Prune young vines

Prune young vines

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Vine pruning: training

The vines are deciduous climbers, very vigorous and with a luxuriant growth, which in a single year can lead to the production of a lot of vegetation; to ensure that a vineyard produces a good quantity of grapes every year, and that this grape is of quality, it is essential to practice accurate pruning operations every year. As with all fruit plants, pruning also favors early fruit development, even in young plants; favors a balanced production from year to year, avoiding very fruitful vintages and those almost fruitless. In addition to this, pruning is also carried out to conform the development of the vines according to a predetermined design, to make the most of the available land. Obviously, in such a vigorous climber, it is important to depress the development of branches a little, so that less production of leaves and vegetation stimulates a better harvest. There is no single method for pruning and raising vines, as in each different wine region there are different farming methods, due to the type of vine that is planted, to the grapes that you want to obtain (from wine or table) and the climate of the production area.

Vine pruning styles

In Italy the cultivation of vines takes place following a small number of types:
Simple Guyot: (also known as Guyot only), it is also used in soils that are not too fertile and dry, for vines that do not exceed a height of about one meter; on the stem a single branch is left to fruit, which will be invited to grow horizontally along the row. On the other side of the stem a short spur is left, which will serve to produce branches in the following years, due to the rejuvenation of the vineyard.
Double Guyot: this is a variation of the previous breeding style, with a development on the two sides of the row, and therefore two fruit-bearing branches, with about 10-12 buds, and two spurs for renewal in the following years.
Permanent cordon: (rammed or not) similar in appearance to the Guyot style, but it has slightly higher vines, with a single branch (or two as in the double Guyot) which will remain, however, year after year as the main branches of fruit production.
Pergola: The development of numerous fruit-bearing branches is favored along the pergola; therefore they are cultivated the screws on the sides of the pergola, leaving one or two lateral, horizontal branches, on which numerous branches are developed, to form a thick blanket of vegetation.

Pruning of young vines

The young vines undergo a pruning called training, that is, they are shown the road they will have to follow in their development, during the following years; this pruning is usually carried out towards the end of winter, when the danger of frost is remote, but also before the plant begins to swell the shoots. Already at the time of planting, the type of vine cultivation will be chosen, based on the variety planted, the place where the vineyard is located, the local traditions and the type of grape to be produced. Therefore, at the time of the first pruning, the vines have already been planted so that they can be reared and pruned in a limited number of ways. Fundamental, as a first operation, at the time of implantation, is to position the stem well vertical, so as to favor the correct development of the future vineyard. Typically the screws they produce vegetative buds on the branches and vertical stems, and fruit buds on the horizontal branches. In a young vineyard it is important to promote a fair balance between the main stem and the lateral branches, which will bear fruit tomorrow.
Initially, at the time of implantation, one or two thin branches are chosen on the plants, or one or two vigorous shoots; the consequent branches will be made to develop horizontally, following the rules of the chosen breeding style (for example, in a Guyot vineyard, a single branch is preserved). In any case, the young shoots are shortened, leaving only 10-12 buds.

Pruning in later years

Even in the case of vines now already in production, which are therefore more than 4-5 years old, with rows already well defined and designated, it is carried out in winter, with fallen leaves, generally between January and February (obviously depending on the climatic zones the pruning can be anticipated or postponed, to avoid that the frost or the enlargement of the buds make the intervention dangerous. It also happens to practice green pruning, in full vegetative growth, but these prunings are carried out in particular on excessively vigorous vines that tend to produce an excessive amount of vegetation, and therefore they try to empty them, to favor a more contained development, and focused on fruiting more than on vegetation. Pruning on already grown vines is done by trying to maintain the shape already present in the plant, prepared in previous years; in the case of vines cultivated with the Guyot style, a spur with 3-4 buds is periodically left, which the following year will take the place of this year's fruit vines, in order to constantly renew the vineyard. In the case of pergola or cordon farms, on the other hand, the same branches of fruit tend to be kept longer, which will only be renewed in the course of a few years, and therefore the second year will only be shortened. Spurs are also maintained in these cases, which are pruned at about 6-8 buds, so that each year it is possible to replace the fruit-bearing branch of the previous year with a new and more vigorous one. In the case of the pergola we usually leave at least three fruit-bearing branches, and therefore two or three branches with reserve fruit, cut short.

Prune young vines: Il mal esca

Pruning is always a stressful moment for plants, even when done in the best way; in particular, in the case of vines, a fungal disease, called mal esca, is very common; the fungi responsible for this infection commonly live on trunks, branches and grass; pruning operations favor the entry of spores into the branches, from where the fungus spreads to the entire plant, causing symptoms that are often fatal, or that in any case greatly reduce fruit production. To prevent this type of disease from spreading in the vineyard, it is important to follow some simple hygiene rules. First of all, when we can (and not just the screws) we always use sharp, clean and disinfected tools; above all we disinfect the instruments after each cut, and in particular passing from one screw to another. In addition to this, we try to make precise cuts, with little or no smudging, so that the wood is perfectly cut, and not torn or abraded. Let us remember then to immediately and always cover the cuts with pruning mastic: it is simply vinyl glue containing the fungicide; this protection prevents the wood from being exposed to the elements and promotes healing. If in the vineyard there are specimens that already showed fungal diseases the previous year, we try to mark them and prune them all together, after having pruned the other vines.