Pruning and Training Young Vines

Grapes will grow on just about anything. In the wild, they climb large trees to get their leaves into the sun. But in home plantings, you need to rein in that vigor by pruning and training the plants to keep them manageable and productive.

You can train grapes to grow on an existing arbor, fence, or other structure. If you are starting from scratch, a good trellising method is the four-arm Kniffin system (see Figures 16 and 17). No matter what system you use to support your vines, the principles are the same. There are several things to keep in mind:

  • You don't want the vines to become overgrown. You should have only one or two layers of leaves during the growing season.
  • Typically, you should remove 90 percent of the new growth during dormant-season pruning.
  • Grapes bear fruit from buds on one-year-old wood that elongate into new shoots.

Figure 16. Stages of training a vine to the four-arm Kniffen system on a two-wire trellis

Figure 16. Stages of training a vine to the four-arm Kniffen system on a two-wire trellis

Four Arm Kniffin System

The four-arm Kniffin system uses a trellis made by stringing two lines of galvanized wire (size 9, 10, or 11) or monofilament between durable wooden trellis posts set about 24 feet apart. The top wire of the trellis should be about 6 feet high and the lower wire about 3 feet high.

During the first year, follow the recommendations for planting and fertilization given previously. If the cane does not reach the top trellis wire in the first year, train it to grow as a single cane the following year until it reaches the top wire.

In early spring of the second year, tie the cane to the top trellis wire and cut it off just above the wire. Leave four to six buds in the vicinity of each wire and remove the rest. As new shoots begin to grow from the remaining buds, remove any flower clusters that form.

Cane Kniffin
Figure 17. Prune grapevines hard during the dormant season. Often, you need to remove 90 percent of the new growth.

In early spring of the third year before growth starts, select four canes near the top wire and four canes near the bottom wire. Remove the rest. Tie one cane going in each direction on both wires. Allow these four arms to fruit up to the sixth bud along the arm. Cut the other four canes back to a stub containing two buds. These stubs are the "renewal spurs," which will produce fruiting canes next season.

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  • FNAN
    Is pruning fruits from young plants good?
    6 years ago

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