Because so many grape growers ask this question, I though it would be a good idea to write this article as part of the “New To Growing Grapes” series of posts on my blog. The reason why so many new grape growers replant their grape vines, is poor planning, incorrect soil preparation and choosing the incorrect site or spot to plant their grape vines.
Choosing the correct site location for your vineyard, is one of the most important choices you as a new grape grower have to make as this will be the future home for your grape vines in years to come. I will not go into site location and soil preparation for your grape vines in this article, but you can get all the information for free by joining the Grape Coaching Program. The silver membership is a 10 day trial-run of what you can expect from the Grape Coaching Program.
Let’s get something straight; replanting a grape vine is not ideal, especially if it is older than two years. Therefore you need to do proper planning before you establish your vineyard. So, your grape vines were not planted in the right spot or you are moving to another house and wants to take your grape vine with you – what now? Transplanting a grape vine post some risk, there is no doubt about that, but it can be done if you follow the instructions I am going to give to you now. Do not deviate from this too much as you could loose your grape vine.
The first problem with transplanting an old grape vine (2 years and older), is that the root system and structure of the vine gets bigger each year and makes the removal of the vine much harder. When transplanting these grape vines, you will eventually damage some roots, as it is impossible to take them out of the soil intact. Damaging the roots of the vines will result in the lost of moisture through the wounds and could result in the roots drying out too much and die. When taking the vines out of the soil, make sure you dig up as many of the roots as possible – the more roots you can save, the more successfully you will replant your grape vines.
The second problem with replanting a grape vine, is the loss of water through the leaves (evaporation). After replanting the grape vine, the roots of the vines are in a state of shock and for a week or two will not be able to take up water from the soil. If the climate is hot, the grape vine will loose water through the leaves which will result in too little water in the vine and the leaves will start to wither. You therefore need to minimize the apical growth in order to ensure there is enough available water in the vine itself by reducing the number of shoots to a maximum of three. I would recommend you prune back hard and leave only one strong cane from the base of the lowest cordon. You can develop the new structure of the vine from there. Rather loose one or two year’s growth and have healthy vine, than trying to retain the old structure and have a dead vine!.
The third problem is planting and watering the vine. Because you have a much bigger root system than a normal rooted cutting, you will have to make a much bigger planting hole. Make the planting hole large enough to accommodate ALL the roots and do not prune back any roots to fit the planting hole – rather make the hole larger. It is important that you understand, that these vines needs allot of water the first few weeks (as explained before). After removing the vine from it’s old position, place the roots of the vines in a bucket of water for at least six hours, prior to planting it in the new location. This will ensure the roots stay moist and the vine will not loose any water through the wounds on the roots.
Do not put any fertilizer in the planting hole it will damage the roots.
I have successfully transplanted 5-year-old vines this way, and there should not be any reason you cannot do it yourself, but it is always better to avoid replanting a mature vine. I hope this gave you more insight on how to relocate a mature vine – the key is:
- Keep as many of the roots as possible,
- Minimize apical growth for at least a month
- Make a large enough planting hole
- Keep the vine well watered.
Good luck Danie