Lessons Learned About Grapes

Ok, last year I thought I was smart to prune my concord grapes in the early summer, giving the lovely little green baby bunches lots of sunshine and air. At the end of the season, I was so disappointed to see no grapes at all! I figured I must have made a mistake when I pruned.

This year, we went out in late winter and pruned the vines down to the trunks, according to grapevine lore. I was optimistic when the leaves got growing fast and bunches of fruit were forming again. I resisted the urge to prune and just let them do their thing all summer. Today I went out to pick, and found… raisins!

I had to go get the pruners and cut out a lot of ten-to-fifteen foot young vines just so I could find the fruit. It was so disappointing that most of the grapes had dried up and fallen off before I got a chance to pick them. The first two years, I held off on picking until the yellow-jacket wasps were all over them, thinking that was the sign they were at their peak. That was the clue I was looking for this year. If I hadn’t forced the issue and hacked away at the jungle, I would have missed even the small amount that was still hanging on.

After methodically moving down both sides of the vineyard and gathering all the grapes I could find, I collected about a third of what I had been hoping for. I did bring them in and cleaned and sorted them, so that now I am running two batches through the juicer. I guess the good news is that it will take less time than a bigger haul would have.

I am guessing that the key to a successful harvest will be treating the vines early for the fungal diseases which probably were the culprit. It seems that our farm suffers from all forms of these. The chestnut tree needs to be sprayed in the spring to prevent blight. The orchard leaves need to be sprayed so they don’t curl up and the peaches need protection from bugs that eat them from the inside out. The vegetable garden suffers from powdery mildew towards the end of summer. It is quite frustrating.

In the end, I still got seven beautiful purple quarts of grape juice. Each one is a treasure and I drink them sparingly or give them as gifts to just the most special grape juice appreciators.

About bluestempond

Hobby farmer living at Bluestem Pond in Michigan.
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1 Response to Lessons Learned About Grapes

  1. I had a little grape arbor when I lived in Ashland. Mostly the wild turkeys got to them, but we managed to garner a few bunches. And what about the fungus? We had that too, but I was always afraid to spray — some of the sprays are so toxic. Your grape juice sounds divine, nectar of the gods. Enjoy it in good health.

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