I often receive question from new grape growers to explain the terminology I use in my articles.  After reading this, I hope you will be able to picture or identify all the different parts of the grape vine.






Cuttings or grafted cuttings: 
A grape vine cutting, is a small piece of wood (4 to 12 buds in length), that was pruned from an existing grape vine, in order to propagate a new grape vine. 

Cuttings can also be grafted onto what we call rootstock grape varieties.  These varieties a purely bred for this purpose.   Some grape varieties are more susceptible to diseases and these rootstock varieties are selected from material that proved to be more resistant to disease found in the soil.  Grape growers use certain rootstock when they pH imbalanced soil, too wet soil and even for stronger growth, when the grafted variety has known growing problems. 

Taking cuttings from an existing grape vine should be done after winter, just before the first signs of bud swell close to spring.

Cuttings are taken from the shoots that hardened off and lost all of it’s leafs, during winter (which we now call canes). 

This picture shows grafted cuttings.  The graft union, where the rootstock and grafted variety is joined, is clearly visible.

Shoots and Canes: 

A shoot is the green, one-year-old, growth from buds on a grape vine.  A shoot normally develops from spurs and canes (later described) that was pruned during the winter.


A shoot that is starting to devlop from a spur.

Sometimes, shoots also develop from two-year and older wood; these shoots are called water shoots and normally do not produce grapes.

After harvesting the crop, the grape vine will go dormant as winter comes along and the temperatures start to drop below the point where vegetative growth stops and the grape vine starts to prepare for the cold winter.  The leafs will fall off, and the green shoot, will gradually become a more woody, brown shoot.  At this stage, we call these shoots canes.  


A grape vine spur, or also known as a short bearer, is a cane that is pruned during the dormant season.  These spurs are the fruit bearers for coming season, and also to renew the grape vine.  A spur is pruned to 2 buds in length.

Cane bearers:

As with a spur or short bearer, some less fruitful varieties are pruned with cane bearers.  A cane bearer (or cane), is pruned back 8 to 12 buds long and tied to the trellis wires.

Buds (1 on the picture):

Are undeveloped shoots, located a shoot or cane.  This is the production area, where new shoots develop and every single bud of a grape vine, is actually three buds combined (composite bud).

Basilar buds (2 on the picture):

A basilar bud, is a bud at the bottom of a spur or cane bearer.  These buds are on old pruning wounds or the frame work of the grape vine and are not counted, when deciding on many buds to leave on a spur or cane.


The canopy of a grape vine is simple word for the area where the leaves and the fruit are.  The canopy is developed on some kind of trellis system, constructed by the grape grower.  Managing the canopy growth is critical and of the utmost importance for ANY grape grower – backyard grape grower and commercial grape grower.  The canopy is where new canes and spurs are pruned in dormant season.

Lateral shoots (laterals):

A lateral shoot is a “side shoot”, that develop from a bud on a green shoot, one-year-old shoot.  When training a grape vine, these shoots use nutrients needed for young grape vine to reach the trellis wires, and should be removed according to the training methods I teach.

On the other hand, once the training shoot reach the trellis wires, these laterals are used to construct the cordon or arms of the grape vine (see next explination).  Once these lateral shoots become during the winter, they are pruned and tied on the trellis wire where the cordons will be developed. 

This will form the basic structure from where all pruning will be done in the future.  You need to ensure you develop the cordon (arms) the correct way and in the right position to ensure easy pruning and canopy management in the future – REMEMBER, this is extremely important!


Cordon, structure or the frame work of the grape vine:

The arms, or cordons of a grape vine is a two-year and older permanent framework of a grape vine.  Spurs and cane bearers are pruned on this framework.  The framework is developed needs to be kept under control, to ensure a proper harvest, and is sometimes pruned back to the main stem of the grape vine.  This is what we call renewal pruning (from a renewal spur, close the stem of the vine).


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