Vinum Vine

|Wednesday| How much water do grapevines need?

Posted in Wine by Vinum Vine on November 18, 2015

Newly Planted Grapes
Grapevines can experience transplant shock after planting, especially if you’re using bare-root plants. Newly planted grapes need immediate watering to minimize shock. Throughout the first growing season, new vines should be watered at least weekly in the absence of rainfall. Water should be sufficient to wet the soil 6 to 10 inches beneath the surface, but deeper watering can cause root rot, according to the Oklahoma State University Extension.

Established Plantings
Grapevines are more drought tolerant than some fruit crops, but they do need regular watering. During drought conditions, the plants might not set fruit. Established grapevines need watering at least weekly in the absence of rainfall, penetrating the soil surface to a depth of 12 inches. Once the vines set fruit, you can cut down on watering slightly to encourage the fruit to ripen.

Growing Conditions
How much you water grapevines depends, in part, on your soil and growing conditions. Water leaches quickly from sandy soils, while it tends to collect in heavy, clay soils. Sandy soils need frequent, shallow watering. Heavier soils benefit from infrequent, deeper watering, but grapevines won’t grow well in clay soils. These soils should be amended or replaced. Grapevines need more water during periods of dry, windy weather. Grapevines grown in a protected area usually need less water than those growing in an exposed location.

Effective Strategies
Effective watering practices can reduce the need to irrigate. In general, soaker hoses or drip systems offer several advantages over sprinklers. Soaker hoses deliver water directly to the grapevines’ roots, conserving moisture. Soaker hoses also keep the leaves dry, reducing the risk of the fungal diseases that often plague grapevines. Watering early in the morning is also more effective than watering at midday because less water evaporates. Some growers make a small bowl or depression in the soil around grapevines to trap and conserve water.

– Julie Christensen


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