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Grapes and wet feet

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RonObvious

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I'm sure we've all heard the rule of thumb a hundred times: Grapes don't like wet feet. OK, but what does that really mean?

Our vineyard is in its 2nd year. Last year I planted Petite Pearl, Marquette, Seyval Blanc, Aromella, and Arandell. All grew great and all came through the winter with flying colors - we only lost 1 vine and that because it looks like some critter trampled it. I did not have the time or money to install trellising last year, so I'm just getting around to it now. I rented a powered auger this weekend and started drilling holes for posts. I was a bit horrified when I noticed the holes filling up with water! They would be dry when the auger came out, but within a few minutes they would fill with water up to about 18 inches below grade. I started panicking but then tried to calm myself down. Here's the logic I'm using to self-sooth - please let me know if my thinking is correct or if I have a genuine problem on my hands:

1) The site is on the side of a broad ridge and it slopes down to the South. There's a swamp about a half mile away which I assume eventually receives all the water from the ridge. So I'm guessing the water on our site is just passing through on its way to the swamp. Basically, it's a big sunny field on the side of a huge hill and I was shocked to see any groundwater at all, so I'm going to assume it is just transient.

2) It is spring, after all, and we've had a good bit of rain lately.

3) If the soil is saturated like this in the spring but then dries out in mid-summer, does that still count as "wet feet?"

4) There are wild grapes and other vegetation growing abundantly along the perimeter of the property and they don't seem to mind all the water.

So... should I be worried? Or take a chill pill?
 

salcoco

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well hill or not there is water table you have to contend with. I would leave a hole open to see if drainage would reduce the amount of water. I would monitor it through out the summer to determine if the rainy spring caused the problem. another thought is could you have a wet weather spring on your property? since your plants have not suffered it may be of no concern. if trouble develop, the addition of drainage piping may be required to keep the section dry.I had a couple of row of vine in that conditions and set up some drainage pipes to a low point . water flows the path of least resistance and the piping allowed drainage.
 

RonObvious

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Probably a good idea to keep a hole open. Matter of fact I could put a piece of PVC pipe in the hole to monitor the water level as it rises and falls. I'm really hoping it doesn't need drainage tiles. I mean, I certainly could install them and they'd probably work. I could just let the tiles drain to an outlet at the South end of the property, which is well away from the vines. But it would mean lots of digging and cost. The funny thing is, you'd never guess this site has groundwater within 18 inches of grade. It looks so high and dry. Looks can be deceiving I guess. Or maybe this is all transient because it's springtime and I'm getting worked up over nothing. Time will tell I guess. Thanks for the advice!
 

grapeman

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If the water is 18 inches down after heavy rains and it is spring I would assume it likely dries out quite well being on a hill. I don't think it will be a real problem.
 

RonObvious

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Thanks for the reassurance Grapeman. I can breathe again. :)
I'm definitely going to sink a few pieces of PVC pipe though to use as "monitoring wells." Even if the water isn't a problem, it will still be interesting to see it fluctuate as each season progresses.
 
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