The Q&A Archives: Pruning Grapes

Question: I have a grape arbor with about 8 Concord Grape plants. They produced a good crop this year but I am told that they should be pruned pretty hard to keep getting good crops. When should I do this? Also when should they be fertililized and what should I use?

Answer: Grape pruning is best done in mid-winter, when the plants are dormant. There are as many ways to prune as there are grape cultivars and gardeners! Here are a couple of good books that outline the procedure, with a bonus of some line drawings to help guide you: Pruning, by Christopher Brickell, ISBN#0-671-65841-7, and Sunset Western Garden Book, ISBN#0-376-03851-9. Your library or local bookstore can find copies for you. It's not usually necessary to fertilize grapes. In fact, too much nitrogen will encourage lush, green growth, at the expense of fruit. You can use organic mulch over the root mass instead of concentrated fertilizer. Use aged compost or leaf mold. As it breaks down it will supply nutrients to the roots in a slow and steady manner.

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