The decision about which pruning strategy to use is very important. Initial clean pruning may be an option, to be followed later by short pruning. Alternatively these may be combined into one action, or one could even opt for hedge pruning followed by clean and short pruning in one go. This may impact on the canopy management to be applied, as well as bud fertility and therefore yield.

The following photos were taken in the same block that was used for a pruning trial:

PHOTO 1. This grapevine underwent clean pruning followed by short pruning at a later stage (approximately four weeks later). Note the number of water shoots.

PHOTO 2. This grapevine was subjected to clean and short pruning in one action. Note that there are far fewer water shoots than in Photo 1. In the case of hedge pruning followed by clean and short pruning in one action, there will also be few water shoots.

PHOTO 3. This vineyard first underwent clean pruning followed by short pruning at a later stage (approximately four weeks later). Note the dense canopy. A lot of suckering is required, and if this does not take place, fertility will be compromised and more pruning will be required the following winter.

PHOTO 4. This vineyard underwent clean and short pruning in one action. The grapevines on Photos 3 and 4 underwent short pruning on the same day. Note that the grapevines on this photo do not have dense canopies at all. The same result is obtained when starting off with hedge pruning, followed by clean and short pruning in one action. Considerably less suckering and pruning will be required in winter. The canopy is better aerated and receives more light, which improves fertility and facilitates disease control.

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Photo 1.

Photo 2. Photo 3. Photo 4.

 

Summary

It is good practice to do clean and short pruning in one action, especially when grapevines will not be suckered. Considerably fewer water shoots are obtained. Canopies are better aerated and receive more light. Less suckering is required and there will be less pruning the following winter. Labour is reduced and fertility and quality improved. If the objective is to spread out labour across the season, first implement hedge pruning, followed by clean and short pruning in one action. Note that it is not wrong to do an initial clean pruning followed by final pruning, but accept that more suckering will be required. If suckering does not take place, canopies will be dense and a lot of pruning will be required the following winter.

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