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Classification Of Methods Of Training The Grape In Eastern America

I. Shoots upright:

1. Chautauqua Arm.
2. Keuka High Renewal.
3. Fan.

II. Shoots drooping:

1. Single-stem, Four-cane Kniffin.
2. Two-stem, Four-cane Kniffin.
3. Umbrella Kniffin.
4. Y-stem Kniffin.
5. Munson.

III. Shoots horizontal:

1. Hudson Horizontal.

I. Shoots upright

Systematic training of the grape in America began toward the middle of
the nineteenth century with a method in which the shoots were trained
upright from two permanent horizontal arms. These arms are laid to
right and left on a low wire and bear more or less permanent spurs,
from each of which two shoots are produced each season to bear the
crop. The number of spurs left on each arm depends on the vigor of the
vine and the space between vines. As the shoots grow upward, they are
tied to upper wires, there being three wires on the trellis for this
method. This method is now known as the Horizontal Arm Spur. It has a
serious fault in its troublesome spurs and has almost entirely given
way to a modification called the Chautauqua Arm method, much used in
the great Chautauqua grape-belt. As one of the chief methods of
training the grape in eastern America, this must be described in

The Chautauqua Arm method.

The trellis for this method has two wires, although occasionally three
are used. The lower wire is eighteen or twenty inches above the
ground and the second thirty-four inches above the lower. If three are
used, the wires are twenty inches apart. F. E. Gladwin, in charge of
the vineyard laboratory of the New York Agricultural Experiment
Station at Fredonia, in the heart of the Chautauqua belt, describes
this method of training as follows:

"The vines are cut back to two buds at each pruning the first two
years. If the vines are vigorous two canes are tied up at the
beginning of the third year; if scant, but one is left and this, if
the growth is extremely unfavorable, is cut back to two buds. The
canes are carried up obliquely to the upper wire when the growth
permits and are there firmly tied either with twine or fine wire, the
latter being more commonly used. The canes are also loosely tied to
the lower wire. The pruning for the fourth year consists in cutting
away all but two or three canes and a number of spurs from the arms
formed by tying up the two canes the previous year. The vine now
consists of two arms, arising from near the ground, with two or three
canes of the previous year, and several two-bud spurs at intervals
along the arms. As far as possible such canes as have arisen but a
short distance above the lower wire are selected. All the old wood
projecting beyond the last cane retained on each of the arms is cut
away. The arms of the third year are bent down from their oblique
position and are tied firmly to the lower wire, to the right and left
of the center of the vine. These are now permanent arms. The vine at
this time consists of two arms, arising from near the ground, tied to
the lower wire to the right and left of the center, and on these are
two or three canes, pruned long enough to reach to the middle wire at
least, and if possible to the upper. They are tied so that they stand
in a vertical or oblique position. Along the arms at intervals of a
few inches are spurs, consisting of two buds. If the vineyardist
maintains the arms permanently, these spurs furnish the fruiting wood
for the succeeding year.

"At the pruning for the fifth year one of the arms is cut away
entirely, close to the point of its origin. The remaining arm,
reaching from the ground to a point a few inches below the level of
the lower wire, now becomes the permanent stem. The vineyardist must
now provide for the arm cut away. This is done by the selection of a
cane, arising from the remaining arm at a point below the lower wire,
either directly, or from a spur left for the purpose. This is pruned
to reach the top wire and is tied obliquely to it. This cane at the
next pruning is tied down to the lower wire and becomes the second
arm. Then the same selection of canes and spurs is made from it as was
made at the previous pruning, and the canes are tied up as before.
However, if the grower desires to retain both arms of the preceding
year for a few years, canes that have grown from the spurs may be tied
up and provision made for the following year through further spurring.
If but a single arm is retained, it is pruned in the same way. Spurs
may be obtained from canes that have arisen from dormant buds on the
arm, or by spurring in the basal canes of the fruiting wood of the
year previous. A combination of both methods of renewal will in the
long run work out the better, as the repeated spurring in of the basal
canes will result in greatly lengthened spurs that will require
frequent cutting out. While the canes that arise directly from dormant
buds on wood two years and over are not necessarily the best fruiting
ones, they can, however, be utilized for renewal purposes.

