Even though we live in the desert where Temperatures reach 120 plus in the summertime, there is a wide variety of fruits and veggies that can be grown here. Our backyard garden has a good variety of these plants including Red Flame Grapes. Did you know you can grow grapes in Arizona?
What varieties of grapes do well in the desert?
The best grapes to grow in Arizona’s desert areas are European varieties of grapes. Here is a list of both table grapes and wine grapes that do well here:
- Red Flame Seedless Grapes(Red)
- Thompson Seedless Grapes (Green)
- Cardinal Grapes (Dark Red)
- Perlette Grapes (Green)
- Shiraz Grapes (Red)
- Pinot Grigio (White)
- Petite Sirah (Red)
- Barbera (Red)
- Tempranillo (Red)
- Cabernet Sauvignon (Red)
- Sauvignon Blanc (White)
- Viognier (White)
Believe it or not, the summer heat that we get here in the low desert encourages the grapes to produce an abundance of sugar. This makes for great tasting table grapes.
How to Grow Grapes in the Desert
Plant grapevines in full sun to partial shade. Grapevines require at least 6 hours of full sun to produce well. If you decide to plant grapes in full sun, make sure to supply them with adequate water.
Another thing to consider when planting your grapes is to make sure the location is roomy enough for them to spread out when fully grown.
How to plant vines:
Dig a hole at least 2 feet deep and wide and amend with good organic compost or well-rotted manure. It is recommended to soak the roots in compost tea for at least 30 min prior to planting. When placing in the ground make sure to leave any grafted areas above ground to prevent the rootstock from sending offshoots.
Apply organic fertilizers high in nitrogen 2 weeks after planting. Some good natural sources include poultry, rabbit or steer manure. If you don’t have access to these manures, you can also use organic fertilizers such as Dr. Earths organic fertilizers such as their fruit tree fertilizer.
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Trellising Grape Vines
Installing a trellis or some other kind of support structure is also recommended before you put your grapevine in the ground.
Grapes do best when they are able to climb and expand on structures like trellises, fences, and arbors. The root system on trellised grapevines is also stronger than those that are not supported. The Grapevine will grow a nice thick trunk to support its growth.
Protecting your Grapes from Birds and Pests
The biggest problem you have in the Phoenix Valley area with growing grapes is Grape Leaf Skeletonizers.
My dad had a beautiful vine of Thompson Seedless grapes for over 5 years. Every year these pesky caterpillars took over his grapevine and destroyed it. Knock on wood they haven’t found my grapes …. yet.
If you notice that your leaves are disappearing on your grapevines and are becoming see-through or skeletonized, you most likely have them lurking. These yellow caterpillars hang out on the bottom of the grape leaves. You will also notice swarms of annoying little black bugs flying around near your vines as well.
The only organic remedy that is safe to use on your grapevines is BT (Bacillus thuringiensis). This natural pesticide is actually a bacteria that can rid your plants of these nasty caterpillars.
To use BT:
- Dilute BT with water per directions in a spray bottle.
- Spray the tops AND bottoms of all the leaves on a regular basis. (I have heard it is best to spray in the evening/nighttime)
- For extra control, you can handpick off the caterpillars or remove entire leaves with large infestations.
How to protect grapes from birds:
The best way to protect your grapes from birds is by placing mesh bags over your grape clusters and securing them. These are the best ones we have found and work well. We use these on our Peruvian Cactus fruit.
Our yard is like a little desert oasis for local birds. Some are sneaky and will occasionally find a way to remove the bags. This year will be ours. first grape harvest so we will also be using these bags on our grapes ( and Anna Apples) as well.
Bird netting is another option to protect your grapes from birds but I find it difficult to use as it clings to every little branch and leaf and can be difficult to remove for maintenance and harvesting. Plus birds are known to get trapped or tangled up in the mesh.
The Complete GRAPE Growing Giude
If you are as serious about growing grapes as we are, learning from a pro in the industry can be a valuable resource. We talked above about the basics of growing grapes in Arizona. But some of our readers may like a more in depth plan.
We found a fabulous source that includes everything you ever needed to know about growing grapes. With over 20 years of experience, James “The Grape Guy” has put together 3 informational videos and a wealth of information in The Completed Guide To Growing Grapes to help you grow an abundance of fruit. It includes a FREE 12-month email coaching guide with personalized one on one training. It is an easy way to increase your grape yields in any environment.
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