Winter Season

canes

It was discovered over time that better-quality fruit will grow on vines that are pruned back to distribute the bearing wood evenly over the vine. So, in the winter months of November through March, when the leaves have dropped and the vines are empty of sap, they are pruned back almost to the main stem. This pruning takes place just before the warmer weather, while the ground is often still muddy from rain. Workers use pruning knives or shears to trim back nearly all of the previous year's vine growth.

pruned vinesPruning is an art of delicate balance; too much will cause small, uneconomical crops; too little will cause over-cropping and low-quality fruit. Pruning also facilitates cultivation, disease control and harvesting, when the vines are trained to grow in a particular shape. It is a skill that requires experience and judgement and cannot be done by machine.

old vines There are two types of pruning: spur and cane pruning. In spur pruning the top cane is removed and the bottom cane trimmed back to a two-bud spur. This is the type of pruning you find in older vineyards.

In the cane-pruning method, from one to four one-year-old canes, each with six to fourteen fruit buds, are trained along trellis wires. Because one-year-old canes must be used to bear the fruit each year, the cane-pruners therefore must train the current fruiting canes and at the same time consider which spurs to train for next season's fruiting canes. When you see trellis wires in the vineyard, cane-prunning is being used to train the vines for growth.

The winter and pruning season is over and it is time to move forward to the growing season.

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(This site was created as the final project in Jeff Diamond's Dreamweaver A class.)

© 2009 Ron Boles (updated 3/2/09)