Pruning Grape Vines

This is a guest post by Victor D Williams

pruning grape vines

So at long last you have taken a decision of growing grape vines. You may be thinking all that is required is to plant the vine and you will have a great bunch of grapes. Isn’t it? Wrong, it cannot be further from truth. The most essential part of growing high quality grapes after planting is pruning grape vines.

You may also be thinking that pruning grape vines is such a boring task, besides I have got a great harvest this year, so what is the necessity of pruning? There is no denying of the fact that you had a great harvest without pruning, but are you more concerned about the quantity of grapes or its quality? Grape growers who have just started growing vines may think that pruning is just nonsense, since there has been a bumper harvest. If you come to such a conclusion you are making a big mistake and may have to pay a heavy price.

Pruning grape vines is essential because it removes a lot of over used mature branches from the preceding year and helps in new growth of the vine. If a vine is left as it is then a number of buds will be left behind and in theory will be able to produce a lot of grapes. However, this is not the right approach, as you will overload the vine and in the process the vine may break.

Grape bunches don’t feed themselves on their own. The ripening process happens due to the support from the vine branches. The greater the number of bunches, the more energy and support that is required. If the number of bunches is large then the vine can reasonably fee there will not be enough energy so as to ripen all the fruit. As a result some bunches would not ripen properly and you will not be able to use much of the fruit. Even if you are thinking of having grape bunches for decoration only, still it would look better if they had ripened well. That’s why, pruning grape vines is so important.

Once you understand the importance of pruning grape vines, it will not seem like much of a problem for you but rather a pleasure. The important thing is to learn the correct process of pruning. You need to have a lot of patience as it may be three years before vines begin producing fruits. Vines should be allowed to grow for some time, at least for a year or two before you start major pruning, as this helps in strengthening the root system.

In the first winter, the stems found at the base of the vine should be removed but care should be taken to keep the strongest stem. At a later stage this becomes the trunk which should be well supported using a wired fence or a grape stake.

You should allow the growth of other stems from the trunk. In the second spring you should retain the two best shoots that grow out from the trunk. As the vine grows it reaches a certain height and it is necessary to cut back the weaker part of the trunk after that. This helps in new growth along the trunk. However, new branches that disfigure the vine need to be removed. In the winter of the second year you need to ensure that there is a basic structure of the plant, with a straight trunk and a set of side branches. The only thing that needs to be done in the spring of the third year is to keep trimming.

A very crucial point is leaving about 10-15 buds in each arm during the winter of the third year. These are the ones which produce your bunches during the summers growth period. These buds are called ‘renewal bud’ and must have a couple of leaf joints. The renewal buds should be continuously pruned so as to allow new growth during summers, but care should be taken not to cut off buds that are already producing grapes.

Thus, this gives you an idea of pruning grape vines. Pruning is necessary to ensure crop quality of the highest order. It is another matter whether you are growing vines for commercial purposes or just for decoration of your backyard, you should not neglect the necessity of pruning grape vines.

Victor D Williams is a grape growing enthusiast. For more great advice on   Pruning Grape Vines please visit

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