They say that “necessity is the mother of invention!” We need to replace 200–300 Steuben vines that have died. This variety is pretty tender for Iowa’s winter climate anyway but we have some of our Steuben planted in a very wet area that we are having a hard time draining even with tiles in place. So, we need more Steuben rooted cuttings and we haven’t found a grapevine grower in whom we are confident that has them for sale. Our previous grower lost his source of “brush” and no longer offers Steuben. So, we decided to try growing our own. There are no plant patents on Steuben and that means we don’t need any licenses so here we go!

The first step is to take some cuttings from healthy Steuben vines. We are going to start this year with 50–100 cuttings and last week we “harvested” the cuttings. We will dip them in rooting compound this week and plant them in a potting mix in biodegradable growing tubes. We’ll keep them warm and happy until they root out and then we’ll plant them after the chances of a late frost are minimal (late May).

We are not interested in being in the grape vine propagation business, but we will do what is necessary to keep a grape variety going that produces grapes that make great wine.

Last week, we used our mechanical pruner to remove the 2019 growth from the Marquette. Weather permitting, we will start removing the long canes that we cut off this week. Our mechanical pruner is good at cutting canes off where they should be cut but it doesn’t then remove the canes from the trellis. Click here for a brief video showing the mechanical pruner in action. This will take 2–3 weeks to complete.

Adam and Denise will take an annual pesticide class on Thursday.