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Winter Pruning

Pruning is the cutting of older wood or overgrown shoots and leaves from the vine. It is performed throughout the year and is an essential part of balancing a vine’s production.

The main objective of winter pruning is the removal of the previous year’s older wood. Summer pruning focuses on the removal of overgrown new shoots or leaves from the vine.

Why is winter pruning necessary?

Winter pruning helps determine the number of grape bunches that a vine may produce in the upcoming growing season. It also encourages the proper amount of vegetative growth.

How much should be pruned?

The key factor in determining how much to prune is the desired yield of the vine.

Prune just enough so that when the pruning process is finished, the proper number of renewal buds remain on the vine and the vine is in balance. A balanced vine contains just enough shoots to produce the desired yield and desired quality of the grape. (There are a number of factors that affect the quality of the fruit. Pruning is just one of them. As a very general rule, a lower yielding vine produces grapes with more concentration.)

Each renewal bud will produce one shoot, which ideally produces two bunches of grapes. If, for example, the goal of a vine is to produce 32 bunches of grapes, then it would be necessary to leave 16 renewal buds on the vine.

Vine Prior to Winter Pruning – The Key Parts


Cordon
– the permanent wood.
Spur
– the growth point for the new shoots. The spurs are located on the cordon.
Cane – a shoot from the previous year that is dormant.
Shoot – the new growth which emanates from the bud. Once the shoot becomes dormant, it is referred to as a cane.

How do I prune? (example)

There are different types of pruning, such as spur and cane. This is an example of spur pruning. In this example, the goal is to end up with a vine that will produce 32 bunches of grapes.

The final pruned vine will look like this:

Remember, each shoot will produce two bunches of grapes. In this example, the pruned vine contains eight spurs, which will produce two shoots per spur – one from each bud. Each shoot will produce two bunches of grapes. Ideally, this vine will produce 32 bunches of grapes.

Step 1: Removing Last Year’s Canes

Each spur produced two canes last year. The goal of this step is to leave one cane on each spur.

Remove one cane from each spur. Cut the entire cane off at the base.  (Typically the cane further away from the cordon is removed. This maintains a smaller spur size.)

Now the spur looks like this.

Step 2: Cutting Off The Excess Buds

The goal of this step is to cut the remaining cane so that only two renewal buds are left.

Identify the first two renewal buds that are above the base of the cane.

Cut approximately 1/4″ above the renewal bud located further from the cordon. A new shoot will grow from each renewal bud.

Now the cane looks like this.

 Step 3: Repeat

Repeat Steps 1 and 2 until each spur has only 1 cane and 2 renewal buds.

The Pruned Vine

When finished, each spur will contain one cut cane with two renewal buds.

Remember, each bud will produce a shoot, which in turn will produce two bunches of grapes. Winter pruning is complete!