GRAPE CROP: Enjoying Late Warm-Up

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Last year at this time, vineyards across the state already had buds blooming, but that wasn't a good thing.  A late spring freeze killed a lot of grapes across Iowa.

This year things are different.

“All these things here, this all grew last year,” says Newton Grape Grower Bret Seebeck.

Seebeck has been growing grapes at Sugar Creek Vineyards in Newton for years.

Right now its pruning season, and Seebeck says the cool spring  with temperatures below average is good for the vines.

“It`s been helpful because it slows down the grapes waking up,” says Seebeck.

The colder weather slows the buds from opening up too early, preventing a repeat of what happened last year.

However, the grapes are not out of the clear yet.

Last year's drought took its toll and without rain that will carry over into this year's crop.

“If we get some extra rain they`ll recover and use it and they`ll probably be full size grapes but if it stays hot like it did, it will probably  be an even smaller crop then the year before,” says Seebeck.

Rain will solve a lot of Seebeck's problems, but for now he's spending his time pruning.

Pruning his ten acres will take 300 hours to complete, and even the way he cuts his vines can determine how they bloom this year.

“Vines like stress to a certain extent and that`s what I’m doing to it now, pruning it hard, stressing it, so it will push energy and make good fruit,” says Seebeck.

The grapes will be harvested between August and October, and then will be sold to Jasper Winery in Des Moines.