The Q&A Archives: Grapevine Comeback

Question: This past March, as a result of miscommunication with the contractor, our two grapevines were cut off flush with the ground during a fence installation. We thought they were goners, but now there is rampant growth on both vines, with several canes at least 6' long. All are sprouting from the sides of the previous stumps. Should they be pruned at the usual time in the early spring/late winter? How should they be pruned, since there is no longer a "central" trunk? (There does seem to be one cane much thicker than the others on each vine.)

Answer: Sounds like you'll have to start from scratch with your grapevines. Here are some easy basic training steps: In late winter choose the best cane and head it back, leaving just 3 buds (between ground level and the top of the cane). Remove all other canes at this same time. Allow unrestricted growth all summer. In the early spring of the following year, remove all other shoots and head the main trunk back to the height you want it to begin its lateral growth. During the summer train 2 vigorous shoots to grow on either side of the main stem, removing all other shoots that sprout on the trunk. By the third year allow new shoots to form, but pinch out all of the flower clusters when they appear. By the fourth year the main framework will be in place and all you'll need to do is pinch and prune to keep the vines inbounds. Grape production will be in full swing by the fourth summer.

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