I have two lovely Ontario grape vines in my backyard that are now 4 years old and producing heavily. last year’s crop just as it was ripening, was devoured by a local raccoons and skunks. how can I prevent that from happening this year?
Grapevines are a terrific addition to a garden, whether they are trained as vines along a fence, or grow overhead on an arbour. There is unfortunately no simple and foolproof solution to curtail those nightly visits from the urban masked and striped marauders: both are omnivores, and raccoons in particular are adept at judging exactly the peak of ripeness of your fruit and are endlessly inventive in getting to it. If your grapes are overhead, raccoons will have no trouble at all getting up on top of the arbour, making a big mess and eating their fill, and skunks will eat anything they knock down.
In my neighbourhood of old East York, there are many vine-covered arbours, and committed grapevine owners often throw mosquito or bird-type netting over the top of them by early summer as the fruit begins to mature. This may work for birds and squirrels, but there is no hard evidence that this tactic will do more than provide a slight deterrent to raccoons, who are dexterous enough to find their way through. Although it will not completely deter the nightly raids, netting may allow you a window in which to pick many of your ripe grapes before they have been completely decimated. If you think this is worth trying, an internet search will bring up many local suppliers. On the other hand, those of us who enjoy our grape arbours in the city may simply have to admit defeat, and grow enough for everyone to share!