Grape cultivation in India is a popular agribusiness in some states. Grape cultivation can be a very profitable if maintained well. Here is the complete guidance on starting a grape plantation in India with complete details on climate, soil, varieties, plant protection, management, harvesting and post harvest practices.

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Belonging to Vitaceae fruit family, Grapes are commercially grown in India all over the year. Being adapted to tropic, sub-tropical and mild-tropical climatic conditions, it’s grown all across north to south peninsular India including Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, J & K, Mizoram to Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. Among them, major contributors in the nation’s total production are Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.

Fruit Value/ Uses

As per research findings, having a cup of grapes offers 90 calories with no fats, no cholesterol, and sodium. Its sugar content of 20% is natural and rich in calcium, prosperous and a series of vitamins and nutrients. Apart from being an excellent source of Vitamin C and K, the color of grapes makes it rich in antioxidants, polyphenols and fiber which offer great health benefits. More than 80% of grapes produced worldwide are used for wine making while 10% goes into preparation of Raisin and Food processing industries and the rest is taken for table purpose. Even though, India’s contribution in the grape export market is rather nominal, however the rate is on the rise.

Grapes
Grapes

Grape Varieties in India

The Demanding Commercial Varieties Are as Under

Grape TypeVarieties
Table GrapesBangalore Blue, Anab-e-Shahi, Beauty Seedless, Cheema Sahebi, Bhokri, Delight, Himrod, Kali Sahebi, Gubabi, Paneer Drakshi), Perlette, Selection94, Pandari Sahebi, Pusa Seedless, Thompson Seedless, and Muscat Hamburg.
Wine GrapesBangalore Blue, Arka Kanchan, Thompson Seedless
Raisin GrapesThompson Seedless, Arkavati

Commercial Grade Grapes Based on Color and Seeds

Grape TypeVarieties
Colored SeededBangalore Blue, Anab-e-Shahi, Beauty Seedless, Cheema Sahebi, Bhokri, Delight, Himrod, Kali Sahebi, Gubabi, Paneer Drakshi), Perlette, Selection94, Pandari Sahebi, Pusa Seedless, Thompson Seedless, and Muscat Hamburg.
Colored SeedlessBangalore Blue, Arka Kanchan, Thompson Seedless
White SeededThompson Seedless, Arkavati
White SeedlessPerlette, Thompson Seedless, Manik Chaman (Hybrid of Thompson Seedless)

Technical Requirements in Grape Cultivation

Soil

Must be well-drained, loamy, and rich in essential minerals and nutrients; Ensure that pH factor is maintained within 6.5 – 7.

Land Preparation

The land needs to be thoroughly ploughed to fine tilth and leveled. Make sure that vine rows are oriented toward north-south direction which is most important for vines to get higher exposure to sunlight.

Propagation and Planting

In general, Grapes are propagated by means of seeds, layering, hardwood cuttings, grafting, and budding procedures.

In order to have a steady growth of grapevines, it’s recommended to grow them in pits and depending on the type of species, the trench size and spacing among vines should vary. For varieties like Bangalore Blue and Anab-e-Shahi, the desired pit depth is 60-90 cm while spacing should be wider like 1.2 m x 1.2 m. for Thompson Seedless, Beauty Seedless, Perlette, most growers of Maharashtra and Karnataka prefer having pit depth of 90x90cm and 1.8m x2.4 m spacing. The desired spacing between rows is 9-10 ft and dig trenches one month prior to plantation.

Top soils should be properly mixed and filled with FYM, super phosphate, and green manure while cultivators should start watering them right from the day of preparing them. After a month, plant the rooted stocks in the pits and irrigate instantly to avoid mortality of seedlings.

For growers in North India, the best period for planting is Feb-Mar, for Tamil Nadu and Karnataka it is Dec-Jan and for the rest of Indian peninsular the ideal period of planting is Nov-Jan. Depending on the season of planting, growth of the plants can be observed between 10-15 days. Growing plants need to be supported with stakes and training after one month of planting.

