and also the Midwest does swing extremely in temperature. One day can be in the 70s and the next in the 40s.

    My Chardonnay survived and growing well. Though May and June have been all time records in rainfall this year. So of course I’m starting to find black rot it looks like on a few clusters.

    It’s a crazy experience growing grapes! I feel in love with them on my last trip to Italy and Greece and learned the history of grapes and how adaptable they are to different regions. Though my region apparently isn’t favorable for vinifera varieties sadly.
     
  14. Jun 24, 2019 #14

    ibglowin

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    Each winter the vines experience dormancy or hardening. In a perfect winter season the low temps drop and then drop a little more each week or so and the vines slowly shut down and eventually go dormant. What is way worse is a winter where it's extreme cold one week and then warm the next as the vine gets mixed signals from mother nature and one week its trying to go dormant for the season, the next it says no lets wake up. I would suspect that is what happened here.
     
  15. Jun 24, 2019 #15

    sremick

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    So just how critical is it to clear all grass in a wide swath down the row of vines? I see some do it, some don't. My vineyard is small enough that using power equipment isn't practical, but big enough that doing it by hand isn't either. I've used stone "mulching" about 1' around the base of each vine, but that's it.
     
  16. Jun 24, 2019 #16

    BigH

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    These are my thoughts:
    • In year 1 and maybe year 2,vines should not compete with weeds and grass. It is important in these years to keep the rows clear of competing plants
    • In year 3 and beyond, the decision on whether to control weeds is site and variety dependent. You may want to kill weeds if you have low vigor vines, little rain, or soil with low levels of organic matter.
    I control weeds on about half the vines in my vineyard. Erosion plays a role too. When I do control weeds, I start spraying herbicide in early June and stop caring about weeds at verasion. This is a practice I have adopted without anyone smart telling me it was a good idea.

    H
     
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  17. Jun 24, 2019 #17

    sremick

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    How much of a diameter around the vine? Specifically, how far into the space in between the rows?

    I have 2x 168' rows, so I'm trying to figure out a practical way for me to accomplish this.
     
  18. Jun 25, 2019 #18

    BigH

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    Don't have a scientific answer. I did 3 ft weedless lanes the first year. You could look at pics of 1st year root mass to get an idea. I remember a study on growth tubes vs no growth tubes that posted pics of first year root growth, but now I can't find it.

    H
     
  19. Jun 25, 2019 #19

    sremick

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    One thing I haven't wrapped my head around: grass and weeds only put down roots a few inches, while grapevine roots will go many feet deep and probably spread out laterally far more than a few feet. How does 2-3" of grass actually starve the grapevine when it is pulling from a different and far more massive layer of the earth?
     
  20. Jun 25, 2019 #20

    Dennis Griffith

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    I only clear the weeds out until the vines get established, usually by the time they reach 3 years. If you are buying vines, remember that they are usually 1 year old already, so 2 more years in your vineyard. I use glyphosate once by July, but never after that. For mature vines, where the roots have reached out as you mentioned, I carry a cordless weed eater and just trim the areas where I can't mow down to almost ground level. I also pluck all the inflorescence off anything younger than 3 years. And if the vine is vigorous at 3 years, then I allow a very limited production. If the vines have a bad winter and are struggling. I pluck the inflorescence off and let the vines recover. You shouldn't have any issues after the vines reach 5 years as they should be considered mature and ready to bear. This is a general program, but works for all the varieties that I grow. But then again, you have a different micro environment and probably different varieties, so you need to adapt a program that fits your situation.
     

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