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How to Prune Grapevines in Alabama

grapevine image by Roy from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>

Muscadine grapevines grow in Alabama and throughout the southeastern United States. The grapes come in black, red or white varieties; they can be turned into wine or juice, cooked into jams or jellies or eaten out of hand. Alabama gardeners should prune muscadine grapevine heavily from December to March to ensure better fruit quality and more productive vines. Prune each year; skipping pruning can result in a messy vine that bears fewer or poorer-quality grapes.

Identify dead, diseased or damaged canes, which must be removed to keep your grapevine healthy. These canes may be discolored, blemished or marred.

Cut away dead, diseased and damaged canes at their base and discard the wood. In between each cut, spray your pruners with disinfectant to avoid spreading disease through the grapevine.

Trim one-year-old growth (the canes that grew the previous season) back to a length of 4 to 5 inches. New wood will grow from these shorter spurs to keep the vine active. While it may seem excessive to cut growth back that much, grapevines need drastic pruning so they don't become tangled and unmanageable.

Thin out the spurs to increase air circulation, which helps keep grapevines healthy. Thick, tangled vines are more susceptible to disease because they have little air flow. California Rare Fruit Growers suggests leaving 6 inches between spurs.

Cut off vine shoots that wind around spurs, canes or other shoots--this growth is undesirable and can choke other parts of the plant. Cut through the shoots with a sharp knife or pruners. Also cut off suckers that grow off the grapevine.

Prune Grapevines On A Grape Arbor

Cut the newly planted grapevines back to two or three buds after planting. Attach the canes to the posts with twine or cloth ties. Cut the tops off of the canes during the first winter, causing the canes to grow side branches which can spread out over the top of the arbor. Cut them where they are about pencil-width in diameter. Prune away weak, dead or damaged canes.

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