That’s how many of our grapevines made it through the winter unscathed.
I was finally able to assess them Tuesday evening with the aid of my Cornell mentor. (Our weekend pruning date was delayed because of Saturday night’s snow.)
The two seeded varieties, Alden and Steuben, fared just fine. By nature hardier than their seedless brethren, I wasn’t as worried about them and they lived up to my expectations.
The Steuben, especially, has been a joy to grow. According to a Cornell bulletin about seeded dessert grapes, “Steuben is a bluish-black grape that ... [is] among the most attractive of all dessert cultivars. The vines are hardy, vigorous, productive, and easily grown by home gardeners.”
They certainly are!
(And the juice these grapes produce is closest to Concord’s purple grapiness without being cloyingly sweet.)
Our seedless varieties should’ve been equally up to this winter’s challenge; after all, they are each rated to -15F, but evidently two of them couldn’t withstand numerous stretches of prolonged cold.
Of the three, only Reliance, which happens to be Kevin’s favorite, was unfazed. It is actually the happiest looking of all our vines, with a rather straight trunk and balanced cordons covered in buds ready to produce heaven-scented, honey-sweet red fruit.
According to a similar Cornell bulletin on seedless grapes, Reliance, which was developed by the University of Arkansas, has cold hardiness that’s “among the highest of the seedless varieties.” Thank goodness!
The other two, Himrod and Interlaken, both took a beating, with Himrod hit hardest. According to my friend, that vine is probably “toast.” Although both vigorously produced canes last summer, all that lovely growth died over the winter. We cut and cut and cut before finding live flesh, trimming each down mostly to the trunk.
We left a few buds on very shortened canes on the Interlaken. There’s a slim chance it may recover.
The Himrod, however, is a much longer shot. Odds are, we’ll be replacing it come fall.
After studying other varieties listed on that Cornell bulletin, I’d be willing to give Mars or Vanessa a try. Although each has its pluses, I especially like these phrases: “Hardiness has been good at Geneva, New York, and the vines are resistant to several major diseases,” (Mars) and “The vine is moderately vigorous and among the hardiest of seedless grapes.” (Vanessa)
All in all, it could’ve been worse.
The prospect of replacing just two out of five ain’t bad.