Grape Farming Information Guide
Grape is one of the most important grown crops in the world and is mainly used for making Wines and for preparing Raisins rather than just using it as a table fresh fruit, but in India it is mainly grown for table fruit. The cultivation of Grapes originated near Caspian Sea while it is known since Roman Times in India. Grape cultivation is one of the most profitable farming practises in the world and according to market prices one can earn upto 7 lacs Indian rupees from one acre of land.
In this article we will learn about the important factors that would help you become a successful Grape farmer. So let’s start with basic information about Grapes.
Grapes – Introduction
Grapes are considered to be a berry from the family of Vitaceae. The fruits are grown in clusters in a Grapevine tree which is perennial, deciduous and woody in nature and is a non-climacteric fruit.
The fruit is available in many colours like Crimson, Black, Dark blue, Yellow, Green, Orange, Pink etc and is ellipsoidal in shape with 6 mm diameter and 3 cm length approximately. The Grapevines grow up to 32 metres height with flaky bark stems.
The leaves are alternately arranged and palmately lobed with 5 to 20 cm long and broad. The Grapefruit skin has a naturally occurring microorganism (yeast) that facilitates the use of this fruit for making alcoholic drinks. The fruit is consumed all over the world in the form of fresh fruit, jam, juice, raisins, Grapeseed oil, Grape seed extract, Jelly and wine.
The fruit is a rich source of minerals like Calcium, Phosphorus, Iron and Vitamins B and it also has numerous health benefits. Grapes occupy about 16% of the total fruit production in the world and it is commercially cultivated all around and is mainly intended for table purpose, for export purposes or for making wines and making raisins.
Health Benefits of Grapes
Grapes have 20% natural sugar content and are also rich in calcium, phosphorus and a series of Vitamins and Nutrients. The colour of the Grapes is rich in Antioxidants, Polyphenols and Fibres offering numerous benefits. Some of the health benefits are:
- Grapes help in relieving migraine, asthma, and constipation.
- It prevents indigestion, blood clots, atherosclerosis and even some types of cancers.
- It fights breast cancer.
- It prevents from eye degenerations
- It is good for diabetic patients.
- It helps in lowering cholesterol levels.
- It helps in healing kidney problems.
- It is good for heart and bone health.
- It boosts immune power and helps fight viral infections.
- It is good for skin and hair health.
- It prevents Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
- It is also helpful in weight loss, inflammation and overstress.
- It helps in keeping the vision healthy and preventing Anaemia.
Varieties/Cultivars of Grapes
There are more than 60 species of the Grapes genus that are subdivided into Euvitis and Muscadinia. About 1000 varieties are grown in different places in India with the two major varieties being seeded and seedless.
The seeded varieties are:
- Anab e shahi
- Bangalore blue
- Cheema sahibi
- Black champa
The seedless varieties are:
- Beauty seedless
- Kishmish beli
- Thompson seedless
There are some hybrid varieties too that are being cultivated in India. They are:
- Arka neelmani
- Arka sweta
- Arka majestic
- Arka hans
- Arka kanchan
The commercial variety of Grapes are utilised for Table, Wine and Raisin purposes. The varieties under these categories are:
Table Grapes – Anab e Shahi, Bangalore Blue, Beauty seedless, Bhokri (Pachadrakshi), Cheema Sahebi, Delight, Gulabi (Panneer drakshi, Muscat Hamburg), Himrod, Kali Sahebi, Kandhari, Khalili, Pandari Sahebi, Perlette, Selection 94, Pusa Seedless and Thompson seedless.
Raisin Grapes – Thompson seedless, Arkavati.
Wine Grapes – Bangalore Blue, Thompson seedless and Arka Kanchan.
The commercial varieties are also grouped based on the colour and seeds in these four categories:
Coloured seeded – Bangalore Blue, Gulabi (Muscat).
Coloured seedless – Beauty seedless and Shared seedless.
White seeded – Anab e Shahi, Dilkhush which is a hybrid of Anab e Shahi.
