A common question every winery gets asked is how much it costs to plant an acre of grapes. The list below shows approximate prices to put in one acre of grapes. That's 15 rows, 90m in length, 3m apart and a vine every 2m. All prices are approximate, but you get the idea. I've also included when each activity has to be done throughout the year. This example assumes we'd be planting the vines this spring so we started work on this block last year. And this is in Australia so for the northern hemisphere just add 6 months to the time given.
Remember, these prices are APPROXIMATE and vary a lot depending on where you are in the world.
Order and pay for grape vines, phylloxerra resistant grafted rootstock vines .. $2,363 .. November
Soil test to determine what is missing from the soil .. $250 .. December
Spread lime, gypsum and other soil requirements .. it would be rare in Australia that lime and gypsum would not needed as we generally have very old acidic soils and vines need a neutral soil pH .. $800 .. January
Plan and peg out the layout of the vineyard, best done with the help of a surveyor .. $1,350 .. January
Deep rip the land for root penetration and drainage, you need a BIG machine to do this and you have to rip to a depth of at least 500mm .. $600 .. February
Sow cover crop to build up soil organic matter and nitrogen content .. $150 .. May
Turn in cover crop to incorporate organic matter .. $90 .. September
Power harrow land to level area and seed permanent grass sward (grass in the vine alleys) so the soil doesn't blow away and you can work in the vines during wet times .. $195 .. September
Buy treated pine posts for end box assemblies, posts around 175mm diameter are required as a fully laden trellis will exert considerable pull on the end assemblies .. $2,400 .. September
Buy steel posts for each row, one is required every 6m - the steel posts flex in the ground and the harvester can pick around them, pine posts in the middle of the row don't flex and the harvester will 'miss' the grapes 300mm each side of the post or, it will break the post .. $1,260 .. September
Buy wire, 1 irrigation wire, 1 fruit wire and 4 foliage wires for each row, foliage wires can be added later, but it's easier to get everything done at one time .. $695 .. September
Buy vine guards, these work as a hot house around each vine, they protect against rabbits, wind and chemical spray drift .. $1,013 .. September
Buy irrigation pipe, drippers, connectors and assume we are connecting to an existing irrigation system so no pumps or filters are included in this price .. $1,200 .. September
Contractor to drive treated pine and steel posts into the ground .. $1,200 .. October
Contractor to build end assemblies .. $400 .. October
Put wires up and strain as required .. $450 .. October
Install irrigation lines, drippers and connect to existing irrigation system .. $450 .. October
Weed spray in vine row so that green grass is left in the alley ways and the new vine is planted in bare earth so there is no competition from weeds for nutrients and water .. $210 .. October
Plant grape vines .. this is back breaking work, each vine has to be dug in and watered as you go .. $300 .. November
Tie vine up to the fruit wire .. we want to have the vine up to the fruit wire as quickly as possible so it can start providing fruit and we want nice straight trunks on the vines so it's easy to work around them .. $300 .. November
Put on vine guards .. $300 .. November Slash down the vine rows, a regular task during spring to autumn, required on average every two weeks .. $90 .. November
Buy & spread fertiliser .. organic fertiliser to give the vine a kick start, apply about one ton to the acre .. $830 .. November
Weed spray in vine row, a regular task that can be helped by mulching under the vines, without the weed spray the young vine is competing against the weeds for nutrients and water .. $210 .. December
Slash down the vine rows, ideally this is with a side throw mower so the cut matter provides a mulch under the vines .. $90 .. December
De-sucker vines .. the vine will try to grow shoots from each bud on the trunk, we have to open the vine guard, snap off these suckers and clip the vine guard back on and this has to be done regularly during the growing season .. $300 .. December
Total for the first year for one acre .. $17,495
OK, so we need to feed the lawn! Then, what is the best lawn fertiliser to use?
We know that in order to get our "perfect lawn" we need to (as part of the lawn's care regime) feed the lawn on a regular basis. However, there is some controversy about the different Lawn Care approaches adopted by different service providers. Broadly there are two (2) main Lawn Care approaches.
One is the organic approach that has a following in North America, however, not in Australia. In Australia, weed and feed Lawn Care is carried out by professionals using inorganic fertilisers and the range of herbicides and insecticides available to professional turf managers. It is worth noting that most professionals in the Greenkeeping and Turf Management industry believe that the organic approach falls short in delivering high quality weed and feed Lawn Care.
In Australia, the non-organic fertilisers is generally applied in one of two (2) ways.
Some Lawn Care operators may apply their fertilisers in a liquid form, where they spray the fertiliser on to the lawn.
However, most Lawn Care professionals utilise granular fertilisers and insecticides. This, in our opinion, is a better and safer approach for many reasons. It is better because the granular fertiliser products available these days come with very clever "slow release" technology meaning you will not get any leaf burn on your turf grass. Also, with slow release granular fertilisers you get a more consistent and longer term delivery of lawn colour compared with the liquid fertilisers that give a sudden burst of colour (which is short lived) and then the lawn colour tends to fade or wash out. Safety is also a consideration when applying lawn fertilisers. The DIY Lawn Lover can be assured that any Lawn Care products (in granular form) will be safer to use than the liquid alternatives.
OK, so what is the best fertiliser to use!
Now that we have established that the best way to apply the fertiliser is in solid granular form (with "slow release" technology), then the next thing we need to know is what are the correct nutrients needed to feed the lawn.
By nutrients what we are referring to is the NPK of the fertiliser. The N:P:K refers to the nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P) and potassium (K) content of the fertiliser.
Without getting to technical, the DIY home owner and Lawn Lover needs to know two basic things. These are that Weed Australia the fertiliser you apply to new turf is different to established turf.
For new lawns, you need to apply a fertiliser with an NPK of approximately 15 : 3 : 5
For established lawns, you need to apply a fertiliser with an NPK of approximately 23 : 0 : 5
Please note that we are not telling you what fertiliser brand to go and buy, however, if you know what the NPK is that you need then you can read the NPK on the labels of the fertiliser products available at your local garden store.