Department of Horticulture New York State Horticulture Study Guide for Youth 4-H Logo


Flowers &
Indoor Plants

Fruits & Nuts



Special Topics



Cornell University

Vitis vinifera
(vie-tus vinn-if-er-ah)

Click on thumbnails for larger image.

What about it?

Grapes have been an integral part of human society for thousands of years. They are the single most important fruit crop grown in the world today in terms of both total acreage and dollar value. They are produced in every country of the world where environmental conditions permit successful growth. The United States is the fifth largest grape producing country in the world, the majority of which is grown in California.

What is it used for?

Grapes are used for juice, raisins, table fruit, jam, and jellies. The primary use of grapes worldwide is for wine production.

Where does it grow? How do we grow it?

Grapes require a minimum frost-free period of 165-180 days. They will do best in well-drained soil that has sufficient depth for root growth (at least 30 inches). They are planted heavily in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Many growers take advantage of the natural slopes along the lakes for air drainage.

On average, space rows 10 feet apart and space vines 8 feet apart within each row. Pruning and training is necessary.

What are its primary problems?

Common grape diseases include powdery mildew, downy mildew and black rot. There are over 250 species of insects and mites that attack grapes in the United States. The most common of these include the grape berry moth, the grape rootworm, the grape root borer, the grape flea beetle, and climbing cutworms.

How do we harvest and store it?

Unlike many other fruits, grapes do not continue to ripen after they are harvested. The proper time to harvest grapes varies depending on the intended use. For fresh market and home use, the clusters are harvested selectively according to the degree of maturity. Grapes that are picked by hand should be harvested by placing the hand under the cluster, then, using a small pair of shears, the cluster is clipped from the vine. Most home gardeners claim that a touch of frost sweetens the grapes.

Excellent quality bunches can be stored in a refrigerator for several weeks to months.

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Copyright, Department of Horticulture, Cornell University.