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DECEMBER GARDENING SPECIFICS . . . : Pruning and restoring a grapevine:

December 07, 1991|SEAN CINCOTTA and Source: Cristin Fusano, Horticulturist/Merchandise Coordinator, Roger's Gardens and Sean Cincotta, Horticulturist, Sherman Gardens.

November through January is the best time to prune and restore a grapevine. Proper pruning will bring an unsightly vine that has grown out of control with a tangled mass of canes back to an attractive, manageable size. Pruning will allow the vine to channel energy into making fewer, but larger bunches of fruit, as well as producing a more esthetically pleasing and low-maintenance vine.

Forming a trunk: Choose a healthy vertical branch arising from the base of the plant (not necessarily the oldest branch, but it should be a healthy one). Cut away all other branches from the base, leaving only the one you have selected as the trunk.

Selecting fruiting canes: Grapevines produce fruit each year on canes from the previous year's growth. Select four canes that originate near the trunk you have selected, making sure that at least two of the canes are three feet above the ground and two of them are at least five feet above the ground and growing in opposite directions. Mark these four canes with ribbon or tape. They will be pruned later.

It is very important to leave renewal spurs. These are very short branches that will grow into canes but won't produce fruit until next season. Select four of the best spurs closest to the four fruiting canes that you tagged in the previous step. Cut these four spurs back so that each have only two buds.

Go back to your tagged fruiting canes and cut them back, leaving 10-15 buds on each cane. Leave the highest number of buds (15) on grapevines that appear vigorous and leave the minimum (10) on vines that appear weak. Twist the shortened canes around your trellis or wire support and tie them loosely in place. For continued success of both fruit and foliage, repeat this process each winter.

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