When to Prune Grape Vines
Pruning grape vines and knowing when to bring down the hammer of your fledgling vine is vitally important for the health of your grape plant. Pruning does many things for your vine, including producing a healthy crop of grapes each year, maximizes the sunlight exposure on your plants, helps them to develop for next year’s growth season, and more.
Pruning allows you to reduce the amount of unproductive vine thus increasing the amount of resources available for producing grapes. We don’t want any wasted effort on the part of the vine, so we offer a helping hand to make sure that the grape vine grows JUST right to offer up its very best grapes.
During the first year, you shouldn’t expect any fruit at all. While the baby grape vine will attempt to produce fruit, don’t give it the chance. This formative year is vitally important for the establishment of the vine. When you cut off the fruit and unwanted shoots from the vine, it tends to grow thick and strong from the base of the vine, thus improving the health and longevity of the vine in the long term. In the first year you will want to guide the vine into a sort of T-shape allowing it to grow tall and then wide across the trellis or arbor that you’ve created for it. If you don’t make it in year one, that is ok, you can continue this process in the second year as well.
In year two you can begin your crop. Don’t expect miracles, and you will still need to guide the growth of your vine. Prune any shoots along the base of the vine, only allowing it to grow fruit across the top of the T shape. Once it has reached the end of the trellis system, you can pinch the ends of the vine, promoting growth of the vine up top in other directions. It will develop and grow several shoots across the top which will eventually bear fruit.
During the early spring months, you can prune the “fruiting spurs” parts of the vine which actually bear fruit. This way you can control where the fruit will grow during the next growth season. This way you will be able to maximize the size of the fruit that grows while also reducing the strain on the plant itself.
Make sure that the grape vine doesn’t hang too far down so that there is room for the fruit itself in the coming year. For each pound of vine that you remove you should leave roughly 10 fruiting buds available on the vine itself. With the exception of the first pound which should leave roughly 30 buds. So if you prune off 4 pounds of vine, then you should make sure that there is at least 60 buds available.
Year three is the first year where you can expect some actual grapes. Pruning it in the dormant months to make sure that there is the right ratio of grapevine to buds available. When the growth season starts you should expect to see some fantastic grapes grow on the vine. It will be a victorious year indeed! Perhaps you will make a fine wine to celebrate your new crop of grapes, eh?