White seedless – Perlette, Pusa seedless, Thompson seedless and its hybrid Tas-A-Ganesh, Sonaka and Manik Chaman.
Grapes cultivation originated in Armenia near the Caspian Sea in Russia and then it spread to Europe, Iran and Afghanistan. In India, it was introduced by the Invaders from Iran and Afghanistan in about 1300 AD and ranks fifth amongst the other fruit crops in the country.
80% of the production is contributed from Maharashtra, followed by Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Fresh Grapes are exported to 30 countries from India that include U.K, Netherlands, UAE, Bangladesh, Germany, Belgium, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Sri Lanka and Bahrain.
The cultivation is done over an area of 1.1 lakh hectares, annually producing around 12 lakh tonnes of Grapes. The production and the returns are high but the total area for cultivation has not increased since years because of the high initial cost of investment and the recurring cost of production. Besides, the unpredictable weather also creates a risk to the farmers.
The major Grape producing States in India are Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Tamilnadu which contribute around 90% of the total production, so there is also a need to expand the area and also diversify the uses of the fruit.
Efforts should be made for the Post Harvest Management methods so that there is no loss of fruit. The quality production and effective cost management can help in expanding the Grapes industry and its survival in India.
Regions of Grape Cultivation
Grapes are cultivated in 3 agro climatic zones that are:
- sub-tropical zone
- hot tropical zone
- mild tropical zone
However it can be grown in temperate climatic zones as well. Tropical regions keep the Grapevines evergreen and they perform well as there is no or very little rain during the fruit ripening stage.
Production/Technical Requirements in Grape Cultivation
Grapes can be cultivated in a wide range of soils but clayey or loamy to sandy loam soils work well and which have well drainage facilities and are rich in organic matter are ideal for it. The ideal pH range is considered to be 6.5 to 7.5. Alkaline soils can give a poor yielding and therefore should be avoided.
Grapes can be grown in both tropical and subtropical conditions. However, dry and hot weather conditions are mostly suited. Also, coastal regions are not suitable for Grape cultivation as it has high rainfall and humidity. The yielding is highly influenced because of temperature, relative humidity, frost conditions and rainfall.
It can tolerate Frost during the resting stage but is highly susceptible when it reaches the growing period. The optimal temperature for growing Grapes is 15 °C to 40 °C and the climate should be clear for 3 months during the cropping period.
High humidity, low temperature and rainfall during the flowering or berry development stage could become a hindrance in the growth of crop and its yielding. Also the annual rainfall should not exceed 900 mm.
Grapes can be cultivated throughout the year but the best season is September-October for planting the cultivated varieties in the main field and February-March for root stocks. However, if there are proper irrigation facilities, low frost conditions and good temperatures available, it can be grown there also.
- Land Preparation
The land for cultivating Grapes should be prepared by giving 3-4 deep ploughing by tractor or bulldozer followed by harrowing it 3 times and all the previous crop weeds should be removed. Drip irrigation does not require a perfect levelling of land, however raised beds should be created with proper drainage and irrigation channels.
The vines should be oriented in a North-South direction so that it gets maximum exposure to sunlight. The training requires proper orientation of the vine rows. Take a soil test, and any micronutrient gap should be filled appropriately.
The soil should have a proper drainage facility and excess water should be drained out. The size of the plot depends on the type of training system used and in case of bower and telephone or “T” trellis training system, the appropriate size recommended is 60 by 80 m and 90 by 120 m respectively.
The Grape plants have several options for propagating, however the most common way of propagating is through hardwood cuttings which are selected from a disease resistant variety vineyard and they are raised in a nursery initially.
t can also be propagated by seeds, layering, budding, grafting, rooted cuttings and tissue cultures. For this, rootstocks having nodes with 8 to 10 mm diameter are selected which are put in water for 24 hours such that their rooting inhibitors are leached out and then they are treated with IBA rooting hormone before planting for enhancing their growth.
