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


The Grapery The Vineyard And Its Management facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail