Seedless Table Grape Variety Evaluation Grown on VSP Training System

2010 Annual Report for FNE10-692

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2010: $9,388.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2014
Region: Northeast
State: New Hampshire
Project Leader:
John Lastowka
Lastowka's Maple Gate Farm

Seedless Table Grape Variety Evaluation Grown on VSP Training System


Seedless Table Grape Variety Evaluation Grown on VSP Training System

Seedless Table Grape Variety Evaluation Grown on VSP Training System
2010 Interim Report

Lastowka’s Maple Gate Farm & Vineyard
183 Amherst Rd
Merrimack, NH 03054

Farmers and growers that sell agricultural crops directly to the consumers are looking for new crops to expand their marketing opportunities. Our project will be looking at seedless table grape varieties that are adaptable to southern New Hampshire as a new crop to market.

Based on discussions I have had with UNH Cooperative Extension, we selected sixteen different seedless table grape varieties. Ten vines of each of fifteen varieties were purchased from two nurseries and planted in May of 2010. We will plant the sixteenth variety in the spring of 2011. There was, due to a crop failure in the production of the grape vine roots in 2009 for this variety. All 150 grape vine roots were planted in one day on May 15

We constructed the trellis for training the grape vines in the Vertical Shoot Positioned (VSP) system over the next three weeks. The VSP has the grapes at the bottom of the canopy and then the shoots grow vertically towards the sky. The shoots are held upright by using catch wires that keep the shoots close to the trellis system.

We installed all of the trellis and catch wire for the 1/4 acre vineyard. There are four horizontal catch wires the first one is 32” off the ground and the other three are vertically one foot apart. Note that the cost of the trellis and wire was not part of the grant.

Posts were placed in the vineyard by using a tractor mounted post hole digger. There were quite a few rocks in the soil where the post hole digger could not be used. In these cases we used a backhoe to remove the rocks.

After all of the posts were in, we drilled 10” in diameter holes three feet deep with a gas hand auger, planted the grapes, and then installed the catch wires.

Blue-X grow-tubes were place on the planted grape vines and were removed on September 11.Mini-stakes were driven into the ground for each vine and we slipped Blue-X grow-tubes over the stake and then tied each stake to the lowest wire. The Blue-X grow-tubes acted as a mini greenhouse to speed growth.

The summer of 2010 was one of the hottest and driest summers that we have had in the 40 years that I have lived on the farm. All the grape vines survived the summer conditions. However, we did do hand watering of the grape vines throughout the summer on an as needed basis. A soil test was taken, and lime and fertilizer was applied to the vineyard as recommended.

A Watch Dog weather station was installed in the vineyard June 1, 2010 and it monitors temperature, humidity, wind speed, gusts, rainfall, ground temperature, leaf moisture and ground moisture. The weather station is powered by a solar panel and it sends all of the data via a wireless modem to a computer in my office for analysis using SpecWare 9 Pro software.

Several times during the summer, we had trouble with deer browsing damage to the grape vines. This fall, we constructed deer fence around the grape vineyard to prevent future problems.

We conducted a fruit pruning demonstration at the farm on March 27. George Hamilton and Jon Nute, UNH Cooperative Extension of Hillsborough County, conducted the demonstration. They pruned apple, peach, cherry, and pear trees, blueberry bushes and grape vines. I attended three New Hampshire Grape twilight meetings, one Vermont grape meeting and one Massachusetts grape meeting. Several individual have visited the project during the past summer.

We will be reviewing the seedless table grape varieties for survival in winter conditions, the amount of winter dieback and winter bud survival will be recorded along with winter temperatures.

In future years, the bud survival analysis would include primary, secondary, and tertiary bud survival as an index of potential yield. When the grape vines start to produce marketable fruit, we will record the date and pounds of fruit harvested, and soluble solids (sugar brix) of each variety. Finally, we will evaluate which grape variety customers purchase at a profitable price for the grower.

UNH Cooperative Extension of Hillsborough County is assisting me with monitoring the progress of the grapes throughout the season. My technical advisor from UNHCE is educator George Hamilton who has a great deal of knowledge about grapes is educating me on insects and funguses on grapes. George has done pruning demonstrations at my farm for the last five years, demonstrating the pruning of apple, peach, pear and cherry trees along with high bush blueberries and grapes. Both George and Dr. Becky Sideman from UNH Durham, NH who is a small fruit (berry and grape) specialist have observed the vineyard throughout the spring, summer and fall. I also had the help of family and friends to install the trellis, wiring, and planting of grapes.

It is too early to talk about the amount of grapes each variety produces and their quality; it will be at least two more years before we have any produce.

Separate from the table grape grant, I extended the vineyard another 1/4 acre and will plant wine grapes in the spring of 2011. The varieties will be Frontenac, Leon Milot, Foch, Cayuga White, Seyval Blanc, and Marquette. The posts for this vineyard were put in with a post pounder. Using the post pounder put the posts in faster and straighter. I would recommend to anyone who attempts to put in a vineyard of any size to rent or have someone put the posts in with a pole pounder and second choice post hole digger.


George Hamilton
Technical Advisor, Extension Educator, Agricultural Resources
UNH Cooperative Extension - Hillsborough County
329 Mast Rd - Room 101
Goffstown, NH 03045
Office Phone: 6036416060