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Girdling The Vine To Hasten Maturity

The practice of girdling to induce early ripening is supposed to have
been invented by Col. BUCHATT, of Metz, in 1745. He claimed for it that
it would also greatly improve the quality of the fruit, as well as
hasten maturity. That it accomplishes the latter, cannot be denied; it
also seems to increase the size of the berries, but I hardly think the
fruit can compare in flavor with a well developed bunch, ripened in the
natural way. As it may be of practical value to those who grow grapes
for the market, enabling them to supply their customers a week earlier
at least, and also make the fruit look better, and be of interest to
the amateur cultivator, I will describe the operation for their

It can be performed either on wood of the same season's growth, or on
that of last year, but in any case only upon such as can be pruned away
the next fall. If you desire to affect the fruit of a whole arm or
cane, cut away a ring of bark by passing your knife all around it, and
making another incision from a quarter to half an inch above the first,
taking out the intermediate piece of bark clean, down to the wood. It
should be performed immediately after the fruit is set. The bunches of
fruit above the incision will become larger, and the fruit ripen and
color finely, from a week to ten days before the fruit on the other
canes. Of course, the cane thus girdled, cannot be used for the next
season, and must be cut away entirely. The result seems to be the
consequence of an obstruction to the downward flow of the sap, which
then develops the fruit much faster.

Ripening can also be hastened by planting against the south side of a
wall or board fence, when the reflection of the rays of the sun will
create a greater degree of warmth.

But nothing can be so absurd and unnatural than the practice of some,
who will take away the leaves from the fruit, to hasten its ripening.
The leaves are the lungs of the plants; the conductors and elevators of
sap; and nothing can be more injurious than to take them away from the
fruit at the very time when they are most needed. The consequence of
such an unwise course will be the wilting and withering of the bunches,
and, should they ripen at all, they will be deficient in flavor. Good
fruit must ripen _in the shade_, only thus will it attain its full

Another practice very injurious to the vines is still in practice in
some vineyards, and cannot be too strongly condemned. It is the
so-called "cutting in" of the young growth in August. Those who
practice it, seem to labor under the misapprehension that the young
canes, after they have reached the top of the trellis, and are of the
proper length and strength for their next year's crop, do not need that
part of the young growth beyond these limits any more, and that all the
surplus growth is "of evil." Under the influence of this idea they arm
themselves with a villainous looking thing called a bill-hook, and cut
and slash away at the young growth unmercifully, taking away one-half
of the leaves and young wood at one fell swoop. The consequence is a
stagnation of sap: the wood they have left, cannot, and ought not to
ripen perfectly, and if anything like a cold winter follows, the vines
will either be killed entirely, or very much injured at least. The
intelligent vine dresser will tie his young canes, away from the
bearing wood as much as he can, to give the fruit the fullest
ventilation; but when they have reached the top of the trellis, tie
them along it and let them ramble as they please. They will thus form a
natural roof over the fruit, keep off all injurious dews, and shade the
grapes from above. There is nothing more pleasing to the eye than a
vineyard in September, with its wealth of dark green foliage above, and
its purple clusters of fruit beneath, coyly peeping from under their
leafy covering. Such grapes will have an exquisite bloom, and color, as
well as thin skin and rich flavor, which those hanging in the scorching
rays of the sun can never attain.

Next: Manuring The Vine

Previous: Frosts

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