From the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension
by Gerard Krewer, Extension Horticulturist, University of Georgia, College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences



Training Young Vines
Excerpts from the Home Garden Bunch Grapes publication


First Year

Regardless of the training system to be followed, your goal is the development and establishment of a well develop root system. It is recommended that after planting, the strongest cane be cut back to two or three strong buds. Remove any other canes present. Because it is sometimes difficult to determine the condition of a dormant vine, however, some growers prefer to leave five to six buds and then, when growth starts, only allow the most vigorous or desirable buds to develop into shoots.

If the trellis cannot be constructed the first growing season, then a stake 4 to 5 feet high should be driven in the soil near each vine and the new growth trained to it. Tie the shoots loosely, or with plastic tape, to avoid the possibility of girdling. In cool areas of the country, growth rates are slow and vines are often pruned back to near ground level the first winter to help develop a vigorous trunk the second year. In Georgia the growing season is long and vines often make impressive growth the first year.

Double Curtain — Develop a double trunk (Y shape) for each vine approximately 30 inches above the ground. This is done by pinching out the growing point and forcing two shoots to develop. One trunk should be allowed to grow to one of the trellis wires and the other trunk to the other wire. Just below the wire, pinch out the tip of the growing shoots to encourage side branches. Under good conditions, the trunk system for the grape vine should be developed by the end of the first growing season.

Two Wire Vertical Trellis — Develop a single strong shoot arising from the young plant by removing competing shoots. Train this shoot to a string or stake running from the upper wire of the trellis to the ground. Just below each wire pinch out the tip to encourage two side arms to develop.

Single Wire Trellis High Trellis and Single Wire Low Trellis with Catch Wires — One shoot should be allowed to develop into the trunk. Train the trunk to a string or a training stake. When the tip reaches the wire, pinch it out and select two shoots growing about eight inches below the wire. Shoots positioned to grow on the trellis wire should be allowed to grow 12 to 18 inches long before they are tied down to the wires. Never tie the growing shoot tips to the wire because they will lose vigor. Always leave at least 6 inches of shoot tip free beyond the last tie so it can grow in an upward direction to maintain vigor.


The Double Curtain trellis showing double trunks, fruiting canes and renewal spurs after pruning
Fig. 1
The Double Curtain trellis showing double trunks, fruiting canes and renewal spurs after pruning

Single Wire Low Trellis with Catch Wires — Tie the cordon shoots to the cordon wire only after they are 1.5 to 2 feet long. [From S.C. Master Gardener Training Manual]
Fig. 2
Single Wire Low Trellis with Catch Wires
— Tie the cordon shoots to the cordon wire only after they are 1.5 to 2 feet long.
[From S.C. Master Gardener Training Manual]


Second Year

The second year should be devoted to training and developing a strong plant structure that can support some fruiting during the third season. Fig. 1 illustrates vines properly trained to the double curtain trellis, while Fig. 3 illustrates pruning and training to the two wire vertical trellis (Kniffin system).

Training the young vine to the two-wire vertical trellis (four arm Kniffin system). 1) Pruning after 1 year's growth, 2) after 2 years' growth, 3) after 3 years' growth.
Fig. 3
Training the young vine to the two-wire vertical trellis (four arm Kniffin system). 1) Pruning after 1 year's growth, 2) after 2 years' growth, 3) after 3 years' growth

Assuming normal growth has been obtained during the first growing season, all buds on the trunk remaining after pruning are capable of developing into shoots and producing fruit. Fruit production at this stage of vine development will reduce vegetative growth and, therefore, is not desirable. Removal of flower clusters when they occur is recommended. All shoots below the bottom trellis wire should be removed, including suckers from the base of the vine. Continue to develop the permanent cordons (arms). Pinch off developing flowers unless the vines have made tremendous growth the first year. Even then, leave no more than a cluster or two of fruit. Remember that your goal is training, not fruit production.


Further Reading
Home Garden Bunch Grapes
from the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension pdf 8 pages



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Bibliography

Krewer, Gerard. "Home Garden Bunch Grapes." extension.uga.edu. Reviewed Jan. 2011. Web. 7 Nov. 2014.

Published 7 Nov. 2014 LR. Last update 18 Aug. 2016 LR
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