Pruning the vine

The seasons of the year usually mark the working times for farmers. In this sense, when autumn and cold arrive, it is also time to start pruning the vines. It is at this moment when doubts arise, what is the best time to start pruning the vine?

In a few words, the optimal pruning time is when the plant begins the so-called vegetative shutdown. In other words, you must wait for the cold to arrive and for the vine to go into a rest period, carrying out the cutting work before the plant “awakens” in spring and the dormant buds begin to sprout. 

Before starting to prune the vines, it is important to wait for the leaves to dry. When drying, the leaves send all their energy and carbohydrate reserves to the woody parts, beginning hibernation. If the cutting work begins earlier, the plant will weaken, delaying the spring flush and reducing its vigour. On the other hand, if you wait too long and start pruning once the vine has begun to bud, the growth is cut, which also weakens the plant and delays the appearance of buds.

This type of green pruning, however, is carried out in a controlled manner over the years. This is because this type of cut helps prevent plant diseases, as well as avoid possible damage caused by late frosts in spring. This type of late cleaning is usually used especially in young plants and vines of recent outbreak.

So, in short, when to prune the vine? Vine care professionals begin this process in November , just when the leaves and vine shoots have dried. From November, this task can be extended until the beginning of spring or the appearance of the first shoots. However, if pruning begins in November, the first post-pruning treatments can begin in December, which will improve plant growth for the following year.

On the other hand, in very hot or tropical climates, where it is not cold and the vineyard does not go dormant, it is best to prune between November and February . In addition, the later the pruning begins, the more regular the sprouting will be.

Finally, to make Pedro Ximénez wine and other sweet wines, in which the grape is left to dry on the vine itself, the cutting will have to be delayed, as the harvest is late. In this case, as Pedro Ximénez grapes have a much longer vegetative cycle, the buds will also take longer to arrive. 

When are vines pruned?

To know how to prune a vine, the first thing to do is to let the vine grow with trellises. To do this, the growth of the branches and shoots must be guided by the use of stakes, which will make the tendrils of the vine climb upwards and grow in the form of a vine.

Again, to start pruning, wait until the vine’s vegetative cycle is complete. In this sense, the vine is pruned a little later than that of the normal vine, since work must begin between April and May, once the last frosts have ended

On the other hand, one of the most important aspects that must be learned in order to know how to prune a trellised vineyard is the position of the shoots. In this type of vine, each variety has a different arrangement of the young buds within the old branches, so the pruning of Moscatel grape vines will not be the same as that of Gamay or Chasselas. In this sense, the most appropriate thing is to do short pruning, leaving two buds free.

Another important aspect when pruning the vine is the shape, since the cut largely depends on how you want the plant to grow. Once this aspect is clear, you can perform a training pruning. 

The most suitable technique for vine training is the “Vertical Cordon” . To give this shape it is necessary to leave a vertical axis on which the branches will rest. These should have a space of between 15 and 20 cm. As it grows, it should be pruned each year in bud on 3 or 4 buds. In addition, the pruning of the vine is done on old stems at 60 cm. Never let the central shoot exceed two and a half meters.

When do you have to sulfate the vines?

Copper sulphate for vines, as well as any necessary vine pest treatment, should be done throughout the spring . In this sense, the months of April, May, June and July are the most suitable. Along with these treatments, clearing and weed removal will also be carried out.

What do we do with the leftovers from pruning?

Formerly, pruning waste; dry branches, leaves and vine shoots were left on the ground to rot and feed the vines. Although it is not a bad idea, it should be taken into consideration that if the leftovers from pruning were affected by a vine disease, it could spread to the roots of the plant, causing serious problems. For this reason, care must be taken when performing this type of practice.

Another option is controlled burning of remains. Although, if you prefer not to throw anything away, it is best to use the plant remains to create pellets or other types of sustainable plant material.

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