by D.M. Dunning & John W. Spencer
reprinted from the Cyclopedia of American Horticulture 1900. All figures were current to 1900 and need to be carefully converted to current costs.
The Grape is probably the oldest of domesticated fruits. It is probable that wine was made from it before the species was brought into cultivation. It seems to have been cultivated at the dawn of history. Its product was certainly no rarity in Noah’s time. The Grape of history is the Old World Vitis vinifera, the “wine-bearing Vitis,” probably native to Asia. The paramount use of the Grape always has been the production of wine. A subsidiary value is the production of raisins; and another is the production of fruit for the dessert and for culinary uses. Great efforts were made to introduce the cultivation of the European Grape into the American colonies, but the efforts resulted in failure. It was not until the latter part of the present (19th) century that the chief causes of this failure became known: the depredations of the phylloxera and mildew – and even then the causes were discovered largely because these enemies had made incursions into the vineyards of Europe. In the meantime, one or two of the native species of Vitis had been ameliorated, and American viticulture had become established on a unique and indigenous basis, and the fruits are (were) grown to eat rather than to drink. So fully did the early American ventures follow European customs that the Grapes were usually planted on terraced slopes, as they are on the Rhine and about the continental lakes. Even to this day (1900) the terrace ridges can be traced in some of the slopes about Cincinnati, where Longworth and others cultivated the Grape fifty years and more ago. Those early experiments finally failed because of the incursions of the black rot.
Of all countries, North America is richest in species of Vitis. These species range from ocean to ocean and from the British possessions to the tropics. The species which has been most improved is Vitis Labrusca of the Atlantic slope, although it seems to possess less native merit than some of the southwestern species-types. Of this species are the Concord and Catawba types (Fig. 949-951). To some extent it has been hybridized with Vitis vinifera and with native species. Already a number of the popular varieties represent such side departures that they cannot be referred positively to any species. Of these, Delaware and Isabella are examples. The second most important species, in point of amelioration, is Vitis oestivalis, from which several of the best wine Grapes have sprung (Fig. 952). The Post-oak Grape (Vitis Linsecomi, or V. oestivalis, var. Linsecomi) of the Southwest, is one of the most promising species, and already has given excellent results in hybridization. See Figs. 953, 954. V. rotundifolia of the South has given the Scuppernong and a few less known forms. Beyond these species, there are none which have given varieties of great commercial importance, although considerable has been done in improving them. Some of the best of the wild species are practically untouched; there is only a comparatively small area of our great country which has yet developed large interests in Grape-growing: the Grape-types of a century hence, therefore, may be expected to be very unlike the present day varieties.
While the native Grape was being ameliorated in the East, the Old World Vitis vinifera was becoming established on the Pacific slope. In fact, Vitis vinifera has there run wild. The phylloxera and mildew are not native there, and the climate better suits the species. The Pacific coast viticulture, therefore, is of the Old World kind. Wine is the leading revenue of the Grape.
We now know that the phylloxera or root-louse can be evaded when the vinifera Grape is grafted on native or resistant stocks. Of late years, therefore, new efforts have been made to grow the wine Grape in the eastern states, and in the southern latitudes some of these experiments promised well for a time. However, so great attention is required in order to produce a satisfactory product as to discourage the growing of vinifera varieties in the open in the East. Vinifera types will always be special Grapes in the East, adapted only to particular conditions, for it is now to be expected that they can compete with the more easily grown and cosmopolitan native varieties. Under glass, however, the vinifera varieties thrive; below a special discussion is given to this branch of the subject.
The greatest development of the native Grape industry has taken place in New York and Ohio, bordering lakes and large streams. These areas are the lower Hudson river valley; the region of the central-western New York lakes; the Lake Erie region of New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio. There are also important Grape interests in Ontario, Michigan, and other northern parts. There is considerable interest in Grape culture in the cooler parts of Georgia and Alabama, and there are enlarging areas in the country extending from the Ozark region southward. Nearly all the country, excepting the northernmost parts, raises Grapes, but in most cases the growing of them cannot be said to be extensive enough to be called an industry. Although the Grape sections of the North hug the water areas and the land, therefore, is often steep, all Grape growers prefer nearly level land. The Old World plantations are largely on very steep lands; such lands, by virtue of their warmth and drainage, are thought to give an extra quality of wine. These ideas were brought to this country, and many of our early vineyards were planted on terraced slopes. But we grow Grapes for a different purpose from the Europeans, and land is cheap and labor is dear. Old World methods cannot be followed in the American commercial plantations.
The ideal bunch of Grapes is one which is of medium size for the variety, compact, uniformly developed and ripened throughout, containing no small or diseased berries, and with the bloom intact. A very dense or crowded cluster is not the most desirable, for all the berries cannot develop fully, and the cluster is not easily handled when the fruit is eaten. Fig. 955 shows a cluster of good shape and compactness; Fig. 956 is too broad and irregular; Figs. 957 and 958 are rather too dense and compact. The American Grape is essentially a dessert fruit. It is eaten from the hand. There are several manufactured products, but, with the exception of wine, they are yet of minor importance. Americans are not a wine-drinking people (or were not in 1900), and wine is a secondary output of the Grape in the eastern states, although there are many large wine-cellars in New York and Ohio, and the product is of excellent quality. Unfermented grape juice is a product which deservedly is growing in popularity. The lack of secondary domestic uses of the Grape is one reason for the very serious gluts in the markets. However, one year with another, the profit on a good vineyard may be expected to exceed that on the staple farm crops.
Pruning and Training – A Grape vine is pruned in order to reduce the amount of wood (that is, to thin or to limit the amount of fruit), and to keep the plant within manageable shape and bounds. A vine is trained in order to keep it off the ground, out of the way of the workmen, and to so arrange the fruit that it will be well exposed to light and air. In order to understand the pruning of Grapes, the operator must fully grasp this principle: Fruit is borne on wood of the present season, which arises from wood of the previous season. To illustrate: A growing shoot, or cane of 1899, makes buds. In 1900 a shoot arises from each bud; and near the base of this shoot the Grapes are borne (1 to 4 clusters on each). This is shown in Fig. 959. The 1899 shoot is shown at the top. The 1900 shoot bears 4 clusters of Grapes. While every bud on the 1899 shoot may produce shoots or canes in 1900, only the strongest of these new shoots will bear fruit. The skilled Grape grower can tell by the looks of his cane (as he prunes it, in winter) which buds will give rise to the Grape-producing wood the following season. The larger and stronger buds usually give best results; but if the cane itself is very big and stout, or if it is very weak and slender, he does not expect good results from any of its buds. A hard, well-ripened cane the diameter of a man’s little finger is the ideal size.
The second principle to be mastered is this: A vine should bear only a limited number of clusters – say from 30 to 80. A shoot bears clusters near its base; beyond these clusters the shoot grows into a long, leafy cane. An average of two clusters may be reckoned to a shoot. If the vine is strong enough to bear 60 clusters, 30 good buds must be left at the annual pruning. How much a vine should be allowed to bear will depend on the variety, distance apart of the vines, strength of the soil, age of the vine, system of pruning, and the ideals of the grower. The Concord is one of the strongest and most productive of Grapes. Twelve to 15 lbs. is a fair crop for a mature vine; 20 lbs. is a heavy crop; 25 lbs. is a very heavy crop. An average cluster of Concord will weigh 1/4-1/3 lb. The vine may be expected to carry from 30 to 60 clusters; and the annual pruning will leave from 15 to 30 buds.
