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  1. #1
    Platinum Member
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    Apr 2005
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    SE Connecticut
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    JD 5325; Landini Mistral 50

    Default Vineyard Drainage - Tiling

    In planning ahead for establishing a grape vineyard one significant consideration is tiling between rows or every other row for improved drainage. Any experience from fellow TBNers on pipe size, depth, % grade, length of runs, and construction(such as stone/fabric/pipe configuration) would be helpful. Also what is are the best tools for trenching and assessing pipe slope? For trenching I'm concerned about the frequency of stones in our area of SE Connecticut. For the larger boulders that I can see I will attempt to dig out and move them to the side of the field. Thank you.

  2. #2
    Veteran Member
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    20 mi SE of Sacramento, CA-rural
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    Kubota BX2200

    Default Re: Vineyard Drainage - Tiling

    I live where vintners grow for the production of fine wines. They invest millions to insure proper drainage if it does not already exist.

    What do you anticipate these grapes being used for: table grapes, raisins, grape juice, homemade wine for personal consumption, or are you planning to make wine for sale?

    If you are planning to make fine wine, I would recommend that you do all the research necessary to become an expert before you spend any money on the project itself.

    Here is an example of what our local vintners go through to insure proper drainage. Not only does the drainage have to be correct, so does the soil type and climate.

  3. #3
    Platinum Member
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    SE Connecticut
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    JD 5325; Landini Mistral 50

    Default Re: Vineyard Drainage - Tiling

    Tom - The vineyard will be grapes for fine wine. In our CT climate I had to work ocean moderated winter, elevation for drainage, south facing land for full sun exposure, land relief that allows for cold air drainage, and usable soil type. It took me 2.5 years to locate the right property, actually, I made an offer to buy it previously but it came around again early this year. Wish I had limestone available in the soil to buffer the acidic tendency but that is relatively rare in my region. Most tile to make sure of achieving several benefits in addition to eliminating wet feet on the root system. I grew up in SoCal so I'm well aware of the hardpan in many areas of CA. Our issue here is usually stones and ledge and as you have probably guessed some rain. Most grape growers out here depend on Cornell Univ.and NY state ag. for experimental info relevant to this climate. Cheers.

  4. #4
    Veteran Member
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    20 mi SE of Sacramento, CA-rural
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    Kubota BX2200

    Default Re: Vineyard Drainage - Tiling

    It certainly sounds like you've been doing your homework for years prior to undertaking this project. The best of luck to you.

  5. #5
    Elite Member RalphVa's Avatar
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    Charlottesville, VA, USA
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    JD 1025, previously Gravely 5650 & JD 4010

    Default Re: Vineyard Drainage - Tiling

    I went to a class conducted by Gabrielle Rossi, Mr. Vineyard here in Va who started the industry here. He said you need to till down deep using those sub soiler shanks pulled behind tracked vehicles. Then you plant the vines in the spring (there's a definite time in your area for it). Planting them is simply a matter of letting the roots soak and then sticking a skinny shovel into the ground, tilting it and the inserting the vine (after trimming off all but about 2" of the roots) and then pulling the shovel out and pushing the soil back against the vine roots. Mr. Rossi actually then advises covering the vine completely with dirt until some sprouts start sticking out; then uncover.

    You only need to mow between the rows but with the row itself, about 18" or so wide, being kept growth-free.

    Another aspect of drainage is you not only want the vineyard on (preferably) a slightly sloping N/E facing slope, but you also want it slightly up slope from the lowest point so that cold air can drain out.

    Grape vines produce a prodigious amount of vineage. You'll be pruning/ training all summer long, starting now. I had some around the pool fence in NJ and have some here around the pool fence.

    The vines don't really start to take off until their 3rd year. Mine up here around the pool fence vined a lot their last 2 years. My 2nd year vines down below are just barely growing so far. (I didn't hire the cat with the shank plow since I'm not doing it for commercial.) The ones up here around the pool are really struggling. Barely got a few grapes in their 4th year last year. Looks like more this year. They're growing in pool backfill dirt, probably pretty awful.

    Birds always got my grapes in NJ. That's another aspect of vineyards. Gotta protect them from the birds one way or another.

    Ralph

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Apr 2001
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    457
    Location
    New York - Upstate
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    Kubota 2710

    Default Re: Vineyard Drainage - Tiling

    Gary,

    I live in upstate NY, and have some 1 and 2 year old vinifera grapes in the ground. I have a very heavy clay/loam soil that I did not trench/tile, but given the obvious drainage patterns and corresponding stunted vine growth, I plan to. The best, of course, would be to use a large back hoe to trench below (6ft) the intended planting locations, line the trench with gravel, lay drain tile, cover with gravel, then amend the soil with sand/organics if necessary, and recover the tiles. Let all of this settle for a winter, then plant the vines the following spring. I learned this from an article documenting the process, complete with budgetary estimates at this link . Hopefully you will find it more specific than hearing of your need to "invest millions".

