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Pruning old grape vines


By Polcho

I need some help. I have just managed to get an old and unkempt vineyard. The grape is Merlot, which is what I wanted. My problem is that I don’t know where to start with the pruning. I started in the usual way, but I quickly noticed that last years grapes were on nearly all of the canes, so now I am totally stumped. Am I correct in thinking that if last years shrived up grapes are on a cane it means that they are used and I cant use them as a fruiting cane for this year? If so, what do I do now? I really need to get back to pruning as it is 29th March today I am in (Bulgaria). I would really like to have some grapes this year, and I really worried about messing the whole thing up. Any help would be appreciated.



As you are growing the grapes for wine prune back so that there are only 2 or 3 side shoots on each main stem - you actually need to be pretty brutal. e-how has this information:

29 Mar, 2009


STOP!!! If you prune your vines now with the sap rising, they will bleed to death. Any pruning should be done while they are dormant - between leaf fall and Xmas at the end of the year

29 Mar, 2009


I totally agree with Andrew, I pruned mine in November last year and the new shoots are starting to pop through. I have a very old looking vine that I also adopted. You will probably need to wait until november this year before you attack your vines, you could spend the time preparing the soil, and giving your vines a well deserved feed. If you are going to make wine you could also spend the time doing prep for that, but leave the plants alone until Autumn. If you need to replace any plants you could use this season to mark the replacements.

29 Mar, 2009


If, the vines have started growing new shoots then no you can't prune but given that Polcho is in Bulgaria unless he is by the Black Sea coast they probably haven't. I could certainly prune our one and only vine right now with no ill effects. I also remember, whilst in the wine trade, visiting the Mosel in late March early April and they were still pruning then, ditto the French wine growing areas I have visited.

29 Mar, 2009

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