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Help pruning an old, neglected grape vine

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wildhair

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I have a single grape vine I planted about 25 years ago. It is a seedless Red Canadice as I recall. Not a wine grape, I know - but I got over 5 gal. of juice from it's grapes in 2017 and the wine I made from it is pretty nice.

I have been removing dead wood and cutting it back all along, but I am not really sure what and where & how much to cut it back. The vine is about 40' from end to end and over 6' tall. In March, I REALLY chopped it back to about 10' across, and I got a bag of grapes and LOTS of new growth by the end of summer. Now you couldn't even tell I had trimmed it.

I need some help figuring out what to prune this winter. I'd like to plant a couple more vines before I get too old - but I want to get this one under control first.

I attached some pics and could attach some close-ups - if needed.

P1020650.JPG P1020651.JPG
 

StevenD55

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That is a project. And it is a pretty old vine. This will take a few seasons if you want to keep it and it sounds like you do. I find it difficult to train vines on a fence. Separate wires work better. Believe me when I say I’ve tried.

My thought is that if you like the varietal you have and you want the fence area to be filled in with it, then you could “layer” by bending the long canes downward and bury a few nodes about a foot deep to allow roots to grow from the buried nodes. Then you can train the new growth. Once established, then cut from the original and train. You can bury those long canes more than once if you want at about 6’ intervals. An old vine like this will essentially be new with the new root systems. It will also serve to feed the parent vine.

Attached is a photo of how to start the layering. In my experience, it’s best to bend the cordon in hot weather. But you can do some of the prep work ahead of time.

You can skip the layering but run a little higher risk of losing it. Then pick 2 trunks you think you train vertically. Again, wait until hot weather to straighten. I use concrete rebar for posts on the problem trunks and tie the trunks I’m training tightly to the rebar with surveyors tape. At 36” to 42”high, bend the trunk to horizontal and tie to your wires about 30” long. Start with the single cordon with the cordon of one trunk going one way and the other, the opposite direction. If only one survives, then in subsequent seasons, you can train to double cordon.

Prune all of the other growth that is at or around the ground level. Then remove buds continually lower than your training wires.

It’s a challenge for sure and takes time.

The second pic shows how your cordons should look.

If you have more questions, Send me a PM.

Good Luck!
 

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wildhair

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Thanks, that was very helpful. I have some low growing vines, so layering sounds like a plan. I didn't know you had to remove all the buds from the trunk to the ground on the layered cane. I think I have a few season left in me - I'll give it a go. ;-)

There are actually 2 wires above the fence for the cordons to grow along - hard to see in the pic.
 
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