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Recommended Hybrid Trellis System

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invaderzim

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I recently planted several hybrid grapes: Marquette, Petite Pearl, and Verona. I'm located in SW Idaho where vinifera grapes do well in general. Most of the commercial vineyards in the area use the mid-wire cordon or VSP trellis systems. Being a backyard grower and with the research I've done so far, hybrids tend to be downward growing vines, so high wire double cordon trellis system would be most appropriate. However, I'm a bit concerned about too much sun exposure to the grapes with HWC since summers can be quite hot in this region. Can anyone verify if the HWC system would be a better trellis system for this region, or should I use an upward growth system like VSP for these hybrids?
 

KevinL

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As always. I can't say for sure for your area. You'd probably have to talk to your local growers. I'm in Illinois and we get hot and humid summers. I've got everything on a Top wire Cordon with two cordons. I can't imagine the doing the extra work to put all of my fairly vigorous Hybrids on a VSP.

I suppose if you're worried about too much sun on the grapes you could skip the leaf pulling to keep the shade on them throughout the summer. If it were me I'd go with the TWC as that is what is recommended for those varieties.

And welcome to the forum!
 

invaderzim

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As always. I can't say for sure for your area. You'd probably have to talk to your local growers. I'm in Illinois and we get hot and humid summers. I've got everything on a Top wire Cordon with two cordons. I can't imagine the doing the extra work to put all of my fairly vigorous Hybrids on a VSP.

I suppose if you're worried about too much sun on the grapes you could skip the leaf pulling to keep the shade on them throughout the summer. If it were me I'd go with the TWC as that is what is recommended for those varieties.

And welcome to the forum!
Thanks, yeah thats what I'm leaning towards. Especially for the Marquette which is proving to be a really vigorous grower here. The Verona is a close second too. My only concern is that I've been seeing other accounts of folks growing Marquette on VSP because they say it can tend to grow up. Good point about not thinning out the leaves on top, I never considered that.
 

Masbustelo

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I get the impression that you don't have very many vines: In which case you can easily handle VSP if you desire. They will adopt to VSP with little trouble.
 

invaderzim

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You're correct, I have 36 vines total which I assume should be very manageable. Although there is room to expand, so I don't want to get stuck with a particular trellis system that doesn't work out as well as other options.
 

CK55

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I
You're correct, I have 36 vines total which I assume should be very manageable. Although there is room to expand, so I don't want to get stuck with a particular trellis system that doesn't work out as well as other options.
Can't comment on trellis systems but I can say you are smart picking a more versatile trellis when you do decide as once you get the growing bug you will keep planting grapes. I went from 4 to 275 ish. And have more on the way.
 

invaderzim

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Lol yeah the bug is easy to catch! I already have ideas on adding more, possibly trying to grow some vinifera varieties.
 

CK55

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Lol yeah the bug is easy to catch! I already have ideas on adding more, possibly trying to grow some vinifera varieties.
How are your winter's if you mostly have pretty nice weather you could probably grow something like grenache or tempranillo. But I would recommend starting with Cabernet franc it's pretty versatile and a great wine grape. :)
 

invaderzim

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Winters here can be harsh. Two years ago we had a very cold season with temps getting down to -20F for about a month. It's common for temps to hover around the single digits in January and February. I had just planted cider apple trees the spring before, and I think the only reason they survived was because we had a nice snow pack that helped insulate the ground. Local vineyards lost about a third of the total vines in the area which hit the industry hard here. That's what got me interested in the cold hardy hybrid varieties.

I've heard great things about Cabernet Franc, I'll definitely take a deeper look at that as an option. I would love to grow tempranillo, but I think our seasons are a bit too cold. I've also been considering Pinot Noir, since there is a vineyard not far from here that produces a very nice wine. Although I think I need more growing experience first before tackling a fickle grape like that.
 

CK55

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Winters here can be harsh. Two years ago we had a very cold season with temps getting down to -20F for about a month. It's common for temps to hover around the single digits in January and February. I had just planted cider apple trees the spring before, and I think the only reason they survived was because we had a nice snow pack that helped insulate the ground. Local vineyards lost about a third of the total vines in the area which hit the industry hard here. That's what got me interested in the cold hardy hybrid varieties.

