Pruning Vines and Vine Training

Cordon Pruning

If it is decided to grow a cordon, which is a convenient method on a wall or under cloches, cut back the leader to six buds when it is 5 ft. long or more, and bend it over horizontally. If a cordon is required at a greater height on the wall, rub out all the bottom buds and bend over the top at the appropriate height leaving six buds.

In the next year, these six buds will grow laterals and some or all will bear flowers and fruit. After the flowers have opened, pinch out the tips of the shoots at a point three or four leaves above the flower truss so that more sap will pass into the flowers and concentrate the growth where it is wanted. During the rest of the year, shorten any further side shoots that develop, keeping four or five leaves to provide plenty of foliage. Do not keep more than four bunches of grapes in the first year.

In the winter shorten two laterals to six buds each, and remove the others. The two laterals will then give twelve fruiting laterals and at the end of the year two or more of these laterals can be retained and the rest removed, and so on each year. On a wall the cordon may be permitted to grow to a considerable size, but it should be remembered that the bigger the vine the later it will ripen, and it is usually best to have a number of smaller vines rather than one large one.

Guyot Pruning

In the second or third year when the leader is 5 ft. or more long, cut it back to six buds as for cordons, and bend it down horizontally l to l-1/2 ft. from the ground. This method is normally used for vines grown in rows, and it is customary to use one of two methods—Single Guyot, or Double or Dwarf Guyot—but many variations are permissible.

When the main leader is bent over, cut back one of the other shoots from the base of the vine to two buds, and remove all other shoots.

In the next year, the laterals on the leader will bear fruit, and the shoots from the other stem may be permitted to grow upward to form fresh replacement shoots for the following year.

Single Guyot: Stretch wires along the row at heights of 12 to 14 in., 30 in. and 50 to 60 in. Allow the new leaders to grow to the top wire and then cut them off so that the wood will ripen to form good new shoots. In the winter cut away the entire fruiting shoot with all its laterals to the base, and bend down the best of the two replacement shoots in its place, shortening it to approximately 4 ft. cut back the other replacement shoot to two buds, and so on each year.

During the summer tie the fruiting shoots to the middle wire and top them with shears or a knife throughout the season to give a good head of foliage above the bunches of grapes. It is an advantage to do this for the first time when the flowers are in bloom.

Vines during their winter dormancy that demons...

Image via Wikipedia

Double or Dwarf Guyot: In this system the principle is exactly the same, except that three new shoots are grown each year. Two of these are bent down one on each side, and the third is cut back to three buds. The ones to be bent down for fruiting carry five or six buds each, ie. they are half the length of the normal long single Guyot bearer. This system has the advantage that the top wire need be at only 2-1/2 ft., so that the vineyard is less susceptible to damage by high wind; it is particularly suitable in Britain. The total number of buds and bunches is the same by both methods.

As vines grown by the Guyot method get older and taller, the main stem will throw out fresh shoots from various points in the spring. If the main stem gets too tall, allow one of these shoots to grow on for a year, and when it has matured and is ready for fruiting, saw off the old stem. This will do no harm, and will leave the vine rejuvenated.

The time of pruning is important. It is usual to prune in winter after the hardest weather in order to delay the opening of the buds, thus avoiding damage from spring frost. Normally the vines bleed, but this has no ill effect.


0 = Ornamental W = Wine D = Dessert

Baco 1 (o, w), a rampant grower with small black berries, rather acid; tremendous crop.

Brant (o, D, w), small black berries, fair flavour, very reliable cropping, wonderful autumn foliage colour.

Chasselas 1921 (D, W), large golden berries, very good for walls; good champagne-type wine, and one of the finest eating grapes.

Chasselas Rose Royale (n, w), similar to 1921 but pink colour, very ornamental berries.

Excelsior (D), medium berry, very heavy cropper, white grapes of very low acidity; very reliable.

Muscat Hamburgh (D), large black muscat berries hanging well on vine, rather late, wonderful flavour; no thinning necessary.

Madeleine Sylvaner 28/51 (w), heavy cropper, white grape, very good for white wine; excellent in open vineyard.

Muscat de Saumur (D), medium to large golden berries of excellent flavour; ripens in open vineyard.

Muscat Queen (D), large white berries of good muscat flavour; very good for walls but normally too late to ripen in the open.

Noir Hatif de Marseille (D, W), small black muscat, very early, makes excellent wine; very suitable for walls or open vineyard.

Pirovano 14 (D), medium to large red-dish-black berries, very early, good flavour; suitable for walls or open vineyard; may need hand fertilizing in cold springs.

Precocc de Malingre (D, W), small golden berries, excellent flavour, making very good white wine; very early and very prolific in Britain.

Seyve-Villard 5-276 (w), medium berry, white, very heavy cropping, slightly late but normally safe in good site in open vineyard; makes excellent white wine.

Strawberry Grape (o, D), black grape, medium to large berry, with faint strawberry fragrance, ornamental leaves; not a heavy cropper.

Siegerrebe (D, W), new German variety with large golden-brown berries with very powerful muscat flavour; famous for wine and good eating.

Schuyler (D), new American hybrid, black medium berries with good non-muscat flavour; very prolific under cloches.    

10. February 2012 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Fruit & Veg, Pruning | Tags: , , | Comments Off on Pruning Vines and Vine Training


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