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Seedlings








Growing seedling grapes is the simplest of operations. The seeds are
taken from the grapes at harvest time, after which they must pass
through a resting period of a few months. At once or in a month or
two, the seeds should be stratified in moist sand and stored in a cold
place until spring, when they may be sown in flats or in the open
ground; or seed may be sown in a well-prepared piece of garden land in
the autumn. When planted in the open, autumn or spring, the seeds are
put in at the depth of an inch, an inch or two apart and in rows
convenient for cultivation. Subsequent care consists of cultivation
if the seed are sown in garden rows, and in pricking out when true
leaves appear if planted in flats. In ground that crusts, an expedient
is to mix grape seed with apple seed; the apple seedlings, being more
vigorous, break the crust and act as nurse plants to the more tender
grapes. Sometimes it is helpful to the young plants to mulch the
ground lightly with lawn clippings or moss. Grape seedlings grow
rapidly, often making from two to three feet of wood in a season.

The young plants are thinned or set to stand four or five inches apart
in the nursery row. At the end of the first season, all plants are cut
back severely and almost entirely covered with earth by plowing up to
the row on both sides. This earth, of course, is leveled the following
spring. If the seasons are propitious and all goes well, the seedlings
are ready for the vineyard at the end of the second season, but if for
any reason they have fared badly during their first two years, it is
much better to give them a third season in the nursery. Seedling vines
are seldom as vigorous as those from cuttings, and unusual care must
be taken in setting in the vineyard, though the operation is
essentially the same as that to be described for vines from cuttings.
The third season the vines are kept to a single shoot and are pinched
back when the canes reach a length of five or six feet. In the autumn,
they are pruned back to two or three feet. In the spring of the fourth
season, the trellis is put up and a few fruits may be allowed to
ripen.

The vines of promise may now be selected. The plants, however, must
fruit twice or oftener before it can be told whether hopes are
consummated or must be deferred. Growing seedlings for new varieties
is a game full of chances in which, while there may be little
immediate or individual gain, there is much pleasure. It is hardly too
much to say that the grape industry of eastern America, with its
300,000 acres and 1500 varieties, betokens the good that has come from
growing seedling grapes.





Next: Dormant Cuttings

Previous: Propagation



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