Grape vines are widely known for their fruit, which is often used in wines, juices and jellies. Some use grape vines in gardens purely for their ornamental value. Like any plant, grape vines are susceptible to disease, but diseases and pests can be controlled with regular maintenance and preventive work. The most effective means of disease control are good canopy management and preventive fungicide treatments. However, the process for disease control begins with planting.
Healthy plants tend to produce healthy grape vines and can be one of the easiest ways to prevent disease from the onset. When buying grape vine stock, be sure the plants have been certified free of disease. If the plants are bare root and dormant, make sure the roots don't dry out before you planting them. If it is going to be more than a day before planting, put the roots in water.
The canopy of the grape vine includes all the stems, leaves as well as the fruit clusters that grow from the two main canes. Canopy management consists of thinning these leaves, stems and fruit clusters throughout the summer and positioning them. Positioning means to space the shoots and fruit clusters among the catch wires to increase airflow and give them all a chance at equal sunlight exposure.
The type of fungicide used for grape vines will depend on the disease and the area where the grape vines are growing. Plants should first be sprayed when they are dormant and before new shoots appear. Once the new shoots do begin appearing and they are 1 to 2 inches in length, another application of spray should be applied. Repeat the application when the shoots are 6 to 10 inches long. Once the grape vine begins to bloom, the fungicide should be repeated every two weeks.
Pierce's disease is a common disease found in grape vines and carried by certain insects. Blisters appear on the leaves if Pierce's disease exists in your grape vines. Another common disease, crown gall, is bacterial and can invade plants, staying there for years without your knowledge. Crown gall starts from the root and travels to the stems and veins. Downy mildew is a more serious disease that affects large portions of grape vines. While downy mildew spreads quickly, it is easily treated with fungicide spray. Powdery mildew affects grape vines with a white fungus displayed on the leaves and grapes.
Disease can spread quickly through the dead and rotting parts of the vine. By removing the dead and rotting vines, the spread of infection can be prevented. Pruning should be done when the plants are dormant, usually in January or very early spring after the height of winter has passed. Remove all grapes from the vine to prevent spreading disease by the rotted fruit.
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