Pruning Grapes - The Basics
by Stan Spencer
There is a lot of basic information to grape pruning is a necessary skill if you
grow grapes or are thinking about growing grapes. The weather in your area will
influence your pruning as warm weather climates and cold weather climates will
have different pruning times.
Pruning is necessary because grapes can only be produced from second year growth.
So your first year you will not have any grapes, but your second year you will.
Pruning is used to ensure that you get a crop every year.
The big pruning time tends to occur right after the last frost though it can also
be done after harvest. The most popular pruning systems are spur pruning and cane
pruning. Cane pruning involves saving two shoots from last year and tying them to
the fruiting wire. You will cut off all other shoots, but leave a spur or two near
the head of the vine for next year's canes. The buds on each cane will grow into
fruits and produce grapes. The length of the cane and number of buds on the cane
will dictate the crop you have. So for more crop you would have a longer can with
a lot of buds.
Spur pruning is slightly different. Instead of laying down two shoots from the
previous year your will already have hard wood as the canes in which the spurs are
on. A spur is a shoot that has 2 to 3 buds on it. So each year the cane will put
off its own shoots. Then the following year you will cut those shoots down to 2
to 3 buds and shoots will grow from these buds and produce fruit. It is best to
find a picture if this is your first time pruning.
Many vineyards will prune their vines directly after harvest so the vine can put
all of its energy into the next year's crop. The only danger is that a frost will
come through and kill the buds so that there will not be any crop.
This way they can access the amount of winter damage to the buds. When they know
the ratio of dead buds to live buds they can then adjust their pruning to retain
the correct amount of live buds. With very cold winters and late frosts many of
the buds will die and you will not have a crop that year. You will then need to
prune to prepare for the next years crop.
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