I want to start a vineyard. Where do I go for information?
The University of Massachusetts Amherst has a Small Fruit Program. Information about the various aspects of growing grapes is available by contacting the UMass Fruit Team, Sonia Schloemann at 413-478-6930 or email@example.com and/or going to the UMass Fruit Advisor web site or New England Wine Grape Growers website
We are interested in possibly starting a vineyard. What soil and sun position is correct for grape growing?
The question about site suitability is not an easy one to answer because there are a lot of factors. Generally speaking a suitable site would involve a sloping site (not too steep for tractor work) because it helps with air and soil drainage, soil that isn't too wet or too dry (although dry is preferred over wet), and soil that is deep (24" or more), meaning no ledge or other obstacles for roots to grow deep. If compaction is the problem, for example due to years of tractor traffic, it can be broken up with chisel plows or other implements that can rip the compacted layer.
Full sun exposure is best. A southerly or westerly exposure is best, easterly next best, and northerly exposure not very desirable.
There are some good site assessment resources out there. See:
Vineyard Site Selection (Virginia Cooperative Extension)
New York Vineyard Site Evaluation System (College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University and the Institute for the Application of Geospatial Technologies)
The Basics of Vineyard Site Evaluation and Selection (College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University and the Institute for the Application of Geospatial Technologies)
Site Selection NYS Agricultural Experiment Station, Cornell University
It is suggested to take at least a year to work on site preparation to make sure the conditions are adjusted and amendments made before vines go in the ground. It is much harder to make changes once the field is planted.
Where do I get information on growing grapes using organic methods?
See the following web site:
Production Guide to Organic Grapes – Cornell University
I have a commercial vineyard. Where can I have my soil tested?
Information about collecting soil samples and having the soil tested at the University of Massachusetts Soil and Plant Nutrient Testing Lab.
A soil test should show adequate amounts of soil nutrients, 3% - 5% soil organic matter, and a pH of 5.5 - 6.5.
Do I need a pesticide license to apply pesticides to commercially grown grapes in Massachusetts?
Massachusetts pesticide law requires that all persons who apply restricted use pesticides (RUP) to commercially grown agricultural crops must be in possession of a valid license or certification issued by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources MDAR. In accordance with the Massachusetts Pesticide Control Act and the current pesticide regulations, MDAR conducts written examinations to measure competency to use, sell, and apply pesticides in Massachusetts. All exams are closed book and applicants must be at least 18 years of age as of the date of the examination.
If an individual is using a General Use Pesticide, then he/she does not need to have a pesticide license. However, that individual would need to be trained as a handler to comply with the Worker Protection Standard. Worker Protection Standard (WPS) regulations are designed to reduce poisoning and injuries among agricultural workers and pesticide handlers. They regulate pesticide use and require that workers and pesticide handlers be given appropriate training, equipment and information. State agencies generally have primary jurisdiction for enforcing WPS misuse violations. To come into compliance, contact the UMass Extension Pesticide Education Program or the use the EPA website Worker Protection Standard.
The individual making the Restricted Use Pesticide Application would need to obtain a Private Certification License. There are several categories associated with this type of license and the individual would need to pick the appropriate category depending on the type of Agriculture facility.
More information on obtaining a Massachusetts Pesticide License you can contact the University of Massachusetts Pesticide Education Program on the web or the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources-Pesticide Bureau online.
Is there a Pest Management Guide for growing grapes commercially in Massachusetts?
The New England Small Fruit Management Guide is a pest management guide compiled each year by faculty and Extension staff.