‘Niagara Seedless’ is an excellent variety for regions with short growing seasons. Light green, turning pale yellow to whitish when ripe. Long, tapering clusters of large berries. Useful for desserts, juice and wine.
‘Catawba’ produces large, pink, seedless berries on vigorous, hardy vine. Fruit useful for fresh eating, but also used in the production of pink and rose wines. Over 100 years old, ‘Catawba’ produces a medium-bodied, sweet, fragrant wine with a strawberry-like flavor. A good choice for colder regions with short growing seasons.
‘Mars’ is a vigorous, blue seedless grape. Clusters are medium sized, and vines are resistant to several major diseases. Foliage is late to leaf out, avoiding damage in frost-prone areas. Vines may bear fruit precociously, and production should be controlled on young vines to promote strong establishment.
‘Fredonia’ produces large clusters of blue-black medium to large berries ripen early and keep well. This V. labrusca is a standard juice and dessert variety.
‘Reliance’ produces large clusters of red, medium-sized seedless berries. Tender skins and melting flesh with a sweet flavor. Cold hardiness is among the highest of the seedless varieties.
‘Concord Seedless’ yields plump grapes with deep purple color and lots of juice. A single vine yields 30-40 fruit clusters.
‘Jupiter’ produces abundant, beautiful clusters of succulent seedless grapes that are good table grapes. As the grapes ripen in early midseason, their reddish-blue color ripens to deep blue. Good disease resistance.
SITE: Grapes like a moderately acid soil (pH 5.5-6.0) and are not heavy feeders, so working some compost into the soil is all that is needed to prepare the site. Grapes prefer full sun to light shade and don’t like wet feet. Good air circulation will reduce disease and mildew problems. Space grapes 8’ apart in rows 10-12’ apart. Soil should be lightly packed around each plant and well watered until roots have a chance to establish.
PRUNING: Since grapes can be very prolific and only bear fruit on 1 year old wood, they can be pruned and trained to get the most abundant harvest. The 4 arm Kniffen system is a basic pruning method commonly used: use two strands of galvanized steel wires at 3’ and 6’ high on posts spaced 16’ apart. Grapes should be pruned in late winter or early spring before the buds have begun to grow.
In the first year, grapes should be tied to a stake and only the strongest two shoots alllowed to grow. The second year, pick the stronger of the two canes to be the main trunk of the vine. If the cane has only reached the first wire then restrict it to two shoots. If it has reached the top wire, once the shoots begin to grow remove all but the strongest 4 or 5 at each wire, these will be the arms of your grape vine. The third year it’s time to select the strongest cane going in each direction at each wire and prune to 3-4 buds in each cane. These will provide the fruiting wood for next year. The first fruiting year will be the fourth. Select the stronger cane at each wire and prune to 6-10 buds each. This cane will bear the grapes. Also leave one shoot in each direction pruned to 2-3 buds. This will supply next year’s fruiting canes and is called a spur. Subsequent years require pruning back the previous year’s wood and selecting a new fruiting branch and spur.
FERTILIZER: Feed with compost or organic fertilizer about a month after planting in spring or summer. Fall planted grapes can wait for fertilizer until the following spring.
HARVEST: Grapes are harvested in the fall. Fruit color will change before the grapes are actually ripe, so it’s a good idea to taste before picking — fruit will not ripen once it has been picked! Fruit is useful for fresh eating, pies, jelly and jams. Also used to produce America’s original dessert wine, ‘Concord’ is famous for its deep purple color and classic sweetness.