Matamata Chronicle - - Gardening -

Most grape va­ri­eties are still a good month or so away from ripen­ing, but now’s the time to put some ef­fort into tidy­ing and ty­ing up vines, and pro­tect­ing the de­vel­op­ing bunches of fruit from sun scald, botry­tis, mildew and thirsty birds.

Cut back ex­cess fo­liage – that’s any leafy growth 20-30cm from the last bunch of fruit on each trail­ing vine. This pre­vents the plants wast­ing their en­ergy on un­nec­es­sary ex­tra leaf growth, and also lifts some of the load (it’s so dis­heart­en­ing when fully laden vines snap). Add ex­tra ties too. You can also trim off large leaves un­der the hang­ing bunches, to im­prove air flow and re­duce the risk of fun­gal dis­eases. But don’t hack too much of the top growth off, as this shades the fruit as it ripens.

If you’ve lost your grapes to botry­tis or bunch rot in the past (these fun­gal dis­eases cause the al­mostripe bunches to wither and shrink on the vine), it’s worth ap­ply­ing a pre­ven­tive spray of fungi­cide, such as liq­uid cop­per or Yates Fun­gus Fighter now. Don’t leave it any longer how­ever, as many sprays can’t be used within a month of har­vest.

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