Good Fruit Grower

December 2011

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Grapes Instant vineyard Greenhouse-grown, potted grape plants are already staked, with green foliage three feet off the ground. by Melissa Hansen vines while claiming to save super big money. In the last few years, a handful of California and I Oregon grape growers have begun planting tall—four to five feet—potted grapevines, a practice that started in Germany about 20 years ago, says Bill Henri of the Wm. Henri Development Company. Henri describes the super big vine as "a greenhouse- grown bench graft," but instead of a twelve-inch piece of rootstock (eight inches of rootstock in the ground with the graft union four to six inches above ground), the graft union is three feet off the ground. In the nursery, the tall vine is already attached to a stake and looks like a tree rose, with the graft union high in the air, he said during a phone interview with the Good Fruit Grower. magine the labor savings if you could plant and establish a new vineyard without staking, tying, training, suckering, or using protective cartons or tubes for the young vines. A vineyard development consultant is doing just that, planting "super big" These "super big" vines were planted in an Oregon vineyard earlier this year. Last June, Henri planted a new, 150-acre vineyard with the tall grape plants in Oregon's Umpqua Valley, and he just finished prepping ground for another 200 acres of vines to be planted in the same manner. As a private con- sultant specializing in vineyard development, Henri has been involved in planting vineyards in Washington, Oregon, and California for 30 years, and also has wine- making experience. Henri has offices in Napa, California, and Roseburg, Oregon. He sources what he calls the super big vines from Frank Lopez, a custom-order California nurseryman. Lopez was nursery manager for Sonoma Grapevines before striking out on his own. Another California nursery that produces a 42-inch- tall vine is Duarte Nursery, headquartered near Modesto. Duarte markets their big vines under the UberVine name. While there is a big difference in price, the UberVine saves a year in vine establishment costs and might have partic- ular potential in regions with short growing seasons, like PRODUCTION SAFETY Vineyard & Orchard Production & Processing… Industrial Safety, Fire Protection and PPE Products, Farmworker Protective Spray Clothing, Sanitation and Processing Equipment, Industrial and Specialized Gases. Serving all of the Inland Northwestern Agricultural Industries PASCO: 509-547-2494 Call your local OXARC® sales representative today! YAKIMA: 509-248-0827 MOSES LAKE: 509-765-9247 WENATCHEE: 509-662-8417 OKANOGAN: 509-826-3205 WALLA WALLA: 509-529-3060 60 DECEMBER 2011 GOOD FRUIT GROWER Oregon and parts of Washington, said Duarte's Michael Vietti, in a video on Duarte's Web site. "From the moment you plant the big vine, you're already trained up the stake and growing down the wire," said Henri. "There's no stake pounding, tying, training, or suckering—that's all done in the nursery. And the vine has two to three times the root mass as a regular potted bench graft, with more carbohydrate reserves in the wood." He adds that once you dig a hole, put in the vine, and the clip the stake to the wire, "you're good to go." One major advantage is that the big vines don't need protective tubes or cartons because there's no green tis- sue within reach of rodents or herbicide sprays, he said. "The green tissue is 34 to 36 inches off the ground, so you can spray Roundup [glyphosate] with a conventional sprayer the day after planting. No hand hoeing around young vines is necessary." Henri also has found that the plants are not as sensi- tive if water is lacking for a brief period compared with smaller bench graft plants that have a smaller root mass. While Henri has only used the big vines on a rootstock and scion combination, he believes self-rooted vines grown in the same manner would work well under Washington's growing conditions. The nursery would provide a tall grape plant grown in the greenhouse, it just wouldn't be grafted, he said. "You still have the chance that freezing temperatures could kill the vine down to the roots," he said, noting that retraining would then be needed to bring canes up from the ground. Economics Henri explained that with the big vines he is trading nursery dollars for farming dollars. "But it turns out that it's saving me big money." He's been buying the super big potted vines for $4.75 per vine, about two dollars more than traditional bench graft plants. The Oregon vineyard he planted earlier this year had 622 vines per acre, so the big vines added $1,250 per acre to planting costs, which he believes is minimal compared to the big savings that come from reduced labor needed to establish the vineyard. INTEREST in Washington? heard of any interest in the concept from Washington growers. Washington growers favor dormant, rooted cut- K tings over potted vines because of the state's unpre- dictable spring planting conditions, he said. "Dormant plants are more forgiving in our spring planting conditions, which can be adverse in some years. Plants that come out of a greenhouse, if not properly acclimated, can collapse quickly in the field," he said, adding that growers must stay on top of irrigation whenever a young plant has green foliage. "But the concept of the tall vines sounds good if it pencils out," he said. —M. Hansen evin Judkins of Inland Desert Nursery, Benton City, Washington, is familiar with the super tall grape plants, but hasn't had any requests yet or Neil hauff

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