The Q&A Archives: Pruning Grapes

Question: I planted 4 red flame grapes last spring and they have grown very well. Now it's time to give them their 1st pruning. But the winter here has been so mild that only about half the vines have shed their leaves. Is it okay to prune in January, even though the grapevines are acting like winter hasn't really hit yet? Or should I wait a month or so to see if a chill comes and puts my plants to sleep for the winter?

Answer: I'm wondering if your plants will go into dormancy at all, given the mild winter weather. But, it's best to prune before new growth begins in the spring. So, watch your plants, and look for new leaf buds. Try to prune just as they begin to swell. If you prune now, which encourages new growth, and you have a late frost, the new growth will be very susceptible to damage.

If you prune when the sap starts to rise and leaf buds swell, you'll probably notice some watery fluid dripping from the cuts. Don't be overly concerned - it won't harm the plant and the dripping will stop as soon as the cuts heal over.

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