Grape Trellis Pergola

Caring for Young Grape Vines

My name is David Handley, I'm with the Universityof Maine Cooperative Extension, and we're here to talk about how to prune and traina young grapevine. This is a vine that was planted last spring. We got it from a dormantplant, or rooted cutting, and you can see the original part of the planting right here.This is what we got from the nursery, with a good root system under it. We planted it,and we had a bud break and some vine growth. This is last year's growth right here. Thiswas a green shoot. Typically, you may get more than one shoot developing. You may haveseveral buds on here. We want to prune this back to one strong vine, your strongest one.We're going to arrange for that to be tied

up to a trellis, because this particular vineis what's going to become our permanent trunk, or the permanent part of the plant that'sgoing to be with us for the life of the planting. We want to make sure it's the strongest ofthe vines that we can choose from. Any other one that developed that's very weak, we canjust cut that out, select our best one. The time of year to make these cuts are whenthe canes are dormant, and this is going to be really any time after the new year, untilthey bud out in late March, early April. We hope in the first year that we get enoughgood growth that we can tie it to the lower trellis wire.Typically here in Maine, we're going to be

pruning to either a four arm kniffin trainingsystem, or an umbrella kniffin training system. Those trellises consist of two wires, oneset at about two and a half feet, and a second wire set at about five feet.We hope in the first year that we're going to get enough good growth to reach at leastthe bottom wire, but in order to make sure it's growing straight, you can see we supportedthis with a small bamboo pole. Any kind of planting stake will work, and we just tiethat vine up as it grows, rather than let it grow along the ground where it can getrot problems, and not develop a nice straight growth like we want. We tie it up, just likeyou'd tie up a beef steak tomato, get the

growth that you want.As I said, we've got pretty good buds here, reaching up to the first wire. You can seethat I actually make it to the top wire, but you can see the growth up here is very scrawnyand spindly, and isn't really going to lead to a good, strong trunk. I'd rather actuallystart new growth for reaching to this top wire for next year.What that means is that I'm actually going to cut this off here, rather low, to try toget this bud here to break and give me a much stronger shoot to develop my trunk to thetop wire next year. I can just take that there, and then, instead of using the bamboo polethis year, I can just tie it to the wire.

This bud will hopefully break, and give mea good, strong shoot, that I'm going to reach the second wire next year. Of course, thesebuds lower down will also break, and if this one happens to be weak, I may select one ofthese. But, if this bud does turn out to be a strong shoot, I'll be cutting these offnext winter and getting my single trunk back up to the top wire.Next year, when this does reach the top wire, eventually what we'll be doing is taking oneyear old cane, and either draping it over this top wire and connecting it to the bottomwire in an umbrella kniffin, or we'll be taking one cane at the top wire on each side, andone cane at the bottom wire on each side,

to create four arms of one year old growth,for a four\uc0\u8209 arm kniffin system. Both systems work pretty well for concretetype grapes here in a cold climate like Maine.

Grape Arbor Trellis Update Spring 2016

This is what the grape arbor looks like inearly spring before it's ever had any trimming done. This is what it looks like about halfwaythrough the pruning process, getting it ready for spring, and here we are with it fullypruned and ready for spring to fully set in and the leaves to start to come out. So how have things really been going withour grape trellisé Well, you can see it here behind me. It hasn't really been a very bigproducer. That said, I haven't really put much effort into it. I haven't tried to fertilizethe plants in any way. I haven't put compost or manures or even any kind of blood mealor anything like that on them. I've just let

them be, so I don't know if this is the yearthat they really blossom out and we really get a lot of grapes or if it's just not thebest setup. One thing I will say is that throughout the course of the year, you do have to goup there, maybe every two to three weeks, and make sure that the vines aren't growingonto the house. We only do the major pruning back to this once a year, but throughout theyear, every couple weeks, you've got to go up there and make sure they don't grow intothe house. So, if that's not something that you're willing to do or you don't have thecapability of doing it, then maybe this isn't the best setup for you to try. I think thisis probably limited to somebody who really

needs the shade. In our instance, you cansee that the land slopes away from our house very quickly. If we were to try to put somekind of a tree over here, first off it is also going to not just block the light, butalso be a storm hazard for our home, to have a tree so close to this side of the house.The storms would be coming from off camera this direction and would blow trees directlyonto the house, so trees aren't a good option for us. Having the trellis right up againstthe house still gets us the shade we need on this western front and not have our bedroomheat up. I think that's the other thing to consider. What part of your home are you tryingto shade. If this is a room that you're not

going to go into in the afternoon, then maybeit's not worth trying to provide the shade and the extra work involved with keeping thevines trimmed back throughout the year, so take those kinds of things into account tosee if this is an application that's really suited for you. Otherwise, the structure itselfis holding up really, really well. I was up there trimming back these vines and shakingit around and using it for support and it is flexible, because that's the way it's designedto be but I don't see any problems with it. I think if this thing were even in full fruitthat it wouldn't go anywhere, so I'm very happy with the stability of the structureof this kind of trellis.

Lastly, we are growing both table grapes andmuscadines on this trellis and one thing I'll note is that even though we're here in theSouthern United States and muscadines are our native grape, the muscadine vines aremuch more fragile. They're much more likely to break. They're more brittle. The tablegrapes are very flexible and so what I'm trying to say is if I have a vine that starts growingat a diagonal that I wanted to grow at a horizontal, I can come back in the off season and cutthe tendrils off and move that vine down and put it where I want it whereas with the muscadinesI'm finding that as soon as I try to move them I'm more likely to snap them. They justget brittle and go way to dormant to try to

mess with them. I have to train them duringthe year while they're growing, whereas with the table grapes, I can train them right nowand don't have a problem with it at all. So, that's another thing that you could take underconsideration. So, we'll show you this again later as theyear goes on, but wanted you to get an update on the grape trellis. As far as the groundaround the grape trellis, we've got some plans for that too. Come back and see us again andwe'll let you know what's going on with that. Thank you all so much for watching. We'llsee you next time.

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