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Proper pruning of your backyard grapevines is essential to maintain vine size, shape, and yield of the grapes. If you do not prune your vines, they will become unruly, tangled messes. Fruit ripeness will suffer. Overproduction of the vine may lead to premature death. It’s also one of the tougher things to imagine but one of the easier things to accomplish for the home gardener.


Pruning is done in the early spring while the blossom is still dormant. This is accomplished in February, March, or early April depending upon if the grapevines normally come out of dormancy and bud out.

Pruning the grapevine and training the vine go hand-in-hand. You have to decide how you want to train the vine so as to prune it properly. Vines that”droop” should be trained into a top wire of approximately 6 feet. Canes are then pruned and trained out in the center on both sides of the trunk. As the new shoots grow, they droop on every side of the high heeled cable, naturally, taking due to their habit of growth. Concord, along with other native American varieties are typical of these kinds that droop downward naturally.


Varieties that grow upright are trained into a minimal wire of approximately 3 feet and permitted to develop according according to their natural growth habit. These kinds need several wires over the trained canes so that the vertical growing shoots have something to attach to. Often, you’ll have to tie the growing shoots to those cables to keep the increased going up and to reduce wind damage. European grapes, V. vinifera, and lots of hybrid varieties (crosses between the European American and grape species) fall into this group.

Whether trained to a high wire or into a minimal cable, the pruning techniques are the same. The quantity of one-year old, fruitful timber to be left after pruning depends on the amount of plant generated during the previous growing season. Usually, approximately 90-95% of last year’s growth is pruned off. The wood left is contingent on the variety, how vigorous last years growth was, whether the number above generates or under generates, and how old the blossom is enter into how you’ll prune it.

Grapes bear fruit on one year old wood. Thus once you prune the vine you’ll be leaving one year old buds to make the fruit clusters this year. Much of what’s going to be eliminated is two year timber with attached canes from last year’s growth (that will not be needed this season ) and surplus one year old canes. When pruning you’ll be attempting to balance the development of the vine based upon how it grew and bore fruit this past year.

Excessively vigorous vines that overbore their fruit last year will probably be pruned with more buds as this will de energy the rise and balance the vine’s growth this year. Low energy vines will be left with fewer buds to invigorate their expansion this year.


Both methods of pruning grapevines are brief “spurs” and long “canes”. The theory behind spur and cane pruning is identical. They differ in which of the buds are the most fruitful on the particular variety you are pruning. Varieties at which the base buds are fruitful are spur pruned. Varieties at which the bottom buds are not successful are generally cane pruned.

Spur pruned vines

Spur pruned vines are trained to heads and cordons. The distinction here is that head trained vines are pruned into a few to several spurs close into the main trunk of the vine. Cordon trained vines have arms stretching out of the trunk, on both sides, with several spurs generated across the primary framework of the arms. Either means of training has spurs of two to three buds each.

Cane pruned vines

Cane pruning involves leaving one long cane of old wood on all sides of the trunk. The amount of buds to leave is dependent upon the selection and how much development of the vine occurred during the past growing season. Usually, 7-12 buds are left on each cane. But this is relative. And that is where pruning becomes an art. After several years you may get a”sense” of the number of buds to depart depending upon its performance from the previous growing season.

Besides the cane that’s left, a little, two-bud spur is left for next year’s cane and spur. That’s why this system is often known as cane and spur pruning. The spur that’s left at pruning time is referred to as a renewal spur. It gives rise to next year’s cane and renewal spur.

Annually the task of pruning will become simpler. You will soon start to understand what’s happening as you watch your vine grow through the summer. Your visualization of how the vine is supposed to appear each year will increase. This will make the pruning each spring move easily.


The tools used to prune your grapevines are hand pruners, loppers, and smallish handsaws. Select the suitable pruning tool to remove the timber as quickly as possible and reduce unnecessary harm to the vine. Hand pruners are utilized to remove 1 year old wood. Older wood requires using loppers. Sometimes old, unfruitful trunks will need to be removed. This is where the handsaw comes in.


Learning the art of grapevine pruning requires practice and time. These grapevine pruning bulletins have pictures and drawings of what you’re trying to achieve and will make your pruning easier. Just be certain you prune your grapevines annually to keep their shape and size, and to make the most of the fruit production and overall fruit quality.