- Spacing & Planting
The spacing varies with the cultivar and the fertility of soil. A spacing of 2.5 by 1.5 m is used under organic farming conditions or 2.75 ×1.50 m and 3.0 × 1.5 m spacing is followed with a population of 2450 plants per hectare.
Each variety of the plant has different types of planting density so a different type of specific spacing is given, but the most common spacing between the vines is 4.5 × 4.5 for Anab e Shahi, 7.2 × 3.6 m for Bangalore blue and 3 × 3 m for Perlette and beauty seedless varieties.
A rectangular pit is dug of dimensions 90×90×90 cm and are left open for 2-3 weeks which are then filled with topsoil, subsoil mixed with organic manure or composted farmyard manure, 3 kg bone meal, 5 kg Neem cake, 3 kg superphosphate and 500 gram of muriate of potash, 50g each of Zinc sulphate and Iron Sulphate, after mixing them well. Some Chemicals are also added to prevent white ants. Then 4 months old rootstocks are planted in the pit during the months of November to January in Central India, December to January in Southern India part and February to March in Northern India part. After planting light irrigation is provided.
Regular irrigation is essential for Grape cultivation especially for young ones and a minimum of 20 litres of water per vine is to be supplied each week in 2 to 3 irrigation cycles and the mature vines need a minimum of 100 to 300 litres of water each week.
Irrigation is given either by surface method or drip irrigation method and in India, generally 12 to 15 irrigation cycles are given in a season. However, excessive irrigation should be avoided during flowering or berry development stages. Also, ensure that the water is drained out in case of heavy rains as soon as possible.
- Manures & Fertilisers
During the land preparation 50 to 60 tonnes per hectare of well composted farmyard manure is applied. For getting a good yield, appropriate amounts of chemical, organic and biofertilizers should be essentially applied. N:P:K @ 750- 900 : 450-600 : 800- 1000 Kg per hectare per year should be applied.
Also biofertilizers such as Trichoderma @ 25 grams per vine, Azotobacter @ 25 grams per vine, Phosphate Solubilizing Bacteria (PSB) @ 25 grams per vine, Effective microorganisms, Neem cake @ 1.25 tonnes per hectare and Vermiwash should be added as nutrient supplements.
Also sugar solution, humic acid and coconut water should be sprayed during bud development stage for improving the quality of fruits. The fertilisers are applied in a ring method where Shallow circular rings are created around each vine with 60-75 cm radius and 15 cm depth.
The fertilisers are applied in this ring. It can also be applied through trenches which are created 45 to 60 cm away from either side of the rows.
- Intercultural Operations
After planting, the gaps should be filled during the first month and weeding should be performed twice or thrice depending upon the intensity of weeds by using proper chemical herbicides or hoeing the land.
It can also be controlled biologically by mulching. Dry leaves or grasses can be spread around the vines for controlling their growth and another important method for Grape cultivation is training the vines. Frequent irrigation along with some appropriate fertilisers are also applied as a part of intercultural operation in a Grape garden.
Training is essential for the young Grape vines to facilitate intercropping, fertilising and harvesting. It also helps in maintaining proper structure and the spread of the vine. The main arm of the vine is the primary frame and is recommended to be trained towards East-West direction and it is allowed to grow for 60 cm height and thereafter the shoots are tied with jute twines and all the auxiliary shoots are removed except the side shoots. The different training systems in Grape cultivation are:
- Bower – It is also referred to as overhead or pergola and is the most used system by the commercial farmers. The growers identify the steadiest shoot growing in an upright direction that needs to be staked with bower height for which a pandal of 2-2.5 m made with poles of cast iron, stone or concrete is mounted to support these vines.
- Kniffin – In this system, a spacing of 1.8 to 3 m is kept between rows depending upon the growth rate of the vine type and is suitable for less apical dominance varieties.
- Telephone or T trellis – It is a miniature model of bower with three wires hanging from the horizontal wire and helps the vines over the pole and is ideal for elevated apical dominance varieties.
