Training system for Seyval Blanc?

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RonObvious

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I love Seyval Blanc, but I'm starting to wonder if top wire cordon is really the best management system for it. We have a lot of vines similar to the one pictured below. If you look on the right side, you can see we have dutifully tied a cordon to the top wire, but the shoots on that cordon are weak and small. By contrast, the shoots coming out of the head of the vine are strong and lush. Clearly Seyval wants to grow up. Which makes me think it might be a good candidate for VSP, but I have 2 reservations about switching them to VSP:
1) I'd have to re-do about 1000 ft of trellising to add the catch wires.
2) Some of those rows actually have some Traminette in them as well, and I don't think Traminette is well suited to VSP.

So I'm wondering if there is another method of pruning/training that works well for Seyval and can leverage the existing top wire? We've been doing some testing this year with Watson trellising for Marquette and Aromella which seems to be going great so far. I wonder how Seyval would do on Watson? And what would that mean for winter pruning? Just cut each vine back to the head area and call it a day? Anyway, thoughts or comments are appreciated.

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I love Seyval Blanc, but I'm starting to wonder if top wire cordon is really the best management system for it. We have a lot of vines similar to the one pictured below. If you look on the right side, you can see we have dutifully tied a cordon to the top wire, but the shoots on that cordon are weak and small. By contrast, the shoots coming out of the head of the vine are strong and lush. Clearly Seyval wants to grow up. Which makes me think it might be a good candidate for VSP, but I have 2 reservations about switching them to VSP:
1) I'd have to re-do about 1000 ft of trellising to add the catch wires.
2) Some of those rows actually have some Traminette in them as well, and I don't think Traminette is well suited to VSP.

So I'm wondering if there is another method of pruning/training that works well for Seyval and can leverage the existing top wire? We've been doing some testing this year with Watson trellising for Marquette and Aromella which seems to be going great so far. I wonder how Seyval would do on Watson? And what would that mean for winter pruning? Just cut each vine back to the head area and call it a day? Anyway, thoughts or comments are appreciated.

View attachment 102705
What did you decide? I'm not well versed in pruning or training systems so I don't have much to offer. It's interesting how far the weaker spurs are behind the stronger ones. I have some really big vines with 15 to 20 ft cordons and they do vary in how they develop but usually not as much variation as yours seem to have.

I know nothing about Seval Blanc, so I googled it. Interesting grape. I stumbled across this "https://journals.ashs.org/hortsci/view/journals/hortsci/37/7/article-p1023.pdf" which you might find intersting.
 
Thanks for the reply and the link. I'm leaning strongly toward Watson. It would be a challenge to convert the rows to VSP. What's more, as our Marquette/Aromella on Watson experiment gets further and further into the season, I'm loving it more and more. I won't render a final opinion until harvest, but right now I'm thinking we're going to be converting most, if not all, of the vineyard over to Watson. It just has so many advantages. Most of our other varieties (Petite Pearl, Crimson Pearl, Itasca, Frontenac, Arandell) are fairly typical hybrids - get 'em up to the top wire and then just let 'em droop - so I'm guessing they'll naturally adapt to the extra support the Watson wires will give. Seyval is different, in that once it reaches the top wire, it can't decide where it wants to go. What's more, it resists my efforts to direct it! It's a lovely, well-behaved grape in the winery, but in the vineyard it is a naughty chicken! So I think we're going to try the Seyval on Watson next year, at least for one experimental row. Prune back to the head area over the winter and then just let the Watson wires catch the canes, wherever they may go.
 
I love Seyval Blanc, but I'm starting to wonder if top wire cordon is really the best management system for it. We have a lot of vines similar to the one pictured below. If you look on the right side, you can see we have dutifully tied a cordon to the top wire, but the shoots on that cordon are weak and small. By contrast, the shoots coming out of the head of the vine are strong and lush. Clearly Seyval wants to grow up. Which makes me think it might be a good candidate for VSP, but I have 2 reservations about switching them to VSP:
1) I'd have to re-do about 1000 ft of trellising to add the catch wires.
2) Some of those rows actually have some Traminette in them as well, and I don't think Traminette is well suited to VSP.

So I'm wondering if there is another method of pruning/training that works well for Seyval and can leverage the existing top wire? We've been doing some testing this year with Watson trellising for Marquette and Aromella which seems to be going great so far. I wonder how Seyval would do on Watson? And what would that mean for winter pruning? Just cut each vine back to the head area and call it a day? Anyway, thoughts or comments are appreciated.

