Saturday, 28 July 2012

Grapevine propagation: green cuttings.

Here is an easy way to propagate (clone) grapevines very quickly and in large numbers.  It is best done in mid-summer, when the vines are actively growing and the shoots are just starting to toughen a little bit.  With this method, you take green cuttings (as opposed to dormant cuttings taken in winter), dip the bottoms in rooting hormone ( ''Dip 'n Grow'' type...) and put them in rooting medium to root. 
   There are many advantages to doing it this way.  Cuttings can root in as little as a week or two, and start growing vigorously as soon as they root, giving you a very good sized plant by fall to add to you vineyard.  Many times, they will grow to the same size as a dormant cutting plant started much earlier in the summer.  You can start many plants with one shoot ( taking a cutting every 2 nodes ), a few ''mother'' vines is all it takes to provide you with hundreds of plants by the end of the summer.  I especially like to use ''suckers'' growing from the bottom of the trucks.  They seem to root better for some reason, but any unwanted shoot will do.  Another advantage is that you are doing this in the summer where your plants will be outdoors, not taking up space in the house.  Also, no need for grow lights, heat mats or complicated setups.
   The only disadvantage would be for grafted plants where dormant bench grafting would be the preferred method.  Here is the step by step...

Rooting chamber.

1)  Prepare your rooting ''chamber''.  I use those plastic storage containers with an attached lid (see pictures) but any sealable transparent container will do.  I drilled a few holes in the bottom for drainage and filled the bottom 3-4 inches with moist peat moss.

2)  Take green cuttings off of a mother vine.  Make sure it is healthy and disease free.  Your cuttings will be in a high humidity environment so any mildew or rot at this stage will just be amplified tenfold...  To make your cuttings, use a very sharp knife ( x acto style), make sure it is very clean and dip it in rubbing alcohol to disinfect.  Scissors don't work as well because they seem to pinch the cutting instead of cutting it, inflicting serious damage to the base of the cutting. 

Fresh cuttings in rooting medium.
  All you need here is 2 nodes.  Remove all the leaves off of the bottom node and make your cut just below it.  This is where the new roots will form.  At the top, I leave only the smallest leaf.  If too large, I will cut part of the leaf off to keep the cutting hydrated.  A large leaf will do more harm than good at this stage because it will let a lot of moisture evaporate and the plant doesn't have roots yet! 
   Then, I dip the cutting in the rooting hormone and insert it in the peat moss right up to the upper leaf.

3)  After a few days, check a few of the cuttings to see where they're at.  They should look like this...

Root are on their way!

This is when I start slowly opening the cover little by little everyday to SLOWLY acclimatise the vines and get them used to less ambient moisture.  Again, do this very gradually.  Open too quickly and the cuttings will wilt and die.  I like to do this over the course of a week. 

Ahh! Fresh air!

4)  After 2 week, give or take a few days, the cutting should have rooted and look like this...

Rooted cutting.
More rooted cuttings...

5)  Simply pot individually in potting soil, water and watch them grow. 

  I like to grow them in 1 gallon pots for the rest of the summer but they could be transplanted in their permanent location right away.  In the ladder case, proceed very gently.  These are a lot more fragile then hardwood cuttings.  This is why I like to keep them in pots until the fall, wait for the first frost, and transplant then while they are dormant.  This allows the plant to establish its roots somewhat, and be ready to go by next spring.  Transplanting in the field too late in the summer should be avoided because newly transplanted vines need a lot of water and excessive watering will promote new growth.  This, in turn, will delay the ''hardening off'' process and the plants will be less likely to survive the winter. 
   By transplanting the vines dormant in the fall, transplant shock is avoided and the initial watering (at transplant time) will not affect the dormant plant. 

   By spring,  these plants will be at the same stage (or very close...) as a hardwood cutting started much earlier the same year.

Happy cloning!

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Vineyard update. Baby grapes!

Here are a few pictures from my last trip to the vineyard.

New Marquette grapes... and a bug.

Another Marquette vine.

Pinot Noir vine at the house in Ottawa.

More Pinot Noir grapes ...  heavy... very heavy...

p.s.  The Marquette grapes are at the vineyard in Osgoode, and the Pinot is at the house in Ottawa.  This is the first time we get that large of a crop on the Pinot.  It will also be the last since we are moving in the next few weeks. I hope the new owners are into winemaking!