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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Monday - September 01, 2008

From: Montreal, QC
Region: Canada
Topic: Edible Plants, Vines
Title: Niagara and Concord grape crop failure
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

Hi, I have been growing niagara grapes and concord grapes for 3 years now and this year I found myself without any fruits. The plant itself if full of leaves and is healthy. I was wondering why this was happening. Just to help you answer me I did plant berries behind it, the grapes hang on 3 wire that is about 12 feet long. Please help for I love my grapes.

ANSWER:

Both of your cultivars of the northeastern native species, Vitis glabrusca, are generally well-adapted to your area.  We cannot say for sure what caused your grapes' crop failure this year, but can list some of the common causes.  The most frequent cause would be a late spring freeze just at the time your grapes were flowering or beginning to set fruit.  Lack of pollinators when the vines are flowering is a more frequent cause nowadays.  Honey bees are the most common pollinators for grapes.  Other common causes are water stress - too much or too little at critical times.  High soil nitrogen caused by too much fertilizer.  Finally, disease and insect predation are possible, though less likely, causes.

The bad news is that this year's crop is a loss.  The good news is that your vines had an entire growth season to build up plant strength for next year's crop.  Watch your vines closely next year beginning at the time they flower and continue monitoring them through the growth of your grape crop.  You may then find the answer to your question.

Here is link to an online article, Growing Grapes for Home Use from the University of Minnesota Extension Service.

 

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