Since the bearing wood springs from new canes, it follows that the fruit of the Grape is each year borne farther from the main trunk of the vine. Observe that the fruit of wild vines is borne beyond reach when they climb over thickets and trees. It is a prime object of the Grape-grower to obviate this difficulty. The third principle in the pruning of Grape vines is this: The bearing wood should be kept near the original trunk or head of the vine. When one cane is sending out fruit-bearing shoots, another shoot is taken out from near the main trunk or head to furnish fruit-bearing shoots for the next year; and the other or older cane is entirely cut away after the fruit is off. That is, the wood is constantly renewed; and the new shoots which are to give bearing wood the following year are called renewals. There are some systems of Grape training which renew back to the root every year or two, and these have been called renewal systems; but every system of Grape pruning must practice renewal in one way or another.
An old system of renewal was by means of spurs. Fig. 960 illustrates this. The horizontal part is a permanent arm or branch. We will suppose that it grew in 1890. In 1891 a shoot grew upward. It bore two or three clusters of fruit. In the fall it was cut back to a, two buds being left to supply the shoots of the succeeding year. This short branch is now called a spur. Only one shoot was wanted for the next year, but two buds were left in case one should be injured. In 1892, a branch grew from one of these buds: it bore fruit: in the fall it was cut back to b. In 1893 a shoot will grow from one of the buds, c. Thus the spur elongates year by year, becoming a forking, complicated, stubby branch. After a few years it may become weak: the grower sees this, and if a new shoot should start from the main arm near the base of the spur, he encourages it and cuts off all of the old spur: thus he renews back again to the main vine. Shoots from adventitious or secondary buds are likely to spring from the main arm or the spur at any time. These are usually weak and are removed, but now and then a strong one arises. Spur pruning is now rarely used except in Grapes grown on arbors or under glass, in which cases it is necessary to have a long, permanent trunk. On arbors it is best to carry one arm or trunk from each root to the top of the framework. Each year the lateral cane are cut back to spurs of two or three buds.
The current systems of pruning renew to a head – or to the main trunk – each year. The trunk of the vine is carried up to the desired height – to one of the wires of the trellis – and one or more canes are taken out from its top each year. The object is to keep the bearing wood near the main trunk and to obviate the use of spurs. This type of pruning is illustrated in Fig. 961. This engraving shows the head of a vine seven years old, and on which two canes are allowed to remain after each annual pruning. The part extending from b to f and d is the base of the bearing cane of 1892. In the winter of 1892-3, this cane is cut off at d, and the new cane, e, is left to make the bearing wood of 1893. Another cane sprung from f, but it was too weak to leave for fruiting. It was, therefore, cut away. The old stub, b, f, d, will be cut away a year hence, in the winter of 1893-4. In the meantime, a renewal cane will have grown from the stub c, which is left for that purpose, and the old cane, b d, will be cut off just beyond it, between c and f. In this way, the bearing wood is kept close to the head of the vine. The wound a shows where an old stub was cut away this winter, 1892-3, while b shows where one was cut off the previous winter. A scar upon the back of the head, which does not show in the illustration, marks the spot where a stub was cut away two years ago, in the winter of 1890-1. This method of pruning can be kept up almost indefinitely, and if care if exercised in keeping the stubs short, the head will not enlarge out of proportion to the growth of the stock or trunk.
There are two common styles of training in use in the northern states, but each of them practices essentially the system of renewals which is described in the last paragraph. One style of training carries the trunk only to the lowest wire of the trellis. The canes – usually 2 in number – are tied horizontally on the bottom wire, and the bearing shoots are tied, as they grow, to the two wires above (Fig. 962). This is an upright system. The other style carries the trunk to the top wire. The canes are tied on the top wire, and the bearing shoots hang. This is the drooping or Kniffin system. If the shoots run out on the top wire by clinging to it by tendrils, they are torn loose, so that they will hang: this is a very necessary practice. There is controversy as to the comparative merits of these systems, which proves that each has merit. It is probably that the upright system is better for the slender or shorter varieties, as Delaware, and also for those whose shoots stand erect, as Catawba. The Kniffin has distinct merit for strong-growing varieties, as Concord; it is also cheaper, since it requires no summer tying.
One- or 2-year old vines are planted either in the fall or early spring. At planting, the vine is cut back to 3 or 4 buds and the roots are well shortened. If all the buds start, the strongest one or two may be allowed to grow. The canes arising from this bud should be staked and allowed to grow through the season: or in large plantations the first-year canes may be allowed to lie on the ground. The second year this cane should be cut back to the same number of eyes as the first year. After growth begins in the second spring, one of the strongest shoots should be allowed to remain. The cane may be grown to a single stake through the second summer. At the end of the second year the cane may be cut back to the bottom wire of the trellis, if upright training is to be employed. The cane may be strong enough at this time to be made the permanent trunk of the Kniffin training, but in most cases the trunk is not carried to the top wire until the third year.
The main pruning is performed when the vine is dormant. The ideal time is January and February in the North, although the work is often begun in November if the area is large. Pruning in spring causes the vine to bleed, but bleeding is not injurious. But late pruning interferes with tillage, and the buds are likely to be injured after they are swollen. Summer pruning is now practiced only to the extent of pulling out suckers and weak shoots, and even this is not always done. Heading-in the vine in summer is likely to start side growths, which are useless and troublesome.
Propagation – The Grape grows readily from seeds which may be kept over winter and germinated in the house early in the spring. They may be even planted in beds in the open, but the proportion of failures will be greater. Seeds produce new varieties, and they are used only in an experimental way.
The commercial propagation of Grapes is done by means of hardwood cuttings. These cuttings are taken in the winter from the trimmings of vineyards. In all ordinary cases they are made of two or three buds’ length, preferably three (Fig. 963). They are cut as soon as the canes are trimmed, tied in small bundles, and these bundles are then buried half their depth in damp sand in a cool cellar. By spring the cuttings will be more or less callused. The cuttings are planted in the open on the approach of warm weather. A loose, loamy soil is selected, and it is well and deeply prepared. The cuttings are inserted until only the upper bud stands at the surface of the ground. These cuttings are placed 6 to 8 inches apart in rows, and the rows are far enough apart to allow of horse cultivation. These cuttings may give plants large enough for sale the following fall; but it is usually preferred to let the plants grow two years before they are put upon the market. In such cases it is customary, in many of the best nurseries, to transplant at the end of the first season. When wood is scarce, the canes are sometimes cut to single eyes. In this case about an inch of wood is left on either side of the bud. Single-eye cuttings are nearly always started under glass, preferably on the greenhouse bench. If they are started in February , they will be large enough for transplanting in a well-prepared seed-bed very early in the spring. Green wood cuttings are sometimes used in the summer time with new and rare varieties, but they are not in general favor. In California, rooted vines of one year are preferred; and in soil in which cuttings root readily, they are sometimes planted directly in the vineyard.
The Grape is easily grafted. Because of the flexible nature of the vine, however, it is customary to make the graft below the surface of the ground. An ordinary cleft-graft is the one which is usually employed. The whole vine is cut off 4 to 5 inches below the surface, and the graft is inserted in the same fashion as in apple or pear trees. The surface may then be waxed or covered with clay or other material, to keep the water out of the cleft, although if the earth is firmly packed around the graft and no water stands, the union may be perfectly satisfactory without any cover (Figs. 964-5). Vines of any age may be grafted. It is important that the cions be perfectly dormant. These cions are taken and stored in the same way as cuttings. The grafting should be done very early in the spring, before the sap starts. Grafting may also be done late in the spring, after all danger of bleeding is over; but, in that case, it is more difficult to keep the cions dormant, and the growth is not likely to be so great during the first season. Vineyards which are composed of unprofitable varieties may be changed to new varieties very readily by this means. Vinifera varieties can also be grated on our common phylloxera-resistant stocks by the same method. Almost any method of grafting can be employed upon the grape vine if the work is done beneath the surface.
Diseases – the Grape is amenable to many insect and fungous attacks. The most serious difficulty is the phylloxera, which, however, is practically unknown as an injurious pest on the native Grapes. On the vinifera varieties it is exceedingly serious, and it is working great devastation in many of the vineyards of the Old World and of the Pacific coast. The most practicable means of dealing with this pest is to graft the vinifera vines on native or resistant roots.
