Umbrella Kniffin System for Growing Grapes
David Handley: I'm David Handley, with theUniversity of Maine Cooperative Extension, and we're here to talk about pruning grapes.Very simple system for farnorthern production. Here in Maine, we need to protect the vinesas best we can through the winter, but at the same time try to get enough light andexposure to the canes that we're going to get good fruit set, and good fruit quality. One of the systems you can use for labruscatype or concord type grapes, which are the ones that do best here in Maine, which isthe umbrella kniffin. As opposed to the four arm kniffin, the umbrella kniffin puts allof its canes up at the top, or the first year
growth that's going to fruit. What we're talking about with cane growthhere is one yearold growth that has a chocolate brown color, and nice smooth bark with budson it. We're going to be saving four canes, plus the permanent trunk, to give us all ofour fruiting structure. Everything else is going to be coming off of here, and that includesanything that fruited last year. You can tell the two yearold canes, or thecanes that fruited last year, because they'll be thicker, and they'll have gray, peelingbark. All of these are going to come off, and we're going to save the one yearold canewith the chocolate brown color, and the smooth
bark. The first step in pruning is to look at ourpermanent trunk and remove all of the two yearold growth, the growth that fruited lastyear, saving a few canes that we'll be using for fruiting this year. Our first step isto cut some of these off, looking at that older bark there. We just cut that out, getit right out of there. This will open up the planting, and that twoyearold wood is not going to fruit. Unless we take it out, we'll find that our fruitingwood gets further and further away from the trunk. Part of the reason we're pruning isto keep that fruiting wood concentrated right
near the trunk. With the umbrella kniffin, which is what we'repruning to here, we're only going to maintain four of those fruiting canes. We want themall concentrated near the top of the trunk, or the top wire on our twowire trellis. We'regoing to take each of the canes that remain behind. As you can see here, here's my nicefruiting cane, smooth bark. All these are buds that are going to breakand give us long, green shoots that will have bunches of grapes on them. We're going todrape them over the top wire, and then we're going to attach them to the bottom wire, togive you that kind of quot;umbrellaquot; look, thus
the name of the system called the quot;umbrellakniffin.quot; Then we're going to cut off the ends of thecanes, so that there's only about 10 buds on each one. We just count those from thetrunk. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10. If I need to leave one ortwo on there to make it reach the bottom wire, that's fine. I'll just go to where I can attachthis to the bottom wire, like that. I need two for the other side, to completeour umbrella. You can see this leaves me with several other fruiting canes, and I need tosave some of those as well, but they don't need to be as long. What I'm calling theseare quot;renewal spurs,quot; because we need the buds
from these shoots to come out and give uscane that we'll be able to put up on the wire next year. For every fruiting cane that I'm leaving behind,I also need to cut some renewal cane, or renewal spurs, to provide us with fruiting wood fornext year. I just cut these back to one or two buds, and if they're not where I wantthem I can cut them off completely. But for every fruiting cane, I need to leave at leastone renewal spur. I tend to leave a couple of extra renewalspurs here in Maine, because I'm very sensitive to the fact that I'm likely to get winterinjury almost every year.
Backyard vineyard Slow Turtle Nerinda and Joel Pennington
The Penningtons don't haveto hit the road to visit a vineyard. In fact, all they have to do is stepout the back door to watch grapes ripen into their signature wine, Slow Turtle.It all started in 2012 when they bought a housethat came with a neglected microvineyard. When we came here,there was a sixfoot cyclone fence surrounding the vineyard.And deer would jump in and get a little confused and bounce around. We didn't realize how much work, actually, it was going to take to get itto where it is, but we're certainly
excited we didn't pull them out becausethis space has become the heart of the home. To learn more about making wine,and viticulture, he enrolled in Texas Tech'sonline and handson Texas Winemaking Certificate Program, but first,they overhauled the landscaping, and built stylish deerproofingthat lets in light and promotes airflow. Joel We wanted to make the vineyardvisible from the rest of the property, to be able to see in, and not have itbe a closed wall, so we used
the fourinch bull wire fence,which has pretty good visibility but it keeps some of the critters out. His grapes are Champanel, a hybrid that's resistantto Pierce's Disease. Joel When we moved over to this newtrellis system, which is called VSP, vertical shoot positioning,the notion there is to be able to let the shoots grow up,straight up, and then they'll go ahead and wrap down the top of the rows.You can see on the cordons, which are the arms of the vines, that they havea single wire that they're affixed to,
so that's called the cordon wire.And the other wires that we have in pairs going up are called fruiting wires.And I have to do a couple prunings per year,because these vines are pretty vigorous. I'll actually come out here a couple timesa year and do what is called leaf pulling. So I'll pull some leavesin the fruiting zone, just so that the grapes can getgood exposure to light and air as well. All those leaves headto the compost pile. Later, Joel mines it forfree, natural fertilizer.
We get the children involved,because there's a lot of cleaning up, especially in Fall, whenthe leaves are falling, this is covered in leaves,and it's a lot of work, it's not simply just getting one personto rake up the leaves. So all four of us get involvedand make a pile at the back of the vineyardand the children enjoy throwing them around and jumping in them. Despite good ventilation, rain bombs are moredestructive than drought.
Joel We have a drip line in place.I guess in a typical year, we go ahead and water about twice a week,through probably harvest, and then we would drop that down to once a week,just so that the vines and the cordons have a chance to harden a little bit.This year I haven't watered at all, I haven't needed to, in fact,I have more water than I can use, and that's indicativewith some of the grapes splitting and you see some rot as well.It also helps to come out here on a regular basis and pick the grapesthat are splitting so that they