I recently moved into a home that has a large old overgrown grape arbor and have had to learn how to prune grapes. Our landlord told me he’d just been pulling the dead vines off, but if you want any sort of fruit production, you need to really trim those canes back! Cutting back grape vines isn’t difficult at all, and the nice thing is you can’t really cut TOO far back. You could cut a grape vine back to a stump and the huge root system would recover within one season.
I will admit I didn’t know much about how to do this, but I thought I would post a video that was particularly helpful to me in learning the proper way to prune grapes. One thing of note is that there are two ways to prune grapes – cane pruning, where you leave a few long canes with 8-10 nodes on them, or spur pruning where you pretty much prune them all the way back.
The type of pruning that is best depends on the grape variety. In my case, I have three different vines of unknown type, so I opted for doing mostly spur pruning and left a few canes on each vine. This year I will see which produces fruit, and then I will know!
So you want to see my project? Here’s what I started with. You can see it is so heavily overgrown that it’s attacking neighboring trees! That’s not gonna fly under my watch!
The “after” photo. As you can see, I’ve trimmed most of it back to a cordon. I still do need to trim more back, but I wanted to take it in steps and I’ll watch it this year to see which cordon ends up being the best to keep. That, and I don’t want to panic my landlord with heavyhanded grapes pruning
Here are the remnants – a huge pile of canes. Some of them are really good ones so I will be sorting through and trimming them for cuttings. I can sell them locally and also get lots of grape starts to plant at our property!
So I hope this gives you a little bit of a start if you are trying to figure out how to prune grapes, especially on an old overgrown arbor!