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VIDEO: How to Prune Grapes
Posted on : February 19, 2019

In this episode, Beverly is joined by Angela Chandler of The Garden Academy. Beverly and Angela now revisit the Victoria Red Grape planted last year.

[Beverly] Hi, I’m Beverly at The Arbor Gate here in Tomball, Texas joined by my dear friend, Angela Chandler, at The Garden Academy. – [Angela]

Hi, Beverly.

– How are you doing today?

– Doing great.

– So it’s mid-winter, and if you guys have been following our YouTubes, which I hope you have, early summer we planted this little Victoria Red Grape, and I must emphasize the word little.

– It was… If anybody will go back and look at that video, they will be blown away.

– It took off on us really well. And, you know, it’s a Texas Superstar…

– It is a Texas Superstar.

– …so, of course, it’s going to grow.

– We planted this tiny \little wisp of a plant.

– We did.

– We removed everything growing on it with the exception of one very thin little stem coming up that was from our trunk. And the amount of vigor in this grape has just blown me away. It is a testament to the one-two punch of Arbor Gate soil and fertilizer blend.

– Absolutely.

– Amazing.

– The vigor, the robust growth has just been astounding, and, again, no particular care. No irrigation system back here.

– No?

– No.

– They’re pretty tolerant of that, and we did get good rain this year, but still this grape has put on an amazing amount of growth. And the good thing about that is, when I came out to assess the vine this morning, it gave me a lot of choices about where to go with my pruning, which you don’t always have.

– Well, now it is mid-winter, so it is time to look at pruning. There are two methods in pruning grapes. You have the cane method and the spur method.

– That’s exactly right. And sometimes it depends on the variety, Beverly. So you really do need to look up the variety and know. Arbor Gate has a list of the varieties and what type of pruning they prefer, but luckily, some of the grapes that we grow in our area will do well with either one of those systems. And this Victoria Red, all of its trials showed that it did perform very well and was very productive under both systems.

– Perfect. So I think we decided to do the spur…

– We did.

– …method on this one today.

– We did, and that’s where we’re going to head. And then what’s interesting is that the first year, the first dormant season’s training, is pretty much the same for either system.

– That makes it easy.

– So, yeah, you’ll get a chance to learn both in this one. But we’re going to spur prune this because that’s going to provide us sort of that old world look to this grape as the years go by.

– Oh, and I love that. So I noticed that you’ve tied some ribbons here on a few of these canes.

– I have, Beverly. What I did was try to make some choices about what canes I want to keep. And I tie them off so that while I’m pruning if I get carried away, I won’t forget and inadvertently prune off something that I’d originally decided I wanted to keep. You don’t need to do this very formally. We know we want to keep this one.

And even though we want two canes… Here we go. We’ve just marked that one off. It’s just a reminder. And even though we really want to have two canes that we intend to train about this height, we’re going to keep two extras because we are still…have a few weeks of winter left.

– We do.

– We could get caught by something, and so they’re sort of our safety.

– Well, it’s always good to have plan B.

– It is.

– So can you tell me why you chose these particular…

– I can.

– …canes?

– You know, you would think looking down here that, “Oh my gosh, look at this big, beautiful… – Right.- …wood down here.” But the problem is it’s almost a little too…

– Big.

– …vigorous. And so we kind of want to watch out for that. So we’re choosing things that are no smaller than a pencil but up to about 3/8 of an inch. So we don’t want this growth that’s sort of wimpier than the rest.

– Right.

– Although this will probably produce grapes. And we don’t want this very, very heavy, vigorous wood. We want that right in between. Like I said, no less than pencil size. Really no more than about 3/8 of an inch or so.

– And you also mentioned that it was important to look at the spacing…

– I did.

– …in between the nodes.

– You know, this has got some really good nodal spacing. It’s going to give us choices in the future as we start training the spurs. We’ll decide which ones are the most vigorous of these shoots to train as our spurs, and we may remove some of the ones in between. But we have lots of choices down each one of these canes. And in addition, they’re still at a pliable stage for us…

– So it’s easy.

– ..so we can do training without doing damage.

– Okay. So should we get started?

– Let’s get started, because we need to remove about 90%of this wood. It’s a little intimidating.

– It is.

– But it’s good for the grape.

– Okay. Perfect. You know, for the home hobbyist, these grapevines are great.

– They are. You know, one of the nice things about a grapevine is that it kind of lends a little bit of elegance and interest to your garden. In the winter season, when they are bare, they are even pretty then, especially once they get a little age on them. Okay, now we’re down to the canes that we have sort of wanted to choose from.

– Okay.

– And so the first thing I’m going to do is bring the vine a little closer. And what we’re looking for is kind of a gentle arc. So I’m going to tie this to the trellis first, and then we’re going to gently arc the bottom two out here. And I think we’re going to leave the top two sort of free right now until we complete winter, and then we can decide what to do with them.

– Perfect. And I always enjoy your tip about when you put the tape on, put a knot between the plant…

– Always…

– …and the trellis.

– Right. Always tie it to the trellis first. Because we want it to be secure. One of the points of tying something to a trellis is to hold it in position. And so if we tie it tight…the twist tie tight to the trellis first, then we can loosely wrap around the plant and not harm it. And this is what is holding us in the proper position.

– All right. So we’re going to loop this one.

– We are. I think we’ll go ahead and tie, because, you know, we might have some winds and winter rain, so we’ll go ahead and tie this off. And like I say, right now we just want to sort of gently hold it in position. When it starts leafing out this spring, we’ll do some additional training.

We really want each one of these cordoned arms, which is what we’re trying to form here, to have five to seven spurs on it that will keep regenerating every year. Many more than that, and you kind of start sacrificing berry quality.

– Okay.

– And so we want to… We’ll eventually look to have five to seven going each way.

– Now do we want to make this one shorter?

– Let’s see how far it goes.

– Or leave the length?

– Oh, the tendrils, they’re doing their job. Yeah, we’ll shorten this one for sure.

– Okay.

– We’ll tie it off first. And I love growing grapes. You know, the small fruits, berries, grapes, strawberries, those are things that can be fit into any garden.

– That’s true.

– Even if you don’t have room for, you know, trees, these fit into…

– You can always grow a vine.

– …any garden. You can. And the other nice thing about grapes is that there are some other training methods. We’re going to tip right there.

– Okay. Perfect.

– And we’ll tie that off. There are some training methods where you can grow grapes in containers. And there are grapes that have been growing in, you know, half-barrel size containers all over Europe. And they’ll grow there for a very long period of time as long as long as the soil is tended to properly and they are what they call head-trained, where there is no trellising at all.

They sort of look like a Medusa top or…

– Weeping.

– …weeping. They’re really lovely especially when they get their fall color. So the only thing we would look for now is… We really don’t need the tendrils out here. And so I’m just going to clean it up a little bit. I don’t really like for the grapevine to grab itself, because it can actually girdle itself.

– Okay.

– So I do walk along and just… You don’t have to remove them, but sometimes it’s a good idea to just keep it clean from that standpoint. But we’ve removed almost all of the wood. Maybe…

– We really have.

– …close to 80 or 90%. We have our two choices now in the beginning of our training. It’s off to a good start, and we’ll see what happens this spring.

– I can’t wait until the next video.

– It’s going to be great.

– Thanks, Angela.

– You bet. ♪ [music] ♪

Written by The Arbor Gate
The Arbor Gate staff enjoys contributing to the blog along with our talented writers. As much as we enjoy contributing to this blog, we are the first to admit that we’re much better with a shovel than a keyboard!

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