Growing Grapes in the Philippines, Part 1 Primer

Grapes can be grown in the Philippines. This has been proven in Arevalo, Iloilo, La Union and Cebu (where they have been growing grapes since 1950). There are many varieties that we can grow here. Grapes like loose, deep soil with a ph lower than 5, so the application of lime helps. It is also good to put decomposed leaves around the plant to conserve the soil moisture. Grapes like terrain that is somewhat sloping so as not to lodge water and hurt the roots.

Grapes need plenty of sunshine (not shade) and good circulation of air to avoid the onset of disease. Within ten (10) to 12 months after planting, grapes are ready for harvest. Harvest is done three times a year — September, December, and Summer. In the first year, a hectare of land planted to grapes can yield about 1,700 kilos per tree. In the third and fourth years 10,000 kilos per tree can be harvested. Grape is most productive from its third to eighth year.

Table grapes is suited to a local climate and has unlimited market. However, one should b financially prepared for its late pay-off period which is three years after initial planting. After five years, a farmer can earn a total of P221,000 per hectare.

Aside form the fresh fruit itself, grapes have various by- product such as raisins, grape wine, grape juice, jams and jellies. during the 1960s and 70s, the country average import of these goods was worth $802,900 every year. In 1985, the value of imports soared to $1.7 million or P34 million at the exchange rate of P20.40 to a dollar. This does not include fresh grapes brought in by air travelers.

Fresh grapes now sell for P50 to P60 per kilo for those locally produced, and P60 to P120 a kilo for imported ones.

Large grape plantation can be found in Cebu, Ilocos Region, South Cotabato, Zamboanga, and other regions in the Visayas and Mindanao.

Adaptation. Grapes grow best in areas with warm and dry climate and where sufficient irrigation is available. Places frequently by typhoon and continuous rain are least suitable. Suitable regions for grape production are western parts of Luzon, Palawan, Mindoro, Panay and Negros Occidental. Growing conditions, however, vary depending on the variety.

Most commercial vineyards are below 1,000 feet in elevation, some almost at sea level. Select a site that is flat or gently rolling so that soil erosion is minimal.

Grapes is adapted to deep, friable, well-drained and fertile loam soil, and grow poorly in the sandy and heavy soil. For high- quality fruits, select areas with soil acidity of 5.5 to 6.5 (slight to medium acid). The choosing planting should have full exposure to sunlight and fresh air. With appropriate condition, one can plant three to four crops a year.

Variety. The Vitis Vinifera variety account for more than 90 percent of the world’s total grape production. It is also known as European or Californian grapes and is acceptable to light soil.

American grapes varieties such as Vitis Labrusca or “Concord” requires high soil fertility, adequate water supply and “shallow” soil. These adapt well to clay and heavy soil.

Varieties used as table grapes and premium quality dry table wines can grow in less fertile soil, while those grown for raisins and common wines need deep fertile soil. Varieties proven to be adapt to local condition are the White Malaga, Ribier, Cardinal and IAC 971-1 or the Brazilian hybrid.

TABLE GRAPE VARIETIES

Variety Maturity period Color Shape:

  • White medium late green/yel- ellipsoid low-green
  • Ribier medium late black round
  • Cardinal early cherry red round
  • Brazilian medium late green/yel- round hydrid low green
  • These are seedy varieties but are excellent in flavor.

Planting

Grapes are propagated mainly through cuttings. Carefully inspect plant materials be sure they are free from virus-caused diseases. Select cuttings from mother vines that produced large quantities of high quality barriers. Avoid cutting from newly vines and choose cutting the size of an ordinary lead pencil with three or four well-develop buds.

Plant them in well-drained medium such as fine or coarse river sand and hollow them to grow roots. After a month, transfer to pots or to plastic bags.

