PRUNE FRUITING GRAPE VINES & NET OUT BIRDS
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.