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 What to do about a very old grape vine? 
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Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2011 1:43 pm
Posts: 2
Post What to do about a very old grape vine?
I’m hoping someone here can give me some advice concerning an old…very old…grapevine growing in my yard. (My wife & I have been living in our house nearly 30 years, and the vine was old when we moved in, to give you an idea of age. The trunk is approx. 7-8” in diameter at ground level. We’ve even speculated that the vine may have been planted soon after the house was built, around 1918 – though I have no idea if that’s realistic.)

Ten years or so ago, the grape was tentatively identified (by someone at a HOS event) as a Niagara. It’s a white slip-skin grape with large seeds. I’ve made juice, jelly, and (my favorite) catsup from the grapes, but neither my wife nor I particularly care for the grapes themselves.

Here’s my dilemma: We live in NE Portland, OR, on a 50x100 lot. The vine is in my backyard, only a few feet away from the fence line. If I don’t prune the grape back so severely each year that it doesn’t really produce a usable “crop”, the vines grow too prolifically, 20-30 feet in a season, growing into my quince tree, over the fence and into my neighbor’s apple tree & Japanese maple, up onto the roofs of both houses… And if I do prune it back so excessive growth isn’t an issue, and it only produces a few bunches of grapes, what’s the point?

In short, it’s kind of a nuisance.

In discussing what to do about this situation with my wife, we realized that, perhaps overly romantically, we’re keeping the grape around largely because it is so old. It seems a shame to get rid of a healthy, living thing that old. But we are tired of dealing with it.

So, some questions:

If there a way to keep the vine under control and still get grapes? (Spring and summer are very busy times for me…it seems like all it takes is a few weeks of not paying attention for the vines to get out of control.)

Could this vine be transplanted (without using a backhoe, since there’s no way to get one back there)?

If so, any suggestions what to do with the vine then?

Or should I just call it done and get rid of the vine this fall after I’ve harvested a final crop?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions….

Sun Sep 04, 2011 2:25 pm

Joined: Mon May 10, 2004 1:00 pm
Posts: 204
Location: SE Portland
Post Re: What to do about a very old grape vine?
See this previous post for a previous discussion on relocating older grape vines. Even at 3" trunk diameter, moving it did not seem reasonable, and yours is more than twice the diameter. That's a lot of root.

Can anything be done with it? Since you don't particularly like the fruit, there hardly seems a reason to put much effort into it.

My neighbor to the rear has had Concord grapes growing on the chain link fence separating the yards for probably the ten years I've been there. I've fought them off of my espaliered apples for the several years I've had the trellis up, and they always get a grip on at least one tree. Two feet of separation allowed me to ignore them for a day or two, but not much more. The neighbor took out the vines this year, and I won't miss them a bit. I can only use so many grape leaves for canning.


Sun Sep 04, 2011 3:16 pm
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Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2011 1:43 pm
Posts: 2
Post Re: What to do about a very old grape vine?
Thanks very much for the info, Marsha. That's more or less what I was expecting. But it's good to get outside confirmation....

Sun Sep 04, 2011 8:03 pm
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