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Growing Wild Grapes  RSS feed

 
N Thomas
Posts: 87
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Hi everyone,
We have a sunny spot around our house in Boston, MA & I've thought of trying to grow wild grapes there next year. However, I have a couple concerns & hoping some of you have some ideas. I see wild grape vines growing all over our area but almost none of them seem to have any grapes on them. In fact, I don't recall seeing any ripening grapes on these vines earlier in the summer nor flowers on them back in the spring. If I were to grow grape vines, I'd like them to produce fruit. What is going on? Is a lack of fruit common with wild grapes?
 
Glenn Herbert
gardener
Posts: 2224
Location: Upstate NY, zone 5
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I'm not sure. There are tons of wild grape vines in the woods around here, but I don't notice fruit... of course, the leafy parts are up high. There is a grapevine covering a youngish hawthorn at the edge of my yard (I'm letting them battle it out for supremacy), and in a good year it is covered with grape clusters, nice and juicy. It would even be harvestable in long sleeves and leaning a ladder against the hawthorn.
 
Wj Carroll
Posts: 67
Location: near Athens, GA
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I am surrounded by wild grapes that bear fruit... I can't tell you why mine do and yours don't.... but my family has been cultivating wild grapes (muscadine, fox, etc) for over 400 years in the Carolinas.  I generally just save seeds form any grapes I like and toss them out into "grapey" spots. Sure, you can start from vine clippings, and will likely have more success.  There are so many varieties of wild grapes here that I can't tell what I may have sowed or not... and, they are beginning to come in nice and ripe.  I make wine, jellies and preserves... pickled grape leaves too.  They are a constant this tie of year.  I guess I would recommend a Fukuoka approach..... just broadcast the seeds and see what happens.  Most often, I just eat them by the handful and spit the seeds in all directions.
 
Wj Carroll
Posts: 67
Location: near Athens, GA
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Oh yeah, a lot of wild grapes fruit high on the vines. You may see a vine that seems not to have fruit, but 50 feet up in a tree, it will have a small bunch that the birds and squirrels enjoy.  I just pulled some out of my oak trees that had fruit way up in the tops of the trees.  I wouldn't have pulled them out, but there were no leaves lower down and I thought they were wisteria....piles of vines, with leaves and grapes only near the tops!  I have never seen anything like it!
 
Joylynn Hardesty
Posts: 275
Location: Officially Zone 7b, according to personal obsevations I live in 7a, SW Tennessee
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Wj Carroll wrote:Oh yeah, a lot of wild grapes fruit high on the vines. You may see a vine that seems not to have fruit, but 50 feet up in a tree, it will have a small bunch that the birds and squirrels enjoy.  I just pulled some out of my oak trees that had fruit way up in the tops of the trees.  I wouldn't have pulled them out, but there were no leaves lower down and I thought they were wisteria....piles of vines, with leaves and grapes only near the tops!  I have never seen anything like it!


I too would like some of the wild grapes. I have two that I transplanted from the back of the property. These are on a 6 foot trellis and get sun near to 10 hours a day in summer. They are about 4 years old and covered in leaves. Maybe they have too much sun? In my case a fruit tree ought to shade in the afternoons, maybe reducing sun time to 5 hours.

Any advice?
 
Wj Carroll
Posts: 67
Location: near Athens, GA
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I honestly have no clue.  I just went out and looked at several vines in a bout a 1/4 mile radius, all the same wild variety.  I would estimate that 20% are not producing grapes.  Those in full sun and in the shade see to be producing equally, but the ones in the sun are ripening more quickly.  My grandfather grew muscadines and scuppernongs,  on old fashioned frames as opposed to open trellises.  He would plan a fine in the center of a 10 ft by 10 ft frame and support it for the first few years.  They would quickly become huge, tree like grape vines that would produce hundreds of pounds of grapes per vine.  After he died, my uncle pruned them back, and they died.  So, I don't think they like a lot of managing.  Both of those varieties are native to eastern NC though.  They love sandy, acidic soil and blazing heat.

If you would like to send me a SASE, I'll be glad to send you some seeds if I can get to the grapes before the deer, squirrels, possums, etc, wide them out (PM me if interested).  I don't know what variety grows around here, but contrary to the almost universal opinion that wild grapes produce bad wine, the wine from these grapes is really, very good.  The skins have good tannins, and if you pick them before they are entirely ripe, they are not too sweet.  The grapes my grandfather grew were very sweet, but he would ferment his wine to near dryness - the flavor ranged from similar to madeira to dry sherry.  Those here make a slightly musky, lightly fruity, dry red that is somewhere between pinot noir and red zinfandel depending on ripeness and weather conditions, etc.   Here is a blog post I did on them, with some photos of the grapes: http://southernfoodandwine.blogspot.com/2014/08/wild-grapes.html

BTW, Clint Locklear grows muscadine grapes near Knoxville, TN.  You can probably contact him through his youtube channel, Permaculture Realist, for advice.
 
leila hamaya
pollinator
Posts: 1142
Location: northern northern california
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it could be as people are discussing above, the grapes fruit better when they are in full sun, and wild grapes tend to be in mostly shade from deep woods.

but also i know there is a type of grape that grows in massachusetts that does not make fruit. mass is cold for grape growing, except for a few really hardy types, but these grow very well even in the cold. i dont know what exactly they are though, but have seen them on someone's property going crazy, and was told that they do not produce fruit, they are ornamental but adapted to cold.
 
Cris Bessette
gardener
Posts: 816
Location: North Georgia / Appalachian mountains , Zone 7A
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N Thomas wrote:Hi everyone,
We have a sunny spot around our house in Boston, MA & I've thought of trying to grow wild grapes there next year. However, I have a couple concerns & hoping some of you have some ideas. I see wild grape vines growing all over our area but almost none of them seem to have any grapes on them. In fact, I don't recall seeing any ripening grapes on these vines earlier in the summer nor flowers on them back in the spring. If I were to grow grape vines, I'd like them to produce fruit. What is going on? Is a lack of fruit common with wild grapes?


I live in north Georgia, so different climate.  Anyways, I have wild grapes all over my property.  The ones in the woods are long and stringy, barely any fruit.  The ones I've encouraged onto trellises in the open sun do great. They get very bushy and are covered in fruit every year.   My domesticated / planted grapes are not near as reliable.

It comes down to conditions like with anything else. If they are getting what they need, they'll do good.
 
wayne fajkus
Posts: 743
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I can easily harvest 30 gallons of muscadine grapes on my property in texas.  They are so prolific i can yank the vines out of the oak trees to get the grapes, probably helps the oak trees by thinning the vines. Ones on fences are easier to harvest.
 
Glenn Herbert
gardener
Posts: 2224
Location: Upstate NY, zone 5
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My prolific wild grape vine is on a sunny south slope just below my house, in south central New York, zone 5 (probably microclimate zone 6).
 
Larry Bock
Posts: 133
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I am not a Grapologist.  I do know that the two hickory trees at my old place produced in two year cycles.  Every other year it was feast or famine. When my daughter was young, every other year we would make butterscotch pudding pie with a heavy layer of hickory nuts as the topping. Years in between, the squirrels took the lions share with very little left for us. Good years, bad years    Larry
 
N Thomas
Posts: 87
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This is really interesting. Thanks everyone!
 
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