The mildew and black rot are the most serious of the fungous enemies. The mildew (Peronospora viticola) is the more common form of rot in the North. In the South the black rot (Loestadia Bidwellii) is very serious. Both these diseases cause the berries to decay. They also attack the leaves, particularly the mildew, causing the leaves to fall and preventing the Grapes from maturing. It is the mildew which has worked such havoc in European vineyards. The mildew is most serious on thinleaved and smooth-leaved varieties, as the Delaware. It causes yellowish patches to appear on the leaves, with frost-like colonies on the under sides. It causes the berries to decay with a gray and finally a brown rot, the berries usually remaining small and firm but not greatly wrinkled. The black rot causes the berries to become very hard, dry and shriveled, and the epidermis is covered with minute pimples (Fig. 966). In infested vineyards, the foliage and diseased berries should be raked up and burned in the fall.
The anthracnose or scab (Sphacelona ampelinum) is a very serious fungous disease. It is most apparent on the fruit, where it makes a hard, scabby patch. Its most serious work, however, occurs on the stems of the clusters and on the young growth, where it makes sunken, discolored areas, and where it interferes seriously with the growth of the parts. It is not so easily controlled as the mildew and the black rot. Careful attention to pruning away all the diseased wood and burning it will help in controlling the disease.
In Grape houses the powdery mildew (Uncinula spiralis) often does serious damage. It also occurs in the open vineyard, but it is usually not serious there. It appears as a very thin, dust-like covering on the leaves. It sometimes attacks the berries, causing them to remain small or to crack.
Varieties – Of the native Grapes, fully 800 varieties have been named and described. Many foreign varieties have been introduced. Yet, in any region the number of useful commercial varieties is usually less than a dozen. Of the American Grapes (those aside from viniferas), the Concord is the cosmopolitan variety. Others of great prominence are Worden, Niagara, Catawba, Delaware.
Grapes in the North
by John W. Spencer
Seeking a proper location for Grapes in the northern states east of the Rocky mountains, one should make a distinction between Grapes planted for commercial purposes and those planted for domestic use. If for the former, the climatic conditions must be so perfect that a crop can be depended on each season with the same certainty as the appearance of the tax collector or the annual interest on the mortgage. If for the latter, the chances may be such as to give a yield of Grapes three years out of five, which is better than no Grapes at all. Any section in which dent corn has a liberal season in which to mature is a practicable place for a household vineyard, provided the early ripening varieties are selected. For this purpose, for black or deep purple, may be suggested Moore Early and Worden. During the past three years the Campbell is often favorably mentioned. For white or pale green, the Green Mountain, sometimes called the Winchell, and for red the Brighton, are good varieties.
The best location for a commercial vineyard is along the shores of our lakes or large rivers. The advantage of such locations is due almost entirely to protection from late and early frosts. During the early development of the Grape Industry, many loose ideas were prevalent that certain spots within the different Grape zones had some special magic of sunshine, or temperature, or draught of air, or alchemy of the soil, that gave such superior quality of fruit. The earlier vineyards at Hammondsport, N.Y., were planted upon steep hillsides – so steep that terraces were sometimes formed, which made cultivation and harvesting expensive. Such locations were probably considered superior to all others because some one had seen Grapes grown in similar locations along the Rhine. It was also said that the west bank of the lake was superior because the Grapes received the morning sun. Henry O. Fairchild, a pioneer and progressive vineyardist, in time proved the foolishness of the idea by planting a vineyard on the east side of the lake, where the lay of the land made cultivation more easy and the Grapes received the afternoon sun. In later years, when the Grapes from either shore reached the market, no consumer could tell whether the fruit received the morning or afternoon sun. The first vineyards planted in the Lake Erie belt were at Brocton, Chautauqua county. The industry clung about that initial location many years, for it was a popular belief that there was some special current of air passing from the hills to the lake at that special point that did not pass elsewhere. Now there are more than 25,000 acres of vineyard planted between Silver Creek and Harbor Creek, and the yield of that area for the season of 1899 was about 7,000 car loads. The only marked difference of Grape product in all that area is the difference between the conscientious and the careless packer. If there was ever any reason for such an idea as the quality of fruit being influenced by location, it was probably due to the inexperience of some outside planter, which led him to put up too much or too little wood, and imperfect ripening of the fruit was the result. The conclusion was jumped at that the difference was due to a heavenborn blessing of location, instead of good judgment in pruning. It is the common thing for writers to lay much stress on “southern slopes” and “sunny slopes,” but in most cases they have said so because some one has said so before them, and not because they spoke from experience. Scarcely an acre of the 25,000 planted to vineyards in the Chautauqua belt but faces the north, and is in full view of Lake Erie, as the seats of a theater face the stage.
There is one feature of location upon which much stress must be laid, even in the lake zones, and that is opportunity for frost drainage. It is a well attested fact that the cold air settles in the bottom of a valley; therefore, the bottom of a ravine is usually colder in frosty nights than the hillside. It often happens that a late spring or early fall frost will injure Grapes in the lower location, and not on the slopes. This is a factor that planters of all fruit should observe.
There has been as much nonsense written about the best soils for Grapes as there has been about best location. One has a vineyard planted on the gravel of what was once the beach of Lake Erie, when it has a higher level than at present. His neighbor across the road has a vineyard planted on a very stiff clay, which was once the bottom of the lake. One gets just as large yields and just as fine quality of fruit as the other. The only difference is that the former, being on the gravel, is able to work his soil earlier than the latter; his fruit ripens earlier, so that he is able to borrow all of the neighbor’s harvesting tools. Another neighbor has a vineyard extending across both clay and gravel, and he would not sell one acre cheaper than another. In commercial planting, the period of protection from frosts should be broad enough so that the difference in ripening from gravel or clay should not make a difference of success or failure. For domestic planting, the gravel would be preferable. The soils of which most serious warning should be given are those containing a very liberal supply of available nitrogen. All experienced fruit-growers know of the impossibility of early fruiting of trees or vines which are making a rampant growth. There is no fruit so easily intoxicated by nitrogen as the Grape. Long-jointed canes are always to be avoided. Besides being less fruitful, a riotous growth of Grape vine is far more liable to mildew and to other diseases than those of sober growth. One of the surprises in the development of the Chautauqua Grape zone is that some of the so-called poor land has given vineyards as productive as any – land that previously had been given over to sheep pasture, briers and mulleins. This land was poor in nitrogen, but no doubt had a fair supply of available potash and phosphoric acid, which Grapes most require.
In preparing land for vineyard planting, it is necessary to lay great stress on the importance of first removing all trees, stumps and large rocks, for when the trellis is put up all tillage of the soil will be in a straight line and one way. A favorite way of disposing of boulders is to bury them about twenty inches deeper than one thinks necessary, for they have a vexatious way of overcoming the power of gravitation and creeping out of their graves. The real reason for this apparent freak is the compacting of the soil in later years. If any open ditches should cross the line of the Grape rows, they should be supplied with tile and the ditch filled so as to make long “bouts” possible. Short rows and frequent turning should be avoided as much as possible. Turning at the end of a row is lost labor, and the time it occupies would enable a team to cultivate over a hundred feet straight ahead.
The rows in nearly all the commercial vineyards are 9 feet apart, and the vines are planted 8 feet apart in the row. This makes 605 plants per acre. If the land is sod, plow into narrow lands, so that the center of the dead-furrows are 9 feet apart, and plant in the bottom of the deadfurrow. When the plow is set to cut a furrow 8 to 9 inches deep, the dead-furrow will have about the required depth for planting. If the ground is stubble, plow the whole field, and then lay out rows by striking a doublefurrow. Much care should be exercised to have the rows perfectly straight and to plant the vines straight in the row. This has a practical use, besides appealing to the professional pride of all good farmers. If the plants are not straight in the row, the posts cannot be set straight; and if the posts are not straight the wires composing the trellis will bind on the posts which are out of line, and they cannot be easily tightened in spring.
