Methods for pruning the vine

When to do it

The best time to prune the vine, as with many fruit trees, is late autumn or mid-winter. When the plant, at the end of the harvest period, slows down its life cycle and loses all the foliage due to the cold, the grower can proceed with this delicate operation which, otherwise, would cause serious damage to the plant since pruning must be almost total. At the end of the process, each plant remains completely bare of vegetation and with the branches reduced to a minimum. This operation requires a lot of patience, constant attention and a certain manual skill given by the habit of carrying out certain work in the countryside. The fact that everything must be done in winter and that it is a very long job contributes to making it particularly tiring.

The instruments

In the past, pruning was done with a very sharp sickle. It must be said, however, that this was done in a fairly arbitrary way, based on one’s past experiences which, at times, were distorted by not exactly good years. Furthermore, the sickle technique tended to ruin the plants. Having to perform the cut with a sharp blow, in fact, it happened to fail and have to try again, thus causing some damage to the plant and, even worse, risking to ruin the buds because the plant was shaken abruptly by the blow. Nowadays pruning is practiced with special scissors, sturdy, heavy and some, the most advanced, are equipped with an electric motor connected to batteries that replaces the muscular strength in the cutting operation.

Type of pruning

Starting from the assumption that each species of vine needs its own particular pruning, in general we can say that all the variants follow a single guideline: the fact, that is, that the vine generates fruit in the shoots of one year, while those more old produce only foliage. The difference in treatment of the different species consists precisely in leaving more or less buds in each new branch. This gives life and different ways of cultivating individual species and explains why some lend themselves better to particular types of farming: espalier, sapling, pergola, etc. The type of pruning will also vary according to the climate and the health of the vineyard: generally if a plant is not in good health, we try to prune as drastically as possible

Methods for pruning the vine: The technique

The pruning technique involves the drastic elimination of almost all the shoots. Of the new branches that have grown continuously, of the old ones, only one for each is saved, the others must be cut at the base, taking care to make the cut as flat as possible with respect to the old branch: do not leave protrusions that could give rise to an anomalous “scarring” that would give rise to problems and above all the cut must be clean. Regarding the shoots saved, they too must be cut quite drastically, but to the extent that they can generate new vegetation and fruit for the following year. Generally 3 or 4 gems are counted, starting from the base, and a clean cut is made just above the node where the last gem is placed.

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