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Hydroponics Harvesting 3: The Wine Grapes Connection

Hydroponics flowers and wine grapes: from her lips to ours Hydroponics flowers and wine grapes: from her lips to ours © RosebudMag.com

Harvesting your hydroponics plants can be a lot more fun and beneficial than the traditional method that has you waiting until the very end of bloom phase, flushing your plants, and then chopping them all down at once.

That simple method is the traditional and dominant hydroponics harvest tactic, and it obviously works, or else so many growers wouldn’t be using it.

But there are more interesting and profitable ways to harvest your crops, and one of them is what I call the “wine grape method.”

Let’s take a brief look at wine grape growing and harvesting and you’ll see how wine grape agriculture is similar to your indoor hydroponics gardening in very important ways.

As you’re aware, your crops have characteristics such as aroma, taste, color, and quality. Wine grapes have similar sets of characteristics, and they’re produced by some of the same types of metabolic pathways at work in your plants.

Your crops contain sugars, chlorophyll, phenols, terpenoids, acids, and fertilizer salts; wine grapes also contain many of those same things.

Wine grapes have a ripening continuum, and so do your hydroponics plants. This means it isn’t like a wine grape grows for several weeks, and is unripe, and then all of a sudden in one day or a few days it suddenly becomes “ripe.”

Instead, wine grapes have an immature stage during which no experienced grower would harvest them, and then they have intermediate and endstages.

During these phases, wine grapes from the same vines can be harvested intermittently to give a wider variety of grapes from the same vine.

The magic is that the grape’s characteristics are changing over time, so the wine grape harvester gets a mixture of qualities and compounds from the vines, reflecting the grape’s stage of development whenever it is harvested.

The same is true for your hydroponics plants. Another shared characteristic of wine grapes and your hydroponics plants is that grapes or your hydroponics flowers will ripen differentially, depending on various factors.

These factors include genetics, climate, nutrient supply, water availability, light cycles, and grower expertise.

One key factor has to do with where the flower or grape is located on the plant. Depending on variety, grapes that are under a shaded canopy ripen differently than grapes in full sun. Grapes at the bottom of a vertically grown grape vine ripen differently than those above them.

In some grape varieties, you may see a grape cluster in which a dozen grapes are all growing in the exact same spot on the plant, and yet some of the grapes are fully ripe, while others just a fraction of an inch away are nowhere near ready for harvest!

It’s good to remember that during bloom phase your hydroponics plants often add floral sets, or develop new growth on floral sets (either below or above an established floral structure), even when your plants are several weeks into bloom phase.

Hydroponics growers who’re looking for a more intimate relationship with harvest timing are paying close attention to their flowers, and sometimes noticing that the upper or lower part of a very large flower may be ready for harvest before other parts of the same structure, or before other flowers on the same plant.

That’s why some hydroponics growers will harvest the upper half of a floral structure, or of a plant, and leave the bottom half of the blooming plant still growing. This gives the lower flowers an extra dose of light, and more time to develop.

Often, the lower flowers will then extend and lengthen, giving you significantly more total harvest weight from that plant than you would have gotten if you had chopped it all down at one time. You also get a higher percentage of fully-ripened flowers.

We will discuss more about differential hydroponics harvest timing in the next in our online series on harvesting, so be sure to stay tuned to RosebudMag.com for more valuable hydroponics harvest information. And you can also look forward to the October 2010 issue of Rosebud in print, which has its own harvesting articles for indoor hydroponics and outdoor growers. As always- enjoy your flowers!

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Last modified on Wednesday, 20 October 2010 20:35

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