Concord grape vines are grown both as ornamental garden plants and food. Concord grapevines can produce up to 20 pounds of fruit per year, and they grow for 40 years or more when well cared for. The United States produces more than 336,000 tons of Concord grapes yearly, with Washington State as the top grower. It is essential to feed Concord grape vines regularly to create healthy plants.
The Concord Grape Association describes the history of its cultivation from early American life to the present day. Concords were a native grape plant that was first cultivated commercially by Ephraim Wales Bull in 1854 in Concord, Massachusetts. European grape vine cultivars had failed to grow in New England because of harsh weather. Soon after Concord grapes gained popularity, commercial grape juice was invented by Dr. Thomas Welch in New Jersey.
Food for Concord grape plants is required as part of the yearly cycle of vine growth, grape production and dormancy. Grape vines are planted in the early spring because frost can damage young vines. Concord grape vines thrive in soil that has pH levels between 5.0 and 6.0. Lime is used as a soil additive when increased acidity is needed. Consult a garden center for soil testing information.
BioCycle Journal reports that compost and compost tea are sometimes used by professional grape growers to feed Concord grape vines. Kirk Grace, of Robert Sinskey Vineyards in California, describes the benefits of compost tea as “a way to apply the beneficial characteristics that are in compost such as fertility and microbial populations and biological by-products and second, it can be an aid in disease management.”
Compost fertilizer to feed Concord grapes is easily made at home using grass clippings, yard waste, kitchen scraps and used newspaper. Commercial composts are also beneficial food for grapes. Compost tea is made by inoculating water with a measured amount of compost. The ratio is one part compost to 10 to 50 parts water. Other food sources such as kelp, fish products, humic acid and rock dust are sometimes added to support and increase the microbial populations. The tea is “brewed” for 24 to 36 hours before being used as a foliar spray or irrigation.
Plant food for grapevines can be added to the ground as a side dressing or applied as a foliar spray. The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture recommends that grapevines be given a side dressing of fertilizer in the spring. Professional grower Kirk Grace applies compost tea to the grapevine canopy as a spray. The nutrients are delivered directly to the growing plant. Using compost tea as an irrigation method benefits the plant’s ability to tolerate stress such as intense heat, as well as adding to the microbial activity of the soil. Increased soil microbial activity enhances the plant’s overall health.