Diseases Of The Vine

I cannot agree with Mr. FULLER that the diseases of the vine are not

formidable in this country. They are so formidable that they threaten

to destroy some varieties altogether; and the Catawba, once the glory

and pride of the Ohio vineyards, has for the last fifteen years

suffered so much from them, that many of the grape-growers who are too

narrow-minded to try anything else are about giving up grape-growing in


It is very fortunate, therefore, that we have varieties which do not

suffer from these diseases, or only in a very slight degree; and my

advice to the beginner in grape-culture would be, "not to plant largely

of any variety which is subject to disease." Men may talk about

sulphuring, and dusting their vines with sulphur through bellows; but I

would rather have vines which will bear a good crop without these windy

appliances. We can certainly find some varieties for _every_ locality

which do not need them, and these we should plant.

The mildew is our most formidable disease, and will very often sweep

away two-thirds of a crop of Catawbas in a few days. It generally

appears here from the first to the fifteenth of June, after abundant

rains, and damp, warm weather. It seems to be a parasitic fungus, and

sulphur applied by means of a bellows, or dusted over the fruit and

vine is said to be a partial remedy. Close and early summer-pruning

will do much to prevent it, throwing, as it does, all the strength of

the vine into the young fruit, developing it rapidly, and also allowing

free circulation of air. In some varieties--for instance, the

Delaware--it will only affect the leaves, causing them to blight and

drop off, after which the fruit, although it may attain full size, will

not ripen nor become sweet, but wither and drop off prematurely. In

seasons when the weather is dry and the air pure, it will not appear.

It is most prevalent in locations which have a tenacious subsoil, and

under-draining will very likely prove a partial preventive, as excess

of moisture about the roots is no doubt one of its causes.

The gray rot, or so-called grape cholera, generally follows the mildew,

and I think that the latter is the principal cause of it, as I have

generally found it on berries whose stems have been injured by the

mildew. The berry first shows a sort of gray marbling; in a day or two

it turns to a grayish-blue color, and finally withers and drops from

the bunch. It will continue to affect berries until they begin to

color, but only attack a few varieties--the Catawba, To Kalon,

Kingsessing, and sometimes the Diana.

The spotted, or brown rot, will also attack many of our varieties; it

is very destructive to the Isabella and Catawba, and even the Concord

is not quite free from it. But it is, after all, not very destructive,

and not half as dangerous as the mildew or gray rot.

Early and close summer-pruning is a partial preventative against all

these diseases, as it will hasten the development of the fruit, allow

free circulation of air, and the young leaves which appear on the

laterals after pinching seem to be better able to withstand the effects

of the mildew, often remaining fresh and green, and shading the fruit,

when the first growth of leaves have already dropped.

But "an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure," and our

best preventive is to plant none but healthy varieties. A grape,

however good it may be in quality, is not fit for general cultivation

if seriously affected with any of these diseases. Nothing can be more

discouraging to the grape-grower than to see his vines one day rich in

the promise of an abundant crop, and a few days afterwards see

two-thirds or three-fourths swept away by disease. It is because I have

so often felt this bitter disappointment, that I would warn my readers

against planting varieties subject to them. I would save _them_ from

the discouragement and bitter losses which I have experienced, when it

was out of my power to prevent it. They _can_ prevent it, for the

grape-growing of to-day is no longer the same uncertain occupation it

was ten years ago. We of to-day have our choice of varieties not

subject to disease; let us make it judiciously, and we may be sure of a

paying crop every year.