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.

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