There are plenty of Grape growers who are devoutly thankful that their experience of shanking is limited to seeing it in the vineries of their acquaintances. They can tolerate it there with some amount of complacency as a rule. Now shanking is essentially a preventable complaint, but this information only conveys cold comfort to those who have inherited a legacy of it from some other grower, who might have brought preventive measures into play but did not do so. Those people, now on the eve of commencing Grape culture, who follow out to the letter the instructions which have been given in other pages, will certainly not have shanked Grapes, but I cannot ensure the same immunity for those luckless beings who take premises on which the Vines are of hoary antiquity, have been atrociously overcropped, and have sent roots far away into some bad soil. Shanking, or shrivelling of the footstalk of the berries, may arise from many causes. Even young and healthy Vines will sometimes show it.
I have seen a bad attack of it in the vineries of a grower who boasted his scores of prizes for Grapes, and yet was so overcome by instincts of greed as to mercilessly overload his Vines. I have seen it in an amateur's conservatory, where the roots of the Vines were confined in a small border that had been allowed to get dust dry. And, needless to say, I have seen an unlimited amount of it in old houses where the roots have got beyond the grower's control. It will be seen from the foregoing that to put an abstract query about the cause of, and remedy for, shanking is not enough to draw a wary expert. He wants to know, you know. He is circumlocutory from sheer force of circumstances. He responds with a series of carefully worded inquiries before committing himself. The remedies for overcropping and drought are obvious to the meanest intelligence. The runaway roots cause is a, tougher one to deal with. There is nothing for it but to investigate. Remove the soil from the border so as to bare the largest roots, and then endeavour to trace them. If they cannot be run down, and there is real room to suspect that they have got into bad company, sever them and lift the loose ends nearer to the surface, where there is fresh, sweet soil. This may be done when the leaves change colour in the autumn. There is no need to wait until they are all down. By remaking the border and working up new rods, old, shanky Vines may often be led into ways of righteousness.
A, stem of branch sound: a, berries shanked; b, shoulder affected; c, berries shanked; e, berries shanked; f, footstalks, berries fallen.
B, main stem shanked (d).
C, first appearance of shanking; g, dark speck.
D, shanking developed: h, wire-like shriveled footstalk.