Growing Grapes In The North

There are different varieties of grapes around the world located in different temperature zones. It doesn’t matter where they set their roots. In general, growing grapes is challenging, fun, and rewarding.

Obviously, grapes taste differently across various parts of the globe. There are many types and varieties. Some grapes are for the table, some for jellies and jams, some for juices and wines, as well as those with and without seeds. There are also different grape growers. Some are reluctant in growing them in freezing temperatures while others consider the snowy environment an ideal site for growing.

Growing grapes in northern climates can prove to be challenging, but far from impossible. If you’ve stopped growing grapes because you weren’t that successful in growing them before or you thought it was impossible, change your view. One can grow grapes in many different ways which includes container gardening. Grapes can also be grown in much cooler climates. All you need is to equip yourself with some economical materials and your own self-determination to grow the plants through rough times.

Stocking Up Grapevines

If growing grapes in the north is among your plans, begin by securing a cold resilient root stock. Remember this because this is fundamental to set your vineyard off to a good start.

There are different varieties of cold resilient root stock. Thankfully, new varieties are developed yearly.

Juice and Jelly Grapes

  • Concord – cold hardy in zone 4
  • Valiant
  • Chontay
  • Van Buren
  • Schuyler
  • Hardy Worden

White Wine Varieties

  • Frontenac Gris- cold hardy, even in zones 3 & 4
  • Prairie Star
  • Louise (Swenson)
  • Lacrescent
  • Niagara
  • LaCrosse- cold hardy, even in zones 3 & 4
  • St. Pepin- cold hardy, even in zones 3 & 4
  • Aurore
  • Cayuga

Table Grapes

  • Bluebell
  • Summersweet
  • Somerset Seedless
  • Ontario
  • Buffalo
  • Seneca

Red Wine Varieties

  • Frontenac – cold hardy, even in zones 3 & 4
  • Sabrevois
  • King of the North
  • Sipaska
  • Clinton

Planting Grapes In The North

Grapes will not grow in all types of loam. A well-drained soil rich in organic matter is essential because it provides nutrients for the plant. Sandy or gravelly soils are ideal for grape growth. However, rocky or clay soil is abundant in most areas in the north. The soil makes it difficult to grow grapes there. This is why it is important to add compost to the soil to make it nutritious enough for the grapes to thrive and grow. This increases the chance of growing grapes in the north.

Choose a site that is on a gentle slope where direct sunlight is accessible for most of the day. Heat and sunlight are necessary for the grapes to grow and ripen. The slope will also serve as drainage, not allowing water to settle around the plants.

Before planting the grapes, allow the danger of frost to pass. Plant the grapes in a nutritious loam. Dig a hole that is wide and deep enough for the grape plant. Gently fill in soil around and make sure to eliminate airpockets. Plant the root stocks approximately three to four feet apart. Never forget to water the grape plants after and keep them moist during the growth period. Do not leave the plants soaking wet.

Grape plants can also be grown in containers. However, they will need a 3-4 feet stake to support the plant once it begins to bear grape fruits. These containers can be brought inside the house (or in the basement or garage) during the winter if you live in a rough northern environment.

Grape Problem

Frost is a destroyer of grapes in the northern area. Whenever there are frost warnings, place tarps over the grapes to protect them at night. Make sure to remove them the following morning or else the leaves will accidentally be “steamed” by sunlight, thus destroying them.

How To Protect And Winterize Grape Vines

Provide plastic sleeves that can cover the new root stock. These will shield the root stock from rough winds and sunscald. These are affordable and readily available on the market Another way is to mound up straw or hay all around the grape plants. This will help winterize the plants before the first snowfall. Make sure to remove or spread it around during spring, or else it will cause an unruly mess that can cause root rot and mold growth.

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