Whether you are planting table grapes or grapes for wine, informing yourself about the correct planting season can make all the difference in the quality of your grape harvest.
Planting Season and Vine Location
Consider the local weather when timing your planting. You should be confident that frost and/or snow won't destroy your young plants before they've had chance to take root. Frost pockets can form in low-lying areas of the yard or garden, where cold air can get trapped around your plants. Grape vines need lots of sun to produce sweet fruit. Plant your grapes in spring in a sheltered location to prevent frost damage. A sloping south or southwest slope is ideal because of its exposure to maximum sunlight.
Timing Garden Work
In the spring, plant your grapes about 1-3 inches deep. Trim the plant roots that are very long or broken from the main root stem. If the soil is readily workable and you can use a trowel to break it up, you know you are ready to plant. There is no need for fertilizer or mulch at this time, but make sure the new plants are free of any lawn or weed roots as they won't be able to grow if competing for nutrients with established root systems. Also, give your new grape plants a light watering after you plant them to prevent the roots from drying out. Many people find a soaker-hose irrigation system to be the easiest and most thorough way to water grapes. The initial watering will give your plants time to adjust before the soaker hose begins deeper watering. Ideally, root trimming, planting and watering will happen in late March so that plants can have time to adjust and take maximum advantage of the full summer sunlight.
Geography and Planting Times
Grape planting times vary according to geographic region. The USDA plant hardiness zone map will help you figure out when to plant. It's not very easy to use, however, so another way to measure would be to check the soil in early spring. If it can be easily tilled, it's time to plant. The most important factors when considering grape-vine planting times are soil aeration and temperature. Soil aeration is the amount of space between soil particles. You can control that by how much you till your soil and whether or not you choose to add mulch or sand that will make it courser. Grape vines do best in soil that isn't too compact, so if your soil is mostly clay, add some bark mulch or sand to make the soil more coarse.