Winter is definitely here and so is the time to start pruning grapevines. I like to wait as late as possible to prune grapes, but be careful to give yourself enough time to get the job done before bud break. Consider that an acre of mature grapes may take 40 hours or more to prune, so plan accordingly. Also, when pruning, keep an eye out for diseased wood in the canopy that should be removed from the vineyard. At the UVM vineyard, we throw wood into the row middle and clean up with a York rake at the end of the season. In an organic vineyard, sanitation is even more important so the few bits of wood left over from raking may be undesirable, you may want to lay a tarp down to put the wood on and drag it along as you prune, then scoop up when full and transport to the burn pile.
It’s also not necessarily a bad idea to under prune the vineyard now while it’s still cold out. That would mean doing a pass through to get the big stuff- the main cane wood from last year that needs to get out of the way before you can see what you’re doing to make the fine cuts, then come back and trim spurs (if spur pruning) down to the desired number of buds to make your final cane selections if cane pruning. That way, if we get a really cold snap, you will have left more buds that can be used to compensate for primary bud loss.
Here are some good videos to watch on a cold day to remind yourselves of pruning techniques.
· Finger Lakes Grape Program (FLGP): How to Prune Grapevines
· Michigan State University Pruning and Training Top Wire Cordon Vines
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