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I have built a terrace at the back of my garden and would like to start a grape arbor as a natural fence between my yard and my neighbor. What grapes would do well and how do I go about starting an arbor? What kind of fencing would I need?

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A

Grapes can do well in Utah.  As for fencing - there is also a variety of materials, but know that grapes do require trellising so an annual program of pruning and training are necessary to get a good crop.  Realize that in the winter, the grapes will not offer any screening from your neighbors.  Also be very cautious using any herbicides, especially anything that contains 2-4-d, as grapes are highly sensitive.

Many grape varieties do well in Utah. I suggest picking varieties that you would like to use. Purple versus green, eating versus juicing or jam preparation. Some people like Concord for juicing and jams, while others prefer green Himrod for eating.  As a general rule, you want to select grapes that are American or American hybrids because of the short growing season we have. European varieties usually need longer seasons.

Here is an excerpt from an article from our USU Extension Regional Horticulture Specialist, Larry Sagers, regarding varieties.

"Juice grapes are generally American-type grapes. These grapes are very hardy, have seeds and are slipskin. That means the skin separates from the pulp as you bite into it. Blue-black or purple juice grapes include Concord, Buffalo and Fredonia. The Concord grape is more than 200 years old and is still the most popular juice and jelly grape. It is very productive under our conditions providing it has well-drained soil that is not overwatered. Iron chlorosis is a serious problem in heavier soils and produces the characteristic yellow leaves with green veins. Little, if anything, can be done to control iron chlorosis this time of year, but mark affected plants for treatment next spring with iron chelate.

White grape juice is becoming more and more popular. The best varieties are Canada Muscat and Niagara. Niagara is sometimes erroneously referred to as Western Concord but is a distinct variety. Canada Muscat ripens early and has a mild foxy flavor.

Table grapes can also be grown in Utah. Red grapes include Suffolk Red and Canadice. Both are seedless and produce well most years. They are generally hardy but may have damage from last winter's temperatures.

White grapes include Interlaken, which has already ripened. Himrod is another good seedless green or white grape and is similar to Lakemont. My Himrod grapes were damaged by the cold winter but have recovered nicely and have almost taken over the back porch.

Black grapes include Venus and Glendora. These are both seedless, but Glendora does not winter as well as the other varieties in my garden. Alden is another black grape that grows well in northern Utah. Its primary drawback is that it has large seeds. Thompson Seedless, Black Monukka, Tokay, Red Flame, Cardinal and many other long-season European varieties are not hardy or ripen late in the season and do not mature."

Posted on 11 Jun 2008

Maggie Shao
Horticulture Agent, Salt Lake County

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