I've heard great things about Cabernet Franc, I'll definitely take a deeper look at that as an option. I would love to grow tempranillo, but I think our seasons are a bit too cold. I've also been considering Pinot Noir, since there is a vineyard not far from here that produces a very nice wine. Although I think I need more growing experience first before tackling a fickle grape like that.
Yeah, I have several grapes that are considered difficult. Carmenere is one of them, it's difficult because it hates too much water and requires a long warm growing season.
 

BigH

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Can anyone verify if the HWC system would be a better trellis system for this region, or should I use an upward growth system like VSP for these hybrids?
Iowa State lists Marquette as having a "semi-trailing" growth habit. You could train it to either system. Petite Pearl and Verona were too new to make their spreadsheet. My Petite Pearl has a growth habit similar to Marquette, but the vines are touch less vigorous. My verona is in year one, so the jury is still out.

The southern edge of Idaho lies at the same latitude as my vineyard in Iowa. I grow everything on TWC. I did have one row of La Crescent and La Crosse on a VSP, but move them to TWC just to get away from spring deer pressure.

I have had two harvest seasons with Petite Pearl and Marquette, and the TWC has worked well for them. My Marquette is on a GDC. I did have some problems with my whites getting sunburned last year, but I blame that on overzealous leaf pulling (specifically Frontenac Blanc and La Crescent). I don't think the sunburn is really an issue until the grapes reach veraison. For me, that is mid July. According to the GDD maps I found, yours would probably reach veraision later, and the sun will be a smidgeon lower in the sky.

What kind of soil do you have? TWC does a better job of dealing with excess vigor on rich soils. VSP can become a jungle if vigor is high. VSP might be a good candidate if your soils are light or rocky. The fact that everyone around you is on VSP is not something you should discount without merit. It could be the best fit for your area. Could also be that everyone hires the same pruning crews, hires the same mechanized harvest equipment, and their marketing departments all say that the 5'2" women that tour the vineyards love the way VSP looks.

btw, the USDA hardiness zone map for Idaho is fascinating. The panhandle is mostly zone 6 with a touch of 7 sprinkled in. The SE corner is zone 4 and 5. We have a few growers in this forum from North Dakota and Montana that have to deal with frost possibilities through the end of May. I wonder if they know they have neighbors in Idaho within an hour's drive from Canada that are growing vinifera.

H
 

Masbustelo

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Big H That's interesting that you mention hiring the same crews. Not too long ago I visited a new small vineyard in Davenport, entering the second year. But not too small. The owner had contracted a California crew to install his trellis system. He was very proud that they had set up his Marquette, La Crescent, Northern Hybrids etc. (I don;t remember what all he had in there), just like in California. The rows were seven feet apart and the vines were four feet apart on VSP. If it's not a jungle this year, wait until next year and the year after. Not to mention getting in there to position shoots, and do weeding etc.
 

CK55

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Big H That's interesting that you mention hiring the same crews. Not too long ago I visited a new small vineyard in Davenport, entering the second year. But not too small. The owner had contracted a California crew to install his trellis system. He was very proud that they had set up his Marquette, La Crescent, Northern Hybrids etc. (I don;t remember what all he had in there), just like in California. The rows were seven feet apart and the vines were four feet apart on VSP. If it's not a jungle this year, wait until next year and the year after. Not to mention getting in there to position shoots, and do weeding etc.
My rows in California are 6 feet apart and vines are 4feet apart in those rows.
 

invaderzim

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What kind of soil do you have? TWC does a better job of dealing with excess vigor on rich soils. VSP can become a jungle if vigor is high. VSP might be a good candidate if your soils are light or rocky. The fact that everyone around you is on VSP is not something you should discount without merit. It could be the best fit for your area. Could also be that everyone hires the same pruning crews, hires the same mechanized harvest equipment, and their marketing departments all say that the 5'2" women that tour the vineyards love the way VSP looks.

btw, the USDA hardiness zone map for Idaho is fascinating. The panhandle is mostly zone 6 with a touch of 7 sprinkled in. The SE corner is zone 4 and 5. We have a few growers in this forum from North Dakota and Montana that have to deal with frost possibilities through the end of May. I wonder if they know they have neighbors in Idaho within an hour's drive from Canada that are growing vinifera.

