Concord grapes (Vitis labrusca “Concord”) are grown in backyards across U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 5 through 8 because of their rich taste, texture and relatively minor care needs. If you want to start your own Concord grape vine in the backyard or you have a few bushes that don’t seem to thrive, learn about this plant’s specific needs and a few pests you might encounter.
Plant your Concord grape seedlings in an area that receives full sunlight but provides partial or full protection from wind. Partial shade is acceptable, although this will lessen fruit production and ripening. Amend poorly drained soil with a 2-inch layer of organic compost before planting to promote berry production and size. Dig a hole large enough to accommodate the seedling’s root system and backfill with the original soil. Plant the seedlings at least 8 feet apart to allow for future growth.
Irrigating your Concord Vines
Provide your newly planted Concord grape seedlings with a healthy drink of water to settle the soil and promote root growth and expansion. Continue to irrigate the growing grape vines deeply and less frequently to prevent leggy root development or root rot. During the spring, hold back on the watering, especially if the soil remains uniformly moist. During the hotter summer months, provide the vines with an 8-inch-deep watering once weekly, unless once again the rainfall is heavy and the soil remains moist.
Provide your Concord grapes a sturdy support during the second, and every subsequent growing season, to produce strong vines and increase potential fruit yield. If your property doesn’t feature an existing trellis, arbor or fence, create a structure that feature 8-foot posts sunk 2 feet into the ground at 8-foot intervals. Stretch 12- or 13-gauge wire 40, 52 and 64 inches above the ground along the fence posts to provide support for the growing vines At the beginning of the second growing season, isolate the vine’s strongest shoot and attach it to the lowest wire loosely with a piece of string. Continue to monitor this strongest shoot and prune away any extraneous shoots that emerge from the ground as the growing season continues.
Concord grapes are susceptible to a variety of pests in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 5 through 8, including cutworms and grape mealybugs. Cutworms are long, brown caterpillarlike insects generally found just below the soil and at the vine’s surface and most active at night. The University of California, Davis, suggests hand-picking the insects at night as an effective means of elimination. Grape mealybugs are flat, oval-shaped insects that feature a white, waxy coating. The insects create a sticky, waxy substance and can transmit grape vine viruses.