Clone Neighbor's Grape Vine
There is a way that seems almost like cheating. You can easily reproduce new grape vines by taking cuttings from existing grape vines.
If you have tried to grow grapes from seeds then you probably know just how difficult and time consuming it really is. Not only that, but vines produced from seeds will not inherit the true variety characteristics. Just so you know scientists mainly use them to establish new grape vine varieties.
Take your time and follow these instructions very carefully.
During the winter just before spring, the time you will normally be pruning your vines, cut 8 to 10 shoots of the previous year's growth from any chosen vine variety you wish to reproduce.
When possible, take cuttings after there has been enough cold weather to kill any diseases there might have been during the previous growing season. This will also give the canes time to fully ripen (mature).
Only take cuttings near the older base of the cane stem for best possible chance of healthy survival. Each cutting should have 6 to 8 buds and should be approximately 12 to 16 inches long. Take the cuttings from hardy wood areas. Avoid taking cuttings from soft and spongy wood.
All cuttings should be a minimum of 1 to 1 ½ times the thickness of a standard school pencil.
Grape vines know top from bottom so make a slanted cut at the bottom of each cutting. This slanted cut end will be used as the base or trunk end of your new grape vine. You should leave about 1 inch above the top most bud while the slanted cut should be made just below the bottom bud.
To help prevent disease, disinfect your cuttings with a 5% chlorine bleach solution. Observe the vine in bearing to be sure it is healthy. Virus-infected vines should be avoided. This seems obvious but it is often the one thing that gets overlooked. Cuttings grown from these infected vines will carry the same viruses as the original donors.
Remember to always inspect your cuttings for any visible defects.
Place your cuttings in moist paper, damp peat or sphagnum moss and seal them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator, but never a freezer, this will keep them dormant. 32° F or 0-1° C is an ideal temperature. If you store cuttings according to this procedure you should be able to keep the cuttings for as long as one year or even more.
When early spring rolls around, place the cutting's bottom side down in a pot of well fertilized, weed free, planting soil. For planting depth make sure at least 4 buds of the overall cutting is covered in the planting soil. You may wish to treat these four buds with a rooting hormone.
Take two pieces of wire and form a wire frame dome about 6 inches above the cutting. This is simple, insert the end of one wire into the potting soil about 6 inches deep and then bend the wire to form an arch above the cutting. Insert the opposite end of the wire into the opposite side of the pot.
Take the second wire and do the same but at 90 degrees to the first wire. At the top of the arch you should have two wires crossing each other providing protective structure for the cutting when covered by a plastic bag. This is not a science, whatever you come up with that protects the cutting from the plastic bag will work.
Cover your newly constructed wire frame with a clear plastic bag. Use elastic or a rubber band to seal the bag around the pot. Always keep these newly planted cuttings in a humid, warm place (never in direct sunlight).
The key point is to keep humidity in the plastic bag at high levels. Again, this is very important. There should always be plenty of moisture inside the plastic bag.
You should notice some growth after about 5 weeks. Root growth will take place a bit later. Note: it is normal to have callus (a white tissue) formed on the wound made from your cut.
As you begin to see growth, open the bag slightly by removing the rubber band or by punching some small holes into the bag with a sharp pencil to admit fresh air.
Remove the bag if the cutting outgrows the area inside the bag. This is the tricky part, if the cuttings starts to wilt then re-cover them with a larger bag and gradually expose them to drier air over time. Just remember cuttings with leaves will dry before roots can be formed if humidity is not increased and maintained.
Around the beginning of summer you should be able to observe strength in your new grape vines. This should include new root growth as well. Carefully remove the new vines from the pots as to not damage any newly formed roots and then plant them out into a nursery row.
Before you begin taking the cuttings out, you must first prepare the soil for your new plants.
Preparing soil is crucial in helping your vines get a great start. I personally own a grape growing system that I can wholeheartedly recommend that provides simple yet detailed instructions from soil testing to propagation beds. If you are sincere about grape growing success and you need answers right away then you really should give this system a look.
Take care and good luck! Ernie
PS You can't buy this book at your local book store. It is the best I have found so far, bar none. You can download it instantly from the Internet but it is not free.
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The Backyard Vintner: An Enthusiast's Guide to Growing Grapes and Making Wine at Home