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Grapes: 5 Tricks for Big, Sweet Berries

Big, juicy and sweet and aromatic: this is how we like grapes best. But the harvest is not always as abundant as desired. With these tricks you can increase the yield significantly.

1. The right location and soil

When growing grapes in the garden, you should primarily use table grapes (Vitis vinifera ssp. Vinifera). These are varieties of grapevine that are especially suitable for fresh consumption. The right location is an important prerequisite for a rich harvest: grapes need a warm, full sun and a place protected from frost and wind. It is best to plant them in front of a warm, protective house wall facing the southeast or southwest. The soil should not be too rich in lime and rather acidic. Ideally, the pH of the soil is between 5 and 7.5 (slightly acidic to slightly basic). The higher the humus content of the soil, the better the wine can cope with limit values. In any case, the soil should be loose and deep, well ventilated and permeable to water. On the other hand, compacted soils or very dry substrates are unsuitable. Shallow soils and soil interspersed with rubble offer poor conditions.

In order to curb the growth - and above all to promote the growth of shoots and fruit - grapevines need pruning. If they are not cut, the vigorous vines can reach heights of up to ten meters. The fruit woodcut, which is best done in late winter, is of particular importance. It is a heavy pruning, in which the yield is visibly reduced, but the ripening grapes later taste much bigger and sweeter: To do this, carefully shorten the worn stems that will bear fruit in the coming season. Varieties that grow on the short wood and thrive poorly are shortened to two to four eyes in the so-called "cone cut". Varieties that grow primarily on long wood are pruned rather weakly: "Strecker" is left with four to eight eyes ("Streckschnitt"), from which new shoots are then formed. In addition, you should cut out some of the fruit sets over the course of the summer in order to be able to harvest more fruity and sweet-tasting grapes.

3. Fertilize and water properly

Although grapes do not need a lot of moisture, they should still be regularly supplied with water, especially during dry periods. Strong fluctuations favor the infestation with powdery mildew. A mulch cover made of straw or clippings stores both moisture and heat better in the soil. It is also advisable to fertilize grapes once in spring with well-rotted manure. Two to three liters per square meter are ideal. Be careful not to give the plants a fertilizer that is nitrogen-rich. This can lead to leaf diseases.

Before the harvest of some grape varieties begins in August, it can help to cut out some of the grapes as early as June, especially with a very heavy crop of fruit. The big advantage: The leftover grapes are better supplied with nutrients. The berries appear larger overall and have a higher sugar content.

5. Remove stinging shoots and leaves

From mid-June you should preventively remove all the water from the old wood at its base. The water shoots themselves are sterile and only compete with the fruiting shoots. When defoliation from July or August, it is important to shorten too long and overhanging shoots in the grape zone and, at the same time, to shorten the side shoots ("sting") emerging from the leaf axils of the main shoots. to remove. This gives the grapes enough light, can dry off as quickly as possible after rain or watering and store more sugar. Caution is advised with late-ripening varieties that are grown on sunny south-facing walls. If you break off all the leaves at once and the grapes have not yet fully developed their protective wax layer, sunburn can cause brown spots.