"The ideal vine pruned to this system now consists of a stem reaching
from sixteen or eighteen inches above the ground level or a few inches
below the level of the lower wire. Such a vine is shown in Figure 16.
From the head two arms arise, one extending to the right, the other to
the left and tied along the lower wire, each arm not extending for
more than two feet and a half to either side of the head. From the
arms two canes on each are tied vertically or obliquely to the top
wire. In addition there are left two or three spurs, growing from the
upper side of each arm, located at well-spaced intervals starting
close to the head; these may be used for the renewal of the arms. The
shoots are not tied.

"One of the chief faults of the Chautauqua Arm method is the tendency
of the best matured, and most desirable canes to develop at or near
the upper wire, while those lower down are often too short, or so
poorly matured as to be unfitted for fruiting purposes. When the wood,
bearing the well-developed upper canes, is brought down for arms, a
considerable interval of the arm from the head to the point where the
canes arise is without fruiting wood. Under such conditions the growth
will be again thrown to the extremities. If spurring on the arms has
been practiced, this undesirable condition is eliminated. With either
type of renewal, spurring should be practiced. The fruit from vines
trained by this method reaches its highest development at or near the
level of the upper wire, that on the lower shoots is, as a rule, quite
inferior. This comes from the fact that the sap flow is more vigorous
at these upper points, resulting in more and healthier leaves, which,
in turn, influence the fruit for the better."

Keuka High Renewal.

Several methods of training pass under the general term "High
Renewal," the significance of which becomes apparent in the discussion
of the Keuka High Renewal method which is probably now the most common
of the several types. In most of these methods the trellis is put up
with three wires, but occasionally only two wires are used and still
less often four. The lowest wire on the three-wire trellis is eighteen
or twenty inches from the ground with twenty-inch intervals between
wires. Gladwin, who has direct charge of vineyard experimental work
about Keuka Lake for the New York Agricultural Experiment Station,
describes current practices in pruning according to this method as

"At each pruning for the first two years the vines are cut back to two
buds. However, with strong-growing varieties like Concord, Niagara and
Isabella, and under good soil conditions, the stem may be formed the
second year. With moderate-growing varieties and under average
conditions, the formation of the stem is left until the third year.
The straightest and best-matured cane is left for the purpose. This is
carried to the lower wire and there firmly tied with willow. As soon
as the shoots have made sufficient growth they are loosely tied to the
wires that they may be kept away from the tillage tools. The fourth
year the head of the vine is formed. This should stand a few inches
below the lower wire. Two canes growing from the stem near this
position are selected, one being tied to the right and the other to
the left along the lower wire. In the Keuka Lake District, the canes
are tied with willows. In addition, at least two spurs of two buds
each are retained near the head. With Concord, the canes may carry
about ten buds each, but with Catawba, as grown on the hillsides of
the Central Lakes Region of New York, the canes should not carry above
six buds each. As the shoots develop from the horizontal canes, they
are tied with rye straw to the middle and upper wires. This summer
tying is almost continuous after the shoots are long enough to reach
the middle wire.

"The following year all the wood is cut away except two or three canes
that have developed from the basal buds of the canes put up the
previous year, or that have grown from the spurs. In the event of a
third cane being retained, it is tied along the middle wire. Spurs are
again maintained close to the head for renewal purposes. The other two
canes are tied along the lower wire as before. If the same spurs are
used for a few years they become so long that the canes arising from
them reach above the wire and cannot be well managed in the
'willowing.' It is desirable to provide new spurs annually, selecting
those canes for the purpose that arise from the head of the vine or
near it. It is possible by careful pruning to so cut away the old wood
that practically all that remains after each pruning is the stem. Thus
the vine is renewed almost to the ground. When the stem approaches the
end of its usefulness, a shoot is allowed to grow from the ground, and
the old one is cut away. Figure 17 shows a vine pruned by the Keuka

