Pruning to delay harvest

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dwhill40

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Hello All,

I grow vinifera in the deep south. Trust me it can be done. I would like to delay my harvest via pruning as late as possible when temps are cooler especially delta of day and night temps. I know this can be done because it happened on accident this year. My small vineyard is in the corner of a large pasture. An old fence post was broken and a herd of cattle had it's way with my vines when the new shoots were 2 to 6 inches. A cow isn't a precision snipper so the remaining new shoots were 1/2 to an inch or two left remaining. The vines responded by launching every possible dormant bud available. There were new sprouts everywhere. After much selective snipping and rubbing off of buds I managed to end up with a mostly normal set of shoots. It made a great opportunity to get rid of large spurs. The fruiting was reduced by more than 50% probably due to the cows eating the immature tiny clusters but overall the fruiting cycle was delayed by weeks. I actually had to harvest due to an incoming hurricane.

So what I'm looking for is an established method of pruning to accomplish a delayed fruiting cycle. Any knowledge out there on the matter?
 

VinesnBines

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Watch this YouTube delay pruning video.
The idea is to leave the shoots with more buds than you intend to have fruiting. If you are cane pruning and plan to have 6 fruiting buds, you would leave 8 or 10 buds. If you are spur pruning and plan to have 2 fruiting buds, you would leave about 4 or more. The first buds to break are at the end of the shoot so when the buds at the end of the shoot start to break, you prune back to the number of fruiting buds you desire. The vine will weep but the remaining buds will be delayed in bud break by about 10 days.
I plan to prune this way with all my vines. We had three killing frosts last spring; thankfully my vineyard was just in second leaf and I wasn't planning a crop.
 

dwhill40

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Thanks for your reply. That is what happened to my vines but to the extreme since I had already pruned to two buds. I'll choose a strong healthy vine or two this year and give that a try.
 

VinesnBines

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I had pruned to two buds this spring and realized that was a mistake in my zone. I may have lost a few vines with three killing frosts. I have 240 vines going into third leaf and 600 vines going into second leaf this year so they will all get a late prune and the two years will not be back to two buds.
 

Rocktop

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Vinesbines , can you explain why pruning to two buds in your zone was bad idea?
My vines are going into second year next year and I plan to prune to 2 buds.
I’m zone 5a.

Thanks,

RT
 

VinesnBines

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Vinesbines , can you explain why pruning to two buds in your zone was bad idea?
My vines are going into second year next year and I plan to prune to 2 buds.
I’m zone 5a.

Thanks,

RT

On April 2, 2020, I had bud break in most of my varieties. We had three frost events between April 2 and May 10. By May 10 everything had been killed at least once and on May 10 we had temps to 25 degrees. EVERYTHING was killed back a second or third time. This weather pattern was unusual but not completely unheard of. May 10 is our expected last last frost date - frost meaning tender plants - tomatoes usually - can be burned or killed. Freezing temps are extremely unusual. (2020 has been pretty lousy overall).

My vines were just going into the second year and I had pruned them to two or three buds in February. When they were killed back three times, some of the vines just didn't recover. Going forward I'm going to wait to prune until late March or even early April. Then I will leave more buds until we get past the mid May danger zone. I'm not sure how many I'll leave; I'm still experimenting with the varieties and learning how to manage in the cooler climate.

We are in zone 6A at 2000 feet elevation. I'm experimenting with several varieties of hybrids and vinifera to see which will do best. I was asked many times why I planted so many varieties; after the May 10 freeze I realized I was right to experiment.

I would suggest you wait as long as possible to prune. Do a rough prune anytime, cutting back the dead and tips leaving a good number of buds, 10 or 12 maybe. Once the end buds start to break, then use the delay process and prune back to three or four buds - this will all depend on varieties, time of first bud break and expected last frost/freeze date. Just a suggestion and what I'm planning.

I'm sure some of the many cool climate growers will have better advice.
 

Rocktop

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Wow incredible advice. I too was planning on pruning to 2 buds in February. Like you I am planting many varieties to understand my location and what will do well before I plant out the acreage.
So far 25 gamay, 25 la crescent, and 100 lemberger, this spring I plant 25 Pinot noir, 25 Pinot Gris, 25 Chardonnay, and 25 Riesling.

Can I ask what training method you employed?

Thank you again.

