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The Trellis

The trellis is a considerable item in the grape-grower's budget, since
it must be renewed every fifteen years or thereabouts. Wires are
strung in the North at the end of the second season after planting,
but in the South the growth is often so great that the wires must be
put up at the end of the first season. Trellises are of the same
general style for commercial vineyards; namely, two or three wires
tautly stretched on firmly set posts. Occasionally slat trellises are
put up in gardens but these are not to be recommended for any but
ornamental purposes.


Strong, durable posts of chestnut, locust, cedar, oak or reenforced
cement are placed at such distance apart that two or three vines can
be set between each two posts. The distance apart depends on the
distance between vines, although the tendency now is to have three
vines between two posts. The posts are from six to eight feet in
length, the heaviest being used as end posts. In hard stony soils it
may be necessary to set the end posts with a spade, but usually
sharpened posts can be driven into holes made with a crowbar. In
driving, the operator stands on a wagon hauled by a horse and uses a
ten- or twelve-pound maul. The posts are driven to a depth of eighteen
or twenty-four inches for the end posts. However set, the posts must
stand firm to hold the load of vines and fruit. The end posts must be
braced. As good a brace as any is made from a four-by-four timber,
notched to fit the post halfway up from the ground, and extending
obliquely to the ground, where it is held by a four-by-four stake. A
two-wire trellis and a common method of bracing end posts are shown in
Fig. 15. The posts on hillsides must lean slightly up-hill, otherwise
they will almost certainly sooner or later tilt down the slope. The
posts are usually permitted to stand a little higher at first than
necessary so that they may be driven down should occasion call;
driving is usually done in the early spring.


Wire for the trellis.

Four sizes of wire are in common use for vineyard trellises; nos. 9,
10, 11 and 12. Number 9, the heaviest, is often used for the top wire
with lighter wires lower. The following figures show the length of
wire in a ton:

No. 9, 34,483 ft.
No. 10, 41,408 ft.
No. 11, 52,352 ft.
No. 12, 68,493 ft.

From these figures the number of pounds required to the acre is easily
calculated. Common annealed wire makes a durable trellis, but many
growers prefer the more durable galvanized wire, the cost of which is
slightly greater. The wires are fastened to the end posts by winding
once around the post, and then each wire is firmly looped about
itself; they are secured to the intervening posts by ordinary fence
staples so driven that the wire cannot pull through of its own weight
but with space enough to permit tightening from season to season. The
size and length of the staples depend on whether the posts are hard or
soft wood. The longest and largest staples are used with soft woods,
as cedar or chestnut. An acre requires from nine to twelve pounds of
staples. The wires should be placed on the windward sides of posts and
on the up-hill side in hillside vineyards. The distance between wires
depends on the method of pruning.

The wires must be stretched taut on the posts, for which purpose any
one of a half-dozen good wire stretchers may be purchased at hardware
stores. Some growers loosen the wires after harvest to allow for the
contraction in cold weather and others use some one of several devices
to relieve the strain. Most growers, however, find it necessary to go
over the vineyard each spring to drive down loosened posts and stretch
sagging wires, and so take no precautions to release wires in the
fall. All agree that the wires must be kept tight during the growing
season to protect buds, foliage and fruit from being injured from


The canes are tied to the trellis in early spring, and under most
systems of pruning the growing shoots are tied in the summer. This
work is done by cheap men, women, boys and girls. A great variety of
material is used to make the tie, as raffia, wooltwine, willow, inner
bark of the linden or basswood, green rye straw, corn husks,
carpet-rags and wire. The same materials are not usually employed for
both canes and shoots, since the canes are tied firmly to hold them
steady and the work is done early before there is danger of breaking
swelling buds, while the summer shoots are tied to hold for a shorter
time and more loosely to permit growth in diameter. Tying usually
follows accepted patterns in one region but varies greatly in
different regions. There is a knack to be learned in the use of each
one of the materials named, but with none is it difficult, and an
ingenious person can easily contrive a tie of his own to suit fancy or

Next: Methods Of Training Grapes In Eastern America

Previous: The Work Of Pruning

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