How to Prune Grape Vines and Canes


A balanced pruning program is required to promote both vine growth and fruit production along with increasing plant stability on home grown and wine production grape varieties. Pruning involves removing 90 percent of the previous season's growth to promote new cane production. Choose to prune grapes during the dormant months of January through March to prevent damage to the vine and the introduction of disease.

Step 1

Cut last season's 1-year-old canes back to two or three buds after planting new stock. Grapes grow from buds on one year old canes. This will promote top growth instead of root growth.

Step 2

Establish the trunk one new canes by choosing the top one or two best canes and remove all others. Train these canes to grow up the support trellis.

Step 3

Prune canes by cutting them to a length where two or three buds are remaining on the vine or stem if the cane does not reach the desired height on the trellis by the end of the first growing season. This will start the growing process over.

Step 4

Prune canes in the second growing season if they are growing in a lateral direction off the one-year-old canes. This is accomplished by cutting them to a length where a single bud is remaining on the vine or stem.

Step 5

Prune canes that are growing in clusters to eliminate most of the growth. This will increase growth and vigor of the grape vine.

Step 6

Remove all cane growth that appears on the lower portion of the cane near the ground by cutting them close to the stem or vine.

Step 7

Remove suckers that are growing through the ground at the base of the vine off the root stock by cutting them off at ground level or just under ground level. Do not cut the root structure, just the new sucker growth.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning clippers
  • Trellis


  • Prune your Grape Vines Heavily in Winter
  • Iowa State University
  • Reasons and Rules of Pruning Grapevines
Keywords: pruning grapevines, grapevine production, grapevine maintenance

About this Author

Jennifer Loucks has over 10 years of experience as a former technical writer for a software development company in Wisconsin. Her writing experience includes creating software documentation and help documents for clients and staff along with training curriculum. Loucks holds a Bachelor of Science major from the University of Wisconsin - River Falls specializing in animal science and business.