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With supplies of certain grape varietals and clones limited in Washington State, growers must plan ahead when making planting decisions and ordering vines. Depending on the propagation method, it can take up to a year to propagate, grow, and ready material for planting.

The following is a brief overview of how a grape cutting is prepared for planting in the vineyard, as described by Tom Judkins of Inland Desert Nursery, Benton City, Washington, and Marcus Freepons, Northwest Vinifera, Grandview, Washington.

Field-rooted plants are one year old when planted in the grower’s vineyard. Though greenhouse plants start the same way as field-rooted—from grape cuttings—they are rooted in the greenhouse after the cuttings callus, and are ready for planting within a few months, instead of a year.


Field-rooted plants

January

• Canes from one-year dormant wood are cut into 15- to 18-inch sticks, each with about five buds.

• Cuttings are tagged for identification, and may be heat-treated with hot water for crown gall, then soaked in hormone to encourage rooting.

• Cuttings are placed upside down in aged sawdust or sand, in bins placed outside.


May

• Callus forms on cuttings in bin around first of May.

• Cuttings planted in the field nursery.


Summer

• Foliar nutrition and mildew program followed in field nursery to help develop strong, healthy root system.


November

• Plants dug up from the field nursery, tagged for identification, sorted and graded for size and uniformity, trimmed, and bundled.

• Plant bundles dipped in water to put moisture into the roots.

• Bundles stored in the ground until shipment the following spring to growers.

Bundles are placed in 18-inch-deep trench to protect roots, with soil hilled at the base to protect basal buds from cold.

Greenhouse plants

January–February

• Canes from one-year dormant wood are cut into 15- to 18-inch sticks, each with about five buds.

• Cuttings are tagged for identification, and may be heat-treated with hot water for crown gall, then soaked in hormone to encourage rooting.

• They are placed in sawdust or sand, in bins kept inside with temperature regulated to promote faster callusing.

• Cuttings usually callus after two weeks.

• Cuttings are potted in 4.5-inch deep plastic cell trays.

May

• Plants in cell trays are sorted for size and uniformity.

• Plants are acclimated in a shaded structure before shipment to grower.

• Shipments begin in mid-May after the risk of spring frosts lessens; vines are planted in the vineyard upon arrival.