Grape vine pruning

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Grape vine pruning

Postby GeorgeSalt » Mon Jul 23, 2012 2:55 pm

This is all getting very complicated. It started with three Müller-Thurgau plants I picked up in a sale at the weekend, it was followed by two evenings of very confusing websurfing trying to get ny head around doubly or single guyot (with or without arching - pendel-something) and something with a double-barrelled name, and it's ended up with six more plants (3x Phoenix and 3x Perlette), and I still don't have room on the plot for all these and the soft fruit I also picked up.

But enough preamble.. the question.. what's the most reliable method of pruning grape vines for the a sheltered East Anglian plot. On the flat, very low alitutude (single digit in meters if not feet) and a tendency to be damp in very wet weather - although otherwise generally free draining. I'm considering the double guyot as it's not as complicated as I first thought and although slightly more complicated than a cordon it's more resistant to damage - or at least easier to repair.

(Double guyot - allow two side branches and one leader to develop, cut all else back in late winter and cut the leader to three buds. The folllowing summer allow the fruiting shoots to grow from the two horizontal branches left over winter. Allow three replacement (two side plus leader) to grow from the old leader. I winter cut off the side branches and fruiting shoots, train in the replacements from the old leader, cut the new leader to three buds.. rinse and repeat)

The planting plan is to be as close to 6' poles strung with 3-4 trellis wires, vines planted on 4'-6' centres (with rows of either 12', 18' or 24' depending whether I can get a second plot for soft fruit or if I have to make room on the existing one). Rows to be 6' apart, or 8'-9' apart if I fit a 4' raised bed between rows.


Edit - planted on 4'-6' centres
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Re: Grape vine pruning

Postby grahamhobbs » Tue Jul 24, 2012 2:54 pm

My experience is in central France where although they use the double guyot system, it is pruned harder, to each of the two branches in winter they are pruned to leave one leader off of the preceding years growth and to leave 2 eyes. This quite simple, once you grasp the idea. The only other point if there is a choice is to chose the stronger looking leader and that points along the line of the vines (wires).

The vines are trained no more than 3ft high with the base branches at about 1ft. From what I have seen in this country, vines are trained higher (certainly will help the back and perhaps against the generally more damp conditions). For wine, I understand the harder pruning improves the quality of the wine at the expense of quantity.

The distance apart of the rows I think is much more a function of any machinery used or if the rows are long the space required to carry large quantities of grapes in dustbins or the such like. Pre tractors vines were planted quite close perhaps 4ft apart, although with higher vines the distance I guess would need to be increased.

What are the favoured methods in commercial vineyards in your area ?
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Re: Grape vine pruning

Postby GeorgeSalt » Tue Jul 24, 2012 5:03 pm

Thanks Graham.. there are no commercial vineyards within an hour or so, I will mark the ones I am aware of on the map in the car so I make sure to detour past them when I'm in the area. The potential for damp is one of my worries about doing this - the site is very low lying with a nearby river. There are a couple of other allotmemts on the site with vines but they are all allowing theirs to ramble over pergolas.

The spacing I am seeing recommended is to be at least equal to the height of the vines. Setting the lowest branch higher than the commercial vineyards will hopefully help reduce damp problems, but will probably put the top of the vines at 6'+. With a 2' bed for the vines, 18" path, 4' bed, 18" path and then the next vine row that gives me an effective 8' spacing between vines and a useful inbetween bed for regular allotment crops - as long as I keep these relaively short they shouldn't affect sun-ripening of the fruit.
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Re: Grape vine pruning

Postby dustydave » Thu Nov 22, 2012 7:29 am

What sort of soil are you on? Your key to success is going to getting the grapes to ripen- rather than opting for trellis wires ideally you need a post (concrete if possible) for each vine (helps with warmth) or even better a south facing wall, in a deep soil I would suggest planting them close together as this can help with warmth, if you have a shallow soil then at least a 70 x 70cm deep hole with a dollop of sheep’s manure and then still plant close together. We normally grow our vines with a higher stem than in warmer climes to reduce the risk of mildew, but as long as there is adequate air flow underneath then you should be okay. Make sure you stop any grass growing under the vines – I normally pull it out and then burn a larger area with a blowtorch. Pruning: I would prune back any growth that is smaller in diameter than a pencil then leave a leader off the previous years growth (as Graham mentioned).
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