Why do we prune the vineyard?
July in the vineyard is pruning time and signifies both the end of the season and the beginning of the new season. There are 2 main types of pruning; spur pruning and cane pruning. We spur prune.
With all pruning, the idea is to know how many buds you end up with, as each bud will produce a fruit bearing cane which will produce 2 bunches of grapes. Knowing how many bunches of grapes and the weight of them, we already know how big our yield is likely to be.
In our case with each plant, we’re looking for around 12 spurs which will give 24 buds, of which around 48 bunches of grapes will grow. Of course what happens during the oncoming growing season all has bearing on the yield but it all starts with the pruning. The real scary thing is that those buds have already formed so, in fact, factors affecting the upcoming coming vintage have already been determined by the previous one.
So what else is important with pruning?
Spacing of the spurs is important as it provides a uniform canopy and if the new canes are evenly spaced this also allows sunlight to penetrate the canopy as well as airflow, which are both vital for a healthy vine.
Spurs grow from year to year and at some stage get too long and need to be replaced. So, as we’re pruning we’re deciding which canes to spur and which to clear and this all depends at each spur if there are any new canes springing from the base to utilise and replace the entire spur, or leave for the following year as well as a suitable cane for the up coming vintage.
Sometimes there’ll be a strong cane growing from the head of the vine which we’ll utilise to replace and rejuvenate the lateral cordon.
The thickness of the cane to be spurred is also important. Sometimes the ideal cane to spur is not in the ideal place so compromises and alternate plans are constantly made.
All this is done in the middle of winter – brrrr.
But once done, the vineyard is ready for the season to come, we have a very good idea of the yield and from previous vintages, we know the zone where we want to sit. Bring on the new vintage!