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Pruning Grapes

Tame overgrown grape plants down to a manageable and more productive size. 

Late winter or early spring before growth begins is the best time to prune grapes.  Select a training system that fits your landscape and gardening style.

The four-cane kniffen method is the most common.  You will train the main trunk up onto a fence, trellis or other support. Then select four of the strongest and properly spaced side branches.  Shorten each side branch back to 8 to 12 buds.  These are the fruiting branches that will produce new growth and loads of grapes for you to enjoy this season.

Select one additional shoot next to each of the fruiting canes.  Prune each of these 4 shoots back to 2 buds.  These are the renewal spurs that you will train into fruiting canes next year.  Prune off all the other growth.

Mulch the soil in spring with shredded bark, evergreen needles or other organic material.  And make sure your plants receive sufficient water throughout the season.

A bit more information: Grapes can be trained on a trellis to provide shade, beauty and fruit.  Train one stem to extend the trunk vertically up the trellis. Select fruiting canes at 2 to 3 feet intervals.  Prune these back to 5 or 6 buds.  You will have a productive attractive plant covering your trellis.


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Wisconsin State Fair

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