GRAPES: VARIETIES FOR MICHIGAN'S VINEYARDS

By The Old House Web

GRAPES: VARIETIES FOR MICHIGAN'S VINEYARDS


Michigan's vineyards are successfully cultivating grapes which are commercially competitive in today's market. There are three species of grapes that are currently commercially popular in Michigan Achieved through crossing native American species, these varieties are described as "slip-skinned", as the skin separates easily from the flesh of the berry. They are characterized by the strong aroma and "fruity" taste, which is very desirable in fresh jam and jelly.

The French-American hybrids are created when the native American grape is crossed with the native European species. They are known for their cold hardiness and disease resistance, as well as an insect resistance of American species. They boast the neutral, subtle and refined character found in European grapes. This potential for processing is expanding for this variety, including the possibility of such products as juice and deserts. These varieties have a wide range of harvest dates.

The European variety constitutes the bulk of production. It is a tightly skinned variety and hasn't as yet been successfully grown in Michigan.

Vine yields vary with grape varieties and conditions of growth. Table grape plantings of a single vine should yield about 10 to 20 lbs. of fruit per year. Home growers interested in table grapes should consider planting one or two vines of several different varieties that ripen from early September until frost. Juice, Jelly and Jam Grape vines yield about 15 lbs each, producing about 2 gal. of juice per vine. The Concord grape is usually the most desirable variety of use in these products. Wine grapes provide a yield that varies greatly with variety. A minimum of 15 vines are necessary to insure consistent production levels for 10 to 15 gallons of wine.

Suggested varieties and quantities to plant for a home planting include:

Use Variety Number of vines ------------------------------------------------------ Juice, Jelly Concord 2-3 Jam Moore's Early 2-3 Fredonia 3-4 Niagara 1-2 ------------------------------------------------------ Seedless Table Himrod 1-2 Grapes Lakemont 1-2 Canadice 2-3 Concord Seedless 3-4 ------------------------------------------------------ Seeded Table Seneca 1-2 Grapes Alden 1-2 N.Y. Muscat 1-2 Ontario 1-2 ------------------------------------------------------ Wine Grapes Vignoles 15-20 Vidal blanc 10-15 Seyval 15 Foch 15 Chancellor 15 -------------------------------------------------------

Descriptions of Grape Varieties for Home and Commercial Vineyards:

Vitis labruscana:

Variety: Concord Color: Blue Hardiness: V. Hardy Growing Season: 165 days Special problems: Early spring growth can cause spring frost damage in some years. Uses: Excellent for juice, jelly or jam. Best as a sweet wine with a grapey flavor Remarks: Vine vigorous and productive

Variety: Niagara Color: White Hardiness: Hardy Growing Season: 155 days Uses: Table or dessert quality. Strong grapey flavor. Makes nice sweet wine. Used extensively for cream sherry production. Remarks: Vine vigorous and productive

Variety: Delaware Color: Pink-red Hardiness: Hardy Growing Season: 160 Special problems: Avoid heavy soils. Foliage susceptible to mildew. Uses: Excellent quality for desserts and sparkling wines. If pressed without fermenting on skins, gives a pleasant, fruity, dry table wine. Remarks: Vine low in vigor. Yield improved by using grafted plants on a four-wire trellis.

Variety: Catawba Color: Red Hardiness: Hardy Growing Season: 170 Uses: Used widely-distinct taste of V. labrusca. Pleasant white wine. Base for some commercial pink juice products. Remarks: Bunch-thinning hastens maturity and improves quality without crop reduction.

Variety: Campbell Early Color: Blue Hardiness: Hardy Growing Season: 145 Special Problems: Cannot be held long after harvest for dessert use. Uses: Good dessert quality when grown under ideal conditions. Remarks: Vine moderately vigorous.

Variety: Fredonia Color: Blue Hardiness: Hardy Growing Season: 150 Uses: Good dessert quality Remarks: Not consistently productive.

Variety: Moore's Early Color: Blue Hardiness: Hardy Growing Season: 145 Special Problems: Berries may crack badly. Uses: Good dessert quality. Remarks: Very similar to Concord in fresh quality.