"This method of training is especially well adapted to slow growing
varieties, or those situated on poor soils, where but little wood
growth is made. It is ideally adapted for the growing of Catawba on
the hillsides of Keuka Lake. It is well adapted to late-maturing
varieties planted out of their zone. Concord, growing under average
conditions, is too vigorous to be trained by this method. It makes a
tremendous growth of wood out of all proportion to the quantity of
fruit, which is inclined to be very inferior. The chief objection to
this method is the amount of summer tying involved which comes at a
time when attention to tillage should be given. It might prove
profitable in the growing of dessert varieties that have been
discarded because of lack of vigor. On thin hillside soils, Catawba
requires training modelled after this method but on the heavier upland
ones, with shorter pruning, it can be grown on the Chautauqua Arm
plan. Delaware, Iona, Dutchess, Campbell, Eumelan, Jessica, Vergennes
and Regal are, as a rule, grown to better advantage when trained by
the High Renewal method."


The only other method now in use in which the shoots may be trained
upright is that in which the canes are disposed of in fan-shape. This
method was much used a generation ago but is rapidly becoming
obsolete. In fan-training the renewals are made yearly from spurs near
the ground, and the fruiting canes are carried up obliquely and so
form a fan. The great advantage in fan-training is that a trunk is
almost dispensed with, which greatly facilitates laying down the vine
in winter where winter-protection is needed. There are several
objections to this method in commercial plantations. The chief one is
that the spurs become long, crooked and almost unmanageable so that
renewals from the root must be made frequently. Another is that the
fruit is borne close to the ground and becomes soiled with mud in
dashing rains. The vines, also, are inconvenient in shape for tying.
There are two or three modifications of fan-training which may be
described as mongrel methods between this and the High Renewal and
Horizontal Arm methods, none of which, however, is now in general

II. Shoots drooping

Quite by accident, William Kniffin, a stone mason living at
Clintondale, New York, in the Hudson River grape region, discovered
that grapes of large size and handsome appearance could be grown on
vines in which the canes were trained horizontally with the shoots
drooping. He put his discovery in practice and from it have come the
several methods of training grapes which bear his name. Kniffin's
discovery was made about 1850 and the merits of his methods spread so
rapidly over eastern America that by the end of the century the
various Kniffin methods were more generally used than any others.
Grape-growers now agree that strong-growing vines like Concord,
Niagara and Clinton are best trained to one or another of the Kniffin
methods. There are several modifications of Kniffin's method, three of
which are now in common use, the most popular being the Single-stem,
Four-cane Kniffin.

The trellis for the three methods carries two wires, the lower placed
at the height of three to three and a half feet and the upper from two
to two and a half feet above it. To permit this height of wires, the
posts must be from eight to eight and a half feet in length, and must
be firmly set with the end posts well braced.

Single-stem, Four-cane Kniffin.

As practiced at the New York Agricultural Experiment Station, the
vines are trained as follows:

One trunk is carried to the top wire the third year after planting, or
if the growth is not long enough at this time, it is carried to the
lower wire and there tied. In this case, the following year a cane is
extended to the top wire. This trunk is permanent. If the stem reaches
the upper wire the third year, growers break out many of the
developing shoots and allow only the strongest to grow, choosing those
that arise close to the wires. The stem should be tied tightly to the
top wire and somewhat loosely to the lower. If girdling results at the
top, it is not objectionable as the head of the vine should be below
rather than above the wire. When the shoots are sufficiently hardened,
those growing close to the wires should be loosely tied to prevent
injury during cultivation. At the beginning of the fourth year, as
shown in Fig. 18, the vine should consist of a stem extending from the
ground to a point below the top wire. From this, all but two canes and
two spurs of two buds each have been cut away below each wire level.
As growth is most vigorous at the top of the stem, four to six more
buds are left on the upper than on the lower canes. A vine of which
the stem reaches the upper wire the third year should support the next
season canes, aggregating twenty-two buds with eight additional buds
on the spurs. If the growth is weak, only half this number should be

The tying at this time consists of fastening the stem loosely, with
ordinary grape twine, to the lower wire, and with the same material
the canes are tied along the two wires to right and left of the stem.
The canes should be tied tightly toward the trunk so that they cannot
slip out of the twine. Ordinarily tying at this time is sufficient for
the year, but if conditions for growth are unfavorable, the twine may
rot before the tendrils take hold of the wires, and a partial second
tying may be necessary.

