How To Protect Your Grape Vines from Cold Damage

Harvesting grapes

Running a vineyard can be an interesting business. It involves age-old traditions of growing grapes, and you will learn a lot of things from the culture of pressing wines. Grapes are also a great addition to any garden. They can be delicious in salads, as ingredients to other food items, or as a treat in themselves. You will have to watch your grapes carefully, though. Cultivation can be quite challenging, especially during the cold seasons. You will need to keep your vines closely monitored during wintertime, so that they can give you adequate yield the following year.

Select a grape variant that’s more resilient to cold. Protecting your grape vines from frost and from the cold will involve planning. You will need to plan the location of your vineyard and the best variety of grape vines.

Note that as soon as you harvest your grapes for one season, the vines will not send carbohydrates to the canes anymore. These will therefore become dormant and hard, in preparation for the upcoming winter. It’s best for this to happen earlier, so that your grape vine has more time to harden and grow more resistant to the extreme cold. To ensure this, you will need to choose a grape variety that will give you a ripe yield early in the summertime. This way, your vines have enough time to become dormant completely before winter sets in.

Plan the location. Cold air is denser than hot air, and will therefore flow and sink lower through the valleys and plains. Therefore, it’s important to plan your vineyard. Choose a site where cold air can be deflected off, such as higher up in the hills. If you live or have your vineyard in low, flat areas, cold pockets can accumulate here. You will need to make sure your grape variety is more resilient to the cold air.

Bury the trunk. Protect your vine by burying it in a small hill or mound of earth as winter approaches. This will keep off any cold air flowing in, which cause extremely cold temperatures within your vines.

In the middle of the winter, temperatures might go slightly higher than freezing point. In these instances, your grape vines might think that spring is nearing, and the vines will be cued to start de-hardening. This can make them susceptible to any sudden temperature drops, though.  What you can do is keep the temperatures more or less constant. Burying the trunks of your vineyard in hills or mounds of earth ensures a more or less constant temperature. At the very least, your grafts are protected from cold air from the surface.

Keep your soil moist and warm. Moist, bare and compact soil can maintain a certain amount of heat through the day. It’s best to maintain your soil this way throughout wintertime. You can also use a cover crop, which can help insulate the grape vines by a few degrees. You can then mow these before your grape buds burst. Or, you can plant cover crops a bit lower in the ground, for easy removal.

Use multiple trunks. This will give your vineyard better chances of survival. This way, in the event that one trunk dies from frost, you still have other trunks that can produce grapes. This way, you don’t risk losing everything to the frost. You will need to make sure each trunk is protected though.


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