Classes for potential grape growers

STILLWATER  – Although wheat is what most likely comes to mind when thinking of agricultural crops in Oklahoma, grapes have been making a name for themselves for the last several years.

Those who are interested in learning more about grape growing and production may enroll in Oklahoma State University’s 2016 Oklahoma Grape Management course.

This course is an effort to familiarize current and potential grape growers with vital information of what it takes to be successful grape producers, said Becky Carroll, OSU Cooperative Extension assistant specialist, fruit crops and pecans.

“We started offering this course in 2001 and the interest continues to grow,” Carroll said. “We have more than 60 wineries in the state today.”

The 2016 Oklahoma Grape Management course will meet one Thursday per month beginning March 3 and continue through Sept. 18. Classes will take place at the Cimarron Valley Research Station near Perkins and each class will meet from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Registration is $250 per person and the course is limited to 70 participants. Preregistration is required and is due by Feb. 22. Registration information can be found online at grapes.okstate.edu/grape-management-course. For more information, contact Stephanie Larimer at 405-744-5404, or e-mail at stephanie.larimer@okstate.edu.

“The interest in growing grapes in Oklahoma has risen steadily over the last several years, and we see this trend continuing,” Carroll said. “Participants really get a great amount of information that’s beneficial to those who are seasoned growers with established vineyards, novice growers, as well as those who are considering grape production and are simply seeking more information.”

Participants will experience both the classroom learning environment in addition to hands-on experiences during each class. The hands-on lessons will take place in the demonstration vineyard at the Cimarron Valley Research Station.

Carroll said each class will cover a variety of topics such as site selection and vineyard establishment, pruning and training, soils/water, insect and disease management, irrigation, weed control, economics, fertilization, propagation, rootstocks, canopy management, harvest preparation and petiole sampling.

Each meeting correlates time wise with what is actually happening in grape production. For example, the first meeting will encompass information about the dormant vine stage, which is what happens in March. There are a number of industry professionals, as well as OSU experts, who will be on hand during each of the classes to share their expertise and research-based information.