    I only have about 180 vines in the ground, hoping to find out which specific species tolerate "farmer abuse" the best. Once this is determined, I plan to plant about 4 acres in a 6x8 vine spacing. I will probably shortcut the article I referred you to, and only dig shallow trenches every other row. I used a 12 inch auger to dig the planting holes, and I amended the soil in each hole with peat and sand. I am fertilizing on top by hand for now.

    One person warned about birds. Maybe once they start bearing fruit you will need to, but for now, you enemy is the nertheastern antlered hoof rat, more commonly known as whitetail deer. They will eat every shoot, leaf, and generally green thing that grows from your vine plantings as soon as they appear. If you don't have a deer fence of some sort, they will never live through the summer. Even the big Finger Lakes growers have this problem (I live about 45 minutes away). The only reason they can grow without fences is because there are so many vines in the area, everyone feeds them a little nit, and no one is wiped out. Not so for you if you are an (relatively) isolated grower (no vines within a mile or two). I use 10ft T-posts with 7.5 ft deer netting available from Home Depot. The idea is not to hold them out - they can tear it donw whenever they choose - but to train them to move around the area's perimeter. If the fence goes up before there are any tender shoots (deer goodies), it should be relatively easy. If the fence goes up after they know there's food inside, they will keep tearing it down.

    Now that my deer fence is up, my next project is the trellis system. I hope the vines grow enough this year to need them [img]/forums/images/graemlins/crazy.gif[/img]

    Good luck, and lets keep some thread alive to compare notes.

  7. #7
    Elite Member RalphVa's Avatar
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    Charlottesville, VA, USA
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    Default Re: Vineyard Drainage - Tiling

    Amen on the hooved rats. I've little fence circles around mine. I have to fence all new stuff and spray Liquid Fence onto fruit. The vines aren't big enough yet to train them onto the lower wire; so, I'm leaving the fences. Haven't really figured what I'll do once I train them to the wire. May just straighten the circular fence, get another piece and lay it in front and back of each vine.

    For my little bit, another option is Liquid Fence. You can make your own stuff by mixing (in a blender) 3 eggs in each gallon of water. Maybe put some dish wash detergent in it as a sticker.

    Ralph

  8. #8
    Veteran Member
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    20 mi SE of Sacramento, CA-rural
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    Default Re: Vineyard Drainage - Tiling

    </font><font color="blue" class="small">( Hopefully you will find it more specific than hearing of your need to "invest millions".)</font>

    I would like to ask you to re-read my post, if you will please. I did not say that he had a need to invest millions. I said that vintners around here invest millions. This is a true statement. There are large winery corporations with vineyards which are thousands of acres in size. They literally do "invest millions" in land preparation, including proper drainage. My point is, proper drainage is a matter not to be taken lightly if one intends to grow vines intended for fine wines. The original post did not specifically state the intention of the vineyard. You have implied that my post is unhelpful and non-specific. I asked for more specific information, because there wasn't enough information for me to give a definitive reply. Your comment comes across as sarcastic and I really don't see where it was necessary. I would appreciate it very much if you would take the effort to read accurately and not misquote me. Thank you.

  9. #9
    Platinum Member
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    Jul 2001
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    L3410

    Default Re: Vineyard Drainage - Tiling

    Boy, I hope my "quick and dirty" approach doesn't make me regret such. I'm in the process of setting up my eventual retirement property (a modest 7.5 acres - you guys with hundreds of acres are really fortunate), and have so far placed water/power poles at 12 places. Where I intend to plant a vegetable garden (surrounded by an 8 foot fence) is also where I'm placing 6X6" posts for 2 grape arbors of 32' each. I intend 2 rows, with 8 grape plants each. I'm amending the primarily sandy soil with topsoil, manure and wood chips, tilled into the ground about 8", and then punching holes with an auger for the grape plants, filled with the usual stuff. I plan a single wire, 10 gauge galvanized. If deer are around, I'll either have lots of deer meat (which I like), or lots of grapes (in about 5 years), and whichever is fine with me. By serendipity, I've a deer stand for hunting about 100 feet from where the fenced garden will be.
    If I need subterranean drainage, I'm in deep trouble re. grapes (the sandy stuff underneath my garden should drain real well, and sun exposure in South Carolina should be most of the day - here's hoping, for some homegrown vino --- or deer meat --- whatever).
    Oh yeah, I've hit all the web sites re. appropriate grape varieties for wine in my geographic region. My state's agricultural department even had the salient varieties ranked, which was astonishing (and I'm in South Carolina - not exactly equivalent to the Bordeaux region). Sure does help when faced with the myriad of choices re. grape plants.

  10. #10
    Silver Member
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    Aug 2004
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    SF bay area
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    3130 GST/ CAT D-2

    Default Re: Vineyard Drainage - Tiling

    when it comes to grapes, making the soil drain is the most important thing you can do. watch the wood chips and manure. high nitrogen in the soil make the vines week, and susceptible to pests and diseases.your looking for roughly 45% sand 35%silt 20%clay soil or close to that. grapes like to grow in gravel and chalky loam. good luck

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