The art of pruning grapevines is a fun and learnable activity. A grapevine can take up to three years before it is ready to be harvested for wine production. However, in preparation for this your grapevine will need to be regularly maintained and nurtured. Alongside pruning, you will also need to make time for weeding and pest control to prevent bugs from attacking your vine.
Cultivating your grapevine is an art which can be easily mastered and successful pruning will not only make it look better, but it will also increase its yield of grapes.
When to Prune
Whether you are growing grapes in your back yard or in a field, it is important to remember that grapevines need to be pruned every year. Spring is the best time to prune a dormant vine, usually between the months of March and April.
One of the key principles for maintaining and growing a healthy grapevine is training. A young grapevine needs to be trained because this will influence its yield for the rest of its life.
All grapevines need to be attached to a cane or trellis as this will offer support as they grow. How you train your vine is dependant on which pruning technique you choose to adopt.
Parts of a Grapevine
A grapevine is made of several parts. These include the trunk, which is the stem of the vine; the arms, which are the parts of the vine that are two or more years old; the canes are one year old shoots and the spur is a cane that has been cut back to one or two buds. It is important to know the parts of your grapevine so that you are aware of what parts you are pruning and what should be left to flourish.
Pruning your grapevine involves cutting back shoots and foliage. Shoots need to be cut back in order to encourage more shoots to develop next year. In turn, these will also need to be cut back the following year and so on. Inevitably, cutting back shoots will encourage greater growth and a more substantial yield.
Foliage has to be removed. If it is not, this will add shade to your growing grapes which will prevent them from ripening.
How to Prune a Grapevine
Before you start pruning, you will need to make sure that you have the correct tools. The best implement to use is a pruning knife which has a curved blade.
The first step of pruning your grapevine is to cut it free from its trellis and let it fall to the garden floor as this will make the task a little easier. Next, take one of its arms and start to cut back all of the shoots from the previous spring. Repeat this process with all of the vine's arms. When you cut back the shoots, leave a couple of strong shoots and tie these to the trellis so that they will grow into canes. Once all of the old shoots have been removed, you can then tie the grapevine back to its trellis.