40 year old grape vine, need help with cutting it back.

Kyle Roudabush

So I have this grape vine that has been here at this house before my grandpa owned the house, I been told by my mom that it was part of a vineyard.

It has been producing fruit but it hasn't been pruned or maintained at all from what my mom has been telling me.

This year I want to rebuild the trellis completely and cut back the grape vine. I been reading that if I have a over grown grape vine I could cut it down to nearly the ground and it would regrow. As you see I have too many main trunks and they all split. I would like to only have one main trunk and grow it either straight up or spiral around a post and into the new trellis.

How should I go about with this particular grape vine?

Do I keep cutting one trunk down until it stops growing or try to merge them after they grow a bit?

I'm really lost in what course of action I should take.

Comments (2)
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Sorry for the late response.

You can cut it back pretty much to the ground and start new trunks from the 'suckers' that will grow from the stump.

Depending on your climate one or two main trunks is all you need. If there is risk of winter injury, (like around here) I'd keep two trunks that way you have a spare. The vine can then be tied up to the trellis, grapes don't twists around things they hang on with tendrils, we call them 'curlers'.

Since it's now July, most of the new shoot growth is slowing down. So, my advice isn't going to be a lot of help for this year.

What, if anything, did you do this year? An established grapevine is pretty hard to kill :) so it's hard to make a terminal mistake.

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"I been reading that if I have a over grown grape vine I could cut it down to nearly the ground and it would regrow."

What variety is it? Where are you located?

Regardless of the variety, if it's been grafted onto rootstock, cutting below the graft union will remove the wood that produces the fruit you enjoy. Nobody wantsberries from riparia x rupestris.

Pruning during dormancy is optimal and I suggest waiting until late winter. Not only is it better for the vine, but pruning when there are no leaves makes it much easier to see what you're working with.

Like FarmerBill said, "spare parts" training is a good idea, so keeping a single new shoot each spring will help offset the delay should the main trunk(s) not survive the winter. One or two main trunks and a spare is fine and will help keep the vine in better balance. Too much vegetation comes at the cost of lower fruit yield just as cropping to heavily is equally unbalanced.


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