After the fourth season, the pruner has greater choice of
fruiting-wood for the following year. It may be chosen from the basal
canes of the preceding year's wood or the canes that develop from the
spurs may be used. The choice should depend on the accessibility and
maturity of the wood. At each pruning, the possibilities for obtaining
fruiting wood for the following year must receive consideration. It is
possible to use the same spurs for two or three years, but after this
they should be cut away and new ones retained. After the first
spurring, spurs should be selected from wood older than two years. The
shoots from such wood bear but little fruit and hence make good
fruiting canes for the next year.

Umbrella Kniffin.

Since most of the fruit on vines trained by the Four-cane Kniffin
method is borne on the two upper canes, some growers in the Hudson
River Valley dispense with the lower canes and cut the upper ones long
enough to bear the crop. In this method the trunk is brought to the
top wire and the head formed as in the Four-cane Kniffin. When the
vines are pruned at the close of the third year, two long canes are
left at the head of the vine with two renewal spurs. These long canes
are drooped over the upper wire obliquely down to the lower wire to
which they are tied just above the last bud, forming an
umbrella-shaped top as shown in Fig. 19. The renewals are made as in
the Four-cane Kniffin. This method reduces the amount of leaf surface
to the minimum, so that care must be taken to insure healthy leaf
growth. The amount of fruiting-wood put up is also reduced to the
minimum, so that the yield is low unless good cultivation is provided,
in which case, with some varieties and on some soils, the yield is up
to the average and the crop is first-class as regards size of bunch
and berry, compactness of bunch and maturity.

The Two-trunk Kniffin.

The Two-trunk Kniffin, illustrated in Fig. 20, is another modification
with the aim of securing greater fruitfulness. This method also
provides an equal number of buds on both wires. Two trunks are brought
from the root, one to the upper, the other to the lower wire. The
fruiting canes are taken off and are disposed of as in the Four-cane
Kniffin. The trunks are usually tied together to hold them in place.
This method is in restricted use in the Hudson River Valley where it
is known under the name given here and as "Double Kniffin" and
"Improved Kniffin." In experiments in training grapes at Fredonia, New
York, under the direction of the New York Experiment Station, this
method proves to be one of the poorest in growing Concords. The
grapes fall short in size of bunch and berry and do not mature as well
as under the other drooping methods of training.

The Y-trunk Kniffin.

Still another modification of the Kniffin method is one in which a
crotch or Y is made in the trunk midway between the ground and the
lower wire. The theory on which this method is founded is that sap for
the lower canes is better supplied than in a straight or continuous
trunk and that the lower canes thus become as productive as those on
the upper wire. The theory is probably wrong but is accepted by many
notwithstanding. The methods of pruning, renewing fruiting-wood and
tying are the same as in the Single-stem Kniffin, except, of course,
that each stem supports two canes and two spurs. This method was in
somewhat common use some years ago in parts of western New York but is
now disappearing.

The Munson method.

An ingenious modification of the Kniffin principle was devised by
Elbert Wakeman, Oyster Bay, Long Island, and afterwards improved and
brought into prominence by the late T. V. Munson of Denison, Texas; it
is now much used in southern vineyards. The method is described as
follows by Munson:[14]

"The posts should be of some durable strong wood, such as Bois d'Arc
(Osage), Cedar, heartwood of Catalpa, Black Locust or White Oak. The
end posts of every row should be large and strong and be set three and
one-half or four feet in the ground and well tamped. The intermediate
posts, which may be much lighter than the end posts, should be six and
one-half or seven feet long and set two to two and one-half feet in
the ground, with twenty-four feet spaces between posts, which will
take three vines, eight feet apart, or two vines twelve feet apart.
After the posts are set, a three-eighths-inch hole should be bored
through each post, four feet from the surface of the ground, in the
direction in which the row runs, leaving six inches or more of post
above the hole. These holes are for the admittance of the middle,
lower wire of the trellis.

