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Best Time to Prune Grape Vines

By Richard Hoyt ; Updated July 21, 2017

Pruning your grape vines every year is essential to produce good yields of quality fruit. The best time to prune is when the vines are dormant. Grape vines produce fruit only after they are more than a year old. They need to be pruned from the second year onward. How you prune depends on whether you’re growing grapes to eat or to make wine.

Types of Pruning

There are two basic kinds of pruning. Spur pruning is when you prune the shoots or buds that are growing out of shoots that are a year old. If you're growing grapes to make wine, you should leave about 30 shoots for each plant. If the grapes are for eating, you should leave about 80. These are estimates. They will vary according to the type of grape.

The “balanced formula” for pruning holds that you should leave 30 buds for the first pound of cane that you remove plus 10 buds for each pound of cane that you remove after that.

Cane pruning refers to removing wood on the vine that is a year old. You should identify at least two or three spurs closest to the trunk of the plant and remove all other canes. The buds on these spurs will produce your grapes in the growing season.

Best Time to Prune

The best time to prune grapes is in the winter when the plant is dormant and not actively growing. But grape vines should not be pruned during the most severe cold, so early or late winter is usually the best time. The most suitable time depends on the pattern of winter weather in your area. In most areas, the best pruning time is sometime between January and March.