Taking Care Of Grape Plants

How to tell if grapes are ripe?

A newly planted vine can take about 5 to 6 years to produce a good grape crop, don’t pick the grapes until they are their peak, grapes will not ripen off the vine. Weather and factors in the environment can affect the quality of the grape and the harvest quality. Larger table grapes are produced by rich soils, while, better wine grapes are produced by slightly poorer soils. In order to ripen properly, grapes need mild, warm weather and proper and full exposure to the sun.

  • Check the grape’s color, the color should not be the only way of inspecting maturity, it can help us out with some helpful signs. The grapes turn green to purple, red, white or blue depending on the type as they approach maturity.
  • If a grape is mature or almost mature the grape should be large and firm. Size is an important indicator to check the maturity of grapes. All grapes reach an adequate size as they ripen but table grape varieties are usually larger than wine grapes.
  • Examine the seeds by cutting the grape open, the seeds change in color from green to brown as the grapes ripen.
  • Tasting the grape is another way to check the ripeness of the grapes. Flavor and sweetness is the true teste to check if it’s ripe. Ripe grapes should taste mildly acidic, flavorful and sweet.

Grape Plants


  • If heavy rains are imminent when grapes are near maturity, pick them before rains as the rainfall might cause the skin to crack or rot. It’s important to consider weather patterns to determine harvest time. If the temperature drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, grapes won’t ripen.
  • Grapes should be on the vine as long as possible to ripen, but as soon as they are ripe, you must pick them otherwise the birds will get them, they are another problem late in the season.

How to treat black rot on grapes?

A fungal disease that stays in grapevines for many years without any treatment in called black rot. Yellow circular lesions on leaves are the earliest signs of the disease, as the disease spreads to the entire plant, the yellow spots turn brown and sprout fungal fruit-like bodies that are very similar to pepper grains. The lesions may encircle the petioles of individual leaves, thus killing them, as the disease advances. The fungus then slowly spreads to the shoots, which form large black lesions, they mostly look elliptical. The actual damage is done by the black rot from fruit systems.

In a lot of cases, fruits show infection when they are only halfway grown, same brown spots like the leaves begin to appear on the grapes. What remains of the fruit basically is a tiny raisin-like fruit due to the sinking and rotting of the brown spots. The areas soften and what is left of the fruit shrivels up covered in fungal fruiting bodies. It’s very difficult to stop black rot once it spreads to the growing fruit, many farmers would consider the crop to be lost and prevent it in the next crop. The period between bud break until about four weeks after bloom is the best time to treating black rot of grapes.

  • The signs to look for are lesions on leaves and shoots of grapes, dark circles on leaves and dark raisin-like berries to confirm it is indeed black rot.
  • With a sterile knife, cut off the affected parts of the vine, remove all spotted leaves and black grapes. Make sure to remove all affected parts and be extremely thorough in the process.
  • To dry out the newly cut parts of the plant and to prevent the rot from spreading to the other sections of the plant, place fans in the growing area to keep the plants dry. Black rot is very contagious and can easily spread by the dripping of the water from another part of the plant. To keep the disease in check, it is important to dry the plants as quickly as possible after rainfall or watering.
  • Make a paste of cooking oil and cinnamon and apply it to the remaining tissues of the plant, when applied to newly cut parts of the plant, this paste will seal the wound and keep it dry.
  • You can apply fungicides like myclobutanil or captan according to the label directions, you can re-apply the fungicide in 2-week intervals until the black rot has been completely cured.

How to protect grapes from birds?

Grapes are very hard to protect from birds. They are comparatively easier to grow. It’s not easy to defend your grapes from a bunch of hungry birds, but it is possible. There are several solutions, each has its own drawbacks and advantages. There are a few options, you can select best suited to your liking.

Bird netting

The go-to solution for years now is bird netting, but birds like mocking birds find their way into the grapes, and once they do, the crop will be eaten very quickly. If you drape the netting onto the vine, birds can often find a way in, not to mention the tangled mess of vine leaves, tendrils and the net. It will be frustrating to deal with after harvest. To do it properly, install T’s made of PVC pipe that stands over the vines to drape the netting over. Use a properly sized netting, ¾ inches will stop most birds, but ½ inches is better for the smaller birds. Make sure to take it off immediately after harvest time.

Paper bags

An issue faced by fruit growers is that grapes are not always grown on a standard trellis. They are often on patio covers, pergolas, arbors or ornamental trellises. These grapes are impossible to net, there are other options like spinning pie pans and metallic tape, but once the birds find out they are not a real threat, they help themselves.

You can use paper lunch bags, these bags come in large quantities, and disposable, they are also very inexpensive. They take a lesser time to install than a net and withstand normal rainfall, they also allow the grapes to breathe. You need a hand stapler to install the bags, slide the bag over the cluster, the top edge of the bag should be over the stem of the cluster,. After centering the bag, staple both sides close to the stem, tight against it. To look for ripeness, you can make a slit in the bag and to close it again, you can staple it shut. The only drawback, is that is squirrels get really curious they will tear the bags.

Grape plant information : 

Grape Plants

  1. Most common hurdles: root rot, black rot, birds, powdery mildew, leaf spot.
  2. Harvest time: about 1 to 3 years after planting, when grapes are plump and full-flavored.
  3. Soil pH: 6.0 to 7.0
  4. Soil type: sandy, clay, loamy
  5. Exposure to sun: minimum of 8 hours
  6. Planting time: early or mid-spring
  7. Best partners: geranium, oregano, peas, mustard, chive, clover and blackberry
  8. Worst partners: garlic, potato, and radish
  9. Watering: at least once in 10 days during hot weather

Eliminate all weeds before planting if possible, weed around the base of the plant. You can either hoe out the weeds or hand-pull them. Grapevines are very sensitive to garden chemicals or weed-killers.

Pick grapes on a dry day, wet grapes cannot be stored well. Cut a complete cluster, leaving a bit of stem as a “handle”. Handle the grapes as little as possible for longer storage life.

Don’t immediately dig up the vines which seem to be winter-killed too soon, the roots might survive and send up new shoots

Grapes only need basic care, they are self-sufficient, which is a great thing for a gardener. To have excellent grape and harvest quality, you just need to follow a few simple steps.

Readmore: How To Fertilize Grapevines

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