How to Maintain Grape Vines in Australia

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    Annual Maintenance

    • 1). Water the dormant vines when transplanted in the first year. An inch of rain per week is needed. In the dry season, water every seven to 10 days. During the first winter, maintain the strongest stem and remove the other stems to allow the root system to strengthen. Do not fertilize in this first year because excessive vegetative growth is not desired. Protect young foliage with a vine shelter, a long, tubular structure that encompasses the trunk in an upright position.

    • 2). Keep the two most productive side shoots during the second year. The basic configuration should be one upright trunk with two sets of branches. To encourage new growth from the trunk, trim the top of the trunk at the desired height.

    • 3). Trim the renewal buds in the spring and summer of the third year. For the third winter, keep approximately 12 buds on each branch. Each bud provides one or two leaf joints.

    Training and Protecting Vines

    • 1). Prune bunches from the two branches to reduce excessive numbers of bunches that would otherwise burden the grape vine. The vine must have enough energy to ripen the grapes. Too many bunches that fail to ripen can result in undesirable fruit.

    • 2
      Grapes grown commerciallyVignobles image by alainmantin from Fotolia.com

      Install 8-wire Y-shaped trellises, most commonly used in Australia, to allow easy separation of grapes and foliage. Benefits include easy access from both sides for handworking the bunches and for harvesting.

    • 3). Place vine shelters upright around the trunk to aid in deterring Australian wildlife from damaging young foliage. Attach the vine shelter to a trellis, stake or pole. Shelters increase the vine's growth rate and give easy access during herbicide application around vines. In the fall, remove the vine shelter during dormancy and when animals stop eating the leaves. Avoid a greenhouse effect by keeping this vine shelter off during the Australian winter.

    • 4). Maintain healthy grape vines by applying fertilizers for nutrition. Apply the fertilizer via fertigation, through irrigation. Advantages include reduced leaching or loss of nutrients in the summer rainfall districts. Consider organic fertilizers with attention to value, expense and availability.

    • 5). Monitor pests and diseases by noting outbreaks, infection, development and weather. Pests that damage grape vines include the light brown apple moth and the grapevine moth caterpillar. Use bacillus thuringiensis, a biological insecticide. In northern Australia, the Queensland fruit fly and grasshopper are especially damaging to table grapes. Diseases include downy mildew, powdery mildew, botrytis and anthracnose; these may require the application of fungicides.

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