Strong Concord Grape Harvest Expected In New York

A robust harvest of Concord Grapes is expected in New York, according to researchers and viticulturists at the Lake Erie Regional Grape Project Center in Portland, NY. Terry Bates, Lake Erie Regional Grape Program director and Cornell Department of Horticulture senior research assistant, told the Portland (NY) Post-Journal that record rainfall and mild temperatures during the growing season proved favorable for the variety.

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“Even though Mother Nature controls the weather that we’re going to get, the growers still ultimately control the grapes,” said Bates to the Post-Journal. “One of the things that the growers control is the number of buds that they leave during pruning during the winter. Each bud has a shoot, each shoot has so many clusters on it, and that helps set what the crop is going to look like. There is some human involvement: you can leave too few buds, or you can leave too many buds. Understanding how the weather might forecast will help growers better understand how much to prune, and growers are trying to best understand how many buds to leave on the crop.”

Bates says the weather was a determining factor in how many buds per vine, the number of clusters per bud, and the size of the buds. Bates noted that the crop size was low with the spring frost in 2012. Weather also impacts the weight of berries on the vine.
 
“If you’re looking at clusters per bud, it has to do somewhat with what happened last year,” Bates said. “Last year, we had a frost, and the crop size was low. Those buds developed as fully as they could have last year. There are close to 15 stages of bud development, and about half of those stages happen in the previous season. If you have good bud development in the previous season, you’re going to see a higher number of clusters per bud. This year, our average clusters per node went way up because of last year’s frost. The vines were not stressed from a crop perspective, and that allowed the buds to develop very well.”
 
Bates said that the weight of the berries approximately a month after bloom is about half of the final weight. Growers use that measurement to help with crop load management.

“If the crop is too big, and growers try to make the best decision possible, the growers will go out with a harvester and gently shake the vines,” Bates said to the Post Journal. “That way, at veraison time, the fruit has the perfect ratio, and this year, half of the growers in the area shook a portion of their crop off of the vine.”

For more information on this year’s Concord harvest, click here.