Mixed species Hybrids:

Variety: Himrod Color: White Hardiness: Medium Growing Season: 135 Special Problems: Susceptible to black rot. Cluster shatters when ripe. Brittle stems make harvesting difficult. Uses: Table or dessert quality. Good for home plantings. Remarks: Very vigorous vines. Clusters large, rather loose. Berries small-medium, very sweet.

Variety: Romulus Color: White Hardiness Medium Growing Season: 140 Special Problems: Susceptible to mildew. Uses: Table or dessert quality. Good for home plantings. Remarks: Good quality where season long enough to ripen well.

Variety: Interlaken Color: White Hardiness: Medium-Tender Growing Season: 145 Special Problems: Susceptible to mildew Uses: Table or dessert quality. Good for home plantings. Remarks: Good quality where season long enough to ripen well.

Variety: Suffolk Red Color: Bright Pink Hardiness: Medium-Tender Growing Season: 145 Special Problems: Excessive vigor Uses: Excellent quality fruit. Remarks: Grows vigorously on sandy loams, but will not set a crop. Recommended for heavier soils.

Variety: Concord seedless Color: Blue Hardiness: V. Hardy Growing Season: 165 Special Problems: Very low yields. Uses: Dessert quality especially for pies. Remarks: Small cluster and berries.

Variety: Lakemont Color: White Hardiness: Medium Growing Season: 150 Special Problems: Tends to overbear. Crop control essential. Requires control of powdery and downy mildew. Uses: Superior quality fruit. Remarks: Large, compact cluster. Berries small. Fruit keeps well in cold storage. Vine vigorous.

Variety: Canadice Color: Red Hardiness: Hardy Growing Season: 140 Uses: Table grape of excellent quality. Remarks: Well-filled clusters of medium-size berries. Medium-vigor vie. Fruit tastes like Delaware.

Seeded Table Grapes

Variety: Alden Color: Blue-Black Hardiness: Medium Growing Season: 150 Special Problems: Must be controlled by short pruning or cluster thinning and berry thinning. Uses: Very good dessert quality. Good for home plantings. Remarks: Large clusters, large berries. Slight muscat flavor. Non-slip skin type.

Variety: New York Muscat Color: Reddish-Blue Hardiness: Medium Growing Season: 155 Uses: Table or dessert use. Remarks: Medium-loose clusters of medium-size berries. Vine moderately vigorous. Soil drainage very important.

Variety: Ontario Color: White Hardiness: Medium Growing Season: 145 Special Problems: Downy and powdery mildew may cause problems. Berries crack as they ripen. Uses: Table or dessert quality. Good for home plantings. Remarks: Vines vigorous and productive. High quality variety. Medium size berry on a medium, compact cluster. Best early American-type white grape.

Variety: Seneca Color: White Hardiness: Medium Growing Season: 145 Special Problems: Requires control of powder and downy mildew to ensure full hardiness of wood. May require bird control. Uses: Has table or dessert qualities. Remarks: Vine vigorous and productive.

French-American Hybrid Wine Grapes:

Variety: Baco Noir Color: Blue Hardiness: Medium Growing Season: 155 Special Problems: Extremely disease resistant. Tendency to develop crown gall on low sites and/or heavy soils. Uses: Wine quality depends on how the wine handled, but potential is very good. Remarks: Vigorous, very productive. Produce 4 - 5 tons even after cold damage. Makes beautiful trellis or arbor. Prune to long canes. Small berries and clusters. Most widely grown red wine grape.

Variety: DeChaunac Color: Blue Hardiness: Hardy Growing Season: 155 Special Problems: Over-produces unless cluster thinned. Uses: Wine makes a good Rose. Heavily pigmented. Remarks: Vigorous, productive. Requires detailed cluster thinning. Clusters medium-to-large, yet somewhat loose.

Variety: Chancellor Color: Black Hardiness: Medium Growing Season: 155 Speial Problems: Very susceptible to downy mildew. Crown gall can result from winter damage if vine is over-cropped. Uses: Red wine quality excellent, makes strong Bordeaux style. Remarks: Medium vigor, large cluster.

Variety: Chelois Color: Black Hardiness: Medium Growing Season: 160 Special Problems: Winter injury may induce crown gall. Tendency for green berries in the ripe cluster. Cluster thinning important to reduce crown gall. Subject to Eutypa dieback disease.

