Worth Protecting

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The Cayuga grapes on my back hillside look promising. Late July is harvest time so they look like they may make it. The white plastic mulch is a physical barrier for what UT says is the worst pest in Tennessee vineyards: the grape root borer. Since the pupae from the borers have a habit of emerging within 18 inches of the trunk a 2 foot plastic mulch around the trunk prevents their emergence. Its a labor intensive chore for those with acres of vines, but doable for backyard growers. Grapes grown near wooded areas where native muscadines grow are susceptible.

The physical barrier is the best treatment. The adult insect has a lifespan as short as two weeks. The only sprays effective against it are not permitted within 60 days of harvest. The plastic barrier needs to be in place during June, July, and August to interrupt the life cycle.

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The wine I made from last year’s Cayuga grapes was rather tart last I checked it. Last year was the first year I had enough to make wine. If its taste doesn’t mellow it will be mixed into a white sangria which can be quite nice.

The trellis “system” I have here is keep the grapes off the ground. Ideally, Cayuga fruit bearing cordons would be at a height of 6 feet so their trailing vines could form a long curtain. But if I get fruit from what I’ve put together from the local hardware store, I’m satisfied.

And while I was taking photos of fruit on the hillside, there’s more.

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Blueberries in several weeks.

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Seckel Pears coming along.

Late spring hope on the hillside.


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