Four Arm Kniffin System for Growing Grapes
David Handley: I'm David Handley, vegetableand small fruit specialist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. Today we'regoing to be talking about a simple system for pruning hardy grapes here in Maine. The pruning system I like to use is very simple.It keeps the plant open, so it gets light in the summer time, but it also protects theplant a little bit in the winter. This system works best with concord type or labrusca typegrapes, which are the grapes that tend to grow best in Maine. There's really a couple of systems that willwork well for labrusca type grapes. The first
one I want to talk about is the four arm kniffin,and that's what we're going to prune first. The four arm kniffin consists of a perennialtrunk, which goes from the ground right up to a top wire, which is set at about fivefeet. Coming off of this trunk, we will have four arms, or canes, oneyear old growth.Two on the top wire, running each side of the top wire, and two on a lower wire. Thislower wire should be set at about two and a half feet off the ground. Every year, we're going to come in and pruneit so we continue to have a perennial trunk, but only four one yearold trunks to producethe fruit.
Here is our permanent trunk. You can see here,this is a cane from last year. Two yearold cane, this was our fruiting cane last summer,and you can see the difference. Here's this year's cane, that nice chocolate brown colorand smooth bark, and here we go with the older cane, the two yearold cane. The bark is startingto peel, and has more of a gray look to it, so we know that this particular shoot isn'tgoing to fruit again. It's the one yearold shoots that come off it that will fruit. This is going to get pruned out, so that wecan keep our fruiting wood closer to the trunk. We'll just take that back to a good fruitingshoot, and we'll start to cut it out. This
is where it gets fun. We need to wrestle thisout of the trellis, and of course, all these little tendrils have tied it up and aroundmost of the growth that's there. It takes a little bit of cutting, but be careful notto break the fruiting canes that you want to leave behind. Pull it off, and that will open the plantingup so we can see what we have left for good fruiting wood for this year. We've taken offthe four fruiting canes that we left last year, and you can see pretty much all that'sleft, at this point, is the green shoots from last year, that will provide us with goodfruit for this year.
Now we need to choose which four we want toput up. We're going to have four canes. One, two, three, four. Two for the lower wire,two for the upper wire, each heading off in different directions. What I want to look for in this case is canethat's got this nice chocolate brown color, and is about 38 of an inch in diameter. Aboutthe width of your little finger. If it's thinner than that, if it's very weak, it won't producegood fruit. Thin stuff like this, less than 38 of an inch in diameter, we'll just cutthat right out. Here we've got one that's going to go in thisdirection, that looks very nice. I'm going
to count, remember we want about 10 buds onit, so we'll count our buds. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10. ThenI just cut out beyond that, because the weaker stuff at the very end isn't going to producevery good fruit. I have my four arms, but you can see I stillhave some leftover canes. What I'm going to use these for are what we call quot;renewal spurs.quot;I'm going to cut these back so that they just have one or two buds on them. What I'm goingto use these buds for, the green shoots that will emerge from these buds and grow out,will be the canes that I'll be putting on the wire next year for fruiting. We call thesequot;renewal spurs.quot;
Hi, I'm Tricia, and organic gardener. Grapes are a beautiful edible landscapeplant, as well as producing delicious fruit. Today I'm going to plant a new grapevine. If you're not ready to plant your grapesas soon as they arrive, that's ok, you can heel them in. You can either dig a shallow trench, put the grape vines in and cover the roots with soil, or you can do like I've done and put the roots in a bucket, cover them with soil and protect themwith a little bit of straw.
Grapes are tolerant of a wide variety of soils, but it is important to check with your Master Gardener or local ag extension to find out what varieties will do best in your climate. Your site selection should be in fullsun with a southern exposure, away from trees. And avoid depressions where cool air can collect. Ideally, preparation for planting yourgrapes will start the year before with a soil test and an appropriate cover crop. Grapes like moderate fertilityand a pH of about 5.5 7. In most climates you can plant grapes in late winter or early spring.
For northern climates you might want towait until a little bit later in the spring. Just dig a hole the same size as theroots and don't add any fertilizer. You don't want to get more leaves than fruit! Soak the roots of your grapevine forabout 2 to 3 hours before planting, and then you can prune off any damaged roots. But it's important to leave as much of the root system as possible. Make sure that the roots are loose andnot clumped together. The hole should be deep enough to plantthe vine to the same level it was planted before,
with a few inches of soilover the longest roots. Gently back fill the soil with thetopsoil first. And if it hasn't rained recently make sure and give your plant some water. You want to train your newly plantedlittle grapevine to grow into a big grapevine with a straight single trunk reaching the trellis. In order to do that we're going to prune this plant so that it has one straightish cane. By the second year you need some kind of a support system. This two wire support system is very common and easy to build.
To train your grapevine to grow straight upto the trellising, you may need to do a temporary supportlike bamboo and then just tie it togetherwith a little twine or some tape. These are flame grapes, so I'll betraining them to a bilateral cordon. That is I want a nice straight trunk. And then I'll choose two buds that will be trained into big, permanent branches on either side of the trunk. It's really important to tag your plants.I use these permanent zinc plant tags
its really important to know what variety you have so that you can prune appropriately. Whether you have a big vineyard or you'vejust planted a few grape vines, grapes will benefit from cover cropping. So get ready for winter pruning,and Grow Organic for Life!.
How to Prune Grapes Summer
Hi, I'm Tricia, a California organic gardener and today we're going to talk about summer maintenance for your table grapes we've had an extremely wet season thisyear and my table grapes have gone bonkers I'm growing four different types of tablegrapes here and there's a lot of vegetative growth making for a very densecanopy over the grape vines earlier in the spring, the shoots were thinned when they were about six to twelve inches long you should have about six to eightshoots per foot of canopy at the same time as thinning the shoots, I also cut the suckers off at the trunk
and i'm going to continue to trim these suckers throughout the season, as necessary you see there's not enough sunlight getting into this little fruit clusters the sunlight is what helps improve theflavor and the quality of the fruit by having so much foliage around thecluster, I'm also at risk for disease the first step is to take these long shoots and tuck them into the trellising and keep them out of the fruiting zone that helped a lot but you can see there'sstill a lot of hanging vines I'm going to trim back this shoot that has no clusters on it
if you're going to trim back a shoot that has clusters, be sure and leave about 1517 fullsized leaves before you make your cut cut as little as possible and try to cut atthe point where the leaves are half the size of the mature leaves these smaller leaves haven't startedproducing food yet so the vine won't miss them as much asit would miss these larger food producing leaves the grape vines are looking a lot better the cutting is going to stimulate the growth so you don't want to do this too late in the season if the fruit is just beginning to ripen,it's too late to cut
now that I've tamed the vines, it's time to thin the fruit cluster thin when the fruit has just setand before it gets too big for goodsized table grapes leave onecluster per shoot in order to improve the size of thegrapes, snip off the very bottom of the cluster I'm happy to have completed my summermaintenence on my table grape vines now I look forward to grape jam, grape jelly,grape juice, and those frozen grape treats so enjoy your grape vines and Grow Organic for Life!.