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What trellis system to use in the United Kingdom?

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JT101

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Thought I better use the words "UNited Kingdom", since one of the trellis systems acronym is also UK!

Anyway folks, I've managed to move on from my last post about planting in heavy clay soil near London. I dug out the clay. As best I could, and filled the hole with compost, wood, and other organic matter and then topped off with soil. It's an experiment so we'll see how my Regent and Seyval Blanc grow.

Since everything is site specific, I'm going to do both Guyot (cane) and Rod & Spur and see for comparison what works best.


So now my trellis design. This I can't seem to decide on and was wondering if anyone can give me their thoughts. Done a lot of research, and I've settled on Vertical Shoot Positioning and Four Arm Kniffen.

In the UK with problems of mould and mildew, I guess you might choose the VSP system especially on a commercial vineyard, but this is not my business, this is just a hobby on my allotment and so given that it's a lot more labour intensive, I'm wondering if the FAK might be better.

I don't mind the setup time or costs, it's more the summer training. I work fulltime, and so I want a system that I can easily perform all pruning of my 20 vines in say a day over a weekend. Or will it be several weekends? I'm guessing my site is high vigour. Looking at all the other vines around, and given that the soil is clay and has a lot of organic matter in it.

On the other hand, I've read that FAK doesn't allow even ripening from the lower set of fruit, and given how little sun we get in the UK, this can';t make for good wine which is what I'm aiming for.

So ultimately I'm looking for high quality fruit over less work involved., but if I can find a balance, all the better.



Many thanks
 

balatonwine

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I dug out the clay. As best I could, and filled the hole with compost, wood, and other organic matter and then topped off with soil.
Gravel and sand would maybe have been better. Grape vines in soils with too much organic matter become too vigorous.

Since everything is site specific, I'm going to do both Guyot (cane) and Rod & Spur and see for comparison what works best.
Training systems are also variety dependent. For example, using a cordon (i.e. rod) and spur might be a poor choice if the variety tends to have more fruitful nodes further out on a cane from the prior year's old wood than on the 2 or 3 left on a short spur.

I've settled on Vertical Shoot Positioning and Four Arm Kniffen.
A Four Arm Kniffen can shade the vine, which can not only increase mold but also negatively affect fruit ripening.
 

JT101

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Thanks Balatonwine. That all makes a lot of sense.
Actually only did the compost bed on two rows. The rest was just the existing soil which overtime has had lots of gravel, sand, organic matter and gypsum. So will be a good comparison.

Heavy clay is a bit of a catch twenty two. If you only add sand and gravel, the clay and sand combine to become even harder soil. It's only really the addition of organic matter that eventually improves the texture, but of course as you said, this will increase the vigour of the vine. Maybe adding only carbon material rather than fresh nitrogen would do the trick? Anyway I will have to employ other techniques to control the vigour.

I've got so many variables going on, to establish what works best in my location, I've decided to stick to VSP only. On such a small site, it won't be so much more work than any other method. I've contacted several sources now, and only found one person who used FAK, everyone else uses VSP in the UK. Anyone who is serious about vine growing that is.

I will look at my vine varieties more closely to check whether Guyot (cane) or spur pruning is more appropriate, thanks.

In any case, I think the biggest thing I should now prepare for is out of control vigour. Looking at other peoples vines, although different soils and vine varieties, they still have clay soil and are in the general vicinity, and the foliage is big and the canes very long.

Here's some ideas I've had about controlling vigour:

1. Nitrogen fixing cover crops planted around the vines like clover, trefoil, phacelia and some others. This was to control weeds, but thinking about it, if my vines are vigorous, the normal procedure of digging in this cover crop will only make things worse right?
What cover crops will compete with the vines and provide a cover to help control weeds? Perhaps creepers like strawberries?
Or if I don't dig in the clover, will that lock up nitrogen?

2. I read once that too much woody material used as organic mulch was bad for most plants because it locks up nitrogen. Perhaps as I said, more carbon woody material should be used?

3. Was reading an article about Mike Trought, a researcher at Marlborough Research Centre in New Zealand, though he is British. He was recommending quadrilateral rather than bilateral canes/spurs to control vigour in vigorous vines. I could imagine this causing mildew and mould problems in the UK climate though since the canopy would be twice as dense..

Anyway, some food for thought.
 

Masbustelo

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Carbon woody material only temporarily ties up nitrogen. I dug one cubic yard of wood chips in 15 foot long beds last year to purposely hold back vigor in my first year vines. They are doing fine. I worked it in six months prior to planting.
 

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