Sunday, March 25, 2018

The toughest of the tough

At least a decade ago I bought a bunch of grape cuttings from Lon Rombough a grape guru in Oregon.  I lined them out and then got distracted.  Blackberries invaded the little nursery plot and I despaired.

I looked the blackberry brambles over last fall with the intention of mowing, spraying and tilling them into submission.  Then I noticed a few grape vines duking it out with those blackberries.  Of course the identities of the vines are now a mystery but I remember a few of the varieties I purchased:

Monastery Muscat.  One of the parents is Alden (pictured above).  MM is a seedless muscat flavored grape and all proceeds go to the Brigittine Monks of Amity Oregon.
Swenson Red.  A seeded table grape.  Growers claim that deer walk past all the other grape varieties to eat these first.
Rombough Seeldess.  This is a picture of one of its parents as pictures of RS are scarce.

Sometimes one problem solves another
I have been lamenting the wide spacing between my orchard rows.  I have huge amounts of sunlight growing grass.

The original spacing of the trees was much closer and I took out every other row so I could actually walk through my orchard and pick the fruit.  That left me with rows of trees 25 feet apart.

And then it struck me...A single wire grape trellis only takes up about five feet and the canes are flexible and easy to walk past.

Surveyors tape marks the newly planted vines.  The tree in the background is a pear.
The idea was probably planted because each tree has its own support post.  Fruit trees that are whipped by the wind do not produce as much fruit as trees that are supported.  My orchard LOOKS like a vineyard without wires.

I have one more wide aisle I can run grapes and those will be a wine grape called Lucy Kuhlman.  Like the grapes growing in the blackberries, Lucy proved herself to be one of the toughest of the tough.

Grapes are not nearly as productive as apples.  An acre of productive orchard can easily produce 40,000 pounds of apples while an acre of wine grapes might produce 5,000 pounds of grapes.  If you bully the numbers into submission, that works out to about a half gallon of wine per vine or eight ounces (a generous glass of wine) per foot of trellis.

Still, it feels good to have a plan to use the sunlight falling on grass and I cleared out the blackberry thicket so I can put it back into garden crops.  If the vines do not work out I can always pull out the grape vines.

1 comment:

  1. And things work out, and your more productive! Nothing wrong with that!


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