As we have already said on occasion, there are two key moments in the life of the vine: one is the grape harvest – the harvesting of the fruit; the other is pruning – the reduction of the vegetative part of the plant. And it is precisely the latter that we are going to focus on.
Although there are several types of pruning, with the arrival of cold weather we begin to prepare the well-known “winter pruning”. It is done at this time of the year, when the leaves of the vine have already fallen. However, always before the new shoots come out again. Normally this work begins in mid-November. But depending on some factors -for example, the weather and frost to date- there are growers and wineries that begin this task later.
Importance of pruning
Pruning consists of cutting the branches of the vine. This is not only to give it shape, but also to improve its health – giving it the option of being able to breathe better. The season will depend on this action: the kilos harvested, the grape grades, etc. Therefore, pruning is very important in the life of a grapevine, since it achieves a good profitability.
But it is not so simple: it is not just a matter of stripping the plant of its vegetative part. It is necessary to know a few basic facts about the life of the vine. For example, the one we are going to focus on now, the fertility of the buds (that is, the number of quality bunches that a bud is capable of producing).
In addition to the visual capacity developed by the professional to know each shoot, there is a marked structure: the fertility of the buds increases as they move away from the base and up to the middle (7 or 8 buds) of the ramification. Therefore, it is necessary to prune the lower part and then reduce each shoot.
There is also a “trick” used by growers that consists of leaving what is known in the sector as a “thumb”, which is a bud of the wood, so that the new shoot will come out of it in the next season. The good thing about this action is that the thumb is already “placed” in the upper part of the vine.
Regarding the fertility of the buds, there is another aspect to take into account: the number of shoots that we leave and where. Although at first, a layman may think that pruning the vine too much is counterproductive, with time he discovers that this is not the case. For this reason, whether they are vase or trellis plantations, we always leave only two shoots – on tall vines, one on each side so that we can then tie them to the wire of the structure, which keeps the vine standing. This ensures that irrigation water and all the products that help to maintain its health and enhance its production are perfectly distributed throughout the plant.
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