“What is the best fertilizer for a grapevine?” Question from Deb at Lynbrook, New York
Answer: The truth is that grapes don’t require too much fertilizer if the soil is right. In fact, excess fertilization of vines encourages stem and foliar growth and discourages flowering and fruiting. Just picture an established vineyard in Europe. The grapes are old, stunted, and often growing in dry regions, but the oldest, most gnarled vines on the most well-drained soil produce the best wine grapes. Still, a little food is recommended on a yearly basis.
Cornell Extension recommends the following fertilization regime with a 10-10-10 fertilizer for grapes in New York State. (Click here for the full document.)
- First year – no fertilizer
- Second year – 2 ounces
- Third year – 4 ounces
- Fourth year – 8 ounces
- Fifth year & after – 16 ounces
Soil for Grapes
The more crucial factor regarding grape fruiting and success is soil type and drainage. First, most grapes prefer a slightly acid to neutral pH between 5.6 and 7, but some grape varieties also grow well at a slightly higher pH of 7.5. If soil pH is too acid or too alkaline, vines will experience various nutrient deficiencies, which will harm the growth and grape output. If your grapes have leaves that look stressed and unhealthy, I recommend you get a soil test for pH through Cornell Cooperative Extension (click here for more information).
Grapes also grow best in well-drained loam. Amending the soil at planting time with Black Gold® Garden Compost Blend and Canadian Sphagnum peat moss is recommended. Sand is another common amendment that will encourage drainage. Just make sure that your vines are planted where the soil drains quickly.
I hope that this information helps.
Happy grape growing!
Black Gold Horticulturist