H
Thanks for the input. The climate here is actually similar to the Washington wine growing region, with a bit wider temperature swing between seasons. I'm in the zone 5 area, but literally minutes from zone 6. Once you get out of the valley into the mountains, the elevation goes from ~2600 ft to 5000 ft quickly. The soil here is sandy loam with hardpan a few feet down. This hardpan layer is interesting because it's not consistent like in more southern high desert regions and the closer to the Snake River you get the deeper the soil level. Most commercial vineyards in the area can be found closer to the river to take advantage of the better growing conditions. Unfortunately I'm closer to the edge of the valley where the soil depth is not as deep and the microclimate is a bit harsher with slightly colder winters and much more wind. However I read a recent study in France that showed that grapes could produce good wine in shallower soils due to what they hypothesized as stress to the vine (I can't seem to find the link to the study now). The Marquette vines I planted this spring have already grown up to over 4 ft, the Verona is proving to be less vigorous in this soil at slightly under 4 ft, and the Petite Pearl the least vigorous with most of them not having grown above the grow tubes yet.

If I had to make a guess, I assume that most of the commercial growers are using VSP because of the influence on California and Washington vineyard practices as well as the focus on vinifera grapes. I don't know of anyone in the region growing hybrids for wine, and I'm aware of only a couple of vineyards in Washington that are growing Marquette (although I'm not aware of the trellising system they are using).

Masbustelo, interesting point on the spacing. I spaced mine out 10 feet between rows and 8 feet between vines because I had read that was the recommended spacing for these more vigorous vines. It will be interesting to see how they develop compared to the more narrow spacing used commercially with vinifera. The downside with this large of spacing, I assume, is less yield per acre. Although maybe I'll have to take up CK55's advice and plant some Cabernet Franc with closer spacing!
 

CK55

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Thanks for the input. The climate here is actually similar to the Washington wine growing region, with a bit wider temperature swing between seasons. I'm in the zone 5 area, but literally minutes from zone 6. Once you get out of the valley into the mountains, the elevation goes from ~2600 ft to 5000 ft quickly. The soil here is sandy loam with hardpan a few feet down. This hardpan layer is interesting because it's not consistent like in more southern high desert regions and the closer to the Snake River you get the deeper the soil level. Most commercial vineyards in the area can be found closer to the river to take advantage of the better growing conditions. Unfortunately I'm closer to the edge of the valley where the soil depth is not as deep and the microclimate is a bit harsher with slightly colder winters and much more wind. However I read a recent study in France that showed that grapes could produce good wine in shallower soils due to what they hypothesized as stress to the vine (I can't seem to find the link to the study now). The Marquette vines I planted this spring have already grown up to over 4 ft, the Verona is proving to be less vigorous in this soil at slightly under 4 ft, and the Petite Pearl the least vigorous with most of them not having grown above the grow tubes yet.

If I had to make a guess, I assume that most of the commercial growers are using VSP because of the influence on California and Washington vineyard practices as well as the focus on vinifera grapes. I don't know of anyone in the region growing hybrids for wine, and I'm aware of only a couple of vineyards in Washington that are growing Marquette (although I'm not aware of the trellising system they are using).

Masbustelo, interesting point on the spacing. I spaced mine out 10 feet between rows and 8 feet between vines because I had read that was the recommended spacing for these more vigorous vines. It will be interesting to see how they develop compared to the more narrow spacing used commercially with vinifera. The downside with this large of spacing, I assume, is less yield per acre. Although maybe I'll have to take up CK55's advice and plant some Cabernet Franc with closer spacing!
Sandy loam is a good thing as it drains well and to boot makes your vines even more resistant to phylloxera as it doesn't like Sandy soils.
 

invaderzim

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Sandy loam is a good thing as it drains well and to boot makes your vines even more resistant to phylloxera as it doesn't like Sandy soils.
What's crazy about the location I've planted the vines is that within a matter of 30 feet the soil turns from sandy loam to clay. Where you find more clay you get shallower soils where the hardpan is closer to the surface. Unfortunately with the way I had to plant the vines, one of the rows is solidly in this more clay area with shallower soil. So it will be interesting to see how they grow compared to the rows in the better soil.
 

CK55

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What's crazy about the location I've planted the vines is that within a matter of 30 feet the soil turns from sandy loam to clay. Where you find more clay you get shallower soils where the hardpan is closer to the surface. Unfortunately with the way I had to plant the vines, one of the rows is solidly in this more clay area with shallower soil. So it will be interesting to see how they grow compared to the rows in the better soil.
Let me know I have sand as deep as 100 feet yeah we dug 100 feet for some project a number of years ago so I'm basically 100% ancient sand dunes. Drains well and grapes love it
 

KevinL

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