- Head – In this system the plants are grown very closely with a spacing of 1.2 or 1.5 and 1.8 m among rows accommodating about 4000 to 5000 plants per hectare and the vines are supported with bamboo or concrete poles.
Pruning is also important for removing the vegetative parts of the plant and one or two buds are left on the vine for developing and the remaining canes are pruned. This removal of dried canes is called back or growth pruning.
The best suitable months for pruning are September and October. The shoots are pinched for helping the plant bear fruits and it is one part of pruning and it is mainly pinched when the tip of the main shoot attains 7 to 8 leaves. The Terminal Buds regrow and start bearing fruits thereafter.
- Pests & Disease Management
The Grape vines are attacked by many pests and diseases during their growing stages and proper protection measures should be carried for controlling them.
The common pests in Grape farming are:
- flea beetles
The common diseases in Grape farming are:
- powdery mildew
- downy mildew
Downy mildew and powdery mildew is controlled by spraying trichoderma and bordeaux mixture @1% along with Dashparni arka and cow urine. Mealy bugs are controlled by spraying cow dung urine. Anthracnose is controlled by spraying the solution of acacia leaves and thrips are controlled by spraying the Dashparni arka.
However you should contact your local Horticulture or Agriculture Department for understanding the pest and disease symptoms and their control.
Dashparni arka Preparation – It is prepared by adding 25kg Neem leaves along with 2kg each of nirgundi, kaner, cotton, custard apple, papaya, castor, karanj, gudwel and drumstick leaves in 200 litres of water and is mixed well to form a solution. 5 to 10 litres of cow urine along with 2 kg green chillies is added in the solution which is then kept for 15 to 21 days for fermentation. The solution is prepared by filtering it using muslin cloth and the spraying of the solution is done by adding 5 litres of stock solution in 200 litres of water.
- Harvesting & Yield
Grapes can be harvested almost all year round and it varies from area to area and variety to variety. Grapes are cultivated only when the berries develop the unique colour and desired TSS of the cultivar. They are harvested by repeated pickings because the bunches are not ripe at the same time.
The ripeness can be known by taste and the bellies ripen at the shoulders first, followed by the centre and tip of the clusters. The best time for harvesting is during March or April and they should not be pulled with a jerk as it can crush the berries and the picked clusters should be gently placed in boxes and immediately moved in the shaded region.
The yield depends on the cultivar and type of soil and the management practises. Grapes are produced in high quantities in Peninsular India and are estimated to be around 60 tonnes per ha for the Anab e Shahi variety in South India.
The average yield is around 20-33 tonnes per hectare in the second or third year of planting where the yield increases in the following years. On average, 25 to 30 tons per hectare per year is obtained for seedless varieties and 45 to 50 tons per hectare per year is obtained for seeded varieties. Grapevines live for 14-15 years and it is expected to produce during their entire lifespan.
- Post Harvest Management
The freshly picked Grapes should be maintained at low temperatures so as to limit the biochemical alteration process. In general, the Grapes are picked at night and are refrigerated immediately. Sometimes for maintaining the cool temperature of Grapes, solid carbon dioxide is used.
The distorted, damaged or diseased bunches are discarded during the sorting process. The Grapes are dried naturally on the ground or shelves to increase the sugar concentration in the Grapes and you can also use artificial drying using warm air as an alternative to this.
The Grapes are directly packed into crates or boxes by properly shaping the bunches and discarding the defected ones.
The packaging is done in a Zip or slide Polythene bags or perforated plastic clamp which are then placed in wooden crates or cardboard boxes which are then packed in cartoons. For cold storage or export or international marketing, pre-cooling, pouches or Grape guards are used.
The fruit is sold either to the pre-harvest contractor or to the wholesaler through an agent who shares the profit.
They themselves take the responsibility of harvesting, packing, transportation and marketing on the basis of the price agreed. In the international market, Grapes are sold through the Producers Cooperative who collect, pack, cool, transport and market it abroad sharing the profit with growers or through the Traders who purchase, pack, pre-cool, store and ship them in a refrigerated container to Overseas markets.