grape growing tips

How to grow grapes in North Carolina

The best type of grape for growing in the piedmont and western parts of North Carolina are the American bunch grape (fruit grows in large clusters) varieties. Muscadines are not reliably cold hardy and vinifera (wine grapes) are very disease prone and subject to cold injury.

On the eastern side of the state, North Carolina's coastal region tends to have better luck growing muscadine grapes -- since winters are milder and bunch grape disease is more prevalent.

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Bunch grapes are self-fertile, meaning they do not need other grape plants for pollination. However, while they may be grown even as a single vine, having multiple varieties will extend your harvest season.

Varieties (along with harvest season):

Piedmont and Mountain areas
For Red Wine For White Wine For Eating For Eating and Wine Making

Baco Noir (middle)
Foch
Aurora
Chancellor (early middle)
Vidal (early middle)
Villard Blanc (late)
Interlaken (very early)
Mars (early)
Reliance (early)
Saturn (middle)
Concord (late middle)
Delaware (early middle)
Catawba - coincidentally, discovered by North Carolina's Catawba River (late)
Coastal areas
For Red Wine For White Wine For Eating For Eating and Wine Making

Roucaneuf
Black Spanish

Blanc Du Bois
Lake Emerald
Daytona
Orlando seedless
Conquistador

Planting: Grape vines are planted in early spring and will grow in most soil types as long as the pH is between 5.5 and 6.5. Construct a sturdy trellis before planting which will allow for air circulation and plenty of sun exposure. Space plants 10 feet apart. Plant at original depth and spread roots out well in the hole.

Maintenance: After planting cut the vine to one stem and cut this back to 2 to 3 buds. When the new shoots are 10 inches long, select the most vigorous and remove the others. Tie it to a training stake during the first season to develop a strong straight trunk.

Grape vines must be pruned and trained every year to remain productive and strike a balance between plant growth and fruit production. See additional references for how to train grapes to grow on wire.

After planting apply 1/2 cup of 10-10-10 fertilizer around each vine after new growth starts. In following years apply fertilizer in April and repeat once a month until July.

For successful grape production, vines must be sprayed regularly to prevent fungus diseases and insect pests. Also, mesh netting may be needed to protect fruit from birds.

Bearing age, average yield and life span of grapes:

Fruit Type Bearing Age Average Annual
Yield per Plant
Sugg. # of Plants
for Family of 4
Life Expectancy

Grape

Bunch

3 years

15 pounds

4

15-20 years

For more information on how to grow grapes, see:
Insect and Disease Control of Fruits: http://ipm.ncsu.edu/agchem/7-toc.pdf
http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/hil/hil-8202.html
http://www.bunchgrapes.com/grape_varieties.html

Primary source:
Back to Basics: Small Fruit for the Home Garden, Linda Blue, Agricultural Extension Agent, Buncombe County, NC

Your may also be interested in growing: Blackberries and Raspberries | Blueberries | Grapes | Strawberries

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