Pruning Grapes

Pruning grapes each spring is an essential step in growing healthy grapes and harvesting an abundant crop. See growing grapes to learn how to plant, trellis, and care for your grapes.

When pruning grapes, you’re going to give your grapes a major haircut. You’ll prune off 80% - 90% of your grapevine. Each healthy plant will support 50-60 grape buds. This summer, these buds will develop into clusters of grapes and leaves.

Grape Plant Before Pruning

Before Pruning Grapes

Step 1

Choosing Trailing Grapevine

Choose 4 young, healthy, trailing grapevines: an upper-right, lower-right, upper-left, and lower-left). Everything else will be pruned off the grape plant.

What to look for when choosing your main trailing grapevines:

  • Young and healthy wood
  • Each vine should have about 15 buds. A side branch coming off the main trailing vine counts as one bud. You will prune these side branches in step 3.
  • Look for a vine that's going in the right direction.

    If you don’t have a healthy grapevine going in the right direction, it’s pretty easy to retrain a young vine. Gently move another vine into position, and tie it to the wire. As the plant grows, the tendrils (curly grabbers) will wrap around the wire and support the grapevine in the new position.

    You can see in the picture that we used a lower vine to become the upper-right, trailing grapevine. The right side of the plant is pruned, the left side is not.

Pruning Grapes Halfway Done

Step 2

Once you’ve chosen 4 vines, cut everything else off the grape plant.

IMPORTANT!!! While you’re pruning grapes, run your hand along the vine you’re keeping. The grapevines are so intertwined that it's easy to accidentally cut off a vine that you want to keep. Double check and be sure that you're pruning out the right vine before you make the cut. Pruning grape side branches above bud

Step 3

The next step is to prune the side branches that are growing on your main trailing grapevines. Each side branch should be cut just above the first bud on the branch. There should be approximately 15 buds on each long trailing vine.

Pruning grapes buds and wire trellis

Step 4

Now you're going to wrap your trailing vines around the trellis wire. If they don't easily stay in the right position, you can tie the vines to the trellis wire with a piece of twine. These ties hold the grapevines in place until the tendrils (curly grabbers) grab hold of the wire.

Grape Plant After Pruning

After Pruning Grapes

Return to Growing Fruit from Pruning Grapes
Also see How to Make Grape Juice

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