Table grapes have become a very popular fruit in the United States. Annual per capita consumption of table grapes in the United States has quadrupled over the past quarter century. It now exceeds 7 pounds per person, and grapes rank fourth after bananas, apples and oranges. Improved storage technology and extensive winter importation now make table grapes available year round.
Though the major U.S. table grape production regions are in warm climates such as the San Joaquin Valley of California, many areas with temperate climates have potential for exciting and profitable production of flavorful table grapes. Temperate climates are those that may have a warm growing season but have other temperature-related characteristics that challenge grape production. These may include frost-free growing seasons of 165 days or less, winter minimum temperatures of -5ºF or lower, and growing season heat accumulations of 3,000 growing degree-days or less (base 50ºF). Breeding programs have developed table grape varieties well suited to temperate climates. With the proper varieties and good management, it is possible to grow flavorful, high quality table grapes. This publication guides growers to that goal and complements several other publications in this series: Vineyard Establishment (Zabadal, 1997; Zabadal and Andresen, 1997), Table Grape Varieties for Michigan (Zabadal et al., 1997) and Pest Control in Small Vineyards (Zabadal, 1999). Sources of these publications are listed in Appendix A.