If for city dwellers spring is first of all the enjoyment of long-awaited warm days, birdsong and bright sunshine, then for villagers and inveterate gardeners – the start of the same long-awaited next gardening season. And so it’s time to go to work!
We have already told you the main rules of spring care for cherry, pear, apple trees. Today let’s talk about how to take care of the vineyard at the very beginning of the season. How to help your favorite berry crop “wake up”, actively go into growth, stay strong and healthy, and, finally, thank you with a great harvest.
So, what important work in the vineyard is shown in March, April, and May? Let’s find out together.
Remove winter coverings, inspect the vines
When to remove winter cover from the grapes – depends on the climate of your region. The snow must come off, the soil must dry out and sudden temperature changes (stable minus at night against the background of daytime bright sunshine and warming) must stop. In the middle belt, this period is usually around mid-April.
If a light frost persists at night, you can open the grapes, but for a few days, do not take them out of the trench yet. This way you will protect the vine from sharp winds and temperature fluctuations, but at the same time, it will get the necessary amount of sunlight and air.
After removing the cover, be sure to inspect the vine. Small areas of mold can be ignored – it should disappear in a few hours once the bushes are weathered. But a variety of newly formed wounds, breaks, and cracks are better treated without delay with garden paste (RanNet, BlagoSad, Zhivica, etc.)
Prune the vines in spring
Once the positive weather becomes stable, prune the grapes – it should be done in time before the sap starts to flow!
Uncovered varieties of grapes are pruned even earlier, in March.
First, remove broken-off, frozen and damaged shoots as well as fruit-bearing, excessively thin, and fatty shoots. Then start pruning the remaining shoots, leaving 7-12 eyelets (buds) on each one.
Make the cuts with a sharp, disinfected tool. Make them straight (perpendicular to the branches), even, leaving no splits or burrs.
If the vine after pruning strongly “cries” (releases a large amount of sticky liquid-dust), cover the cuts with the already mentioned garden paste (RanNet, BlagoSad, Zhivica, etc.).
If you intend to engage in grape propagation in the season, at the time of pruning, also cut single-tree cuttings and soak them in water with a rooting stimulant dissolved in it (Heteroauxin, Kornevin, RootStim) for 1-2 days. Then send the rooted cuttings to individual containers for rearing.
Protect the vineyard from return frosts
The opened “waking up” grapes calmly tolerate short-term frosts down to -5°C, but what to do with a sudden sharp cold snap when the plant is already vegetating and buds have swollen or even sprouted on the vine? Act now! After all, even a few hours of delay, in this case, can lead to the mass death of plants.
Several methods have been developed to protect the vineyard from such frosts. Apply these methods, depending on the area of your plantings, the stage of the plants’ vegetation, and your resources. These are:
Smoke in the vineyard: The warm, streaming smoke from fires, campfires, smoke bombs, and other combustion sources that envelops the plantings can help to solve the problem in the absence of wind gusts.
Heat Ventilation: Warm air streams from heat guns or fan heaters also work along the same lines as described above.
Sprinkling: abundant spraying of grape plants with tiny drops using various sprinklers or sprinklers a few hours before the predicted frost will provide them with an icy “coating” that protects the plant tissues from the coming frost.
Moisture watering: A preliminary abundant root watering with warm water, followed by covering the soil with cling film will also help plants cope with the cold. At the onset of frost, the foil is removed from the soil so that warm steam can begin to rise to the shoots and buds.
Covering: A layer of film or agrofiber, which should be additionally wrapped so that the cover does not touch the vine, will help to create an air layer that protects against sub-zero temperatures.
Drip irrigation: if your plants live not in the open ground, but under a film cover, in the greenhouse, to help them cope with a sudden cold snap can prolong abundant drip irrigation with a little warm water to create a greenhouse effect indoors.
Feeding grapes: foliar feeding with superphosphate and nitrate 10-24 hours before a cold snap, followed by a system of plant rehabilitation measures can also help to save the vine.
Treatment with cryoprotectants: special substances-cryoprotectants (Mival-Agro, Cropaid, Thiofer, etc.) can work as antifreeze, protecting pre-treated plants from frost.
Of course, in order not to be caught unawares by return frosts, it is better to take preventive measures in advance, as well as carefully monitor the spring weather by means of forecasts and, if possible, cultivate regionalized varieties and hybrids of grapes with late blossoming buds and ability to bear fruit from reserve (substitute) buds after the main shoot dies out.
Treat grapes for diseases and pests in spring
In spring, it is necessary to proceed to the first preventive treatment of the vineyard against diseases and pests in the season – the health of the vine throughout the season directly depends on it.
While the buds are still closed (dormant), dry tying of the vines to the trellis and treatment of the vineyard and soil with a 3% solution of copper sulfate is carried out. Spraying should be done around the end of April when the temperature is stable at 4-6°C (timing may vary by region).
In the period of bud swelling, the vineyard is treated against mildew, anthracnose, oidium and other diseases. Preparations: 1% Bordeaux liquid, Abiga-Pic, OxyHOM, Medea, Skor, Provizor, Sporobacterin, Trichocin, Bactophyte.
Prophylactic spraying is repeated during the period from bud blossoming to the appearance of 3-6 leaves on the shoot, and then – on the eve of flowering.
During bud opening grapes are treated with preparations against grape mite (Fitoverm, Fufanon Nova, Apollo, Aliot, etc.). Carry out this treatment in the phase of 9-12 leaves (before flowering begins).
Feed the grapes in the spring
Of course, you can not do without fertilizing the grapevine in the spring.
The first spring fertilization of grapes is carried out in the phase of bud swelling. It uses 90 g of urea, 60 g of superphosphate, and 50 g of potassium sulfate. They are dissolved separately in water, then poured into one container and bring the volume of liquid to 40 liters.
Mineral nitrogen fertilizer can be replaced by a bucket of 10% solution of cow dung or 5% solution of poultry manure.
Just before flowering, fertilize on the basis of the same preparations, but in a different ratio: 120 g of ammonium nitrate, 160 g of superphosphate, and 80 potassium sulfate per adult bush.
Also, do not neglect foliar feeding – before and immediately after flowering, spray the vine on the leaves with a solution of 40 g of urea, 50 g of superphosphate, 30 g of potassium sulfate, and 5 g of boric acid (these components are also separately dissolved in water, then poured into a container, bring the water volume to 10 liters).
Take up grafting in the spring
If you have grape cuttings harvested in the autumn, it’s time to graft them. Take the cuttings out of the cold, sharpen their tips and place them in a solution of an immunostimulant (Epin, etc.) 2 to 3 days in advance.
The procedure itself should be done in warm, dry weather (about 15°C), but without the scorching sun. The buds should already be swollen on the scion by the time of grafting – this usually occurs in April. There are various ways to graft grapes in the spring: by grafting, by split grafting, or by grafting up to the underground trunk. Read more about this in our next article.
Plant new grape seedlings in spring
And, of course, if you want to expand or renew your vineyard, you can start planting new seedlings in May.
If you already have cuttings from the spring pruning, they can be transplanted into the open ground after gradual hardening (it should warm up to at least 10°C). The same applies to seedlings bought in a garden center.
Prepare the planting pits in advance by digging the soil and filling the pits with a nutrient mixture of 20 kg of decomposed organic matter (e.g. hummus), 1.5 kg of wood ash, and 150 g of complex fertilizer (e.g. nitroammophoska or superphosphate).
Grapes are quite demanding culture in terms of care. So do not neglect the rules of its cultivation, because only in this case you will enjoy a good harvest year after year.