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changing soil pH to grow vines

Posted by jane2002 (My Page) on
Mon, Nov 5, 07 at 6:45

Help please. I have very heavy clay soil in Wisconsin. The soil pH is presently 7.5-8. I would like to make it more alkaline for the grapes I'm planning to grow. Does anyone have any suggestions? I'm thinking of planting 100 vines. This is a totally new venture.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: changing soil pH to grow vines

Changing the soil pH is along term effort and not easy to do on the scale thatyou are thinking about.You might be better off finding a vine that will grow with the soil that you have. Soil pH is a not only a funtion of the soil but also the water source, if the water has a high pH you will never be able to control the pH on the more acid side without using a great deal of effort. With that being said you might try to use landscape sulfur it will decrease the pH, it can be found at most gardencenters and will take many bags.

RE: changing soil pH to grow vines

pH 7.5 - 8 is already alkaline (number is above 7, which is neutral)- but are you sure you have the pH right? Clay soil is normally acid (number below 7). Most wine grapes do well at slightly acid pH 5.5 - 6.5. Your soil may be slightly more acid than that.

Changing the pH does not depend on the water (except in cases where water pH is way off neutral, not the case in WI as far as I know), it depends on the soil. Adding organic matter by adding compost will bring the pH closer to neutral, but it can be a long term process.

Sounds like you need to do a little more basic study about soil science and agriculture before investing in 100 vines.

RE: changing soil pH to grow vines

I am a winemaker and pick grapes in a vineyard about 8 miles from me. I've had some interesting conversations with the owner of the vineyard regarding how he grows such large and juicy grapes. He grows Niagara and Concord grapes. His vineyard is about 30 years old. We have heavy clay soil in this area,too.

He told me that he started out by putting in 3 to 4 FEET of topsoil before he planted the grapes.

As someone who is interested in horticulture, I've read many articles on soil PH. It is near impossible to change it because the natural buffers in the soil will always try to take the soil back it's native PH. This has to do with the type of rock in the soil. Sulfur has to applied in BOATLOADS over decades to affect the soil to any degree.

My winemaking partner has a small vineyard about 30 years old which was planted by the guy she bought the house from. They are planted directly in the clay soil and are pathetic specimens compared to the vineyard guy's grapes, planted in the topsoil.

I would go about A LOT of research on this subject, and talk to some vineyard owners, if that's possible,before I planted.

RE: changing soil pH to grow vines

This summer was my only sucess in growing grapes after 3 consecutive years of trying bare root(died) and adopting 3 lovely old vines(died). I did have to amend my dense blue clay (it would be good for pottery just as is) with several bags of compost, soil and mulch. I can grow them now and actually got to taste 2 grape bunches. I ended up buying 3 year old vines just strong looking vines just so I can grow leaves for stuffed grape leaves. Although I must say, I think I want better grapes than I bought. I want seeded old school gourmet grapes. Anyway, that is my experience with clay soil.

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