Training

Training is an essential part of developing grapevines and supports them with effective and steady means that help maintain their desired growth particularly for the vines that display superior apical dominance. Among the popular training systems found in Indian grape vineyards include Bower, ‘T’ system (telephone head), Kniffin, and Head systems. However, more than 70% of growers prefer equipping their field with Bower because of its great performance. Here are popular training systems in India-

Bower

Also referred to as overhead or pergola, the bower system has now been extensively used especially for highly spirited species having notable apical dominance. Even if it’s more expensive than all other systems, however, it should be your first choice to earn the highest yield. After planting or cutting rooting, once the shoots start developing, growers need to identify the steadiest shoot growing among them in an upright direction which needs to be staked with bower height. Typically, for this, vines are supported to grow over a mounted pandal of 2-2.5 m which is made with poles made of cast iron, stone, concrete etc.

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Kniffin aka Espalier System

Suitable for varieties that have relatively less apical dominance and lower vigor, espalier system is an affordable choice but offers nearly 50% lower yield than bower system. In this system, plants are grown within a row keeping spacing between the rows of 1.80 meter to 3 meters depending on the growth rate of the vine type.

Telephone System

Also called T-trellis, it is a miniature model of bower having a T-shaped support with three wires that hangs from the horizontal bar. It helps the vines over the pole and ideally a greater choice for varieties with elevated apical dominance.

Head System

The least pricey training system is mainly used for varieties like Beauty Seedless, Perlette and Delight of North India and Thompson seedless or Gulabi in South India. Plants are grown very closely (spacing of 1.2/1.5 and 1.8 m among rows) while accommodating about 4000-5000 plants/ hectare. Trails are supported with bamboo or concrete poles.

Irrigation

In the initial stage of the growing plants in the vineyards, watering is done once in every 3 days from a circular basin created (measuring nearly 50-60 cm depth) adjacent to the plantation areas. The basin should be increased with a radius of 2m keeping parity with the growth rate of plants. Light irrigation (5 to 7 L/ha) is provided at an interval of 10-15 days during the winters while heavy irrigation is most wanted just after pruning that helps wet the root zones thoroughly. In summer, maintain an interval of 5-7 days. For drip watering, use an emitter in gaps, the number of which can be increased as per necessity. Growers remember that the amount of Irrigation practices need to be varied depending on the variety grown, rainfall, water holding capacity of soil, training system followed and space among vines.

Fertilizing

SpeciesZoneNP205K20
Anab-e-ShahiNorthern India

Karnataka

Telangana

365-600

500

435

300-550

500

305

182-1200

1000

785

Beauty SeedlessNorthern India165NilNil
Thompson SeedlessNorthern India

Maharashtra

Southern Karnataka

444-1100

666-1000

300

1332

500-888

500

1332

666-800

1000

Gulabi/Himrod/

Perlette

Northern India444-110013321332
Cheema SahebiMaharashtra600240120

Chart is given per kg/ha requirement for popular grapes cultivated

  • Consider using growth regulators to improve fruit quality with increased bunch and berry sizes.
  • Seedless Varieties – Apply Gibberellic acid [email protected] 2G/L at pick flowering time and at fruiting stage the bunches of berries should be sprayed with GA 75PPM. However, this will not result the same when used on seeded varieties.
  • Apply ½ of the fertilizers dose after first pruning immediately and balance after 60 days of pruning.
  • Spraying foliars with Boric acid 0.1% + ZnSO4 0.2% + Urea 1% for 2 times after flowering in 10 days gaping will result effectively to meet nutrient deficiency, if any.

Pruning

When it comes to pruning practices, in India, three distinct types of pruning methods are followed by grapevine growers depending on the geographical location of the vine. This can be narrated as under

  • In the subtropical region pruning is done once only in December. Similarly harvesting is also done once in every year. Usually, ½ of mature shoots are pruned for fruiting while the other half is typically pruned for renewal of spurs that give rise to new shoots and develop into canes for fruiting in next season.
  • In hot tropical regions, grapevines are pruned two times a year while harvesting is done once. In this system, all canes are pruned into single node spurs during March –May that helps develop new canes. The new canes are once more pruned in Oct-Nov for fruiting. Pruning should not be done before Oct or later than November.
  • In mild-topical regions, both pruning and harvesting are done twice. As for example in Tamil Nadu which is famous for Gulabi grapes, in general, vines are pruned in Nov-Dec for summer harvesting in March-April while in May-June second pruning is done for harvesting in Aug-Sept. However, in south Karnataka, first pruning is done during November-December for summer crop harvesting during March-April, and during May-June second pruning is done for harvesting in August-September. Depending on the varieties like Anab-e-shahi, Bangalore blue or Bhokri the pruning and harvesting time may differ. With potential to harvest two times a year, the region produces the largest part of grapes in India.

