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[nafex] Sour Grapes, Sweet Corn


   This is not an expert opinion.  Just a regular opinion.  I am up in
N. Virginia, so our conditions are not identical, but we have also had
unusually regular summer rains this season, coupled with lower than
normal temperatures --- though not dramatically lower.  You have
probably had even more rain down in tidewater.

   We have only one Concord vine, but depend on it to make our best
(yes, better than blackberry) annual jelly.  Mine must be somewhat
behind yours, since they are just starting to turn color now, but I have
had no unusual rots or fruit drops in spite of the rain.  There are
always a few grapes that start to look a little funny, and I pick them
off as they appear.  I don't spray them with anything.  They look a
litle larger this year than normal, but I won't know anything about
their flavor until the end of August.

   What I do is to give the vine 2-3 little haircuts with the pruning
shears beginning in mid-June to allow some sun in on the fruit.  The
vine is extremely vigorous anyway, and the pruning does not appear to
affect its overall health, nor to impact negatively on the size and
quantity of fruit.  (Of course, I also winter prune the vine severely
every year.)  My theory, unsupported by scientific or expert opinion, is
that grapes, like many other fruits, accumulate more sugars when they
are kissed by sunshine, and it does help them to dry out quicker after a
rain.  I usually expect to nearly fill one 5-gallon bucket from this
vine, but that is enough for about 2 dozen pints of jelly.

   My sweet corn is zooming along this year too, thanks to all the
rain.  The plants are over one foot taller than normal, and some have 3
ears, which I have never seen before.  Of course the plants are pretty
well spaced out and hilled, which encourages ear formation.  I'm growing
the same variety (Argent) that I grew last year, so it's a very fair
comparison.  But it went in late, after the peas, and won't be ready for
another two weeks.

   If your Concords are not dead ripe yet, maybe you could still catch a
little sunshine by trimming back the vines now.

Rgds, Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA

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