Pruning / Training Help 101 - Community Thread

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Dec 15, 2021
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Hi everyone,

New member here and a rookie grape grower as well.

Hoping to kick off this thread with pruning / training questions for my specific small backyard vineyard, but then turn this thread more into a quick community "help me" source where others can post similar questions...

Many appreciation in advance for sharing your advice and knowledge as I learn the game!!

Specifics on my vineyard:

- 4 vines: Norton, Chambourcin, Merlot, Cab Sauv
- Location: North Carolina (Piedmont Region)
- 1st Year planting (planted Feb 2022)

1) How should I prune / prep for training in Year 2 for each plant this winter? Going to try and go plant by plant with pictures for each...

Plant 1 - Norton (barely reached 1st wire (3 ft) - thinking I trim below first wire and try again next year for top wire?? (5.5ft)

Plant 2 - Chambourcin (vigorous Y1 with one trunk making it to top wire and curling down 1 ft to right and 2nd trunk making it to bottom of top wire)

Plant 3 - Merlot (vigorous growth with dual trunk, trying VSP trained up to 2nd wire at 4ft and to left and right maybe 1.5 ft)

Plant 4- Cab Sauv (vigorous growth, training as VSP to 1st wire and good growth to left and right ~2.5 ft each way)

Not sure how to prune these youngins, so would be very grateful for expert opinions!!

Pics of vines attached at end of season (with exception of Norton since not much to prune lol) I took dormant pics but was tough to visually see trunks and canes.

plant 2 Chambourcin

Plant 3 Merlot

plant 4 Cab Sauv
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VSP for the last (2) but what are your plans for the first (2) - TWC? If TWC, I'd prune the Norton down to (2) buds and repeat year 1. From there, encourage a straight trunk until it makes it to the top wire. Then I would discourage any lateral growth on the trunk below the top wire by removing any buds on it (only below the top wire). Gently bend the trunk over the top wire to become a cordon. When the length of the cordon is at its desired length, let a bud at the top wire (opposite the cordon from the previous step to form the second cordon. There are plenty of YouTube videos to help you along. One particular channel is Tom @Viticultureinfo starting with and going till you find what you're looking for. After viewing, you'll have a better idea of what you need to be doing. Good luck!
I’m kind of in the same boat with my 52 first-year vines. Most are only around 4 feet tall with multiple stems, only a few as thick as a pencil.

I think most of them will be trimmed back to a single vine with a few buds so they can start over. My only question is if I should then remove most of the new growth and. Select for only one vine?
If your trunk is not as thick as a pencil, cut it back to 2-3 buds. The roots need to spread out enough to support the feeding of the vines. If the all of the nutrients & energy is concentrated on vine growth, it will take much longer for the roots to grow to a point where they can feed the vines properly resulting in weak and disease fragile vines. If you cut back, the already established roots push that trunk up much more quickly than a fresh planting. In my case (I live in a cooler climate), I opted to "double trunk" which basically means of the 2 buds at the base of the vine original planting were allowed to grow to the top wire (first trunk in year one then the second in year two) to form (2) cordons. That way, if frost damage occurs, the plant will not suffer. Here's a quick example:
Vinifera wine is best grown as a vertical shoot system. So low wire as it base.

1st year planting? These vines are too young to start either a cordon or a cane.

I recommend cutting just below the bottom wire. Leave 4 buds at the top. Strip off all below that. Then let those grow this year. You can leave two canes to the wire this year if you want (but I would not), but next year you will probably indeed need to decide on one you want to keep if you do not do it now (double canes are really only needed in very cold areas, where deep freezes can kill a trunk of a wine -- not likely in your area).

Next year, maybe, or the maybe better in another year, you can decide if you want to start to cane prune or cordon prune what you have. Which is an entirely different degree of world views --- religions.... :)

Anyway.... you can see my pruning methods (and thus my pruning opinions) videos, in my signature, below my posts.

Hope this helps.
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