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
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!
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:
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:
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.
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