Laying Out The Vineyard

Vineyards are laid out for the most part after accepted patterns for

each of the great grape regions of America. The vines are always

planted in rectangles, usually at a less distance apart in the rows

than the rows are from each other, but sometimes in squares. Pride in

appearance and convenience in vineyard operations make perfect

alignment imperative. Many varieties of grapes, especially of American

species, are partially self-sterile, so that some varieties must have

others interplanted with them for cross-pollination. This is usually

done by setting alternate rows of the variety to be pollinated and the

cross-pollinator. All self-fertile varieties are set in solid blocks

because of convenience in harvesting.

Direction of rows.

Some grape-growers attach considerable importance to the direction in

which rows run, holding either that the full blaze of the sun at

mid-day is desirable for vine, soil and fruit, or that it is

detrimental. Those who desire to provide fullest exposure to the sun

plant rows east and west when the distance between vines is less than

the distance between rows; north and south when vines are farther

apart in the row than the rows are from each other. When shade seems

more desirable, these directions are reversed. Most often, however,

the rows are laid out in accordance with the shape of the vineyard;

or, if the land is hilly, the rows follow the contour of the

declivities to prevent soil erosion by heavy rains.


For convenience in vineyard operations, especially spraying and

harvesting, there should always be alleys through a vineyard. On hilly

lands, the alleys are located to secure ease in hauling; on level

lands they are usually arranged to cut the vineyards into blocks twice

as long as wide. An alley is usually made by leaving out a row of

vines. Many vineyards are laid out with rows far enough apart so that

alleys are not needed.

Distances between rows and plants.

There are great variations in the distances between rows and plants in

different regions, and distances vary somewhat in any one region.

Distances are influenced by the following considerations: Rich soils

and large vigorous varieties require greater distances than poor soils

and less vigorous varieties; sometimes, however, it is necessary to

crowd a variety in the vineyard so that by reducing its vigor

fruitfulness may be promoted. Usually the warmer the climate, or the

exposure, the greater should be the distance between vines. Very often

the topography of the land dictates planting distances. But while

taking in account the preceding considerations, which rightly suggest

the distances between plants in the row, convenience in vineyard

operations is the factor that most often fixes the distance between

rows. The rows must be far enough apart in commercial vineyards to

permit the use of two horses in plowing, spraying and harvesting.

Planted in squares, the distance varies from seven feet in garden

culture to nine feet in commercial vineyards for eastern America. More

often, however, the rows are eight or nine feet apart, with the vines

six, seven or eight and in the South ten or twelve feet apart in the

rows. Planting distances are less, as a rule, on the Pacific slope

than in eastern regions; that is, the distances between the rows are

the same, to permit work with teams, but the distance between plants

in the rows is less, sometimes being no greater than three and a half

or four feet. The rank-growing Rotundifolias of the southern states

need much room, nine by sixteen feet being none too much. Sunshine

must govern the distance apart somewhat. Grapes picked in the pleached

alleys of closely set vineyards of the North and East are few, small

and poor; farther south, shade from the vines may be a requisite for a

good crop.

The number of vines to the acre must be determined before growing or

buying plants. This is done by multiplying the distance in feet

between the rows by the distance the plants are apart in the row, and

dividing 43,560, the number of square feet in an acre, by the product.

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