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John Fulton


John Fulton
Former County Extension Director



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In The Backyard

Horticulture columns and tips done on a timely basis

Pruning Grapes

Posted by John Fulton -

We generally have through mid-March to finish our pruning chores, and this time also applies to grapes. It seems like nothing "bleeds" like a grape vine pruned too late. Grapes pruned too late shoot plant sap to a distance that puts most drinking fountains to shame.

If you are training your grapes on wires, you basically want one runner per line in each direction. Choose a vigorous vine, and then leave between 5 and 12 good buds on each runner. The fewer buds left, the larger the fruit and clusters. Make your pruning cut about a quarter of an inch past the last bud you want to leave. Anvil type pruners are recommended for grapes, and grapes only. The crushing action seems to help the vines respond better. Once you have enough vines to cover the wires in each direction, cut the remaining, unused vines off at the main stem.

If you are not getting many grapes, there may be several problems. Grapes are rather sensitive to too much, or too little, fertilizer. Both conditions will cause poor production. Be careful with lawn and garden fertilizers around grapes, as well as manure. Herbicides can also cause severe problems with grapes. The 2,4-D and dicamba herbicides can cause severe leaf loss. That's probably why we won't see too many wineries established in the corn producing areas of our state. Of course, these are the common herbicides used in lawns for broadleaf weed control as well.



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