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Prune or not to prune?

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PeteW

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Recently purchased a house from a friends estate. My friend was getting into wine and beer making before he passed and so I now how a few vines and a trellis, and I have no idea what to do. A pic is included.

I believe, that mid February is the time to prune, so what exactly should I prune? All the way to the ground or just the ______ (this is where I get lost in the terminology of the parts of a vine.) I'll keep clicking, learning and scratching my head.
vines.jpg
Thanks, PW
 

kyle5434

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Based on their existing structure, it looks like cane pruning may be best.

Check out this video:
 

kyle5434

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For reference. he's a video on spur pruning as well. (Note: I'm not running a vineyard, so I don't worry about weighing the pruned material).

 

PeteW

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Hi, I appreciate the quick response. I will watch these videos later this evening and post any questions, thanks!
 

balatonwine

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Looks like those vines are indeed having a bad "hair day".

A few things:

- Each vine should, ideally (hard winter damage areas excluded), only have one trunk going to the top wire. Ideally, first find the straightest, strongest trunk and cut all the others away. This first cut will give you a better view of what you can do with the rest.

- Those vines look pretty close. What is their distance? If very close, personally, I would consider removing the center vine. Close vines just grow into each other, shading leaves and fruit and decreasing quality and yield.

- The first year, I agree, this probably should have a cane cut. But then go to a spur cut next year, which is easier to do with top wire trained vines.


Quite frankly, the cane cutting video above does not really fully describe the importance and purpose of the renewal spurs -- if you use renew spurs your canes next years should come from those spurs, which makes next year's pruning faster and easier. And you can ignore the cane weighing this year, it means nothing to you starting out this year, since you seem to have a huge bramble to remove that was not properly managed last year anyway.
 
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shrewsbury

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The post above mine is some great advice and is what I would consider doing
 

BigH

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Baltonwine gave some good advice. Here are my thoughts

  1. You have four trunks coming out of what looks like 5 or 6 feet between those posts. That is way to much. 1 or 2 at the most is all you need in that space. You really only need one vine on this trellis.
  2. When you are done pruning this year, you generally want each inch of wire to be covered by a single cane of 1 year old wood that is at least as thick as a pencil. 1 year old wood is smooth and tan in color, whereas older wood is rough and darker. Out of this tangled mess, you will only need to keep one or two canes to cover that wire.
  3. If you want to have multiple vines, consider expanding the trellis in each direction and beef it up with wood end posts.
  4. If you don't want to expand, then consider cutting back to two good trunks/vines on the ends and remove the rest. You could also keep just the the single trunk in the middle, but he doesn't look all that great. He does reside in a good spot though. For this short wire, you really only need a single vine and trunk growing up to the wire, with 2 canes running out in either direction like a capital T. Those canes would become cordons.
  5. Another option to consider: kill or remove the vines on the ends, chop that middle vine down close to the grown, and start the entire thing over by growing a single trunk up from the middle. You won't get any fruit this year, but you might be in better shape for future years

Note that pruning this gnarly beast is going to invigorate the vines that you keep and make them grow like crazy. That sounds great, but you may have problems with shaded fruit and poor air circulation.
 

garymc

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They look like grape vines. Do you know if they are and what kind? If you don't know what they are, then what part of the country (assuming U.S.A.) Since you're talking about February pruning we have to guess you're in the northern hemisphere. It's always helpful to include as much information as you can. These things could make a difference on how the vines should be managed.
 

PeteW

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Wow, so much information! Thank you all.

I wish I knew some history of these, how old they already are, what kind of grapes they produce. etc. There were no grapes last year, I moved in in July and he had passed 9 months or so prior to that, so needless to say these vines are certainly neglected. I am right in the middle of the state of Delaware. Once these vines are happy and start to produce, how much will they produce? At this second, I would be happy with a enough to satisfy my fruit (sweet) tooth. How do I find out what kind of grapes they are? Are grapes easy to identify and recognize? What would be the minimum amount to pursuit making wine? I have no problem with expanding the crop, I have a good amount of sunny land and we get I would assume more than enough rain during the year. Irrigation wouldn't be a problem if need be. I'm in no hurry for these to produce, I just want them to grow well and to know it was something started by my good friend I'd like to keep going.

It'll take me a bit to "prune" through the information you all have given me, much appreciated.
 

jgmillr1

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Great advice above! A couple more things to add on here... given that the vines ran wild last year there was likely significant shading of the canes due to excessive growth. This has the potential to (1) dramatically lower the fruit production this coming year, so be prepared for your vines to be very vigorous and (2) the vines were likely ravaged by blackrot and downey mildew, meaning there may be a large amount of die-back and disease pressure this year
 

treesaver

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Looking at you trellis, I would like to suggest a possible solution for helpin the crowdedness of the situation. If you add about four or five feet of trellis on either end, you would be able to train the trunks on the outside two vines outward as much as four feet, and would spread the upper part out enough to where you don't have to rip out the center vine. I hate to rip out vines, and I think this could be a workable solution. Good luck!
 

PeteW

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I pruned the vines this past weekend. I think I will make the trellis larger on each end and pull the two end vines over towards the new sections and let the T shaped one have the center portion of the trellis.

I pretty much gave up on any order or plan and simply trimmed back until I got to green living material.

This all is pretty much an experiment, it will be interesting even just to see how it grows this year, if it does at all.

Thanks everyone.

vines2.jpg
 

PeteW

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The vines are growing like weeds. Have about 10 clusters of grapes. I've stretched the right hand vine to more trellis, and may do the same with the left. I tried to move things around a bit before the new growth, but they are so fragile and could only bend so far. Should I trim some of the new growth as time goes along? If I do, how do I pick what to prune?


Vines 22 May 18.jpg
 

BigH

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Your summer canopy management would normally consist of of these items (when they are necessary)
  • shoot thinning (removal of weak shoots where things are too dense)
  • cluster thinning
  • combing shoots down / shoot positioning
  • sucker and watersprout removal
  • hedging if shoots reach they ground (not sure what you do about this since your trellis is short)

Note that if you snip the end of a shoot, you will encourage laterals to grow. That may or may not be what you want. Also keep in mind that any cutting or shoot removal will envigor the vine to produce even more green.

H
 

garymc

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The left and middle vines seem to have some low leaves and shoots. That should be removed and any new buds or shoots coming out of the lower part of the trunks should be removed. The low vegetation will be close to the dew and fungus from the ground and will be more disease prone. Plus you don't want to have to crawl around on the ground to pick the grapes. Also if you spray weed killer on the grass and weeds, you don't want grape leaves down there getting sprayed.
 

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