Effects of Eastern South Dakota Soils and Climate on Sustainable Production of Cold Hardy Grape Varieties

2008 Annual Report for FNC07-666

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2007: $5,990.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2008
Region: North Central
State: South Dakota
Project Coordinator:

Effects of Eastern South Dakota Soils and Climate on Sustainable Production of Cold Hardy Grape Varieties


Tucker’s Walk Vineyard was a busy place in 2008. The vineyard went from about 1 ½ acres to over 3 acres, and the growth is expected to occur in 2009 as well. Work activities associated with the SARE grant included:
• We planted 1 ½ acres of new ‘Marquette’, ‘Briana’, and ‘Frontenac Gris’ grapes in blocks C and D. Grant funding paid for part of the trellis fencing supplies.
• We mapped the soils in a one-acre block (block B) that was planted in 2007. We sent in soil samples for testing in that same area. Grant funding helped defray cost of soil testing.
• We attended a grape growing clinic conducted by the South Dakota Specialty Producers Association that featured Dr. Paul Domato from Iowa State University.
• We planted 6 acres of native grasses (buffalo grass, blue gramma, side oats) between the rows of our new grapes as well as within the deer fenced area. Grant funding helped with cost of seed.
• We joined a research project that includes Dennis Todey (South Dakota State Climatologist), and installed a weather station in the vineyard that logs temperature and soil moisture at hourly intervals. The research project that we are associated with is entitled “Climate Changes and Microclimate Impact on Grape Cultivars in the Upper Midwest”.
• We collected and delivered petioles for analysis at South Dakota State University Plant Analysis Laboratory. We separated samples of ‘Marquette’ grapes growing in two different soil types, in the hope of better understanding any differences that may be observed prior to our first harvest. Grant funding paid for part of petiole analysis.

1) Soil mapping and soil test – Bruce Kunze from USDA NRCS helped us map soil types in detail for the approximately one acre block B. There were four distinct soil types present, including one (Trent loam) that is considered to be very favorable, and one (Crofton Nora complex). In consultation with Anne Fennel, Rhoda Burrows, and Bruce Kunze, we decided that studying our newly planted ‘Marquette’ grapes in these two soil types might be very useful to establish the favorability of these soils for the new and largely unstudied grape variety. Soil tests revealed a range of soil pH from 6.7 – 8.1. Nitrogen ranged from 2-53 lbs./acre, and organic material from 1.2 – 2.8 %. Nothing is very surprising, but we will be able to compare this to conditions after we begin producing grapes.
2) Petiole analysis – We collected petioles for two blocks of plants within the Trent and Crofton soil types. Results will give us a starting point to compare with the plants characteristics (and requirements) after production begins (in 2009).
3) Bud damage sampling – About once a month through the winter, and after each cold snap, we harvested cuttings from ‘St. Croix’, ‘Frontenac’, and ‘Frontenac Gris’ grapes. In the winter of 2007-2008, the coldest temperature was -28.3 degrees F, and in the winter of 2008-2009, we had one early morning temperature of -29.4 degrees F on Jan 15, 2009. Anne Fennel gave us a preliminary report there was a moderate amount of bud damage in 2007-2008, but we have not gotten results from this year.

• We will host a pruning clinic in March 2009, featuring Dr. Paul Reed of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
• We will plant more native grasses.
• We will plant up to two acres more grapes, and establish trellis systems for same.
• We will conduct petiole analysis on block B in similar locations to last year.
• We will continue with weather station logging, and bud damage sampling.
• We will work with Dennis, Anne, and Rhoda, to get climate and bud damage results and interpret them.

• The Garretson newspaper (Garretson Weekly) featured our vineyard in July, and we described our plans to raise grapes and make wine, as well as our participation in the Buy Fresh, Buy Local campaign. Sue was quoted in the article: “We hope to work with and be complementary to the other tourist attractions in the Garretson area. Grapes offer an alternative agriculture option that is good for land conservation.”
• The Argus Leader (Sioux Falls, SD) sent a professional photographer, and featured a cover picture of our vineyard and grape blossoms in the weekly Life – Home and Garden section on May 27. On the top of front page of the Argus (May 27, 2009) was a “teaser” and small picture that said “Join the push for local Produce – Why buy food that’s been shipped from a half a world away?”

Planned for 2009
• Planting and harvesting weekend May and September
• U of N pruning clinic - March
• Home and Garden tour - May