"For each end post prepare for cross-arm, a piece of two by four hard
pine or oak, two feet long, and at one inch from either end, and one
inch from the upper side, bore a three-eighths of an inch bit-hole, or
saw into upper side half an inch, which will take less time and do as
well, to pass the lateral wires through, and in the middle of the
lower side, saw a notch one-half inch deep. For each intermediate
post, prepare a board of similar wood, two feet long, one inch thick
by four broad, and likewise bore or notch.

"Through the holes in the posts run a No. 11 galvanized wire, fasten
at one end, tighten at the other end by a wire stretcher and fasten.
This will be the middle and lower wire of the trellis, and all that
will be needed the first year, when the young vines are trained up a
string, tied from the vine (when set) to the wire, and along it. The
arms, and the two lateral wires which they bear, need not be put on
the trellis until after the vines are pruned and tied the next winter.
To put on the cross-arms, use no bolts or nails, only No. 11
galvanized wire.

"Each end cross-arm is placed inside the post, and against it on top
of the wire, already through the posts, notch-side downward,
straddling the wire, to keep it from sliding. Then take a piece of
same size wire, about seven feet long, pass one end through the
bit-hole or saw-notch, in one end of arm and fasten it by looping and
twisting about six inches of the end back upon itself, then while one
person holds the cross-arm in place, the operator carries the wire
down around the post once near the ground, staples it on each side
and brings the other end up to the opposite end of arm, puts it
through the bit-hole, or saw-notch, draws it tightly, keeping the arm
level, and fastens the end of the wire as was done the other. Wire
nippers and pliers will be needed for this work. Then take another
piece of wire about two feet long, and put it twice around the
cross-arm and the post where they come together, above the middle
wire, and firmly tie them together, crossing the wire as it goes
around. This will hold the arm in place and not weaken or split the
arm as do nails and bolts, and will be longer-lasting, quicker and
cheaper, and more elastic, so that when struck by the hames or collar
in cultivation, it gives a little, receiving no damage.

"Likewise place the cross-arms on the intermediate posts, leaving the
ends of the wire projecting about six inches after fastening, for a
purpose soon to be mentioned. Then draw the two lateral wires through
the bit-holes in the ends of the arms, or drop into the saw-notches,
if such are made, throughout the row, tighten with the wire stretcher
and fasten. Then return along each lateral wire, wrapping ends of wire
at the ends of the arms very closely and tightly around the
through-going lateral wires, as telegraph and telephone wires are
wrapped in splicing. This is quickly done with the proper pliers, and
prevents the arms from slipping out of proper position. Now the
trellis is complete, and will need little or no repairs, and looks
very neat, especially if painted.

"Pruning and training on the Munson trellis is very simple and easy
with a little instruction for a few minutes with a vine or two pruned
for example. The vine the first season is allowed to grow up on to the
middle wire by a string around which it is coiled by hand, by going
over the vineyard once or twice until the selected shoot of each vine
is upon the wire, after which it is allowed to ramble at freedom over
the wires. By getting on to the trellis the first year, one strong
shoot, and allowing no other to grow, a partial crop can be had the
second year, without damage, on all but weak growers, like Delaware,
that should not be allowed to bear until the third year. At the first
regular pruning (all prunings should be done in November or December,
after leaf fall, and never so late as to cause the vines to bleed),
the vine should be cut back to two or three buds that have reached the
middle wire, if weak growers, if strong, with heavy growth, six or
eight buds each, to two arms, one going each way along the lower wire
from where the ascending vine first touches the wire. After the vines
are thus pruned, the outer end of each arm is firmly tied to the lower
wire, along which it is gently coiled. These two ties hold the vine
firmly in place. The buds on the arms push and ascend, passing over
the lateral wires, clinging thereto with their tendrils, and hang over
like a beautiful green drapery shading the fruit and body of the vine
according to its natural habit.

"On the canopy trellis, all the summer pruning required is, to go
through the vineyard at or a few days before blooming time, and with a
light sharp butcher knife, clip off the tips of all advanced shoots to
be left for bearing, leaving two or three leaves beyond the outer
flower cluster. From the shoots near the crotch, selected for bearing
arms the next year, pick the flower clusters, and strip off or rub off
all shoots and buds that start on trunk of vine below crotch. This
latter is very important, as such shoots, if left, eat up the
nourishment of the land with no return but added work at pruning time.

