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.

Gathering The Grapes Hartford Prolific facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail