Grapes growing very slowly

Discussion in 'Grapes and Grape Vines' started by Eric La Fountaine, Sep 7, 2004.

  1. Eric La Fountaine

    Eric La Fountaine Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    sw USA
    The following was received via email:

    I live in Kamloops and am trying to grow some grapes,(Concord I think).
    I bought the house a couple of years ago and the plants were in then.
    However since that time they have hardly grown at all. I have been
    giving the lots of water as well as steer manure. Is there some other
    fertilizer I should be using? Should I prune them back every year? Some
    other people I see have grapes the same age and they grow much faster.
    Our soil here is mostly sand and gravel.
    Thanks in advance for the info.
  2. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    San Joaquin Valley, California
    Hi Bill:

    Yes, these vines will need to be pruned preferably during the
    Winter. The problem is that conventional pruning of Concord
    and Niabell Grapes is not an accepted practice. When not
    trained on a trellis cordon pruning will not be effective in a
    Home Garden for these Grapes. We would rather train them
    to be staked and prune them to be more of a bush in shape
    instead. Concord's wood is pliable but is extremely brittle
    and the outer bark can crack with relative ease when worked
    with during the growing season allowing a entry point for a
    fungal or bacterial infection. Summer pruning is not a good
    idea unless we are quite careful and mindful of what we are
    doing. I suggest late Winter pruning for these. We prune
    our Grapes here in January.

    We prune the Grapes to in essence produce a larger crop
    for the upcoming growing season. From a physiological
    standpoint we want to prune the tops along with the side
    growth to produce more root growth and to promote plant
    vigor. With more root system to aid the plant the plant will
    better sustain itself through inclement weather but more
    importantly the roots will act as a storage center for nutrients
    when the Grapes are dormant. Right before the Grapes start
    to leaf out the nutrients stored in the roots will start to move
    throughout the plant aiding the plants overall health and help
    with the initiation of the plants subsequent new growth.

    Steer manure can be used on sandy soils as it will slow down
    the water infiltration rate and give rise to better water retention
    in the soil but I must caution you that with lots of steer manure
    used on a sandy soil, we tend to see a few nutrient deficiencies
    come about later from continued steer manure applications such
    as Zinc, Iron, Manganese and Magnesium deficiency. I would
    suggest you incorporate into the soil and add on top of the soil
    some forest humus (pine and/or fir bark). Unless the soil is a
    sandy loam, water can go through the sand almost as fast as a
    hot knife can through Butter. What we have to do is to limit
    how fast the water will soak through once it has been applied.
    Steer manure helps and it also is used for a its ability to act as
    a fertilizer. The humus will also provide a slowing of the water
    being soaked into the soil, will aid in the water holding capacity
    and will also provide some nutrients for the Grapes. I would
    suggest you use a commercial, granulated fertilizer for your
    Grapes and apply in late Winter, early Spring before the Grapes
    start to leaf out. Let rainfall water in the fertilizer for you and
    apply 1/2 to 1 pound of fertilizer per vine depending on the age
    of the vines. You can always fertilize again at the same rate
    after the vines have fully leafed out. For some of my vines here
    I use 5 pounds of fertilizer per vine but those vines are over 30
    years old also. Any standard vegetable food from a local
    nursery or nursery supply store will do such as a 6-12-6 or
    perhaps a Tree and Vine 10-20-20 but make sure there is
    also Calcium in the fertilizer. A 6-10% Calcium formula
    included in the 6-12-6 fertilizer would be excellent for a
    Home Garden almost anywhere.


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