The size of the berries depends on the grape variety, the health and strength of the vine, the amount of sunlight hitting the leaves and the ratio of leaves to fruit. Pruning of vines can help maintain health and strength, affect the amount of sunlight reaching the leaves and determine the ratio of leaves to fruit. Pruning should be done in late winter or early spring when the vines are dormant.
Balanced pruning refers to balancing the crop of the next season with the growth of the last few seasons by assessing the number of buds remaining while pruning. Balanced pruning is only used to the wood produced during the previous growing season, they take time and care, and pruning can be a problem if you’re just beginning out.
Some grape varieties are easier to grow than others, and if you start with a beginner-friendly variety, you will quickly become an expert at pruning and determining ripeness; more research is needed if you need a deeper understanding of grape pruning ; but for most home gardeners, pruning old wood and making room for new fruit wood is all that it takes to prune the vine.
The vineyard can be a disaster for horticulture without a guide as the vines run wild, bearing tiny fruits among their matted stems. When I was ready to plant the four table grapes at the base of the pillars of my newly built gazebo, the books I consulted showed vines grown on the fence, but there was no pruning advice on how to grow the grapes on the gazebo. For the first few years I trained the vines on poles to form a permanent canopy structure.
After placing the vines I pruned new shoots annually with a modified cordon method to keep them under control and encourage better fruiting. Since healthy vines grow several feet a year and naturally bear more fruit than they can ripen, they must be pruned annually while they sleep to keep the vines fruitful and not taking up more and more space. During the growing season the vines are lifted to maintain their shape and ensure that the fruits are exposed to sunlight and air currents.
The vines are very vigorous in many areas with deep soils with a high nitrogen content and produce too many shoots – even when the vines are not very vigorous – and thinning of the shoots is usually necessary to remove the unproductive shoots without clusters or those that are too close together.
The goal is to balance the yield of the vine and the number of leaves and stems, as most vines lend themselves to both methods, but some vines bear only fruit on the buds further down the trunk.
In this system, a permanent trunk is created and new stems are taken from the head of the vine each year where the trunk and the wire intersect. The fruiting zone is defined as an elevated (Figure 1b) with reeds (hardened shoots), permanent cords (horizontal ramifications) with dormant reeds cut back into spurs or a fan-shaped arrangement at the top of the four pillars of the pergola structure.
New shoots that are obtained during the growing season will harden like reddish-brown reeds and will be about a pencil in diameter. Renewable shoots will develop into fruiting shoots which should not be tied down because the vine has already grown. Some of these shoots are likely to be well positioned and may replace the original shoots in the next season, in which case new shoots will not be needed.
For most varieties, the best time to plant is late winter or early spring when they are dormant. The vines usually flower in the spring but they will not begin bearing fruit until they are more mature about 3 years old. Once your vines start growing, pruning will become an important part of your vines maintenance.
When planting grapes, make sure you are familiar with how they are pollinated : most grape varieties are self-pollinating which means that at least 2 of the same variety are needed to produce fruit – a grape that requires a pollinator needs another nearby variety to produce fruit.
The grape is one of the few decorative vines with vibrant textured leaves, colored and edible fruits, and a dominant pattern of trunk and branches for winter interest. A single vine can produce enough new shoots each year to curve over a walkway, cover a gazebo, form a leafy wall or provide shade on a deck or deck.
The amount of pruning required will depend on the grape variety and trellis or pergola system used to get good quality fruit, choose a variety that suits your climate, train it carefully and prune it regularly. It will require some skill to prune properly, manage foliage effectively and maintain fruit yields year after year. The choice of training system will determine how to prune the vine.
Many gardeners prefer the high cordon system (Figure 1a) because it is relatively easy to install and maintain, where others prefer to incorporate a vineyard into their landscape. Many species are native to North America and are very easy to grow, while others (mainly grapes) are native to Europe and can be a real challenge for gardeners. Since grapes are a vine, the shape they are grafted is restricted only by imagination – grapes can be trained to fit different shapes and sizes.
Site selection is extremely important for the most delicate grape varieties, although American varieties like Concord and Niagara thrive in most parts of Pennsylvania. Grapes are not only great for eating, squeezing and making wine, but they are also an excellent ornamental plant. The vines not only produce sweet and versatile fruits but also add drama to a garden or landscape.
The grapes must be supported by a trellis system to achieve optimal management and production. Vines can be pruned and raised to any trellis system desired, usually in the form of a gazebo or metal trellis. The rafter system must be strong to support the weight of the vines and fruit and to require minimal maintenance.
Guyot System is a variant of the GSP that produces one fruitful branch per year, and each arm is extended in one direction. Guyot pruning system is simple for home vines and is described fully in our publication A Simple Pruning and Training System for Home Vines.