Weeding

Weeding should be done throughout the years with different implements and to keep the rows well cleaned from growth of weeds. If necessary, use glyphosate @2.0 kg/ha or paraquat @7.5 kg/ha and spray clean water over fully grown vineyards.

Pest Control in Grape Cultivation

Nematodes

For effective control, apply Carbofuran 3 G/ Phorate 10 G crumbs 60 g/ vine and irrigate the site quite well. Leave for 15 days and thereafter apply [email protected] gram per vine and this will control growth of nematodes.

Flea beetles

Consider spraying the vines with Phosalone 35 EC @2ml/lit of water subsequent to pruning while two or three spraying may be required depending on the infestation. Discard loose barks during spraying and pruning to avoid further laying of eggs.

Mealy Bug

Use Quinalphos or alternatively Methyl parathion powder in the soil @ 20-25 kg/ha to destroy Phoretic ants. Spray Monocrotophos-36 (WSC) @ 2 ml/lit of water or Methyl demeton 25 EC or you can spray Dichlorvos -76 (WSC) @ 1 ml/lit combined with fish oil resin soap @ 25 g/lit to effectively control mealy bug pests.

Thrips

Spraying of Methyl demeton 25-EC/ Dimethoate-30 EC @ 2 ml/lit of water works great to control thrips.

Stem Girdler

Rinse the plant trunk with Carbaryl 50 (WP)@ 2 gm/lit for good results.

Disease Management in Grape Farming

Anthracnose

For management, spray vines with Bordeaux mixture 1 % or any kind of copper fungicide0.25% concentrate. Decide number of spraying wanted depending on invasion and recurrent growth.

Powdery Mildew

Spraying of soluble sulphur or dust sulphur- 0.3% @ 6-10 Kg/ha in the vineyard works well to control fungus growth of powdery mildew.

Harvesting

Nearly one million tonnes of grapes are harvested all over India annually. Notably, the period of harvest depends on the variety and clone type while growers should keep in mind that berries start ripening don’t mean that they’re ready for harvesting. Almost all varieties need to be harvested once their color changes near the tip and taste sweet. As for example Anab-e-Shahi or Thompson Seedless and its hybrids that contribute a huge part, is harvested during March-April in the hot tropical region. On the contrary, it is harvested during July and Nov-Dec in the mid-tropical region. Similarly, Bangalore Blue is harvested in Jan-Mar and June-Dec whereas Gulabi’s harvesting period is Jan-Mar and June-Dec. A day before harvesting, get the decayed, deformed, smashed or undersized berries removed from clusters. Morning (till the temperature rises over 20 degree C) is the best period for harvesting.

According to varieties and geographical location, yield also varies. The average yield of Bangalore Blue is 40-50 tonnes/ha and Anab-e-Shahi offers 50-60 tonnes/ha, for Gubali growers can expect 30-50 tonns. For seedless types like Thompson Seedless, the yield may range between 25-40 tonns/ha.

Post-harvest Management in Grape Cultivation

Grading

Grade the harvested grapes on the basis of size, colour, and uniformity of the grapes before packaging. Mind that size does not mean the size of the bunch or its shape but the size of the berries.

Pre-Cooling

In order to reduce the field heat as well as moisture loss, berries need to be cooled to a temperature below 5 degree C within 6 hours after harvesting in the refrigerator or cold storage room. Major growers also use mobile units i.e. refrigerator cars to provide needed nourishment to the delicate fruits after harvesting.

Storage

Increasing the shelf-life for berries only for 5-7 days is possible by spraying them with fungicides like Captan @0.2%, aureofungin @500 PPM etc.

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Sources:
http://agritech.tnau.ac.in/horticulture/horti_fruits_grapes.html
http://www.nhb.gov.in/horticulture%20crops/grape/grape1.htm
http://www.fao.org/3/x6897e/x6897e06.htm
http://vikaspedia.in/agriculture/crop-production/package-of-practices/fruits-1/jamun-1

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