grape growing

Am looking to grow grapes and was considering constructing a trellis out of 1 1/4" galvanized pipe. I was planning on driving the vertical runs about 3 feet below grade(frost line here) and running 1 1/4" horizontal piping runs about 7 feet high off them. A few concerns came to mind.....the horizontal runs will be about 10 feet long....is that long enough? The vines will be trained along the piping. Due to the size of the piping will it tend to get too hot for the vines as the direct sun shines on them, thus burning the vines and leaves? I'm in the northeast. Thanks in advance.
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Hi Bob, I saw the 3 foot deep frost and mention of northeast and wondered if you lived up here with me. Now I see your e-mail address and assume you are south of me. I live in the Adirondacks (Tupper Lake).
I suspect that heat will not be a problem. Pipe of that diameter will probably prevent the vines from climbing by themselves. You will have to tie the vines up. Don't tie them too tight when they are young (just in case I'm wrong about heat not being a problem). When they get bigger, there will be a lot of shade from all the grape leaves by mid summer. If by chance, heat does turn out to be a problem, all is not lost. Keep the galvanized frame but string plastic coated wire between the uprights and tie the vines to that.
I'm wondering if you have decided which varieties you will grow. Did you buy them yet? You are at least a zone warmer than here if you are anywhere near Albany. Even so, some of the good seedless varieties may be a little tender.
Right now I have Interlaken (it must be over 20 years old by now), Venus, Reliance and Vanessa. I once had seedless concord but it was a weak grower and died out. I had, until recently, Canadice. I didn't like it and I got rid of it. I can grow all of those here because I prune them each fall and take them down off the trellis. When laid down flat to the ground, they can survive. Otherwise, they would die down to the snow line each year.
I think Reliance is the best. It's a nice seedless red with good flavor. Vanessa is very similar with slightly smaller grapes and a very vigorous vine.
Steve
Bob wrote:

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hamster...and i was wondering...do either of you ever have troubles with japanese beetles defoliating your grape leaves as well as this particularly HUGE catepillar devouring what's left?? man!!! i had SO MANY catepillars on my concord grape i had (ahem) catepillar manure...enough to form quite a manure heap and make me wonder if there's any benefit to catepillar manure?
at any rate, to make a short story long, can you guys suggest any ORGANIC method to protecting the poor little grapies from these horrid buggers??
thanks, in advance.
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Over the years, my biggest grape pest has been the grape flea beetle. They wouldn't be so bad if they only ate holes in the grown leaves but they also arrive early. The early ones wait for the leaf buds to swell and they eat a hole and hollow out the center. Some years, I take a thimble sized amount of pesticide (such as Sevin) and use an artist brush to paint it on the biggest of the early buds. That doesn't answer your question. I'm just talking. Japanese beetles.... not too many years ago, I had never seen one around here. I was kind of hoping it was too cold for them to live here. Then one year, I found one. The next year, there were a few, then several, then a bunch, then last year, there were enough to actually do some real damage to the grape vines. Assuming the trend continues, I'll probably spray them with something this summer. I've never had the caterpillars. Do you have them every year or just last year? If they return, it would be interesting to find out exactly what they are and what they turn into when they grow up. How organic do you need to be? Are you willing to use a natural insecticide? Rotenone would probably be effective on both pests. Maybe an oil spray? There are horticultural oils mad from vegetable oil. If you want to use no pesticides of any kind, that probably only leaves a physical barrier. Have you ever used Remay fabric? You might try draping some of that over the top and sides of your grape vine during the Japanese beetle season. A few might get in under it but I bet most would just land on the fabric and wish they were inside. Let us know what you try and how it turns out.
Steve
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Here's one way to deal with Japanese beetles--get a small bucket, fill partially with water, and add a good squirt or two of liquid soap. The type of soap is not important, it serves to break the surface tension of the water. Then go in the garden early in the morning and again late in the afternoon, when the beetles are a bit sluggish, knock them off the leaves, and let them fall into the bucket. They will drown and you can dispose of them as you see fit.
If you are diligent about this over the course of several days, you can make a huge dent in the population. It doesn't take long, and no spraying is involved. In my garden the beetles congregate on a few favored types of plants, so I do a quick pass twice a day.
The other thing you can do is pray for starlings 8-)....I know they are often thought of as undesirable birds, but I've never seen other birds eat Japanese beetles. The last few summers they have cleaned up the beetles on my cannas, and I was grateful.
Cheers, Sue
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SugarChile wrote:

