How To Grow & Harvest Concord Grapes
Concord grapes are native to the United States and grow in most areas of the country. Concord grapes grow in large bunches suitable for juicing, jelly, wine making and eating. Plant bare-root Concord grape vines in the spring while the plants are dormant. Expect to harvest a few grapes the third year and a full crop during the fourth summer. Pick grapes when they are fully ripe, they do not sweeten after picking. Harvesting after a frost greatly increases the sweetness according to the Better Homes and Gardens “New Complete Guide to Gardening.”
Put the bare-root vines in a container of water with a small handful of bonemeal added. Allow the roots to soak for one to two hours before planting.
Remove grass and weeds from the planting site. Dig through the site to loosen the soil. Mix the top layer of soil with organic compost. Dig a hole large enough to accommodate the roots. Fan the roots out in the hole and cover them with soil.
Prune the vine after planting, leaving only one main stem with two buds.
Water regularly the first summer to keep the soil damp but not wet. Drip irrigation or a soaker hose is ideal. Decrease watering in the fall, watering only when the vine shows signs of wilting.
Remove all but one or two strong shoots during the first winter. These shoots will become the main trunk. Prune the remaining shoots back to two live buds.
Fertilize in the spring with two oz. of 10-10-10 fertilizer. Add an additional two oz. of fertilizer each year to a maximum of 16 oz. per vine.
Tie the shoots to a stake when they are six to 12 inches tall. Continue to loosely tie the shoots every 12 inches with cotton twine.
Prune the vine during the second winter, selecting two or three shoots to train into branches. Remove all other growth.
Train the shoots onto a fence or trellis during the following summer, removing all shoots until the lateral branches are the desired length. Once the branches have developed, allow shoots to grow.
Hand pick ripe grapes by pinching the cluster off at the vine. Grapes are ripe when the color deepens and the grapes taste sweet and juicy.