GRAPES AND BERRIES PRUNING TIPS
Few other plants respond to pruning more than grape vines. Pruning should be done while the vines are dormant usually in late winter. As fruit is borne near the base of the current season’s shoots, it is necessary to maintain an annual supply of one-year-old wood from which fruit bearing shoots will develop.
Grapes will grow most anywhere in good, well drained soil. The vines can be trained to any one of a number of different systems involving an arbor or trellis. The four-cane Kniffen system is preferred by many growers for production and ease of maintenance and is adaptable to the home garden. The supports consist of two horizontal wires – the lower about 30” and the upper 60” from the ground.
The young plants when set out should be cut back to one vigorous cane of two or three buds. It is advisable to stake the cane to keep it upright and straight since it is to become the main trunk to the top wire.
The third year all side shoots that have developed on the main trunk should come off except two near the upper wire and two near the lower wire. These should be cut back to 3 or 4 buds each and tied to the support wires. They will form a double T shape. Each season thereafter the vine is pruned back to these four canes and each cane should be cut to 8 or 10 buds from which the season’s new growth will be made.
An old neglected grape vine may be cut to the ground and a new trunk started from one of the new shoots. This will mean the sacrifice of a year’s crop but it is worthwhile.
Strawberries – The plants usually come ready to plant without further pruning. During the first season remove all blossoms throwing the strength of the plants into a vigorous root structure. Established plants will send out runners. For extra large quality berries remove all runners before they root. For larger yields allow four to five runners from each plant to develop a “matted row” not over two feet wide. Cut back any runners that have a tendency to go over the row boundaries. Berries are harvested the second and third years. After that, the bed runs out and should be plowed under and replaced by a new planting in a different location.
Raspberries, Blackberries and Blueberries - They bear fruit on canes that grew the preceding year. Any cane having borne fruit becomes barren and should be pruned at its base. Bushes can be pruned while dormant. Side branches should be encouraged by pinching out of new canes that have reached a height of 3 feet. Side branches should have a spring pruning to about a foot and a half.