When to Prune Grape Vines

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Grapes are a great year-round treat. On a salad, as a table snack, or concentrated into a rich wine, they are an essential part of many diets. If you're lucky enough to be able to grow your own, you're saving a ton of money each year. Proper seasonal pruning in late winter is the best way to make sure that you're getting the best return on your investment.

When?

  • The best time to prune your grapes is in late winter. The end of January to early March is prime time for pruning because the grape vines are inactive. Their dormancy during this period allows you to get into the growth and cut away the old, neglected vines that aren't going to produce anything. Getting rid of these vines will help to produce more grapes in the upcoming seasons.

How Much?

  • During this late winter period, you should be getting rid of almost 90% of the wood on the vines. Most of the vines produced in the previous season needs to be rid off. Most gardeners make the big mistake of not pruning enough of the old growth. Leaving this unfertile wood in your garden will hurt you growth and limit the amount of grapes you'll see and harvest in the spring/summer season. Light pruning not only affects the number of grapes you harvest, but it also tampers with the quality of the grapes. When enough of the old wood is removed, better quality grapes come in.

Cane Pruning!

  • For the best winter pruning, especially for table grapes, cane pruning is a recommended method. Start by selecting two to four new fruiting canes per vine. Cut back each of these canes, leaving 15 buds per cane (20 to 30 buds per plant for wine grapes). This should amount to 50 to 80 buds per plant. You should leave a two-bud spur cane near the fruiting cane with one or two buds each. These will help to create the canes for the next season. All other cane growth should be removed.

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