No. 1 vines, of one season’s growth from cuttings, are much to be preferred to No. 2 vines of the same period of growth. A young plant, stunted in growth either by constitutional reasons or accident, has a handicap that usually follows it all through life. For the same reason, avoid planting 2 year-old plants, as often they are the second season’s growth of what was a cull the year before. Spring planting is universally followed in the North. It should be completed by the last of May. Some vineyards planted during the last half of June have developed into good production, but it was due to the grace of favorable weather and soil. Fig. 967 represents a fair No. 1 Grape vine. The few roots at d c should be trimmed, as well as the main body of the roots shown by segment of circle e f. The pruning facilitates planting, and the removed parts would make no root growth of value if retained. The stem of the vine can be cut back to two or three buds, as shown by a b. Six quarts of well pulverized fertile soil, well packed about the roots, will hold the plant in place and keep it moist until the furrow can be filled by plowing, if on stubble, or by frequent harrowing and cultivating on sod. During the first season, all cultivation necessary for conservation of moisture should be given. If no tilled crop is planted, this tillage can be done by cultivating or harrowing crosswise alternately. But little hand-work in weeding will be required. Whether some hoed crop be planted between the rows the first season is a question of profit for each vineyardist to decide. It adds something to the expense of cultivation. It is generally no detriment to the growth of the Grape vines. After the first season, the ground should not be planted to other crops.
The general appearance of an infant vineyard at or about the middle of the first season’s growth is shown in Fig. 968. Lay great stress upon the importance of a vigorous and even growth during the first and second years. If such is not attained, many years will be required for the vines to recover, and sometimes they never reach the standard of a good vineyard. Even vines planted after the second year to fill vacancies require constant coddling to bring them up to the average. In the spring of the second year the shoots or canes of the previous season’s growth should be cut back to three or four buds, and the canes should be thinned out according to the vigor of the vine – one cane for a feeble growth, and three or four for a decidedly vigorous growth. In all other respects, the second year’s management should be a repetition of the first.
In the spring beginning the third year will come the most considerable expense of the undertaking – that of putting up the trellis. There are many forms of training Grapes, and some of them so peculiar that special trellises must be constructed. There are three popular styles of Grape training in the commercial Grape fields of the North: Kniffin system, as practiced in the Hudson river valley; the High Renewal system, as practiced along lakes Keuka, Canandaigua and Seneca; and the Chautauqua system, as practiced along the Lake Erie valley. It is impossible to say which of the three is preferable. A man’s preference usually depends on how he was brought up – like his politics and religion. In horticultural meetings, advocates of the various systems argue the merits with much partisan fervor. It is clear to me that the essential point to be attained in any system is to hang up the vines so that fruit and foliage can obtain the greatest amount of air and sunshine, all of which can be secured by several methods. The common form of trellis may be illustrated by a high wire fence, as shown in Fig. 969; but the Kniffin system omits the bottom wire.
The vineyardists of the Chautauqua Grape belt have developed a mode of pruning and training of Grapes which has many features peculiar to that district. The trellis is made of two wires, of No. 9 or No. 10 gauge, and chestnut posts. The posts are from 6 to 8 feet in length since experience has shown how important air and sunshine are in ripening the fruit, 8-foot posts are most commonly used. Grape posts should be somewhat heavier than those commonly used for wire fence – from one-third to one-half larger – and the heaviest should be sorted out for the end posts, for these bear the strain of the wire. An experienced farmer need not be told that they should be sharpened with a true lead-pencil taper, excepting the crooked ones, which should be so beveled as to counteract the crook in driving.
The usual distance apart for the posts in the row of Grapes is one post to every three vines, or, in other words, 27 feet, and for ease in stretching the wire, they should be in as straight a line as possible. The posts are driven, but a hole should first be made by an unusually large crowbar with a bulb near the lower end. After the posts are stuck into the holes, they are most conveniently driven by the operator standing in a wagon which is hauled through the row by a horse. A fair weight of maul is 12 pounds, and it requires a good man to swing one of that size all day. Iron mauls are commonly used because they are the cheapest, but one with an iron shell filled with wood “brooms” or frays the top of the post less then the iron maul. Eighteen inches is a fair depth to drive the posts on most soils. If the proprietor delegates the driving to another man, he would better direct that 20 to 22 inches be the proper depth, for to the man swinging the maul the post seems deeper than it really is.
A vineyard should have a break or an alley at right angles to the rows as often as every 50 Grape vines, for the purpose of dumping Grape brush and shortening the trip when hauling fruit. If the vineyard is in fair thrift, longer rows will give so much brush as to be inconvenient in hauling out.
The end posts should not only be the largest of the lot, but should also be well braced. The most common mode is the “hypotenuse brace,” consisting of a stiff rail or a 4×4 scantling 12 feet long, with one end notched into the post about midway between the two wires, and the other end resting on the ground against a 2-foot peg of about the same size as the end post.
The wires (two wires in the Chautauqua trellis) should be strung on the windward side of the post; that is, on the side from which the prevailing winds come. This is very important when the wind is blowing at 30 to 40 miles an hour, and the vines have sails of many square feet of foliage, and perhaps three and four tons of fruit per acre. The staples should be of the same gauge of wire as that used in barbed wire fences, but about one-half inch longer, unless the Grape posts should be of hard wood, like locust; then fence staples will be long enough. The bottom trellis wire is usually placed from 28 to 32 inches from the ground. Owing to the arm system of pruning in the Chautauqua Grape belt, the height of the lower trellis wire is permanent. The upper trellis wire is, in many instances, raised as the vineyard comes to maturity. The first year of fruiting it may not be more than 24 inches above the lower wire, and year by year be raised to 30 and 32 inches. It is not advisable to go more than 36 inches apart without putting in a middle or third wire. Each spring many of the posts will sag, and the upper wire will be slack, and many of the braces will be out of place. All of these faults should be corrected just before tying up the canes in spring.
A large part of the pruning is done in the winter months – some beginning in the fall soon after the crop is harvested. Two grades of labor can be employed in this operation – the skilled and the unskilled. The man of skill, or the expert, goes ahead and blocks out. He stands in front of a vine of far more tangled brush than that seen in Fig. 962, and, at a glance, tells by a judgment ripened by much observation, just how many buds are required to ballast and not over-ballast the vine for another year. As the expert stands before the vine making the estimate, he might be likened to a man weighing a ham with steelyards, pushing the weight backward and forward, notch by notch, finding the point of balance. The expert, with his pruning shears, makes a dive here and a lunge there, a clip at the bottom and a snip at the top, and with a few more seemingly wild passes all wood is severed from the bearing vine, but the number of buds desired to give fruit another year are left. The unskilled help follows the expert, cutting the tendrils and other parts of the vine that are attached to anything but the trellis. The next process is “stripping” the brush, and it is one involving brute force, ragged clothes and leather mittens. If the laborer does not put on a ragged suit, he will be apt to have one before he is done with his job. There is a little knack even in doing this work to the best advantage. The dismembered vines still hang to the upper trellis and often cling with considerable tenacity, and a particular jerk or yank, more easily demonstrated than described, is most effectual to land the brush on the ground between the rows.
The next operation is to haul the brush to the end of the row. Many tools have been devised for this purpose, some of them involving considerable expense. It is now the general practice to use a simple pole – one a little larger than would be used to bind a load of logs, and not so large as required in binding a load of hay. It may be a sapling about 4 inches at the butt and 2 ½ inches at the top, and 10 to 12 feet long. The small end is to be held in the right hand, and the butt end to be pushed along the ground. A horse is hitched to this pole by a rope drawn through an inch hole about 4 feet from the butt or ground end. When starting at the end of the row, it seems that the straight pole would not gather any brush at all. It is a question of catching the first wad, and all the rest of the brush will cling to it. At the end of the row the brush is hauled to a convenient pile, where it is to be burned, and is dumped by letting the end of the pole held in the hand revolve over towards the horse. If the pole hits the horse, the operator will see that there is not enough stretch of rope between the pole and whiffletree, and more must be provided.
