Pruning grape vines during the growing season requires careful attention to prevent damaging the vine. Vines produce an abundance of buds on the most recent growth. Pruning too much will reduce buds on the fruiting vines of the plant. Some summer pruning helps control new shoots and the overall size of the grape plant. Grape growers must strike a balance between controlling extensive growth and the removal of too many new shoots that produce fruit. Major pruning should be reserved for the late winter to train and prepare the plant for fruit production.
Look closely at the grapevine to determine where the plant requires pruning. The plant should have two branches extending outward from the main trunk. Growers secure these cordons to the training wire. Shoots and fruiting wood jut off of the cordon as new growth each year. Examine the base of the plant to determine if new shoots have appeared at the soil level.
Begin with removal of new shoots near the ground level. Clip off any shoots appearing along the main trunk of the grape vine. Use shears for branches smaller than 1/2 inch and loppers for larger branches. Place the cutting tool about 1 to 2 inches up the branch from the trunk. Make a clean cut to remove the unwanted growth.
Prune the length of new growth when branches exceed 2 to 3 feet in length. This mild pruning will help the plant focus energy on producing fruits rather than new growth. Overly long plants produce considerably less fruit than healthy, pruned grape vines.
Prune areas on the plant exhibiting dead or dying growth during the growing season. Make these cuts about 1 inch above the bud closest to the point where the fruiting cane connects to the cordon. This encourages rejuvenation growth at that point on the vine.
Things You Will Need
- Garden shears
- Garden loppers
- Pruning should be performed after the plant has gone dormant for the winter. At that point, major pruning to remove old growth and cutting back of fruiting canes will spur new growth in the spring. Do not prune at the end of the growing season, since this encourages new bud formation at vine ends, resulting in fewer buds forming on the length of the vine.
- Avoid removing too many fruiting canes when pruning to reduce vine length.