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Selecting And Preparing The Vines

Young grape vines covet life, for they are usually vigorous and not
easily injured. Hence, the plants may be brought from a distance
without fear of loss. The local nurseryman is, however, a good adviser
as to varieties if he is honest and intelligent, and, other things
equal, he should be patronized. But if the grower's needs cannot be
met at home, he should not hesitate to seek a nurseryman at a
distance. This is more necessary with the grape than other fruits
because young grapes are well and cheaply grown in certain localities
only. With the grape, as with all fruit plants, it is much better to
buy from the grower than from tree peddlers.

Selecting vines.

Unless the buyer knows what he wants, selecting vines is gambling pure
and simple. Fortunately, there are several marks of good vines very
helpful to those who know them. One should first make sure that the
roots and tops are alive to the remotest parts. The vines should have
a good clean, healthy look with trunk diameter large enough to
indicate vigorous growth, and an ample spread of roots. Large size is
not as desirable as firm, well-matured wood and an abundance of roots.
Vines with internodes of medium length for the variety are better than
those with great length or very short internodes. Such precautions as
are possible should be taken to insure varieties true to name,
although here the reputation of the nurseryman must be depended on
except for the few varieties which may be known at sight in the

First-grade one-year-old vines are usually better than two-year-olds.
Stunted vines are not worth planting and two-year-old vines are often
stunted one-year-olds. A few weak-growing varieties gain in vigor if
allowed to remain in the nursery two years--three years, never.

Handling and preparing the vines.

The better vines are packed, transported and cared for in the field,
the quicker will the roots take hold and the vines make the vigorous
start on which so much depends. The nurseryman should be requested not
to prune much before packing and to pack the vines well for shipping.
The vines should be heeled-in as soon as they reach their destination.
If the vines are dry on arrival, they should be drenched well before
heeling-in. It sometimes happens that the vines are shriveled and
shrunken from excessive drying, in which case the plants often may be
brought back to plumpness by burying them root and branch in damp
earth, to remain a week or possibly two. To heel-in, a trench should
be double furrowed in light, moist soil, the vines spread out in the
trench two or three deep, and then earth shoveled over the roots and
half the tops, sifting it in the roots, after which the soil is
firmed. The vines may thus be kept in good condition for several weeks
if need arises.

The vines are prepared for planting by cutting away all dead or
injured roots and shortening-in the healthy roots. Grape roots can be
cut severely if healthy stubs remain, the removal of small roots and
fibers doing no harm, since fibers are of value only as indicating
that the vine is strong and vigorous. Fresh fibers come quickly from
stout, healthy roots. Most of the fibers of a transplanted vine die,
and laying them out in the hole to preserve them, as is so often
recommended, is but a useless burial rite. On good healthy vines, the
stubs of the roots, when cut back, will be four to eight inches in
length. The root system having been considerably pruned, the
reciprocity between roots and tops must be taken into account and the
top pruned accordingly. To reduce the work of the leaves to harmonize
with the activities of the roots, the top should be pruned to a single
cane and two, never more than three, buds. The vine is now ready for
planting and, the soil being in readiness, planting should proceed

Next: Planting

Previous: Preparation For Planting

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