The tying materials are wire, wool-twine, raffia, willow and carpet-rags. The horizontal arms, at the lower wire, are more or less permanent, and they are loosely confined to the wire, always by string or willow. The vertical canes, which are fastened to the top trellis, are now commonly tied with annealed wire of No. 18 gauge, and cut in lengths of 4 inches. The economy in using the wire is the despatch in tying, and the fact that the work can be done on cool days when light gloves are necessary. The use of wire has been strenuously opposed by people who have never used it. The objection has been that the fine wire would chafe the cane so that the cane would break and fall from the trellis. Such instances occur rarely, and when they do it is so late in the season that the tendrils of the vine are ample to hold it to the trellis. The cane should be tied to the windward side of the wire for the same reason that the wire was stapled on the windward side of the post. In using the wire tie, the operator stands on the opposite side of the trellis from the cane, and follows the movements as illustrated in Figs. 970-973. This operation puts on the wire with the fewest number of movements, binds the cane snug to the trellis, and makes a loop that falls from the trellis on the following season, when the cane is torn away. The tying wire should be thoroughly annealed, so that it can be easily bent and give no springy reaction after being worked. This wire is also useful in tying thorny shrubs to a trellis when a mittened hand is necessary to hold the branches in place while the other hand makes the tie.
To recommend varieties is a difficult and personal matter. Grapes, like most other fruits, are influenced in character by difference of location. There are many more Concords sold than any other variety, yet by the fastidious Grape eater it is thought far inferior to many other varieties. However, as it is the sort the public most want, and is a good yielder, it is probably the most profitable to plant. For the past few years many have wished that all their Concords were Niagara, for the reason that the yield of the latter has been good and the crop brought at least ten dollars per ton more when sold in bulk. Perhaps this condition is only temporary. The Catawba is of excellent flavor; it is latest to ripen and an excellent variety for storage. When placed in good cellars, and an even low temperature is maintained, but not low enough to freeze, this variety will keep in good shipping condition until the last of March and first of April. These are standard commercial varieties in New York and Ohio. Worden is excellent for a near-by market, but does not stand long journeys well.
Many fruits are better picked before fully ripe, of which the pear is a conspicuous example. Grapes have not that characteristic, for no maturing development goes on after the fruit is harvested. As soon as the full ripening period has been reached, the clusters should be gathered by carefully cutting and placing in trays which hold from 25 to 35 pounds. The care in handling should almost equal that taken with eggs. After picking, the fruit should be placed in a fruit house built upon the principle of an ice house, but so arranged as to give free access to the cooling night air, and to be closed each morning to protect from the heat of the day. By such means the temperature can in time be worked down to 40 degrees, which checks excessive evaporation, thereby keeping the stems green and the fruit plump. This is the ideal method.
From 1893 to 1899 the price of Grapes steadily declined, and with the decline came a casting about for means to economize in harvesting. One of the ways developed towards that end has been to require that the woman who packs should increase her daily output from 80 9-pound baskets to 200. The woman fulfilled the requirements without working any harder in one case than the other. The increase is at the expense of quality of packing, which at first was at the expense of the consumer or shipper, but in the final outcome resulted in less demand for the Grapes. The public may be fooled part of the time, but sooner or later smart practices will come back to the point from which they started like a boomerang. Grapes designed for shipment are packed in climax baskets. The size prevailing in the Keuka district are “poneys,” having a gross weight of less than five pounds. In the Chautauqua district the 8-pound is the almost universal size. The reason for such distinct customs is due to the demands of the markets to which the Grapes are shipped. Shipments of the Keuka section go to the Atlantic cities, and those from Chautauqua go to the west.
In the Lake Keuka district of western New York there are a number of wine cellars involving large capital, two or three of which make excellent champagne. This industry began at Hammondsport in the sixties, and several varieties of Grapes were planted solely for wine purposes, but the quality of the fruit was not good for table use. In the Chautauqua district the wine industry has received little attention compared to that given in the Keuka district. There has been no opportunity for the blending of several juices, for the reason that the Concord is so nearly the universal variety planted. But another industry – that of bottling Grape juice as it comes from the press – has lately been established, and promises considerable development.
The methods of marketing Grapes are of great variety. During the season of 1893 and 1894 there was formed in the Lake Keuka district and adjacent lakes a cooperative marketing association composed of producers. This association was incorporated and officered by its own members, and represented over three-fourths of the production of that district. The plan was to maintain prices more evenly and to secure a better equalization of supply and of markets. This association was abandoned after two years’ trial. The failure was not due to excessive cost in selling nor want of integrity of the officers, but to inability “to pull together,” and a desire of each producer to be independent, hoping to do a little better for himself than the association could do for him.
A. B. Clothier, of Silver Creek, N.Y., gives the following as the expense in 1900 of planting and developing an acre of Grapes:
- Plowing and marking an acre of land: $3.00
- Number of plants, 8 ft. x 9 ft., 605. Cost: 12.10
- Cost of planting: 1.50
- Number of cultivations first season, 7. Cost: 7.00
- Cost of cultivation second season: 7.00
- Number pounds of wire for 2 wire trellis, 600 lbs.; staples, 6 lbs. Cost: 22.80
- Number posts for trellis, 202; number braces, 20. Cost: 14.14
- Cost of putting up trellis: 3.00
- Cost of acre of Grapes, exclusive of land: $70.54
S.S. Crissey, of Fredonia, N.Y., horticultural editor of the “Grape Belt,” without going into details, puts the total cost of an acre of vineyard at from $75 to $80, which practically agrees with that of Mr. Clothier. These are men of experience and wide observation, and their estimates may be considered to be representative and reliable.
Mr. Clothier gives the following estimate for the cost of labor for an acre of Grapes in bearing, per season:
- Cost of pruning, pulling brush, taping posts, righting braces, stretching wires, tying of vines, and cultivation per acre: $12.00
- Cost of picking into crates, 4 tons of Grapes: $4.50
- Cost of hauling to station and loading in car, 4 tons of Grapes: $4.00
- Total cost: $20.50
Mr. Crissey’s estimate is a little higher, making cost under the same conditions to be $23.
As to the yield of an acre of Grapes in the Chautauqua belt, the variation is great. A vineyardist who has any expectation of standing in line with progressive men should expect to have a record of 4 tons of Concords per acre. This is more than the average, but unless a man can exceed the average in any line, there is small chance for him to succeed.
As to prices, the variation during the past seven years has been greater than that of the yield. Grapes have been sold at less than $10 per ton, and at more than $15. When more than the latter, it is risky for the seller to be too confident of a much higher price for any great length of time; and if less than the former, the buyer would better secure his supply as soon as possible. An average price is, say, $12.50. This gives a gross income for a 4- ton acre of Concords as $50, and a net income from $27 to $30. Be it remembered that this is for Grapes in crates. The cost of packing 4 tons of Grapes in 8-pound baskets, including baskets, would be from $28, to $30. The prices for Concords in crates or baskets vary so much that it may be advantageous to sell in either way. A man with a small vineyard and a large family would pack in baskets, when another who had to pay all his help or who found help scarce would sell by the ton in crates.
– John W. Spencer
Grapes in the South
by D.M. Dunning
The region south of the 38th degree north latitude has in it more native species of Grapes than all the world besides. This alone would lead one to suppose the South naturally adapted to vineyard culture. Yet New York, Ohio and California up to the present far excel it in vineyard area, although only three or four species are native in these states. The cause of this is that diligent experimenters and originators have produced varieties of good marketable value adapted to those regions, from natives of those regions, or hybrids of natives with hardiest foreign kinds. In the case of California, the vinifera varieties are mostly grown because the climate and other conditions are so similar to those of the native region of the vinifera. But the South has chiefly planted the northern and foreign varieties which succeed but indifferently in most southern localities, and has neglected almost entirely its native varieties until quite recently. Now experimenters have shown that most excellent and very successful varieties of all colors and seasons can be and have been produced by selections and hybridization of some of the large, fine-fruited varieties.
