GRAPE PRUNING





As stated above, the vine is cut back, when planting, to three or four
eyes. The subsequent pruning--and the reader must at once distinguish
between pruning, and training, or the way in which the vines are
placed--will determine more than anything else the success of the
undertaking. Grapes depend more upon proper pruning than any other
fruit or vegetable in the garden. Two principles must be kept track of
in this work. First principle: _the annual crop is borne only on
canes of the same year's growth, springing from wood of the previous
season's growth_. Second principle: _the vine, if left to itself,
will set three or four times the number of bunches it can properly
mature_. As a result of these facts, the following system of pruning
has been developed and must be followed for sure and full-sized crops.
(1) At time of planting, cut back to three or four eyes, and after
these sprout leave only one (or two) of them, which should be staked
up.
(2) Following winter (December to March), leave only one cane and cut
this back to three or four eyes.
(3) Second growing season, save only two canes, even if several sprout,
and train these to stake or trellis. These two vines, or arms,
branching from the main stem, form the foundation for the one-year
canes that bear the fruit. However, to prevent the vine's setting too
much fruit (see second principle above) these arms must be cut back in
order to limit the number of fruit-bearing canes that will spring from
them, therefore:
(4) Second winter pruning, cut back these arms to eight or ten buds--
and we have prepared for the first crop of fruit, about forty bunches,
as the fruiting cane from each bud will bear two bunches on the
average. However these main arms will not bear fruiting-canes another
year (see first principle above) and therefore:
(5) At the third winter pruning, (a) of the canes that bore fruit, only
the three or four nearest the main stem or trunk are left; (b) these
are cut back to eight or ten buds each, and (c) everything else is
ruthlessly cut away.
Each succeeding year the same system is continued, care being taken to
rub off, each May, buds or sprouts starting on the main trunk or arms.
The wood, in addition to being cut back, must be well ripened; and the
wood does not ripen until after the fruit. It therefore sometimes
becomes necessary to cut out some of the bunches in order to hasten the
ripening of the rest. At the same time the application of some potash
fertilizer will be helpful. If the bunches do not ripen up quickly and
pretty nearly together, the vine is overloaded and being damaged for
the following year.
The matter of pruning being mastered, the question of training is one
of individual choice. Poles, trellises, arbors, walls--almost anything
may be used. The most convenient system, however, and the one I would
strongly recommend for practical home gardening for results, is known
as the (modified) Kniffen system. It is simplicity itself. A stout wire
is stretched five or six feet above the ground; to this the single main
trunks of the vine run up, and along it are stretched the two or three
arms from which the fruiting-canes hang down. They occupy the least
possible space, so that garden crops may be grown practically on the
same ground. I have never seen it tried, but where garden space is
limited I should think that the asparagus bed and the Kniffen grape-
arbor just described could be combined to great advantage by placing
the vines, in spaces left for them, directly in the asparagus row. Of
course the ground would have to be manured for two crops. A 2-8-10
fertilizer is right for the grapes. If using stable manure, apply also
ashes or some other potash fertilizer.
If the old-fashioned arbor is used, the best way is to run the main
trunk up over it and cut the laterals back each year to two or three
eyes.
The most serious grape trouble which the home gardener is likely to
encounter is the black-rot Where only a few grapes are grown the
simplest way of overcoming this disease is to get a few dozen cheap
manila store-bags and fasten one, with a couple of ten-penny nails,
over each bunch. Cut the mouth of the bag at sides and edges, cover the
bunch, fold the flaps formed over the cane, and fasten. They are put on
after the bunches are well formed and hasten the ripening of the fruit,
as well as protecting it. On a larger scale, spraying will have to be
resorted to. Use Bordeaux, 5-5-50, from third leaf's appearance to
middle of July; balance of season with ammoniacal copper carbonate. The
spray should be applied in particular just before every rain--
especially on the season's growth. Besides the spraying, all trimmed-
off wood, old leaves and twigs, withered bunches and grapes, or
"mummies," and refuse of every description, should be carefully raked
up in the spring and burned or buried. Also give clean culture and keep
the main stems clean.
The grape completes the list of the small fruits worth while to the
average home gardener. If you have not already experimented with them,
do not let your garden go longer without them. They are all easily
obtained (none costing more than a few cents each), and a very limited
number will keep the family table well supplied with healthy
delicacies, which otherwise, in their best varieties and condition,
could not be had at all. The various operations of setting out, pruning
and spraying will soon become as familiar as those in the vegetable
garden. There is no reason why every home garden should not have its
few rows of small fruits, yielding their delicious harvests in
abundance.





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