The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Seedless, disease-resistant grapes

Rooting grapes

One of the first things I learned to root was grapes, and thus we set out quite a number of vines near the beginning of our time on the farm.  But we didn't have the cash to buy fancy varieties then, so we got the cuttings from a friend who was raising grapes conventionally (with lots of chemicals) to make wine.  Since I wasn't willing to dose our new vines, they came down with every malady under the sun, and last year we completely ripped them out.

Hardwood grape cuttingNow we're selecting for disease resistance, and also for seedlessness since Mark doesn't like grapes with seeds.  (To be honest, I prefer seedless grapes too, even though I'm a pro at popping a tough-skin, seeded grape in my mouth, masticating, then spitting out the seeds.)  So far, our young Mars Seedless grapes seem to be doing well in the first department, but we won't know about fruiting for a year or two more.

This spring, Brian sent me a bunch of cuttings from his plants, and the grapes are rooting wonderfully.  So we'll be adding Marquis, Reliance, and Thomcord to our experimental planting this year too.

Check back in two to four years for results on my disease-resistant, seedless grape experiment.  In the meantime, perhaps our readers would like to chime in about which seedless grapes have done well in their gardens without sprays?

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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SEE: Seedless Grapes Cultivars:

Relative susceptibility of table grape varieties to low-temperature injury, disease, and leaf damage resulting from sulfur applications:

Successive Ripening:

I've had luck with Canadice, Himrod, Interlaken, Mars, Vanessa, and Reliance.

Comment by BSmith Wed Jun 12 10:22:52 2013

Being in the dry heat of California, I can't speak to disease resistance. However, we are growing ThomCords here and they are really delicious! Hope they do well over there because they are a really special grape. We don't spray any chemicals, and the vines are healthy and vigorous. We're also growing Blueberry grapes, which look like the ThomCords, but really do taste blueberry-ish.

Comment by Rena Thu Jun 13 03:48:38 2013

Black rot is the one disease that has affected Virginia vintners the most. I am told that, prior to the various antifungal sprays, the loss due to black rot within Virginia was total.

As for my own experience, we have taken some losses due to black rot, but not total losses. It may be that the individual grapes within the bunches are bad, but there are plenty of decent grapes within the bunch. They may have been infected with black rot, and perhaps they would wither in a couple more days, but there seemed to be grapes on each cluster that were at least good eating right off the vine. There are also drier years than others, so crop failure is not likely to be total each year. Finally, before giving up all hope, one farmers daughter shared with me that her family never sprayed, and never had problems with black rot. Therefore, something is possible in the way of raising grapes without sprays.

I, for one, would like to find out what.


Comment by Dan Sat Jun 15 09:14:31 2013

Your page says to check back in 3-4 years, and it's been four years since it was last updated.

I just pulled out three grape vines of my own that were all infected with black rot. I used to have just one, but I tried to keep it and followed various advice. Now it's two years later and I am giving up before it spreads to more vines.

I have had good luck with Neptune so far. It showed signs of black rot two years back, but last year there were no signs of it and this year it is looking great as well.

Canadice was the first to get the black rot and could never seem to recover. Einset got infected very strongly and I had to pull out the vine. Never even got a single grape from it.

Comment by Brokk Tue Jun 27 16:08:35 2017

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