How to Prune Grape Vines & Muscadine Vines


Muscadine grape vines are extremely pest and disease tolerant. The grape is sweet and light, with a "musky" aroma. Muscadine vines are pruned in the same manner as other grape vines. Grape vines when pruned and trained correctly will consist of a single trunk, two strong branches (cordons), and fruiting spurs, which will produce shoots and canes. Once you have established this basic structure you will be able to continue to train and maintain your vine on an annual basis. Prune grapevines to produce a manageable sized vine, to control the position of the fruit growth close to the main trunk, and to allow sunlight in. Prune your grape and muscadine vines after the vine has lost its leaves in the fall, and before the buds appear in the spring.

Step 1

Remove multiple stems (when the grape vine is dormant--from late fall to early spring before buds appear) by cutting them down to the ground. Temperatures should be above freezing when pruning. There should be only one main trunk to your grapevine. (You need to choose a main trunk and prune away all other stems that are the same size as the main trunk.) The structure of the grapevine is like the capital letter "T," with the trunk being the vertical line, and the two canes (or cordons) are the horizontal line of the letter "T." Spurs are on the cordons (you want them to be spaced evenly along the cordon), and the canes grow from the spurs located on the cordons. The length of these two horizontal canes depends upon the age of the vine, and upon the length of your trellis or wire that you have your grapevine growing on. A grapevine reaches maturity when it is 3 years old.

Step 2

Cut back the majority of the 1-year-old canes that grew from the cordon the previous year, so that they have either three to five nodes per spur. This will be the fruiting wood. (You are going to cut the remaining year old canes back to one node per spur to form the vegetative wood/renewal spurs). Make your cut in front of the node. The spur should be at least the diameter of a pencil after you have cut it. The amount of pruning that you need to do will depend upon the age of your grapevine. Young grapevines (1 to 2 years old) will require minimal pruning, and you will be focusing on training the grapevine to develop the "T" structure.

Step 3

Prune several 1-year-old canes back so that they have one node per spur. These will be the vegetative or renewal spurs. Vegetative wood will produce shoots, which will be the next year's fruiting wood.

Things You'll Need

  • Hand pruning shears
  • Lopping shears
  • Tree saw


  • Ohio State University Extension Service: Pruning Backyard Grapevines in the First Three Years
  • Iowa State University Extension Service: Pruning Grapevines
  • Orchard's Edge: Questions and Answers About Vines

Who Can Help

  • North Carolina State University: Muscadine Grapes in the Home Garden
  • Ohio State University: Basic Principles of Pruning Backyard Grapevines
Keywords: grape vine muscadine, prune cut back canes, main trunk spurs

About this Author

Paula M. Ezop’s inspirational columns "Following the Spiritual Soul" appeared in Oconee Today, a Scripps Howard publication. She has published her first book, "SPIRITUALITY for Mommies." "From Death to Living in the Light" and "Spiritual Intelligence" will be released by Ezop has a BA degree from Northeastern Illinois University and has been writing for 10 years.