In the absence of the mother vines, young rooted ones can be bought in plant nurseries. Estimate the number of vines needed for plantation by using the following formula:

A = Number of vines
d * d

Where:
A= area in square meters of plantation
d= Distance between plants in meters (2.5 * 3.5)

For small backyard gardens, simply dig out individuals holes for each vine, about one cubic meter, then fill it up with top soil mixed with animal manure.

For large-scale production, prepare land of the flowing and harrowing 2 to 3 times. Dig holes for each vines arranged in lines or distances of 3.5 meters between rows and 2.5 meters within rows. Mix 2 kg of 16-20-0 (nitrogen – phosphorus) and 500 g of 0-00-60 (potassium) with one cubic meter of soil to fill up each hole. Chicken manure can be also be used.

Remove the rooted vines from the potting containers making sure that the soil holding the vines are intact. Gently set the plant into each hole and cover with the fertilizer-soil mixture. Water them after planting and regularly thereafter. Fifty grams of 45-0-0 (nitrogen) can be dissolved in 2.3 liters of water and used to water the newly planted vines.

Vineyard Management

Provide the plants with trellises or any type of plant support such as the overhead arbor or balag. They should be shoulder-high from the ground and wide enough to allow the grower to prune, spray or harvest efficiently. Five strands of wire one foot apart should be strong across a main horizontal bar made from the basal section of bamboo. Construct them in such a way that they will be able to stand wind pressure and the weight of the vines and its fruits. Growing branches should have sufficient space in which to expand.

Trained the vines to grow straight up the trellis by trying them loosely to stakes or guide posts. Remove all site shoots or regularly until the main vine has reached the top of the trellis. In case the unwanted shoots have grown and toughened considerably, remove them with a sharp knife or pruning shears.

When the main vine has reached the top of the trellis, pinch off its growing tip. Allow two to four lateral (side) branches to grow while cutting off other side shoots. The lateral branches should be the topmost ones, trained or guided to grow and extend opposite one another. Tie these loosely to the trellis wires and never allow them to overlap with adjacent vines. Cut off the growing tips of these lateral branches when they grow to 1 1/2 cm to encourage the growth of sub-lateral shoots. Do this regularly until the sufficient number of fruiting canes have grown from the lateral branches .

Pruning, which involves cutting under-wanted section of branch including leaves, should be done to encourage flowering and fruiting. Determine the normal position, location and size the flower buds of the variety being used to estimate the appropriate spots for pruning. Do this when the vine has grown a full year and the canes (fruiting twigs) are brownish in color. Canes should have distinct normal buds and mature leaves. Prune only mature and slow-growing branches and using a sharp pruning shear about an inch above a bud.

For best results, fertilizer and irrigate the vines regularly two weeks before pruning. Pruning should be timed such that fruiting will not occur during the rainy season which could result in damaged fruits.

The kind of pruning done depends on the location of the fruit buds. Varieties with fruit buds near the base and those with thin canes are pruned after its fourth bud, while those with large-size canes and with fruit buds after the fifth node (bud) are pruned beyond its fifth bud.

New buds will sprout about two weeks after pruning. Table grape varieties grow flower cluster between the third and the seventh node of the new shoot. If flower cluster fails to appear beyond the seventh node, the shoots is unproductive.

The Thompson Seedless, White Malaga and Concord varieties responds well to cane pruning , while the Cardinal, Ribier, Flame Tokay and the British Hybrid respond well to spur-pruning.

When the fruits have emerged, remove flower or fruit clusters that hinder the growth of the large fruits. This is done on flower cluster before they have bloomed.

For additional revenue, one can intercrop grapes with crops that mature early, do not deplete soil nutrients, and can not be inflected with disease harmful to the vines. Mungbean is an excellent intercrop if planted beneath the trellis.

Hormones or growth regulators may be used to increase fruit size and growth. For table grape varieties, gibberellic acid can be applied on flowers before blooming. This, however, must be used with caution.

source: elgu2.ncc.gov.ph, region10.dost.gov.ph

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