The only grapes we are growing and discussing are seedless varieties.  Most people want fresh eating and don’t want the headache of seeds.  It is an old wife’s tale that seedless grapes do not have the flavor of the old seeded varieties. Today’s grocery store seedless grapes don’t have the flavor, but your home grown ones will!  Grapes have been successfully grown in New Mexico beginning with the early Spanish Missionaries all the way through today’s thriving wine industry.  Generally speaking table grapes are more cold-hardy and are a different species from wine grapes.

 When dealing with many shrubs or trees I use the old adage “Sleep, Creep and Leap”.  This has definitely always been my experience with grapes. What this means is the first year you plant the vine it stays alive and may add a leaf or two but doesn’t really seem to grow at all or thrive.  The first year it seems asleep!  The second year you are pleased to see it come out and still be alive but again it adds few leaves and maybe a few tendrils.  You are starting to research and see why it doesn’t grow.  Does it need fertilizer?  Am I giving enough water? Etc. etc.  This year it just creeps along.  The third year it starts to come out and takes off or leaps.  After the first month you wonder if it really is kudzu vine and not grapes.  Of course depending on the age of the plant and variety, your experience may be a little different.

  What the plant is doing the first year is developing a strong and deep root system. The third year it now has the root system in place to support large and rapid growth and takes off.  Grapes can develop wide ranging and deep roots as much as  6  feet long.  Once these roots develop they can actually become very drought tolerant.  I am watching a mature Thompson Seedless vine that right now is on year 7 with no supplemental water!  It is still producing a good load of acceptable size and flavorful grapes.

Varieties we have grown and recommend for central and most of New Mexico:

White

Thompson

Himrod

Red

Vanessa

Reliance

Blue/Purple

Concord

Mars

Glenora

Remember grapes are long lived and a long term proposition. Make sure you place them where you want them to stay.  While we all get impatient waiting a few years for the first crop, they can easily produce for 30-50 years after that.  Decide early which training system you will use as by the beginning of the second year you want to be developing the permanent arms and structure by tying and training to a trellis or fence. We prefer the VSP method.  If you are growing for an arbor it is not quite as important but they can get away from you before you know it! The most important thing is to be ruthless with thinning.  Grapes will overset and if not thinned they will

This vine should be thinned to half as many fruit

be smaller and less flavorful, not ever reaching their potential. Thin grapes early and often to ensure large size. Grapes should be thinned down to one bunch per shoot, or there will not be room enough for each bunch to develop fully.  If you want to cultivate particularly large grapes, the individual fruits can be thinned within each bunch as they develop

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