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;
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.
Pruning grape vines in Minnesota
gt;gt;TOM VAN DER LINDEN: It's spring in Minnesota,a great time to prune grape vines. Proper
pruning of grape vines means better grapes.And better grapes mean better wine. We'll cover basic pruning for a northern climate.For details on how to prune for your climate, check with your state university extension. Year one, we take the initial shoot and wetrain it into a trunk. Year two, we pick two healthy shoots and we train them to our trellis.We'll take the two healthiest shoots and train them on the trellis to form a cordon. We'llprune off the other shoots leaving just the trunk and the cordons. To review quickly,our first shoot we train into a trunk in year one, then in year two we take our two bestshoots and we train them to the trellis to
make cordons. Year three, the trunk of our vine is gainingstrength and circumference. We have cordons that are now trained to a trellis and offeach cordon we have new shoots. Toast yourself, you've learned three new terms.We have trunk, cordon and shoot. Now we'll learn three new terms, and then we'll moveon. The top of a trunk where it stops is calledthe head of the vine, and this vineyard for this particular grape the head is about fourfeet off the ground. You'll see vineyards where the head is higher or lower dependingon the use of the grape, the kind of trellis they're using. So it'll be okay to have differentheights.
In spring, a new green shoot grows from ourcordon. And now after the leaves have fallen in the fall, the shoot becomes a cane. Forspring pruning, we're going to take last year's cane, and when we clip it again, it will becomea spur. Working on a little older vine, here's thehead and the nice, thick trunk. We have a cane, and then a spur, and then a cane, andthen a spur. Don't worry, you'll soon get the hang of it. Taking a closeup look, we have the cordonhere, and we have a shoot from last year coming off and we need to shorten the shoot now inspring to make a spur. so that we can control
our fruit load. Let's count buds: we havea bud here, we have a bud here, we have a bud here, and we have a bud here, and so forth.On some varieties, this bud close to the cordon is not fruitful so we won't count those buds.We'll count first a bud here and a bud here and make our cut out here. In other varietieswe will need to count this bud as one, two, and we'll make our cut here. Whatever youdo, you'll want to keep good records so when you go back into your vineyard you can seehow the fruit responded to your pruning. So let's count the buds on this cane. We haveone, two, three buds, and we're looking for two. So we have one bud, two buds, and weclip there.
We need to prune this vine to control boththe fruit load and the sun exposure. It's important in a northern climate to get goodsun exposure on your grapes so that they ripen fully. This is a Frontenac vine that's growingand the cordons are growing along the upper trellis wire. So let's estimate the fruitload on this particular vine. We have seven fruiting spurs on each cordon, and each spurhas two buds. Now each bud will produce two clusters of grapes. We can look up the grapevariety we're growing and we can find out what an average cluster will weigh. In thiscase, they will weigh about four ounces. First, simply convert pounds of grapes toounces. Next, divide number of ounces by the number