how to prune grapes Archives

Rick’s Grape Vines

Hi Grape Friends,

I received this email from Rick, a member of the Complete Grape Growing System.  From the email he send me, it seems like he knows what to do Рhow to start constructing the framework of the grape vines, however he ran into some difficulties along the way.

By the way, Rick’s grape vines look great, and it’s always a pleasure to assist you guys wherever (whenever ūüėź ) I can.

NOTE:  The text in red, are my replies.

Background info:¬† I live in _________ , Arizona, USA. We live in a desert and summer temps are extreme. Temps of 110-115 degrees (F) are common in July & August. Our growing season is long lasting from March-November. I just got my first grape plants and I’m hoping to get “first year growth” before night time temps get cold in November.

I just got some grape plants and bought your system last week. I’ve modified an existing arbor to accommodate the grapes. The arbor was built to provide mid-day and afternoon shade. I decided to plant grapes there last minute. The plants I was given are very young and some don’t appear to be in very good condition. I have a few questions:(since I took these pictures I’ve pulled the wires tight.)

  1. The vine (training shoot) had no growing point when I got it. It’s long enough to reach the first two wires and in the few days since I planted, the buds have begun to sprout. These are going¬† to be lateral shoots? correct? This is what I want to be happening, correct?

Rick, that is absolutely correct.  These lateral shoots will one day be the cordon or arms on which you will prune the spurs or canes Рdepending on what pruning method you will choose. I zoomed in on the picture (below), to show you guys what Rick was referring to.  See those small leafs, they will develop into shoots that must be trained on the horizontal trellis wires.

I’m hoping to get lateral shoots to grow out in the next 8 weeks before temps fall. Do you think I’m too late in the season?

No, I don’t think so.¬† Since your growing season will be over in November, much growth can still be expected – if you stick to the methods I show in the Grape Growing System.

2. The training shoot in the photo (below) had a nice growing point and had added two inches in just a couple days. This morning it was damaged. Will this give me any lateral shoots this season? Or will I have to prune this back in winter and begin again next spring?

Yes.  See where the red arrow is; this tiny shoot that is developing here, can be used as a new growing point to train your grape vine to the trellis wires.  New lateral shoots below this point will also develop, and can either be removed or used for developing a cordon on the pipe Рif that is what you want to do.  Personally I think it is too close to the ground to develop arm here.

3. Photo shows a nice training shoot with good growing point that has added 2+ inches in the few days since I planted it. The first two wires are 8 & 16 inches above the bar. Should I let it grow taller or pinch off the growing point and hope to develop a few lateral shoots in the next 8 weeks?

Rick, as shown in the Complete Grape Growing System, you will have to let the vine grow pass the top wire and then remove the growing point, so lateral shoots can develop.  These lateral shoots will be used to cover the trellis wires.

Thanks for any info/advice you can give me.

I’ve spent hours reading and re-reading your e-book this past week and I’m really excited to begin my little vineyard.


Thanks Rick for sharing your pictures with us.  If there are any questions, feel free to post a comment on this blog post.

Take care everyone



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Pruning a never before pruned grape vine.

For those of you who has a grape vine that has never been pruned before or that was pruned the wrong way; this post will help you allot.

Look at Leslie’s grape vine before she joined My-Grape-Vine and became an owner of the Complete Grape Growers Guide and before I showed her where the structure of the vine should be.

From the picture above, you can see that there is no real structure of the grape vine. Only canes and stems that grew everywhere, without any purpose. Now, grape vines that grow like this, normally bears only fruit on the outer ridges of grape vine, as they are too compact inside, with no or very little sunlight penetrating the grape vine. These vines will never produce optimum crop sizes and will almost always have diseases.

The most difficult thing to teach a newbie grape grower is to construct a well balanced grape vine. It is something you must learn to “see”, before you prune the vine. Seeing or recognizing usable canes and the best place to prune spurs and what canes to leave, is a skill you will have master first, before you will be able to prune the vine the correct way.

What I normally teach people and also the workers on my farm, is to stand in front of the vine, look at the vine and identify and point out the canes you want to use (keep). As I said before, it takes practice, but isn’t difficult once your grape vine has been correctly pruned once.

Now, pruning a grape vine that looks like Leslie’s vine once looked, isn’t easy. You will have to remove lots of canes and even some parts of the old wood and stems – this requires “hard pruning” (as we call it).

Look at the end results below. I am so proud of what she has achieved.

Well done Leslie, your grape vine looks great!

Normally, when you “hard prune”, do not expect to have massive grape crops the following year because you are using canes and spurs that was on the inside of the grape vine didn’t have any sunlight exposure during the growing season and will most probably be unfruitful or very little fruitful.

Your goal should be to construct the vine correctly, let it grow the following growing season (even if it bears little fruit the following year), prune it again and enjoy a good, healthy crop the following year.

I hope you now realize how important it really is to construct your grape vine the correct way.

What is a spur?

How to prune a grape vine spur

I often get the question: “Danie, how do I prune a spur?”

Without knowing how to prune a spur (short bearer) the correct way, you can spoil your potential crop – did you know that? So, I went out into my vineyards and took some really nice pictures that will explain how to prune a spur.

But before I explain how to prune a spur, you need to know that a grape vine ONLY produce grapes on one-year-old shoots that was pruned on two-year-old canes and not on cordons (arms) or in most cases water shoots (a shoot that developed on 3 year and older wood).

In the picture below, you can see spur that was pruned last winter no.1 (while the grape vine was dormant). During the past growing season, two shoots developed from that spur; no. 2 and no. 3. These two shoots were the bearers during this year’s harvest.

Although they are dormant at this stage, they are still alive and needs to be pruned in order to produce more grapes next season. Inside those little buds you seen in the pictures, are already formed grape bunches – off course you cannot see them with the naked eye, but believe me, they are there! That is why I always hammer on allowing enough sunlight into your grape vine – this helps develop those little grape clusters inside the buds.

OK, so if you look at the picture again, you will notice two red lines. This is where you will prune in order to have a new spur.

In the picture below, I have pruned the old spur back and as you can see, a new spur was pruned with two buds that will develop shoots the next growing season. The shoots that will develop from this spur will bear grapes next season.

If you understand what I am explaining to you, it will make sense that spur I pruned in the above picture, will become an old spur (no 1) next year – during dormancy, after next year’s growing season.

I hope that you now have a better understanding of what a spur really is.

For further, and more in depth pruning techniques, as well as cane pruning techniques, I recommend The Complete Grape Growers Guide.

Have a grape (great) day my friends!


The Grape Guy