This could be a very good thing. I wonder if starlings everywhere have learned to eat Japanese beetles? Perhaps this is a new food for them and it may take a while for all of the starling population to figure it out. Probably wishful thinking but it would be nice if a natural control appeared that would keep the beetle damage tolerable. My main control has been to grab the ones I see, toss them onto a brick and slam another brick on top before they fly away. I do know about the bucket of soapy water trick but never bothered to go back to the house to get the bucket. I'll have to try it this summer. Their habit of dropping straight down when threatened makes it perfect for them. Thanks for the reminder.
Steve
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you can run it off your garden tractor's battery. We have serious problem here in Ohio with Asian beetles. They look like dull orange lady bugs.
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It just crossed my mind that a Bt spray would certainly put a stop to the caterpillar invasion. Get some Dipel or other brand and get the kind made to be mixed with water and sprayed on. Don't bother with the dust on type.
Steve (again)
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i'm in central ca and we grow lots of grapes here... frequently over 100* F from may to oct

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snipped-for-privacy@nycap.rr.com writes:

PVC pipe around the galvanized pipe which would solve the possible heat problem. When the vines are mature, the leaves should prevent potentially damaging excess heat when, eventually, the PVC, not being designed for out-of-the-ground exposure to sun and elements, will degrade. It can then be removed if you want as it will be quite "cuttable" by that time. If you decide to do that, you will, of course, put the PVC pipe on the lengths before you fasten the joints. It might look a bit peculiar at the joints with the gap in the PVC, but that will fill with leaves and be hidden. Of course, you could put a big artificial flower there to disguise it until the vines are tall enough to conceal it (or a bunch of artificial grapes!).<g> Seriously, you can probably think of a way to disguise it if you want to do that.
A custom arbor trellis is in the future for my new kiwi plants but in the meantime, they have a temporary trellis which can be removed when the permanent one is built. I have aluminum electrical conduit supporting the plants on the lower horizontals with PVC on the upper parts, and it seems to not be a problem with heat on the aluminum which was a concern. It does get quite hot on sunny summer days but, thus far, it hasn't caused apparent damage. The switch to the PVC was also because of heat concern, though the permanent trellis will be metal.
It seems logical that the leaves of your new plants will protect the plant on the verticals as they vine up the pipe and the same would be true of the horizontals, keeping in mind that there will be leaves to shade the pipe during any time of year that it might get hot enough to potentially damage the plants. Something else you might do to reduce the heat transference is to fill the vertical pipes with sand or dirt once they are in the ground to help reduce conduction though that would be entirely experimental since it would still conduct along the pipe. If it were me and concerned about the heat issue, I'd use the PVC sleeves. Green might seem more appealing, but black blends in better and tends to disappear in the mind's eye as well as not obviously fading. I have a black PVC support for the bird feeder in the middle of the garden and it doesn't attract the eye like green or white would.
BTW, you will want to be certain to imbed your pipe in a non-corrosive material or by the time the vines are mature, the pipe will be weakened/corroded. Definitely consider cutting it and adding a joint about a foot above the soil level since the damage will be when your grapes vines are mature and at their very best many years from now. Depending on your soil, consider a good layer of gravel under it to pull away the excess water (under, not around). I'd also put a PVC sleeve (at least an inch larger than the metal) around the pipe and fill the space betweent the pipes with a good sand to keep the soil contact away from the metal pipe. That way the corrosive action of the concrete and soil is on the PVC and not the pipe. Many years ago, I typed a very revealing report by a pipe supplier sales person that described in detail the corrosive nature of different soils on the many types of metal pipe. He had definitely done his research and was asked to present it at many seminars across the U.S. and received some prestigious industry awards for it. Some last as little as 15-20 years! Having replaced water lines to older houses, I have no doubt this is a major problem. I worked for a utilities contractor, and he took some pretty rough-looking stuff out of the ground. Remember what you see is not what is supporting the vines; the main support is the part you cannot see since everything else rests on that.
Enjoy your grape adventure.
Glenna
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wrote:

First.. I'm compelled to say, if you live in the city limits, check with zoning folks to see if there are any rules as to the height of your grape support. I'm in the process at the moment (just called the code enforcement people this morning) with dealing with the issue that my posts are too tall, over 6' , because the jerk next door that the woman who lives there married recently, complained that they were too tall. They've been there for 10 years, and as soon as he saw a friend out there putting up braces to support the corners he was out there saying "you can't do that! You can't do that it's against the code" *sigh* He's taken it upon himself to complain about everything he can since he moved in.. hates me for some reason. Dun no if it's that I'm fat, or he took what I had said about trimming the trees growing into the phone lines as a threat. Just said I didn't know if they phone company could charge him for trimming if the lines caused an outage. Dun no, but he didn't trim them and I had an outage because of it.
Anyway, I'm likely to have to cut them to 6' because of the twit.
My father used to be the water master for a geothermal heating company, and often had to replace water lines where there were still chunks of pipe that was still sturdy, so he used 3 pipes to support the grapes on the west side of the back yard (those are going to be a joy to cut). One was just replaced as it had rotted off at ground level after 22 years or so. The exterior of the pipes was corroded with calcifications and such. So you might be able to roughen them and put some mixed up cement or plaster if it's really bothering you, but unless your sun beats down harder than this zone 6 high desert area does, I don't figure it's going to get too hot to bother grape vines.
However, how long of a span are you planning to run these horizontal pipes before you put in another vertical support? Some of the grape varieties are VERY vigorous and it's amazing how much growth they can produce over the course of a summer! I have Himrods, a seedless green grape, that regularly puts out 20 to 30 feet of vine over the course of a year, and the weight load can get pretty amazing too when they bear heavily, particularly if you are like me, and don't get them pruned when you should ;-)
Himrods can put out a lot of vine by the third year and start cropping then and every year after that. Himrods have long loose clusters, others like Mars and Venus have tight large clusters, Canadice have LOTS of tight clusters with medium sized berries. They too are vigorous vines. Their skins can get pretty tough if they don't get adequate water but they're pretty sweet. Concords and Ontario would be vigorous heavy producers. Interlaken often freeze to the ground as do thompson seedless grapes in my area zone 6. Some folks who live on the top of a hillside manage to grow them, as the cold flows down the hill away from them. But not here, the one year they produced anything they were smaller than baby peas. I dug them out.
I used 10 gauge black wire for supporting the grapes run through redwood posts. Wire works well in that it does give a little if the grapes decide to hunker down and pull on it. I can cut the vines loose in the winter or spring .. stretch them a little, and they're good to go. They *might* pull down a more rigid support. I can't visualize the pipe size ..I know I know.. you told me but I gotta see it .. to SEE it ;-) Grapes are tenacious things that can surprise you with how much they can grow and how many grapes they can make. One season I think I gave away a pickup bed full..long standard pickup bed!
I have one that is my favorite I started from cuttings from a friend's vine. In their yard it had seeds. In mine, it's been seedless .. except for the years when the growing conditions gave all the seedless grapes little soft seeds. That particular grape is soooo good that it floods the *entire* mouth, cheeks, roof of the mouth, and tongue with so much flavor it's just amazing. I gotta get some others started because the jerk that's complaining about the height of the posts supporting the grapes, is letting a black walnut grow right next to the fence where that grape is, jugulone put out by the roots could kill it.
Good luck with your grapes, but check those city/county codes!
Janice
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