Variety: Foch Color: Blue Hardiness: V. Hardy Growing Season: 140 Special Problems: Avoid heavy soils. Susceptible to phylloxera. Uses: Wine acceptable. Outstanding bouquet, but wine is often thin. Blends well. Excellent as a Rose. Remarks: Moderately-vigorous, small, tight clusters of small berries.

Variety: Cascade Color: Blue Hardiness: Hardy Growing Season: 145 Special Problems: Bird protection is recommended. Prune to short canes. Uses: Makes fair Rose or light red wine desirable for blending. Remarks: Medium vigor. Cluster long and loose.

Variety: Aurore Color: White Hardiness: Hardy Growing Season: 140 Special Problems: Berries tend to split on the vine in rainy weather. Susceptible to black rot. Uses: Wine thin and neutral. Aftertaste described as herbaceous. Best when blended. Makes a pleasant juice. Remarks: Moderately vigorous. Long clustered. High production. Use low-head training.

Variety: Vignoles Color: White Hardiness: Hardy Growing Season: 165 Special Problems: Tight, compact clusters may become rot problems in a wet season. Uses: Wine quality excellent. Produces an outstanding fruity character. Remarks: Best quality of the white hybrids in Michigan. Small, tightly compact cluster. Not a heavy producer.

Variety: Seyval Color: White Hardiness: Hardy Growing Season: 160 Special Problems: Susceptible to black rot and mildew. Botrytis infections often occur during dirt-ripening seasons. Some-what susceptible to the leaf-fall stage of phylloxera. Severe pruning or detailed cluster thinning is necessary. Uses: One of the best wine grapes. Pleasant as dessert grape. Remarks: Moderately vigorous. Large, compact clusters must be cluster thinned or will over-produce. Low vigor.

Variety: Seibel Color: Pink-Blush Hardiness: Medium Growing Season: 165 Special Problems: Prune to spurs or short canes. Plant only on superior sites. Lacks hardiness, which may be alleviated by cluster thinning. Uses: If properly handled, produce a good wine. If fruit is picked too early, the wine will produce an herbaceous smell. Fruity and delicate taste. Remarks: Produces large, compact cluster. Low vigor.

Variety: Vidal blanc Color: Green-White Hardiness: Medium Growing Season: 170 Special Problems: Plant on superior sites. Cluster thinning advisable to maintain vine size. Uses: Outstanding, versatile wine for dry, semi-sweet flavor or champagne. Remarks: Late ripening has restricted it to south-western Michigan. Most important white wine grape in Michigan. Produces medium-long, compact clusters. Very vigorous.

Vinifera Wine Grapes:

Variety: Chardonnay Color: White/Green Hardiness: Tender Growing Season: 145 Special Problems: Very susceptible to downy and powdery mildew. Must be grafted on phylloxera- resistant rootstocks. Uses: Produces outstanding wines. Variety from which white burgundies and Champagnes of France are produced. Variety: White Riesling Color: White/Green Hardiness: Tender Growing Season: 160 Special Problems: Very susceptible to downy and powdery mildew. Phylloxera-susceptible. Must be grafted. Uses: Produces outstanding wines. Variety from which the best wines in Germany are made. Has good varietal character.

Variety: Pinto noir Color: Blue Hardiness: Tender Growing Season: 145 Special Problems: Fruit tends to crack in wet weather. Uses: Red wine grape from which burgundies are made.

Variety: Cabernet Sauvignon Color: Blue Hardiness: Tender Growing Season: Very Late. (Not likely to ripen in Michigan). Special Problems: Fruit tends to crack in wet weather. Uses: Produces outstanding wines.

Variety: Gewurz-traminer Color: White/Bronze Hardiness: Tender Growing Season: 155 Special Problems: Fruit tends to crack in wet weather. Uses: Produces wine with a spicy, aromatic character.

SOURCES

MSU Ag Facts, Extension Bulletin e-1899, New May 1986 Cooperative Extension Service, MSU "Grape Varieties for Michigan's Vineyards" G.S. Howell, dept. of Horticulture

MSU Ag Facts Extension Bulletin e-1935, New June 1986 "Pruning Grapevines in Michigan" G.S. Howell and R. Keith Striegler, Dept. of Horticulture

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