Grapes are one of the most ancient crops known. They can be eaten fresh as table grapes or enjoyed in a variety of products such as juice, jelly, and the ultimate processed grape product, wine--created from the controlled fermentation of grape juice. [For information on home winemaking, refer to Winemaking as a Hobby (AGRS-49), available through Penn State county extension offices.] Grapes are a wonderful crop to grow in the backyard. Many species are native to North America and are extremely easy to grow, whereas others (primarily wine grapes) are natives of Europe and can present a true horticultural challenge to the backyard grower. Because grapes are vines, the form to which they are trained is limited only by the grower's imagination--from arbors to fences to more standard trellis systems, grapes can be trained to conform to many shapes and sizes.
Site selection is extremely important for growing the more cold-tender grape varieties, although American types such as Concord and Niagara thrive in most places in Pennsylvania that meet the criteria outlined in Getting Started.
Grapes are sold as rooted cuttings (referred to as "own-rooted" plants) or grafted plants. Both usually are sold as bare-root dormant plants, which should be planted in the spring as soon as the soil can be worked.
Test and amend the soil according to the soil test directions a year before planting.
Grapes can be grown to conform to numerous shapes: arbors, fences, and decorative trellises are only a few of the possibilities.
The following descriptions of insect damage are general guidelines that can vary in severity based on a number of factors.
Herbicides currently registered for use in commercial vineyards are not recommended for home gardeners.