Treatment Of The Vine The Third Season

At the commencement of the third season, we find our vine pruned to two

spurs of two eyes each, and four lateral canes, of from four to six

eyes each. These are tied firmly to the trellis as shown in Figure 12,

for which purpose small twigs of willows (especially the golden willow,

of which every grape-grower should plant a supply) are the most

convenient. The ground is ploughed and hoed deeply, as described

before, taking care, however, not to plough so deep as to cut or tear

the roots of the vine.

Our vines being tied, ploughed, and hoed, we come to one of the most

important and delicate operations to be performed; one of as

great--nay, greater--importance than pruning. I mean summer-pruning, or

pinching, _i.e._ thumb or finger pruning. Fall-pruning, or cutting

back, is but the beginning of the discipline under which we intend to

keep our vines; summer-pruning is the continuation, and one is useless,

and cannot be followed systematically without the other.

Let us look at our vine well, before we begin, and commence near the

ground. The time to perform the first summer-pruning is when the young

shoots are about six to eight inches long, and when you can see plainly

all the small bunches or buttons--the embryo fruit. We commence on the

lower two spurs, having two buds each. From these two shoots have

started. One of them we intend for a bearing cane next summer;

therefore allow it to grow unchecked for the present, tying it, if long

enough, to the lowest wire. The other, which we intend for a spur again

next fall, we pinch with thumb and finger to just beyond the last bunch

or button, taking out the leader between the last bunch and the next

leaf, as shown in Figure 11, the cross line indicating where the leader

is to be pinched off. We now come to the next spur, on the opposite

side, where we also leave one cane to grow unchecked, and pinch off the

other. We now go over all the shoots coming from the arms or laterals

tied to the trellis, and also pinch them beyond the last bunch. Should

any of the buds have pushed out two shoots, we rub off the weakest; we

also take off all barren or weak shoots. If any of them are not

sufficiently developed we pass them over, and go over the vines again,

in a few days after the first pinching.

This early pinching of the shoot has a tendency to throw all the vigor

into the development of the young bunch, and the leaves remaining on

the shoot, which now grow with astonishing rapidity. It is a gentle

checking, and leading the sap into other channels; not the violent

process which is often followed long after the bloom, when the wood has

become so hardened that it must be cut with a knife, and by which the

plant is robbed of a large quantity of its leaves, to the injury of

both fruit and vine. Let any of my readers, who wish to satisfy

themselves, summer-prune a vine, according to the method described

here, and leave the next vine until after the bloom, and he will

plainly perceive the difference. The merit of first having practised

this method here, which I consider one of vast importance in

grape-culture, belongs to Mr. WILLIAM POESCHEL, of this place, who was

led to do so, by observing the rapid development of the young bunches

on a shoot which had accidentally been broken beyond the last bunch.

Now, there is hardly an intelligent grape-grower here, who does not

follow it; and I think it has added more than one-third to the quantity

and quality of my crop. It also gives a chance to destroy the small,

white worm, a species of leaf-folder, which is very troublesome just at

this time, eating the young fruit and leaves, and which makes its web

among the tender leaves at the end of the shoot.

The bearing branches having all been pinched back, we can leave our

vines alone until after the bloom, only tying up the young canes from

the spurs, should it become necessary. But do not tie them over the

bearing canes, but lead them to the empty space on both sides of the

vine; as our object must be to give the fruit all the air and light we


By the time the grapes have bloomed, the laterals will have pushed from

the axils of the leaves on the bearing shoots. Now go over these again,

and pinch each lateral back to one leaf, as shown in Figure 12. This

will make the leaf which remains grow and expand rapidly, serving at

the same time as a conductor of sap to the young bunch opposite, and

shading it when it becomes fully developed. The canes from the spurs,

which we left unchecked, and which we design to bear fruit the next

season, may now also be stopped or pinched, when they are about three

feet long, to start their laterals into stronger growth. Pinch off all

the tendrils; this is a very busy time for the vine-dresser, and upon

his close attendance and diligence now, depends, in a great measure,

the value of his crop. Besides, "a stitch in time saves nine," and he

can save an incredible amount of labor by doing everything at the

proper time.

