Extremely overgrown grape vines

Discussion in 'Grapes and Grape Vines' started by Bill Kerr, Mar 5, 2005.

  1. Bill Kerr

    Bill Kerr Member

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    I inherited 3 very large grape vines of as yet unkown varieties of green quite seedy grapes. They have now been organized to a gegree on a trellis but are obviuosly too large to be trained on a 2 wire system. The grapes produced last year were tasty where they got enough sun to ripen.

    I realize that grapes are produced on second year wood. I expect the branches( or whatever they are called) with the most evidence of vigourous growth should be left.

    However it would appear that there is probably at least 4 times more branches and so forth than is desirable. Two of the plants are at least 4" in diameter at the base with branches 25 to 35 feet long. These branches in turn have several branches 15 to 20 feet long and many shorter and I propose to eliminate half of these. I propose to handle those that I leave as if they were complete vines on a proper 2 wire system (except they will be overhead on a trellis)

    Is this a reasonable approach, if not, please suggest an alternative.

    Do these vines need a multi year plan to get them cut back to reasonable proportions or can I go at it all now and put up with irregular production for a few years. I am not in really need of grapes and really want an attractive shade giving but healty plant as much as whatever grapes it yeilds.


    Bill Kerr
     
  2. Ralph Walton

    Ralph Walton Active Member 10 Years of Activity

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    Bill:
    Grapes produce fruit on shoots that arise from 1 year old wood. That may be what you just said, but I just wanted to be sure. Most pruning "guides" for grapes are vineyard oriented, which is not your situation. With old,more or less solitary plants, the root system may be as far out from the stem as the longest unpruned branches and shoots (or even further, depending on soil and water conditions). This gives you a huge support system for your plants, and they should easily be able to support multiple "main" branches.
    It would be hard to imagine a pruning that would be "too hard", as older plants are commonly cut back to a single vertical trunk maybe 25 to 45 cm tall for grafting new varieties for grape production. On the other hand, they can end up looking fairly ugly for a time.
    Your idea should work just fine, so have at it! Quickly too; the plants are budding up already.
    Ralph
     
  3. douglas

    douglas Active Member 10 Years of Activity

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    Hi

    If you are not worried about the production then, then it should not be a problem. However I would suggest that you take out about 1/2 of what you want now, see how things look when leaves come out and then prune again just after or around harvest.

    We did a group of them about 3 years ago in Chilliwack , (BC) that were actually smothering a 25 foot tall apple and a 35 foot tall Magnolia.

    Good luck Doug
     
  4. Newt

    Newt Well-Known Member 10 Years of Activity

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  5. michaeljworthington

    michaeljworthington Member

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    I have just taken over a small vineyard approx 230 vines spread across three allotments in east Bristol UK. The vines are up to 25 years old but have not been pruned for the last five years. They are competing with brambles which in places are 7 feet tall. There are grapes on some of the vines but they are small. I have tried to cut some of the brambles and leave the vines but then the vines and the grapes end up on the floor.

    I have looked on the internet and know that I have to prune in the winter to very early spring. but I was wondering if I cut some of the vines back now, would they grow new wood this year that would have crop on next. I am sure you will say no but I thought I would ask the question.
     
  6. Newt

    Newt Well-Known Member 10 Years of Activity

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    Hi Michael,

    I'm guessing that you read the link I gave to Bill about pruning negelcted vines. I don't know the answer to your question about pruning now and getting enough 'old wood' for fruit next year. Maybe that site will tell you or someone else will come along that knows.

    As for the brambles, I suspect they are blackberries. You should find this helpful.
    http://www.pesticide.org/factsheets.html

    Newt
     
  7. Ralph Walton

    Ralph Walton Active Member 10 Years of Activity

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    Michael:
    Re-reading my March 8th post, it does not say what I meant it to say and may have misled you.

    Grapes flower and fruit on the current year's growth. If you look at a typical vineyard in the winter, many will look like a row of stumps! A closer inspection will reveal (depending on the variety, trellis and grower) a couple or four spurs, each having 2 or 3 buds. From these buds will arise next year's growing canes upon which you will have flowers and fruit (and leaves, of course).

    Bottom line is: all you have to leave for next year is the spurs with buds. On the other hand, the vines will be just about ready to slow down and harden off for the winter over the next several months (depending on your specific climate). A properly brutal pruning now might force new top growth which could unnecessarily sap the plant's energy reserves, so I suggest you hold off till they are dormant.

    The brambles will also respond to the increased light next spring, so be ready for them.

    Ralph
     
  8. michaeljworthington

    michaeljworthington Member

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    Thanks Newt and Ralph,

    I think you are right that it would be best to leave the pruning until they are dormant. I am going to cut back the brambles now and start digging them out. As for the vines I am going to roll up the long vines and attach them to the wires making sure any grapes that are worth keeping are wired so they can get the last of the summer sun. Then in the winter, I’ll cut back the vines to the point where the last shoots are on each runner. This way the vines will still produce. I think this way the vines will not get stunted by sudden massive pruning after their five years of freedom.

    A small area of the vineyard was pruned last year and the vines have not done very well at all this year.

    I think a bit of tender loving care is needed over the next few years.

    Thanks for your help I will keep up informed about how its’ going.
     
  9. Darron

    Darron Member

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    Help, I moved into a house last September with a very overgrown back yard. One area I recognized as grapevines but in my overzealousness to clean up the yard I pruned (butchered) it way back. Now it’s spring, I’m getting no growth so I start researching. I find this site and I am now wondering if I killed the vines.

    Beginning
    Base about 3-4 inches with vines going about 25 feet both directions along the top of a 6 foot tall wooden fence.

    Now
    Two wooden stalks, one about 3 feet tall, the other about 6 feet tall, tied to the top of the fence. Both stalks have a clear sappy substance flowing from the cut ends.

    Did I kill these vines, or can they be saved?

    Thanks,
    Darron
     
  10. Margaret

    Margaret Active Member 10 Years of Activity

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    From what I have learnt about grape vines on this web site grapes are pretty resilient. I prune mine hard back each dormant period and they drip sap like mad just before the buds develop, so I would be very surprised if you have killed yours as dead vines don't produce sap.
    Interesting slightly off topic is info I got from my dog's vet that grapes can be very toxic to certain dogs. Our lab eats a ton each season so I guess he's not one of the affected but others may not be so lucky.
    Enjoy your grapes. I love the smell of the blossoms, which came as a surprise to me.
    Margaret
     
  11. congomama

    congomama Member

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    i have also cut my grapevine which was extremely overgrown and going up the apple tree. I am attempting to manage this vine and hardly know where to begin. Si i started to cut all the growth from last year and i left 3 or 4 runners...but left all the solid stems. I dont really know what to do with it now as it is in an awkward place in my garden...it is too well established to dig up(i think) i would like to train it somehow...i feel bad for hacking it...it bled!!!!
     
  12. Winifred

    Winifred Member

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    How do I get them off the ground and onto an arbor?
     
  13. Ralph Walton

    Ralph Walton Active Member 10 Years of Activity

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    If you provide the arbor and bend a few new shoots to it, the grapevine will do most of the work itself.

    Ralph
     

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