While the foregoing predicts by actual existence in practical market vineyards in a number of localities in the South what is in store for the South as a whole, the present state of Grape culture in the South at large is a different affair. Information gathered from best sources throughout the South shows that Grape culture is a very small industry.
Planting, Training, etc. – The vines of the true southern Grapes, such as Herbemont and the Post-oak Grape hybrids, are planted 12 to 14 feet apart, in rows 9 ft. apart, while such northern varieties as are planted are set 8 feet apart in row. The Muscadines, such as Scuppernong, are mostly grown upon arbors about 7 feet high and rarely or never pruned, although trained on trellis, as are other Grapes, and, pruned early in fall, after leaf-fall, succeed excellently. The culture is mostly with the plow, turning first away and then to the rows, hoeing the space along the row not reached by the plow. The trellis mostly used is the 3-wire trellis; first wire at 18 to 24 inches from the ground, and the others successively 1 foot apart, above the first. The training is generally an indifferent attempt at the Kniffin system, and no system is generally carried out. Some pinch back the leading shoots once, few twice. Some use single posts and spur-prune. A few have made the Munson canopy trough trellis of 3 wires, and report most favorably of it.
Grapes on the Pacific Slope – The Grape industries of California are established upon the success of the vinifera species. There are two wild species in the state, Vitis Californica and V. Arizonica, but by a popular error the term California Grape has been often used to indicate the Mission Grape, which was introduced from their earlier establishments in Lower California by the padres, who entered the territory now comprised in the state of California in 1769, to extend their missionary work. This Mission Grape has never been fully identified with any variety now grown in Europe, and whether the padres brought it to America in the form of seeds or cuttings is not known. The difficulty in identifying it has led many to consider it a seedling, but it is just as reasonable to hold that it was, two hundred years ago, an esteemed variety which was displaced in the course of viticultural progress by better varieties, and its survival at the California Missions is due to its isolation from that progress. It was this Grape which was found in California by the early American settlers, and very large areas of it were planted, but for the last thirty years it has decreased in favor rapidly, being displaced by many other varieties of superior value for various purposes. These varieties are almost wholly of the vinifera species. The native American varieties and their improved offspring thrive in California when given suitable situation and culture, but they do not meet any encouraging market demand. A very few packages glut the San Francisco market for their kind, while the vinifera table varieties are selling in large quantities. Only a few individuals give any consideration to American varieties for wine, and none of them are suited for raisins. The only attention given to the American species is in the use of some of them as phylloxera-resistant roots, upon which to graft the vinifera varieties, as is done in France; and California experience is a close reproduction of French results in this circumvention of the insect. It seems probable, although some districts are still free from invasion, that in the end all our vinifera vineyards will be upon American roots.
Grape-growing upon a large scale began in California very soon after the American occupation. In the fifties, collections of the leading European varieties were introduced, and state aid was secured for the promotion of viticulture. The first raisins were shown in 1863, and a considerable wine product was attained soon after, but the sale of it was attended by many disappointments, and discouragement ensued. In the latter seventies the wine interest was revived, by better demand for the product, and a new propaganda for extension on better lines and with more suitable methods and better varieties, was earnestly taken up. Again the state granted funds liberally, and the agitation resulted in vine planting and cellar construction in the valleys and foothills all over the state. The product increased more rapidly than the demand for it, and the quality of much of it was successfully impeached. Losses and disappointments were again encountered, and the area of wine Grapes was largely reduced by abandonment, by the advancement of the phylloxera and by the inroads of a peculiar disease which has baffled effort to determine its cause, though thousands of acres have been swept away by it. Even the lessened wine product found most acute trade issues to meet, which were temporarily overcome by growers’ cooperative effort until the constantly shrinking production met an advancing demand, and profitable prices for wine Grapes were again secured. This fact has again stimulated interest in planting, even with the greater investment required by resistant roots, and the century closes with a renewal of confidence which bids fair to again extend the wine industry of the state.
The raisin interest of the state did not attract wide attention until about 1875, but it advanced with great rapidity until 1894, when a product of 103 million pounds was reached and a decline of value below the cost of production ensued. As events have proved, this decline was largely due to lack of proper system in marketing, for a period of loss and depression has been followed by return to prices yielding a profit through control of the marketing by a cooperative association of the growers. This experience came just in time to save the raisin interest from large sacrifices, and points the way to future maintenance. The shipping of table Grapes from California to the markets of the eastern states has reached an aggregate of about a thousand car loads on several different years, and is one of the fixed features of overland fruit shipment. The area of Grapes in California in 1900 is about 140,000 acres: one-seventh table Grapes, two-sevenths raisin Grapes and four-sevenths wine Grapes, as nearly as can be estimated.
The Grape has a wider range of adaptation in California than any other single fruit. It endures all elevations to which commercial fruit-growing is carried; it thrives in the most intense valley heat if amply supplied with water by irrigation. It accepts all fertile soils, but is most profitable upon light, deep, warm loams, both in the valleys and on the hillsides. All varieties which will bear well with such treatment are grown with low stumps and very short pruning, which discards nearly all of the previous season’s growth. Only a few varieties are given longer canes and the support of a wire or a high stake.
The training of the vinifera Grape is very unlike that of the native Grapes. The stocks are kept to low, strong stumps, and the bearing shoots are not trained or are tied to stakes. Trellises are not used. Fig. 974 shows 3 epochs in the common style of pruning, the right-hand figure representing the mature vine.
Though hundreds of varieties of vinifera have been introduced from Europe and Asia during the last half century, only a few have survived cultural and commercial tests and are now planted. For raisins the prevailing varieties are White Muscat of Alexandria, and the Muscatel Gordo Blanco and the Malaga, with the Sultana and Thompson Seedless for seedless raisins: for table Grapes, in addition to the foregoing, the Flame Tokay, Emperor, Cornichon, Black Malvoise, Rose of Peru. Black Hamburg, Chasselas varieties and Verdal are chiefly grown, though, of course, a much larger list prevails for local uses. In wine Grapes there is naturally a larger list to meet local requirements of soil and climate and to produce the various kinds of wine.
Acceptable varieties for dry wines are:
- Red (Claret and Burgundy) – Zinfandel, Carignan, Mataro, Mourastel, Petite Sirah, Petit Bouschet, Alicante Bouschet, Grenache, Valdepenas, Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Macaire, Beclan, Mondeuse, Blue Elbling, Refosco, and Barbera.
- White (Sauterne, Hock, etc.) – Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Vert, Johannisburg Riesling, Franken Riesling, Traminer, Chasselas Dore (Gutedel), Chauche Gris, Burger, Folle Blanche, Feher Szagos, Green Hungarian, Palomino, White Pinot, Thompson Seedless.
Varieties for sweet wines are:
- Ports – Mission, Malvoisie, Grenache, Trousseau.
- Sherry and Madeira – Mission, Palomino, West White Prolific, Verdelho, Feher Szagos, Sultana, Thompson Seedless.
- Angelica, Muscat, etc. – Muscat of Alexandria, Muscatella, Furmint (Tokay wine).
In regions of the Pacific coast north of California, vinifera varieties are less widely grown, and locations meeting their requirements must be selected with much care and circumspection. The number of varieties is much smaller than in California, as there is no product of wine or raisins, but of table Grapes only, and they are almost wholly early ripening kinds, which can mature in the shorter growing season at the North. On the other hand, the American varieties are widely grown, the Concord, Delaware, Moore Diamond, Moore Early, Niagara and Worden being most favorably reported.