"It will be found that the shoots at the ends of the arms usually
start first and strongest, and if not clipped back, will not allow the
buds back toward the crotch to start well, but if clipped, all other
desirable buds then push.

"In about six to ten days after the first clipping, a second one is
usually necessary, especially if the weather is moist and warm, and
the land rich. The first clipped shoots, as well as those not clipped
the first time, will need clipping back this time, the end buds on the
first clipped having pushed vigorously.

"At a second year's pruning and others following, the old arms with
all the bearing shoots on them are cut off down to the new arms and
the new arms cut back to lengths they can fill with fruit and well
mature. In this, critical judgment and knowledge of capabilities of
different varieties are more required in the pruner than in any other
of the training work. Some varieties, such as the Delaware, cannot
carry more than three to four arms, two feet long, while Herbemont can
more easily carry four arms each eight feet long, hence such as
Delaware should be planted eight feet or less apart, while Herbemont
and most of the Post-Oak grape hybrids, should be twelve to sixteen
feet apart. In other words, each variety should be set that distance
apart that it will fill the trellis with fruit from end to end, and
mature it well, so as to better economize space.

"By the third year, the vine should come to full bearing, and be
pruned with four bearing arms, two to go each way along the lower wire
of trellis, gently coiling around the wire, one arm in one direction,
the other in opposite direction, and should be in about equal lengths,
so that one firm tie with jute yarn, near the ends, will be all the
tying the vines will need--that is, two ties to each vine--the least
required by any trellis system, and the pruning is also simplest and
the results every way the best.

"Some of the advantages of this trellis are its cheapness, its
simplicity, bringing the work up breast-high so that pruning, tying,
harvesting, spraying, can be done in an erect position, saving back
strain; perfect distribution of light, heat and air to foliage and
fruit; shielding from sunscald and birds; giving free ventilation and
easy passage of wind through the vineyard without blowing down the
trellis or tender shoots from the vines, and allowing ready passage
from row to row, without going around, thus getting larger and better
crops at less expense and increasing length of life of vineyard and
the pleasure of taking care of it."

This method does not seem to be adapted to the needs of grapes in
northern vineyards, and in the South such weak-growing sorts as
Delaware do not thrive when so trained. Several "modified Munson
methods" are in use in the southern states, but those most commonly
employed do not depart greatly from the method here described.

III. Shoots horizontal

Hudson horizontal.

There is now in use but one method of training shoots horizontally. In
this method the trellis is made by setting posts eight or ten feet
apart and connecting them by two slats, one at the top of the posts,
the other about eighteen inches from the ground. Strands of wire are
stretched perpendicularly between the slats at ten- or twelve-inch
intervals. One cane is trained from a trunk from one to two feet high
on the trellis; it rises perpendicularly from the ground and is tied
to the top slat. The shoots push out right and left and are tied
horizontally to each wire as they reach it. The cane is usually
allowed to bear about six shoots on each side. The grapes set at the
base of the shoots so that the bunches hang one over the other, making
a pretty sight. This method is too expensive for a commercial vineyard
but is often used in gardens and for ornamental plantings. Only
weak-growing sorts, as Delaware, Iona or Diana are adapted for this
method. Delaware does remarkably well under horizontal training. The
use of slats and wires in horizontal training are often reversed. The
alternative from the method just described is to set posts sixteen or
eighteen feet apart upon which are strung two wires as for the
ordinary trellis. Perpendicular slats are then fastened to these
wires to which the shoots are tied. Two slats, fifteen inches apart,
are provided on each side of a fruiting cane, which, with the slat for
the support of the cane, give five to a vine. Or the vine may be
supported by a stake driven in the ground.

In both of these methods, a shoot must be taken out from the head of
the vine each season for the next season's fruiting-wood. This shoot
is tied to the central wire or slat and is now allowed to fruit. Thus
the vine starts each spring with a single cane. Grapes are grown under
these horizontal methods chiefly, if not only, in the Hudson River
Valley and even here they are going out of use.

Next: Training On Arbors Pergolas And As Ornamentals

Previous: Methods Of Training Grapes In Eastern America

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