View attachment 102705
I switched mine to VSP. They definitely want to go up. My Concords want to go down but I trained the to go up via VSP Too. I had to run more catch wires too. Totally worth it.
 
I love Seyval Blanc, but I'm starting to wonder if top wire cordon is really the best management system for it. We have a lot of vines similar to the one pictured below. If you look on the right side, you can see we have dutifully tied a cordon to the top wire, but the shoots on that cordon are weak and small. By contrast, the shoots coming out of the head of the vine are strong and lush. Clearly Seyval wants to grow up. Which makes me think it might be a good candidate for VSP, but I have 2 reservations about switching them to VSP:
1) I'd have to re-do about 1000 ft of trellising to add the catch wires.
2) Some of those rows actually have some Traminette in them as well, and I don't think Traminette is well suited to VSP.

So I'm wondering if there is another method of pruning/training that works well for Seyval and can leverage the existing top wire? We've been doing some testing this year with Watson trellising for Marquette and Aromella which seems to be going great so far. I wonder how Seyval would do on Watson? And what would that mean for winter pruning? Just cut each vine back to the head area and call it a day? Anyway, thoughts or comments are appreciated.

View attachment 102705
Hey there

For whatever reason, I usually don't end up commenting on the forum, but I thought I'd chime in here.

I think Watson would likely be a great system for you. I'm planting a new 1 acre vineyard all on Watson now. Currently I grow on VSP, but like you, became very interested in Watson.

Maybe I'm not totally understanding, but it sounds like you are planning to put in Watson cross arms but then do some high wire head training. As I understand Watson, it's actually a high-wire cordon system. So pretty much what you have now, except that the freedom wire is in the middle and the Spurs can double up, meaning that instead of having a position every hand space, you have two fruiting zones or in other words, since the buds alternate on the cane, providing that your inner node spacing isn't too far apart, you can have one spur go to the left and one spur go to the right and each side has its own spacing.

Then, the shoots will go up and over the wires on the cross arms which are basically 12 and 24 in. And sprawl down over the top, where they provide some shading to the fruit with dappled sunlight. If they grow too long and shade the fruit, and they can be skirted or even more awesome, you can introduce sheep into the vineyard without the risk of them eating the fruit due to the high cordon.

Again, maybe you already know all of this and I'm misunderstanding your post. And I may be incorrect on this, but my thought about why those new cordons are not producing well, is that due to apical dominance, you may be pushing buds at the head or at the very end of those cordons and ending up with blank spots on the cordons. I'm not sure about this, but that would be a consequence of laying out too long of a cane and or a cane that is not big enough in diameter.

Whether or not you switch to Watson or just keep the single high wire, I think if you grab one of those shoots from the head and replace those cordons and just cut off the old cordon, you will be able to build a new cordon very quickly. The trick would be to cut back that new shoot that you're going to build a new cordon with, to only about 15 to 20 in. And then in the following year, add another length to it but only 15 to 20 in each year. Then I think you will get good strong shoots coming out, that you can establish permanent spur positions with.

Again, I am really not an expert and have limited experience myself but have studied it a lot. I may be mistaken or not correct about something.

Here is a good link for Watson:

Also, If you really want to run this by an expert, there is a guy named Fritz Westover, who has something called the virtual Viticulture academy. Two times per month, you can send in your questions to him and he will answer them live during a group session. To do this, you have to join as a member, but you can always request a one-time guest pass to check it out. Here's how you can do that:

https://www.virtualviticultureacademy.com/live-vineyard-advice/

When you get to that page, scroll down to the bottom and you will see where you can request a one-time guest pass.

Okay, hopefully some of that was helpful to you. Your vineyard looks very lush and very vigorous!

🙂🙂
 
Hey, just one more thing. You probably again have some idea about this as I see you've been growing for a while. But, if you do decide to build new cordons from head shoots, with the vigor that I see in your vines, you would want to make sure you leave enough buds so that your new cordons don't push bull canes. In that case, maybe there is an additional cane you might need to leave for a year or so to balance the vigor due to the fact that your roots are probably quite established. But hey, I'm not totally sure about that and I would probably check out that guest pass and see if you can get that question answered by Fritz or someone like him. Also, I noticed in my last post the word "freedom" which was supposed to be "fruit". Voice typing is awesome except for when it does that!!!
 
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