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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Wine Grapes Love Compost in Poor Desert Soils

Q. I have a nice little compost pile that is about ready to spread. I read where fall is the best time to spread compost around fruit trees. Is that true?

Composting wine grapes at the Orchard

A. We do use compost around some of our fruit trees at the orchard. The fruit trees I like for applying compost are persimmon, Asian pear, and other fruit trees that have not originated in arid or desert climates.
All of the fruit trees will benefit from an application of compost, even grapes. If you grow any blackberries or other cane fruit they will benefit as well. I usually spread compost around the fruit trees just prior to spring growth in mid January for the earliest. I will still supplement it with iron chelate. It needs two or three weeks of irrigation to begin moving the nutrients from the compost into the root zone and into the tree.


  1. I need reccomendations on pruning grape vines

  2. For the time being I would wait and not do any pruning until winter and after leaf drop. At that time in around February I would prune all your canes back but leaving at least about two feet remaing on this years growth. Now this is important..... Do not prune your grapes any further until March. Let the brunt of the really cold winter and late frosts pass before your finish your pruning. Then when it is time, usually the first part of March at the earliest, prune the canes to two remaining buds which will be about three inches long (spur pruning. The exceptions would be Thompson Tasteless (ooops, I mean seedless) grapes and Black Monukka where you would leave about twelve buds remaining (cane pruning). After all this is done then you will remove spurs or canes so they are spaced about 12 inches apart and oriented pointing up. Look at keeping the most sturdy and healthy spurs and canes. If you remind me this December or so I will post some pictures or video.

  3. Some people have asked me where they can get some grape growing stuff. I get most of my stuff online and shipped from Jims Supply in California http://www.jimssupply.com/index.cfm for steel products and Orchard Valley Supply http://www.orchardvalleysupply.com for other stuff. Both have been very helpful and actually someone you can talk to!