RT
 

VinesnBines

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I'm still installing trellis since everything is either 1st or 2nd year vines. I'm looking at high cordon wire for most of my hybrids. I need something that is not overly labor intensive.
I'm still evaluating the vinifera but they will benefit most from VSP.
Rocktop, where are you located?
 

montanarick

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my vineyard is fairly small - 120 vines. I have switched all of my vines to VSP because i find it easier to maintain (no long shoots hanging over into aisles) and definitely easier to keep birds from decimating TWC vines even when covered in bird netting.
 

Rocktop

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Hi vinesbines, I am located in the Kootenay’s of bc Canada.

I am using a modified vsp . It’s like smart dyson. Train just like vsp but on west side pull out upright vines to droop down thereby shading fruit from late day sun and split canopy to soak as much sun as possible.
 

VinesnBines

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I'm in the Appalachian mountains of Virginia - the climate is more in line with the North Carolina mountains - not to be confused with any other region of Virginia. I'm growing four main whites, Traminette, Vidal Blanc, Chardonel, Cayuga White; five main reds, Chanbourcin, Chelois, Marechel Foch, Baco Noir and Marquette. I have a few DeChanuce (I understand a few go a long way, Chancellor, Norton, Leon Millot and Landot Noir; I have a couple vinifera - we supposedly can grow Pinot Noir, Riesling, Cab Franc and Petite Verdot; I added Merlot, Cab Sav and Chardonnay to the mix just to prove we can't grow them. This year I may add a couple Nebbiolo - we get a lot of fog in August and September and I just wonder... Finally I have some heirloom in trials Baco Blanc and Jefferson, adding Empire State and a new hybrid called Palmer (not in the public domain yet). All this in one acre so far. I know it is a lot of varieties but I'm testing and trialing.

I attended a virtual wine tasting yesterday of hybrid grapes. One of the wines was a Traminette and the winemaker said (a Hudson Valley winery) that they found that high cordon with no hedging or pruning was most productive and had the best flavor. In fact thinning and hedging resulted in less flavor. I was surprised!
 

dwhill40

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@VinesnBines - take a look at cane pruned Petite Manseng it's a keeper for me. It's a tough little vine and grape. Nice floral wine if kept cold through the process.
 

VinesnBines

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Thanks. I know other Va growers are looking to Petite Manseng.
I'm also planning to look into tall grafted vinifera. The graft union is 12 inches above the ground negating the need to hill up the graft for cold and cutting down on the danger of cold induced crown gall. I lost two vinifera to crown gall this year. The galls formed right on the graft union even though they had been hilled up last fall. Since they were so young, I opted to kill off the vine rather than try to keep them alive.
 

dwhill40

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How about growing vinifera with no grafts? I have sandy soil and drip apply one dose of imidacloprid each spring to fight off the sapsucker bugs. As an experiment I've been growing ungrafted Cab and Petit Manseng for 7 years now with no issues. The ungrafted vines are surprisingly less vigorous with smaller berries and clusters and really should be grown separately to address different trellising and nutrient needs. I finally made a couple gallons of the ungrafted Cab this year. It's early but it seems to be a winner.
 

VinesnBines

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My vineyard soil is heavy, fertile clay. Phylloxera heaven. I might play with self rooting some and trialing in my Eastern Virginia sand box aka garden. I can't grow tomatoes in the sand box; full of verticullium wilt. No wilt in the clay.
 

dwhill40

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The next "mountain" over from me is named Sand mountain. I've read phylloxera isn't mobile in sand and basically why I attempted ungrafted vines. It is definitely a unique thing to play around with especially in Alabama.
 

dwhill40

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I sent a sample of top soil and the red/orange subsoil to Auburn /U. to be tested. I had always assumed the subsoil was clay and it is a bit. It came back classified as sand. And PH? That's another grape growing fallacy. Subsoil is 4.9 and topsoil is/was 5.1. That looks like some good dirt you have there. Bet you can grow hella veggies.
 

VinesnBines

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The peppers threatened to annex the next county. I cooked, froze and pickled. COVID forced me to grow most of the seedlings I raised and prevented me from giving away as many as usual.

PH in the vineyard is 5.7, in the garden, 6.5 - the garden has 40 years of organic matter and and the topsoil from the vineyard. The hillside was plowed about 60 years ago and a huge rain washed off the upper layer of top soil to the bottom. Topsoil on the upper reaches is about 5 to 6 inches; 2 feet at the bottom of the hill.

We also have yellow clay in parts of the vineyard - gypsum mines nearby. I understand the gypsum is the cause of the yellow pigment.
 
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