last year I planted grapes which will need to be pruned back this year. I'm wondering if there are any members here that might be able to direct as to the proper time, and more importantly, the proper method to do this? I'm loacted in the Paradise Valley mall area, if anyone's available to provide me with hands on training.
Hi there -
Grapes are pruned during their domant season; a difficult thing to determine here in the desert sometimes. I have recently acquired 2 grape arbors at school that are in desperate need of repair. I will attack them in january or february at the latest. Depending on the variety and age of the vine, there may be 2 or 3 years before they begin to bear fruit. Most growers try to spend the first few seasons forming a strong trunk. Look for the strongest new growth you have from this last year to use as your trunk. If you are tying them to a fence, tie the trunk straight up as best possible and then select 4 or 5 side shoots to keep. Prune away (down to the trunk) any other growth so that your new vines will concentrate their energies towards the vine you wish to keep. Trim the main trunk back to about 3 or 4 feet, depending on where your side shoots land. Dont worry too much about measurements, they really dont matter. Trim your side shoots to a foot or so at best, if you even have that much length. Since this is only their second year, you want to concentrate on shaping the plant, not fruit production. If you dont have any side shoots as yet on your newly selected main trunk, dont worry, they will come; look at the vine and you will see small buds ready to shoot out when the weather "warms"up.
One important thing to remember about grapes is that this years new growth is next years fruiting wood. The older the vine, the more you have to work with; and even if you make a mistake you can always start over again with next years growth!
Happy pruning and great luck!
PS if your grapes are grafted be sure you select only growth that occurs above the graft line to use; otherwise you are growing from "rootstock", which is bound to be a variety that grows great roots but terrible fruit!
Thanks for the response, I'm still not sure when I should actually do the pruning, I'm thinking January. I have 2 vines of Thompson seedless that are now 2 years old and have never been pruned. All this information is great, but I'd really like to find someone that could stop over and really explain this on the plants. You're not in the NE Phoenix area, by any chance?
fwiw, I was told by Eric Mytko (Life's a Garden) that table grapes don't need pruning, so I didn't prune mine last year and ended up with 25 pounds of grapes. Wine grapes, on the other hand, must be pruned to produce.
There is cane and spur pruning, and certain grapes prefer one over the other while some can be pruned either way, so the garden books say. The Western Garden Book by Sunset has a great section on grapes, pruning, and varieties and what they prefer. The library usually have multiple copies on hand, and it is a great resource of plant information.
Do you know what types of grapes you have? I know the first year or two you can pretty much let them grow however. Pruning is more about establishing a proper support the first few years. Pruning after that is to encourage production and fruit size. We plan on pruning our grapes in the next week or two, it is easy to wait too long to prune here because many times all the leaves never drop off and waiting for them all to fall usually doesn't happen like it does in cooler climates.
I have Thompson seedless, which I planted two years ago, and have not, as yet pruned. I've done some reading and watched a video, but nothing beats hands on learning. I have mine growing on a trellis which spans over the vegetable garden to help create shade rather then using shade cloth. Seems work well pretty well, almost too well in fact.
Thompson grapes are cane pruned, and our cane grape grows the best out of our three.
Would you like to watch us prune ours? Should be doing that soon, in a couple of weeks. Would love to see your place too. Maybe we can have a grape prune swapping good time. I might have a use for your old vines too.
Sent you a direct message. Let me know if you got it.
I'd love to come by and learn how to prune grapes, just let me know when. Also Denise Lindow suggested a home tour/grape pruning seminar at my home, I'll respond back to her with a yes, that's fine with me. I just wanted to let you know.
Rene, sent you a direct message too. Let me know if you got it, Ericka