Shoots keep breaking - marquette

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Sep 16, 2014
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The shoots on my marquette vines keep breaking. This is year 3 on a TWC trellis system, and about half of all the new shoots have now broken off and died. They break off at the base of the shoot, and I find another one dead every few days. Some plants only have 1 or 2 shoots left.









Is it normal for a lot of shoot loss? Should shoots and spurs be pruned so that new growth only comes off the bottom of the vine? Shoots coming off the bottom seem to have a better chance of surviving, but some are still breaking.

These vines did struggle earlier this year due to repeated frosts and bud loss, but they're all still alive.


This look similar to damage I've seen on my Cayuga vines when they were younger. The Cayuga shoots tend to be brittle and grow vigorously. Unfortunately the strong winds we get here can easily break off or damage these young shoots right at their base like the way yours are breaking. In the last couple years though, I've noticed much less wind damage as the vine puts out more growth and has a more resilient canopy.

So this may improve with time, however if I were you I would not want to wait years in the hope that the damage lessens. If you are growing a small number of vines, something you may want to consider is training them to VSP on a mid-wire cordon. Using several catch wires between the mid and high wire can help support the shoots.
Have you had any problems with deer? I ask because Marquette is one of 10 different varieties I have in my small vineyard, and I have not noticed this problem. Edelweiss on the other hand is extremely fragile. That is the one I curse for broken shoots after storms.
jgmillr1, thanks for the suggestion of mid-wire cordon. It sounds appealing, and makes sense that it would support the new shoots. I'll see how things go this year and decide whether or not I want to put in the effort to modify the trellis and re-train. I'm on the front range of CO, so we do have high winds frequently, though I haven't specifically correlated the high winds with the shoot loss.

BigH, I have a fence around my property, and we haven't seen any deer in years, so I don't think that's an issue.

I'll keep an eye on future broken shoots, and try to determine what the cause was.
Looks like those leaves are really dark green, have you been fertilizing a lot? If so, not sure if that would have anything to do with the shoots breaking. But I definitely second the idea of growing Marquette on a VSP or even low wire cordon. My Marquette want to go straight up, yet this variety is "supposed" to be somewhat trailing. To me, the idea of "combing" the shoots down doesn't sound good. I'm afraid that if I tried to do that I would end up breaking a lot of them off.

I think I read somewhere that growing Marquette on a VSP will lower the yield a little, but that's not a big deal for me, I end up thinning a lot of clusters anyway. I think I'm going to start training a new trunk this year to grow on a VSP or LWC, trying to manage Marquette on the TWC is very difficult IMO.

Good luck, hope your vines recover.


I have never given the vines any fertilizer, so that shouldn't be an issue. You'll have to update us with how the Marquette fairs on a VSP/LWC trellis.

If TWC is difficult for Marquette grapes, why is it so highly recommended? For example, I bought my vines from Double A Vineyards, and they recommend a TWC trellis:
I have been growing Marquette, Corot Noir and Noiret for 7 years this Spring. I have a TWC. I fertilize. I purchased vines from Double A. I do not have shoots that break off unless I get a high windstorm at just the right time in the shoot growth before they have had a chance to harden off sufficiently. I am down south from you in Northern NM at ~6600ft EL.
Pat Marquette shoots like most varieties do grow upright for a bit but as they gain length and weight naturally fall downward. It is fairly easy to comb the shoots but you need to wait until they are two to three feet long. That said they can be trained VSP without great difficulty and you can reduce crop load to end up with 8 to 10 pounds per vine if that is the way you want to go. Most of my Marquette are grow on some type of high wire, either TWC or my Modified Geneva Double Curtain (ModGDC).

I agree that the leaves look too dark of a green and I have seen cases where that can lead to brittle shoots. I believe your vines will eventually grow out of this and do fine.
Hoping to dodge breakage issues, myself. I'm currently establishing the cordons on my Marquette vines, but then I realized I (yet again) don't know what I'm doing. They're being trained on TWC. My complete newbie question is: Am I supposed to manually wrap the cordon around the top wire? It seems like that method would provide the support needed for future weight of clusters, but I've never seen or read the "technique" really described. Right now they're just growing along the wire with the occasional twist tie keeping it in place. Am I doing it wrong?
You can gently encourage the shoots to grow where you want them to grow. Green shoots are quite susceptible to bruising and damage, so be cautious with the choice of tie. Twist ties are prone to damaging the delicate green shoot. I use the chain-link ag ties to loosely keep the shoots where I want them. Don't tie too tightly or they will break off at that point with the next thunderstorm. When you prune it early next year, you can wrap the cordon around the wire 1-2 times and secure it in place with metal twist ties or a zip tie ****at the end of the cordon***. The chainlink ag ties can be used along the length of the cordon to keep it against the wire. Twist ties will strangle and kill the tissue beyond where they are tied, so only use them at the end tip of the cordon.

I get my ag ties from orchard valley supply. Looks like they are out of these at the moment.