Pruning Grape Plants
I started growing Concord grape plants this year. How far back should I prune them in fall? What would you suggest?
—H.R. Pust, Ventor City, New Jersey
Grapes are such vigorous growers that they need yearly pruning and training to keep the plants contained and producing an abundant crop.
Once you've established a training method, wait until late winter or early spring to start pruning. Select one or two strong canes to be your permanent trunk. Prune the other stems back to the trunk.
Next year, you'll be selecting two or four side branches (off of the trunk) to train onto the support system. These will be pruned back and anchored onto the support.
The severity of pruning should vary with the growing climate and training system used. Keep in mind that fruit produced on the current season's growth arises from last season's stems. Heavy pruning provides the best fruit, while light pruning results in poor-quality fruit. Excessive pruning, however, encourages lots of foliage and little fruiting.