Grapes Under Glass – Under glass, the European varieties alone are used. This species, Vitis vinifera, is the vine of the ancients, and is indigenous to the more salubrious parts of eastern Asia and southern Europe. It is referred to in the earliest mythological writings of ancient Egypt and thence on numberless occasions, notably in the Bible and the New Testament. The story of the spies from the promised land, with its generous illustration, has excited the admiration and perhaps questioned the credulity of many of us. It is only fair, however, to state that the size of the cluster there represented has been amply borne out in recent years. The type Vitis vinifera, if there ever was a type, has become so merged and modified by cultivation in different climates and countries that it is difficult to trace it at the present day. Over 2,000 varieties have been described, covering the widest range in size, color, texture and flavor, general appearance and quality.
For disparity of size, we have the diminutive Black Corinth, from which the Zante currants are prepared, and the giant Gros Colman, now extensively grown for commercial purposes under glass in England; and for contrast in color we have the beautiful Rose Chasselas and the pink and white Frontignans and Muscats, with their superb qualities and flavors, growing by the side of the blue-black Alicante of thick skin and coarser texture, but valuable for its late-keeping quality; and work more than all the others put together, we have the Black Hamburg, combining all the good qualities, and easy of culture.
Probably in no branch of horticulture is the gardeners’ skill more generously rewarded than in Grape-growing under glass. In England it has been an essential feature of horticultural work for more than a century, resulting in fruit of a finer quality and flavor than that grown in the open air, and very often enormous clusters, weighing from 20 to 30 pounds. Started there as a matter of luxury, it has become of late years a matter of profit, and vineries of large extent have been erected for commercial purposes. Probably this work has been retarded here by the introduction of the many very excellent varieties of our native Grapes, so easily grown in the open air and so constantly improved by hybridizing with the European, and undoubtedly this work will yet result in a much closer approach to the standard of European quality.
The essential difference between American and European kinds is that in the American the pulp separates from the skin, is usually tough and more or less acid, so that it is disagreeable to remove the seeds, while in the European the pulp adheres to the skin, is tender and sweet throughout, and the seeds are easily removed. European Grapes, when well grown, are valuable and agreeable for the use of invalids, and, undoubtedly, in the judgment of the majority of people, surpass in quality any other fruit grown.
The Houses – These are mainly of two forms, span-roof and lean-to, with occasional modifications between. Unless one has ample time and a desire to study their construction, it is better to have plans and estimates furnished by professional builders.
Span-roof houses are adapted to large places with spacious grounds, and particularly when an ornamental effect is desired. On account of their exposure on all sides, they require very careful attention, especially if used for early forcing of Grapes. Where early work is not desired, or for use without artificial heat, their disadvantage is not so apparent. Houses without artificial heat, known as cold graperies, were in earlier years in more general use than those with heat, but have about disappeared with the introduction of the modern economical heating apparatus, and the very great advantage in the use of the same, if only to a limited extent.
Lean-to houses, on account of their snug construction and protection from northerly or prevailing winds, are especially desirable for early forcing of Grapes (Fig. 975). Often a stable or other building can be utilized for the north side, but generally a wall of brick or stone is erected for this purpose. Such a wall can be covered on the outside with Ampelopsis tricuspidata, or Crimson Rambler roses, producing a beautiful and ornamental effect. A good house, on a small scale, can be made of hotbed sash.
Foundations for the other three sides or for a span-roof vinery can be constructed of masonry or wood. Masonry is preferable, as the conditions of requisite heat and moisture are very destructive to wood work, especially near the ground. With masonry, piers are erected, starting from solid ground and up to near the surface. They should be about 2 feet in length, with spaces of 2 feet between, and opposite each space a vine is to be planted inside the house, as hereafter described. Strong capstones, thick enough to come slightly above the surface of the border and about 18 inches wide, are then laid from pier to pier. On such a foundation a superstructure can be erected with some confidence. For the base of the superstructure masonry is preferable, about 18 inches in height being necessary before the glass work begins. A hollow wall, constructed of hard brick and cement, is desirable, and openings should be left for ventilation. The upper surface of these walls should be covered with cement. If constructed of wood, the same general plan should be carried out, using the most durable kind only.
Aside from its durability, masonry has an advantage over wood in being a better equalizer of temperature, and the heavy back wall of a lean-to house can be made of great value for this purpose. The general plans of the superstructure are shown in the illustrations. It should present as much glass surface as possible. The frame can be of iron or wood, as preferred. Light, heat and moisture are the great features desired, also a generous supply of air under favorable conditions. The glass should be of good quality, otherwise blisters will burn the foliage and fruit. Small ventilators covered with wire gauze should be built in the foundation walls, and large ones at the upper part of the house. Ventilation should always be free from a draft or sudden change of temperature. A draft is just as unpleasant to a sensitive vine in a house as it is to a human being, and if subjected to it disease is sure to follow, mildew being the first evidence; and yet a generous supply of air is a prime requisite in growing Grapes under glass, especially during the ripening period. Previous to that time the lower ventilators should be very carefully used, some growers never opening them until the Grapes begin to color, and the new growth and foliage are somewhat hardened. More or less air is always admitted around the glass in a very equable manner and thence to the upper ventilators.
The modern heating apparatus, consisting of a boiler in an adjacent pit for heating water, with circulating pipes throughout the house, as shown in illustrations on Greenhouse, is a very perfect and economical supplier of heat, and it should be erected by a practical builder. A little heat at a critical time will often save a house full of Grapes, and, while it can be dispensed with, its advantages are very material.
It is possible to fruit Grapes in benches in pots, removing the pots when the fruit is past is past, and using the house for other purposes (Fig. 977).
The Border – A good border is of great importance, as no permanent success can be obtained without it, and probably the difference between success and failure more often lies here than in any other features.
It is a good plan to construct vineries so that their borders can be somewhat elevated above the surrounding ground, as better drainage is thus secured, and good drainage is imperative (Fig. 975). The border should fill the house inside and extend outside adjacent to where the vines are planted at least 6 feet when first made, and to this outside border additions should be made every two or three years of from 2 to 4 feet until a width of 20 feet is secured. The border can hardly be made too rich, provided the material is well decomposed. A mixture of six parts good loamy turf from an old pasture or piece of new ground, and one part of well prepared manure, one part old plaster or mortar, and one part of ground bone, all to be well composted together, will meet all the requirements. If the subsoil is clay, a foundation of old brick and mortar is very desirable to insure drainage. The border above this should be from 2 to 3 feet in depth. No trees or shrubs should be permitted to extend their roots into it, a very common cause of trouble, and nothing whatever should be grown on it, although the temptation to try a few melons or some lettuce is often too great to be overcome, and these probably do a minimum of damage. In such a border, if properly supplied with water, the vine roots will remain at home, and not go wandering off into trouble. Where extra early work is not desired, no attempt should be made to keep the frost entirely out of the border during the winter, as this is apt to result in a heavy, sodden surface in spring. It is better to spade it up roughly just before winter and cover with a good coat of manure, permitting the frost to enter the ground some inches. In the spring it is dug over again and, when raked off, presents a rich, lively surface. The inside border is to be covered with a coat of well-rotted manure, and spaded up and well watered at the time of starting the vines. For midseason work, from February 15 to March 1 is the proper time to do this in New York state, the inside border carrying the vines nicely until the outside border is in shape a month or more later. Then without hard forcing early Grapes can be brought in by the last of June or July, and the later ones through the following two or three months. It is much better to store late Grapes in modern Grape rooms, where they can be kept fresh and plump for several months through the winter, than to attempt extra early work by starting vines in heated borders in November and December.
The Vines – The amateur should purchase these from some nurseryman of established reputation. Vines 1 or 2 years old are better than older ones. For supporting the vines, light case-iron brackets are secured to the rafters, and these support wires running lengthwise of the house about 15 inches from the glass, and to these wires the vines are tied as fast as they grow. The vines are to be planted inside the house about a foot from the front wall and about 4 feet apart, placing one opposite each opening in the foundation as before described. It is not desirable to plant them along the back wall of a lean-to house. They should be cut back to two or three buds near the ground, and when these start the strongest shoot only is selected to training and the others rubbed off. As this shoot advances it is tied to the wires, and it may reach the limit of the house by July 1, or perhaps not until September 1, depending on the care, the vigor of the vine, and the border. Once there, the end is pinched and the cane continues to strengthen and increase in size and store up material in the lateral buds until the end of the season, when it is taken down and pruned to one-third its length, laid on the ground and covered from the sun for the winter. Care should be taken that mice do not eat out the buds, as once out they can never be restored. In the spring of the second year, or as soon as it is desired to start the vines, they are tied up again, and the terminal shoot again trained to the top of the house, where it is stopped as before. Any fruit appearing on this shoot should be removed. The lateral shoots that start out each way below the terminal should be thinned to about 12 to 15 inches apart on each side. This is an important feature, especially if we adopt the spur system of pruning, which we will first consider, for we are now establishing our vine for a long term of years, and it is desirable to have it symmetrical with the side shoots, and fruit evenly distributed over its entire length. An example of a well balanced vine is given in the illustration of the Muscat Hamburg. A few clusters of fruit may be taken from this part of the vine this second year, and the laterals should be pinched at two eyes beyond the cluster, and as they break pinched again through the season. As soon as the leaves fall, the vines are again taken down for pruning. The terminal should be shortened about one-half and the side shoots cut back to a bud very close to the main stem, when it goes through the winter as before.
At the beginning of the third year the terminal again goes to the top of the house without fruit, when it is stopped and the laterals are allowed to bear as before, say not more than one pound of fruit per foot of the main stem. We now have our vine established to the top of the house, and the only pruning in after years is to cut the laterals each year close to the main stem. A bud will nearly always be found in the first one-eighth inch, sometimes several of them. When these start, the strongest is selected and the other rubbed off, unless one is desired for training to the opposite side to fill a vacancy there. When the vines attain full strength, two pounds of fruit per foot of main stem can be grown, but heavy loads require great care. Too heavy a load causes shanking, and then all is lost. The stems of the berries wither and the fruit turns sour before ripening. Rigid pinching of the laterals is very important. Commence at the second joint beyond the cluster, or about 18 inches from the main stem, and pinch thereafter as fast as new shoots break and show a leaf. Pinch early and often. It has been said that a good gardener can carry the summer prunings from a large vinery for an entire season in his vest pocket. Some require a wheelbarrow. At the place where the laterals start, a spur soon forms on the main stems, from which the system takes its name. It often becomes several inches in length and quite ungainly. This spur system of pruning is represented in Figs. 978-980.
In the other system of pruning, known as the “long rod” or “long cane” system, a new cane is grown up from a bud near the ground every year as often as desired to replace the old one, which is entirely removed. It is often desirable to do this. If the vine is well established, this new cane can be fruited its entire length the first season, the laterals being pinched, as before described. It will produce finer fruit, but it is not as safe with a heavy load as an old cane.
An ample supply of water judiciously and freely used, particularly at the time of starting the vines, is an absolute necessity. It should not be applied in the house, however, during the period of blossoming, as a dry air is advantageous for the transfer of the pollen for fertilization.
An important feature is thinning the clusters and establishing the load a vine has to carry. This requires experience and judgment. As a rule, about one-half the clusters should be removed – often more – are being taken to balance the load evenly on each side. This should be done as early as the general form of the clusters can be seen, except with the Muscats and other shy setting kinds, when it may be well to wait for the berries to set, and some clusters set perfectly while others fail.
Thinning the berries should be attended to promptly, selecting cool days and morning for this work. Close growing kinds, like Alicante, cannot be commenced on too early after setting, and it is much better to crowd this work than to have it crowd the operator. In many varieties one-third to one-half the berries have to be removed. Experience is the only guide in this. A pointed stick is very useful with the vine scissors, and never touch the clusters with the fingers.
Tying up the shoulders of the clusters is necessary to permit a free circulation of air and light, otherwise the interior may decay, and, once started, the cluster is soon gone. The principal diseases or troubles to guard against are mildew and red spider. The remedy for the former is sulfur, and for the latter moisture. Mildew is generally brought on by a sudden change of temperature. A vigorous condition of the vine has much to do in resisting it. Red spider will almost always appear in the hot weather of July and August if the vines are allowed to become to dry.
Thrips are sometimes very injurious, but can be controlled with nicotine, which, if properly applied, will not injure the fruit. Thrips and red spider, if not taken in time, multiply rapidly, and “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” in these cases.
Perhaps, in a general way, the most important requisite of all is a large amount of enthusiasm and love for the work. This is necessary to insure the continued care and culture requisite to permanent success.
The Fruit Varieties – As said before, very many varieties exist, but probably not one-half of these are in active cultivation at the present time. Varieties are adapted to localities, soils, climates etc. Perhaps 50 have been grown under glass in this country. Of these we will consider a few of the more prominent.
The Black Hamburg is more extensively grown and of more value for this purpose than all others put together, because it meets the requirements of the ordinary cultivator, and will stand abuse and neglect and still give fair results better than any other kind. It rarely gives very large clusters, but is a free bearer, sets perfectly, will carry heavy loads and matures early. Under better care the appearance and improvement in quality is remarkable, and it can be made as good as the best. It is the variety with which the novice begins. Many houses consist entirely of Black Hamburgs, and many that do not would give far better satisfaction if they did.
Muscat of Alexandria is the best of the white varieties for general cultivation. It requires a higher temperature and longer season than the Black Hamburg to come to perfection, and will keep longer after cutting than that kind. When well grown and ripened it may be taken as a standard of quality. See Fig. 980.
Muscat Hamburg is a black Grape, probably a cross between the two above named varieties, and presenting marked characteristics of each. It has beautiful tapering clusters of fine quality.
Barbarossa is a good variety for those ambitious to grow large clusters, and when well grown is of fine quality. It is a late black Grape, requiring a long season to ripe well, but repays for the trouble by keeping thereafter for a long time. Clusters frequently grow to 8 or 10 pounds in weight, measuring about 24 inches each way, and they have been grown to more than double this weight.
Other large-growing varieties are the White Nice and Syrian, the latter of which is said to be the kind that the spies found in the land of promise. Clusters of 20 to 30 pounds weight are common to these two coarse-growing kinds, but their quality is so poor that they are now rarely grown.
Grizzly Frontignan is a beautifully mottled pink Grape – quite a deep pink sometimes – and has long, slender clusters. In quality and flavor it is unsurpassed by any other Grape, and it ripens rather early.
Royal Muscadine is an early white Grape of fair quality and good habit; frequent in English houses.
Gros Colman, a large black Grape of fine quality and a late keeper, is now grown largely for commercial purposes in England and sent to this side to supply our wants in this line in spring. The berries frequently measure 4 ½ inches around, and it therefore requires early and severe thinning.
Alicante is a black Grape of very distinct character, seeming to depart somewhat from the vinifera type, very juicy, and of fair quality. It has a very thick skin, and is about the best for long keeping.
Lady Downs is another late black Grape of good quality, but not adapted to all localities. Rose Chasselas, a small red Grape, is the earliest and very beautiful. Trentham Black, the earliest black Grape, has small clusters, but large, soft berries quite like Alicante. Foster Seedling is a beautiful midseason, amber-colored Grape, with large clusters and berries sometimes liable to crack. Madresfield Court Muscat is a midseason Grape – fine in quality, but also inclined to crack. This trouble can often be controlled by twisting or slitting the stems of the clusters, thereby checking the flow of sap.
Many other popular varieties are described in various works devoted to Grape culture.
– D.M. Dunning