If you want to start a vineyard or produce your own wines, you should learn about growing grapes in Oklahoma. As is the case when cultivating any crop, there is much to consider to ensure the success of your grape-growing endeavor. Here are a few steps that can help when starting a vineyard.
6 Essential Steps for Growing Grapes in Oklahoma
Step 1: Select a Planting Site
If you frequently go on wine tours or travel Oklahoma vineyards, you may have noticed that these places share some similarities regarding their vineyard setup. That is because selecting the right location is essential to ensure the long-term success of a vineyard. Before you start planting anything in your planned vineyard, consider the:
- Climate. What is the average temperature in each season? How often does it rain?
- Soil. How quickly does the soil drain? Can this affect moisture around the root zone?
- Slope. Is there a slope in the area? How will this impact the sunlight and drainage?
Step 2: Select a Grape Variety
Many grape varieties thrive in Oklahoma vineyards near me, so there is sure to be a perfect option for your vineyard. If you want to produce red wine, consider growing:
- Cabernet Sauvignon.
If your vineyard will primarily produce grapes for white wines, you may want to grow:
- Muscat Blanc.
- Seyval Blanc.
In addition to these varieties, a range of hybrid grapes grow well in Oklahoma’s climate.
Step 3: Preparing for Planting
Once you know what grapes to plant and where to put them, it is time to begin preparing your vineyard. This step may begin around a year before you start planting, as you must prepare the area by:
- Cultivating the soil.
- Killing weeds and reducing pests.
- Making changes based on soil tests.
- Marking your rows.
This process takes a lot of work, but that effort will pay off.
Step 4: Planting the Grapes
After the area is prepared, you can begin planting your grapes at the end of winter or early spring (depending on the grape variety and the area’s climate). Once you have planted the bare-rooted plants and have tied them to a training stake, you should keep them watered, weeded, and free from pests and diseases.
Depending on the grape variety, your intended use of the grapes, and the area’s slope, you may need to construct a trellis for a support system. However, this can often wait until the summer or fall, once the grapevines have grown larger. In addition to making your harvest easier, a trellis can help keep the vines away from small animals.
Step 5: Pruning and Maintenance
Once you start noticing growth on your vines, it can be tempting to let them grow freely until it is time to harvest. However, you will still need to wait to enjoy the rewards of your efforts; grapes can only grow on vines that are at least one year old. Once you reach that point, you will focus on regular maintenance.
Pruning will ensure that new growth develops. The vines will be dormant from December through March, making it the perfect time to prune them. Prime your plants for new growth by:
- Cutting each vine back to one or two canes.
- Trimming each cane until it has between two and eight buds.
- Removing all but the two strongest shoots when growth resumes.
- Occasionally pruning back more when needed.
At this point, only the main trunks and year-old growth should remain. Do not hesitate at this step; most places you see when visiting “Oklahoma vineyards near me” cut off more of the vines than they leave.
Of course, when growing grapes in Oklahoma, maintenance goes beyond pruning. Make sure that your plants are well-watered and free from weeds. Watch out for disease and pests, and have a plan in place for what to do if damage occurs. Also, consider fertilizing your grapevines.
Step 6: Harvest and Post-Harvest
The grapes will begin to ripen in July; this period is known as “Veraison.” At this step, keep focusing on maintenance, but start preparing for the harvest season. This may occur in late summer or early fall, depending on your grape variety. After your grapes have been harvested, the vines will go dormant, allowing you to repeat the process once it is time to prune your plants again.
Interested in Visiting Oklahoma Vineyards Near Me?
Whether you are starting your own business or want to enjoy homemade wines from plants grown in your backyard, starting a vineyard is a fun and fulfilling experience. To learn more about growing grapes in our state or to find exciting places to visit when you travel Oklahoma vineyards, get in touch with OGIC.