Two questions for the group

and thank you in advance for your help!
I have a dozen fruit trees in an area where we tend to have late frosts. There is commercial fruit production with in 10 miles of here, but not right here. We are at 2700 ft elevation (Nampa ID). Pollination seems to be the main problem here, in that we can have some cold, windy weather when the trees are in bloom. This year I bought some Mason bees (aka blue orchard bees) in hopes of doing a little better. Has anyone had any experience with them, and is there some "must-do" practice involved with using them?
The other question(s) involves grapes and sugar content. Last year I let too much fruit hang and the grapes didn't taste as sweet, and didn't have the varietal flavor. I also didn't fertilize because I always get a terrific amount of vegetative growth with shoots sometimes running 20 ft in a single season, and I thought I'd slow em down a little.The questions are, are sugar content and flavor necessarily inversly proportional to yield? and as an aside, would using more P and K fertilizer and just holding the N have improved the sugar while restraining the vegetative growth? Any suggestions for a general fertilizer mixture for grapes and fruit? Would 10-20-20 be better than 16-16-16? I know I know, that was a lot more than 2 questions! Thank You!
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Hi Darwin, I don't have the answers you are looking for but I will make some comments. We tend to have cold breezy springs and very few bees even when the sun shines. We have no honey bees at all and very few bumble bees. I have often thought I should buy some bees to help out. I did some online research but never got around to buying the bees. This is probably the best of the web sites I saved: http://www.pollinatorparadise.com/Solitary_Bees/SOLITARY.HTM They way this winter has gone, I doubt that I have many live fruit buds left on my trees so I guess I'll not bother this year either.
Your grapes do seem to put on too much growth. Mine do that too. I think holding back on the nitrogen is a good idea. Beyond that, I really don't know for sure. You could try girdling some canes to see if the flavor is better on those canes. Remove a ring of bark about 3/16 th of an inch wide near where the side branches leave the main trunk. 3/16 inch is about right because it is wide enough to keep the sugars from migrating downward but narrow enough that it heals over before the end of the growing season. Remove the bark including the cambium but don't cut into the wood. Do it just before flowering if you need a heavier berry set. Do it after flowering if the clusters tend to be tight enough or too tight. Grapes will have washed out flavor if there is too much vegetative growth, if there is too much rain as they ripen, and if the weather is too cool. Some of that, you can't do much about.
Steve in the Adirondacks of northern NY
Darwin Vander Stelt wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

The better commercial wine growers will deliberatly reduce the yeild of their vines, sometimes drastically. When yeilds are not reduced the grapes are less flavourful, and produce inferior wine. The amount of sugar in ripe grapes will have a lot to do with the growing conditions, the most important of which is the weather - something you can't do anything about. If you reduce the yeild, you will allow the vines to concentrate flavour and sugar into fewer grapes - getting a tastier product. If you have more than a couple of vines, I'd suggest experimenting with allowing certain percentages of the vines to ripen 3/4, 1/2, and 1/4 of the grapes they set. It will allow you to find the comprimise between quality and quantity that best suits your taste.
Bonnie Punch
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.