In a short time, the laterals on the fruit-bearing branches which have

been pinched will throw out suckers again. These are stopped again,

leaving one leaf of the young growth. Leave the laterals on the canes

intended for next years' fruiting to grow unchecked, tying them neatly

with bass, or pawpaw bark, or with rye straw.

This is about all that is necessary for this summer, except an

occasional tying up of a fruiting branch, should its burden become more

than it can bear. But the majority of the branches will be able to

sustain their fruit without tying, and the young growth which may yet

start from the laterals may be left unchecked, as it will serve to

shade the fruit when ripening. Of course, the soil must be kept clean

and mellow, as in the former summer. This short pruning is also a

partial preventative against mildew and rot, and the last extremely wet

season has again shown the importance of letting in light and air to

all parts of the vine; as those vineyards, where a strict system of

early summer pruning had been followed, did not suffer half as much

from rot and mildew as those where the old slovenly method still


My readers will perceive, that Fall-pruning, or shortening-in the

ripened wood of the vine, and summer-pruning, shortening in and

thinning out the young growth, have one and all the same object in

view, namely, to keep the vine within proper bounds, and concentrate

all its energies for a two-fold object, namely, the production and

ripening of the most perfect fruit, and the production of strong,

healthy wood for the coming season's crop. Both operations are, in

fact, only different parts of one and the same system, of which

summer-pruning is the preparatory, and fall pruning the finishing part.

If we think that a vine is setting more fruit than it is able to bear

and ripen perfectly, we have it in our power to thin it, by taking away

all imperfect bunches, and feeble shoots. We should allow no more wood

to grow than we need for next season's bearing; if we allow three canes

to grow where only two are needed, we waste the energies of the vine,

which should all be concentrated upon ripening its fruit in the most

perfect condition, and producing the necessary wood for next season's

bearing, and that of the best and most vigorous quality, but no more.

If we prune the vine too long, we over-tax its energies; making it bear

more fruit than it can perfect, and the result will be poor,

badly-ripened fruit, and small and imperfect wood. If, on the contrary,

we prune the vine too short, we will have a rank, excessive growth of

wood and leaves, and encourage rot and mildew. Only practice and

experience will teach us the exact medium, and the observing vintner

will soon find out where he has been wrong, better than he can be

taught by a hundred pages of elaborate advice. Different varieties will

require different treatment, and it would be foolishness to suppose

that two varieties so entirely different, as for instance, the Concord

and the Delaware, could be pruned, trained and pinched in the same

manner. The first, being a rank and vigorous grower, with long joints,

will require much longer pruning than the latter, which is a

slow-growing, short-jointed vine. Some varieties, the Taylor for

instance, also the Norton, will fruit better if pruned to spurs on old

wood, than on the young canes; it will therefore be the best policy for

the vintner in pruning these, to retain the old arms or canes, pruning

all the healthy, strong shoots they have to two buds, as long as the

old arms remain healthy; always, however, growing a young cane to fall

back upon, should the old arm become diseased; whereas, the Catawba and

Delaware, being only moderate growers, will flourish and bear best when

pruned short, and to a cane of last season's growth. The Concord and

Herbemont, again, will bear best on the laterals of last season's

growth, and should be trained accordingly. Therefore it is, because

only a few of the common laborers will take the pains to think and

observe closely, that we find among them but few good vine-dressers.

At the end of this season, we find our Concords or Herbemonts, with the

old fruit-bearing cane, and a spur on each side, from which have grown

two canes; one of which was stopped, like all other fruit-bearing

branches, and which we now prune to a spur of two eyes; and another,

which was stopped at about three feet, and on which the laterals were

allowed to grow unchecked. We therefore have one of these canes, with

its laterals, on each side of the vine. These laterals are now pruned

precisely as the last season, each being cut back to from four to six

eyes, and the old cane, which has borne fruit, is cut away altogether.

With Norton's Virginia, Taylor, and some others, which will bear more

readily on spurs from old wood, the old cane is retained, provided the

shoots on it are sound and healthy, with well developed buds; the weak

ones are cut away altogether, and the others cut back to two eyes each.

One of the canes is pruned, as in the Concord, to be tied to one side

of the trellis, the next spring. This closes our summer and fall

pruning for the third year. Of the gathering of the fruit, as well for

market as for wine, I shall speak in another chapter.

Treatment Of The Vine The Second Summer Union Village facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail