The Q&A Archives: Rejuvenating Grapevines

Question: How should I go about saving 50 15-year-old grapevines in a vineyard that has had no care for 3 years?

Answer: Sounds like you have your work cut out for you in getting those grape vines back into production. Grapes benefit from yearly applications of well-decomposed manure in late winter or early spring. Spread the manure in a 4-foot circle around each plant, never bringing it closer than 1 foot from the vine. Then prune the vine to 4 medium-sized (1/4" to 1/3" in diameter) lateral canes, each with 6-12 buds on the main trunk. Leave 2 spurs near the main trunk at each trellis wire to be future fruiting canes. Loop the laterals over the supporting wires and secure with twine. Hoe the soil around your plants every couple of weeks until midsummer, and keep plants well watered (they need less water during flowering). Fertilize in the fall with 2-3 pounds of granite rock per vine. With all this care, your vines should produce bountifully.

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