Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Growing temperate crops in the tropics

As a child, I was always fascinated by temperate crops. I always wish that they could be grown in Sarawak. Below is the infomation on growing grapes in the tropics. I do hope someone out there will provide additional infomation.


For a long time it has been known that the 'wound effect' can replace the cold requirement in grapes. This means that the plant is pruned very severely every year. In the tropics more than 90% of the previous season's growth is removed by pruning. This severe cutting back helps the plant to break the rest period. When the fruit is harvested the plant is pruned. In three or four weeks, new growth appears and in three or four months new fruits ripen. The grapes in the tropics give two regular crops each year. Once this principle was realized, grape-growing spread throughout India, Thailand and other tropical countries.

Grape vine management in the tropics is a problem: vines tend to be short-lived, produce small crops, and require special care. Grapes like a period with temperatures below 0鳦. Attempts in the tropics have not been very successful; plants continuously grow, produce clusters, rebud, remain evergreen, and eventually burn out. However, there are tricks that have been developed for use under dry tropical conditions to simulate a dormancy period. If the vine is forced into two growth cycles, one in the wet season and the other in the dry season, it will produce. By pruning at the beginning of the wet season, a growth cycle is initiated in which a small crop may result. Following this, the vine is pruned again to induce another cycle of growth. It is during the dry season that the main crop results in quality grapes. Irrigation is used in conjunction with pruning to assist the plant during this cycle. (It is a very common practice to leave too much wood on the plants when pruning and this causes poor quality and premature burn-out of plants). In the dry warm climates of Peru, India and places in Brazil, [the dry season has] simulated a dormancy period.

Muscadine grapes are native to Florida and do not require much cold. They grow as single berries rather than in bunches, and they are very resistant to pests and diseases. Most muscadines are eaten fresh.

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