Question: I have an arbor that is planted with grape vines. Most of the vines are doing really well, but the Concord grapes on the north part of the arbor don’t really ripen like the other grapes do. What can I do to solve this problem and get a better grape harvest next year?
Answer: My guess is that the vine on north side of arbor just isn’t getting enough sun, but there are actually a few reasons why grape ripening can be delayed.
Grape vines that are only a few years old may not be mature enough to be consistent, dependable producers. If your vines are very young, and not producing well, a few more years of growth should solve the problem.
If you planted all the grapes on your arbor at the same time and your other grapes are doing fine, this probably isn’t the cause of the delayed ripening.
Improper pruning can also cause grapes to be delayed in ripening. If you haven’t been pruning your Concord grapes the way they should be pruned every year, your vine may be flowering more than one time during the year. The later flushes of flowers would set fruit that ripen later.
If fruit set is delayed too much, the fruit might not ripen before the end of the season. You’ve probably pruned all your grapes the same way and at about the same time, including the grapes that are producing well, so this probably isn’t the cause of the problem, either.
Shading can delay the development of the fruit on grapevines. Plants on the north side of a structure would be in the shade during the spring and fall and might only get direct sun for a short time in the middle of the summer.
If there are trees or structures nearby — sheds, fences, your house — there could be even less direct sunlight.
When shading reduces the hours of sunlight, it will also reduce the units of heat that a grapevine can accumulate, which would delay spring growth. The later a grapevine breaks dormancy and buds out, the more delayed the growth of the grapevine will be. That delayed growth includes flowering and fruit set.
In your case, with all of your grapes being about the same age and receiving the same pruning and other care, shading is the most likely cause for the poor and uneven ripening of your Concord grapes.
Question: I want to plant a new apricot tree this fall. My old apricot tree only had fruit every few years because the blossom would get frozen, and I want to put my new tree in a spot where I can get fruit every year.
I have a few different places in my yard where I can fit the tree, but I’m wondering if a spot near a south-facing wall where the tree would be in a little bit warmer, sunny spot during the winter and spring would be best.
Answer: Apricots are a popular fruit, but most home gardeners are lucky to get fruit just every few years. Apricots bloom earlier in the spring than other fruit trees, and it’s not unusual for our county to have damaging frost during apricot bloom.
Your warm, sunny spot will probably be a disadvantage if you hope to get apricots more often. The winter sun and reflected heat off that wall might make your tree break dormancy earlier than it normally would.
The later your tree blooms, the greater the chance you’ll miss a frost event, so a colder location would be better. Look for another place in your yard where there won’t be reflected heat; your tree needs one of the coldest spots in your yard, not one of the warmest.
If you haven’t purchased your apricot tree yet, look for a later-blooming variety like the Chinese, or Mormon, apricot. Putting a later-blooming variety in a colder microclimate in your yard will improve your chances of getting apricots more often.