Grape (Vitis vinifera)-Hort Answers - University of Illinois Extension
University of Illinois Extension

University of Illinois Extension

Hort Answers

Small Fruit

Vitis vinifera

Protecting grapes from birds
Protecting grapes from birds
Grapes can be grown in the backyard, but trellises will be needed to support them. American varieties are hardier and more suited for table use than European types. Grapes require severe annual pruning early each spring to remain productive. Grapes flower and produce fruit only on one-year-old canes. The most productive wood is on the 6 to 8 buds closest to the base of the cane. Canes with moderate vigor and about the diameter of a pencil are most productive. So pruning is needed to encourage new canes to develop, eliminate unproductive canes, train fruiting canes, and limit the number of buds on the vine. When done properly, pruning often removes 80 to 90 percent of the wood. Pruning is suggested after the coldest part of winter but before buds swell. February and early March are good times. Various training systems can be followed when pruning, with the Four-Cane Kniffin one of the more popular. This system ends up with a central trunk and four one-year-old lateral canes, or arms, supported by trellis wires. Each arm has 6 to 12 buds, for a total of 35 or more buds on the entire plant. Each bud produces two or three clusters of grapes. Two renewal spurs are left at each trellis wire for future fruiting canes. All other growth essentially is removed each year to leave this framework.  

There are various types of grapes: European types, American types, muscadine (grown mainly in the southern states of US), and French hybrids. Grapes are utilized as table grapes, wine grapes, raisins, and for making jelly.

Table and juice grape varieties: Alden, Alwood, Beta, Blueball, Buffalo, Caco, Concord, Edelweiss, Festivee, Fredonia, Moored, New York Muscat, Ontario, Price, St. Croix, Schulyer, Seneca, Sheridan, Stueben, Swenson Red, Urbana, Valiant, Van Buren, Vinered, Worden, and Yates.

Seedless table grapes: Canadice, Challenger, Concord seedless, Glenora, Himrod, Interlaken, Lakemont, Mars, Einset, Reliance, Remaily, Romulus, Saturn, Suffolk Red, Vanessa, and Venus.

Wine grape varieties: Catawba, Cayuga White, Delaware, diamond, Dutchess, Elvira, Horizon, Isabella, Ives, Melody, Niagara, Veeblanc, Ventura, Chambourcin, Chancellor, De Chaunac, Leon Millot, Marechal Foch, Rosette, Rougeon, and Seyval.

Mature Height
0 Feet (Variable depending with the training system)
Mature Width
0 Feet (Variable depending with the length of vines)
Harvest Time
Late summer to fall depending on the varieties


USDA Hardiness Zone
5 - 9 
Soil Conditions
Moist, Well-Drained
Exposure/Light Requirements
Full Sun
Jellies & Jams
Wine Making
Fruit Color
Pests and Problems

Animal Damage

Bacterial Disease

Environmental Damage

Fungal Disease

Herbicide Injury

Insect Damage

Additional pests and problems that may affect this plant:

Insect pests:
  • Leafhopper
  • Leafroller
  • Leaf skeletonizer
  • Grape phylloxera
  • Thrips
  • Grape mealybug
  • Cutworms
  • Grape bud beetle
  • Branch and twig borer


  • Powdery mildew (Uncinula necator)
  • Downy mildew (Plasmopara viticola)
  • Black rot (Guignardia bidwellii)
  • Phomopsis cane and leaf spot (Phomopsis viticola)
  • Eutypa dieback (Eutypa lata)
  • Crown gall (Agrobacterium tumefasciens)
  • Botrytis bunch rot and blight (Botrytis cinerea)
  • Armillaria root rot (Armillaria mellea)
  • Anthracnose (Elsinoe ampelina)
  • Bitter rot (Greeneria uvicola)
  • Ripe rot (Colletotrichum gloeosporoides)
  • Macrophama Rot (Botryosphaeria dothidea)
  • Viruses (Fanleaf, Tomato Ringspot, Tobacco Ringspot)
  • Nematodes (Root-Knot Nematodes, Dagger Nematode, Lesion Nematode,...)
Additional Notes
Rootstocks are widely used in grape production. Rootstocks that are commonly used are tolerant or resistant to phylloxera and nematode attack. Some rootstocks may be selected because they can tolerate too high soil pH while others can tolerate drought.


Related Resources
Home, Yard & Garden Pest Guide
U of IL - Distance Diagnosis through Digital Imaging
U of IL - Plant Clinic