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Shaping Grapes In The Midlands And North

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There are many ways to form a vine bush. But in order not to make a mistake with the choice, it is necessary to understand the conditions in which the vine grows. If it is an "uncovered" zone - here you can experiment in any direction, but the most advantageous will be the formation on the stem, allowing to form a powerful plant and get the maximum yield. In the middle belt, where the difficulty is winter frosting of vines, bush formation involves the possibility to cover for the winter period, and therefore - the benchmark should be to keep the bush head at soil level.

Shaping grapes in the midlands and north
Grapes formation in the middle belt and north

To the north, you cannot count on a great harvest, but even for such areas there are their pruning principles, allowing to have berries from your own garden. In this article the sleeve-vein scheme of vine bush formation, often used in the middle belt, and cordon - well proven in regions with harsher climates will be considered.

Shaping grapes in the midlands and north
Trunk and fan grape formation scheme

Trunk and fan grape formation scheme

1st year

Bush formation under the sleeve and fan scheme begins with the bushing of annual vines. In autumn, when the temperature is between -2 ... -4°C (last decade of October-early November) all foliage remnants and unripe shoots are removed, and the tip is bent down to the ground, placing it on the bed and covering it for winter time (Fig.2).

2nd year

An early spring the vine which wintered under a covering is opened and cut off, leaving two buds above the ground. (Fig.3) These two buds are needed to form two arms of the bush we are forming. As the summer growth progresses, the vines grown from the buds are carefully bent in the right direction (parallel to the ground). In autumn the bush is covered for wintering (Fig.4 ).

Shaping grapes in the midlands and north
The shaping of the bush according to the sleeve-vein scheme begins with the bushing of annual vines
Shaping grapes in the midlands and north
In early spring the vines that have wintered under the cover are opened and cut
Shaping grapes in the midlands and north
As summer growth, the vines grown from buds are gently bent in the right direction

3- Year

Early spring both sleeves are pruned to 2 buds (Fig. 5 ).

In autumn, to form the arms of the second order, the vines are cut again on 2 buds, and remove already hardwood stump, remaining between the arms (Fig.6)

In autumn time again prune vines on 2 buds, forming now already arms of the third, last order (Pic.7 ).

Shaping grapes in the midlands and north
In early spring, both sleeves are pruned to 2 buds
Shaping grapes in the midlands and north
In autumn, the vines are again pruned to 2 buds
Shaping grapes in the midlands and north
In autumn, the vines are again pruned to 2 buds

5th year

Fall, the bush formation is completed. On each of the branches leave a so-called replacement twig on the lower side of the branch and a fruiting vine on the upper side. In this case on the substitute knot leave 2 buds, on the fruiting vine 8-12 buds, here the focus is made on variety, soil fertility and power of bush development. (Fig.8)

Shaping grapes in the midlands and north
Fall is the completion of shaping the bush

Let us understand the terms a little. What is the fruiting vine? It is, simply put, next season's harvest, the vine that will bear new shoots and bunches. The substitution bough is where the next year's future crop vine and the new substitution bough will form. Together, the fruiting vine and the replacement twig form a fruiting pair or (another name) fruiting link. After pruning in the 5th year, 8 fruit pairs should be formed on the bush, as can be seen in Figure 9.

Shaping grapes in the midlands and north
After pruning in the 5th year, 8 fruit pairs should be formed on the bush

It is important! As noted, pruning in the spring time is done only in the first 3 years of life. From the fall of the third year onwards, it must be done on fall terms.

This allows:

  • to facilitate the laying of the vines in late autumn under cover,
  • helps to avoid a strong discharge of the vineyard sap, which occurs due to the late pruning of grapes in the spring period (one bush in spring due to late pruning can lose up to 10, Depending on the power of the bush it saves time during the spring works,
  • it simplifies the spring pruning of the vines on the espalier.

The terms of autumn pruning of grapes come after leaf fall - in the period of the beginning of relative dormancy of plants, and continue until the arrival of stable low temperatures in the region of - 4 ºС and below.

When pruning in autumn, not spare vines are left on the bush, but 2-4 additional buds per vine, followed by summer breaking out of excess green shoots.

Trimming grapes from the fifth year

After the harvest, in autumn, the vine, which fructified, is cut off. Two vines were formed on the substitution twig during the summer, they are cut according to the principle of the fruit link: the lower one on the substitution twig, on 2 buds, and the upper one - on 8-12 buds on the fruiting vine for the next year. Or rather, on 4-6 and 10-14, leaving 2 or even 4 buds to spare, in case of frost.

In summer, the weakest shoots break out, leaving the right amount. If the buds died, there is one left (it happens and so), the vine growing from it is cut as a replacement bough.

Further every year pruning is made by the same principle.

Cordon scheme of vine formation

Cordon scheme of vine bush pruning shows less yield than the previous option of formation. However, in harsh conditions it is still an opportunity to get your own harvest, to stock the plant with energy and safely survive the winter. This principle of vine bush formation is also called short branch.

Shaping grapes in the midlands and north
Cordon scheme of vine formation

1st year

Bush formation according to cordon scheme begins with bunches of annual vines. In autumn, when the temperature drops to -2 ... -4 ºС, the foliage remnants are cut off from the shoots, and the unripe shoots are bent to the ground, put on a mat and covered for winter. (Fig.11)

Please also read this. How do I trim my houseplants?

2nd year

In early spring, the vines that have overwintered under cover are opened and cut back, leaving two buds above the ground. From these buds will form two sleeves. As they develop in summer, they are carefully bent in the right direction (parallel to the ground). The bush is covered for overwintering in the fall. (Fig.12)

 3rd year

The vines are shortened by 8-10 buds in spring. (Fig.13 ) During the summer, fruiting vines and shoots of future sleeves (they are located in the center of the bush, closer to its head), as well as fats (vines without bunches) will grow from them.

Shaping grapes in the midlands and north
Formation of the bush by cordon scheme begins with the bunting of annual vines
Shaping grapes in the midlands and north
The vines, which have wintered under cover, are opened and cut off, leaving two buds above the ground
Shaping grapes in the midlands and north
The vines are shortened in spring by 8-10 buds

In early June fat shoots are removed. (Fig.14) In the autumn, cut off the fruit-bearing branches, together with the arms on which they are located, leaving only the two vines closest to the head of the bush. (Fig.15)

The two remaining vines are bent down and covered over the winter. Early in the spring of the following year, they are cut by 8-10 buds. Then the scheme is repeated.

Shaping grapes in the midlands and north
In the beginning of June fat shoots are removed
Shaping grapes in the midlands and north
In autumn cut off fruit-bearing branches, together with sleeves

The cordon form may have not 2, but 4 sleeves. (Fig.16)  In this case, the first harvest will be obtained only in the 4th year, as the formation will take a year longer, but its quantity will be more weighty.

Shaping grapes in the midlands and north
The cordon form may have not 2, but 4 arms

Sometimes the short sleeve formation scheme is also used in the middle belt. However, in such a case on the sleeves leave a greater number of buds, up to 14-15, in order not to allow underloading bush.