Formative pruning of grapes for beginners: schemes, features, standard forms

There are dozens of options for the formation of grape bushes: fan, azmana, unsupported, gazebo, sleeveless, square-nested, Kakheti, etc. Many schemes are known and have been used since ancient times. For example, the formation of malgari is still mentioned by ancient authors. In recent centuries, the French have set the tone; it is in their provinces that grapes are grown for famous alcoholic drinks. The author of the most popular trim is Jules Guillot. With his method, it is recommended that all beginners begin, and the most suitable season for the main pruning is autumn.

On the origin of the cropping scheme with a knot of substitution

Those winegrowers who speak out negatively about forming with a knot of substitution, saying that this is the last century, have been doing wrong since the Soviet 50s. Jules Guillot, a French physician and physicist who was fond of grape growing and winemaking, suggested this pruning. His book "Vine Culture and Vinification", which outlines the still-popular essence of pruning, was published in 1860. So, opponents of this technology are mistaken for about a century.

Guyot abstract scheme: in the center is a fruit link (a knot of substitution plus a fruit arrow); the same fruit link on the left, but in the summer (the arrow was tilted, the knot of substitution turned out to be lower), the same vine in the autumn on the right, after pruning it will again become the fruit link, as in the center

Perhaps the Guyot formation is outdated, more progressive methods have appeared. They say that the Chablis scheme is popular in France today. She began to practice and Russian gardeners. But there is very little information about pruning Chablis, it can be understood, only professionals can think of and apply it somewhere. It is better for beginners to start with an already proven scheme, about which there are many reviews, videos and recommendations. And when the basics are mastered, you can move on to more modern and fashionable. Personally, after reading many articles and watching a video on this topic, cutting Guyot still seems complicated. Perhaps the final understanding comes with practice when I myself grow a fruiting vineyard from my annual seedlings.

Video: fanless knotless replacement, a variation of the Chablis method

Features pruning grapes in autumn and spring

Formative pruning can be done in spring and autumn, when there are no leaves on the vine, that is, before buds open or after leaf fall. The choice of season for this event is made taking into account the unpredictability of winter. No one knows exactly what she will be, how her grapes will survive. Therefore, there are two very useful recommendations:

  1. Do the final, corrective pruning in the spring, when the state of the vines is already visible: how much they froze, are damaged by mice or are completely preserved.
  2. Do the main pruning in the fall, but with a small margin. For example, you want to form in 2 sleeves, leave 3-4 shoots for this, you need to cut to 5-7 buds, leave 8-10. Cut the excess shoots in the spring, and remove the kidneys or shorten the vines to the desired.

An important rule: you can not cut during sap flow, when the leaves are already blooming and growing. The vines are very “cry” and can dry completely.

Grapevine crying due to incomplete pruning

Some more useful tips from professional winegrowers:

  • Cut the shoots from the main branch not into a ring, like a tree, but into a stump 1.5–2 cm high.
  • If you shorten the shoot by 2-3 kidneys, then there will be no berries on it. The fact is that the first 3-4 buds from the main branch or stem are laid back in June, when there is not enough heat for the formation of flower buds.
  • Leave for fructification an shoot growing farther (higher) from the base of the bush, and the knot of substitution should always be located below the fruiting arrow. The bush of grapes gives all the power to distant buds. If you have a knot of substitution located above the fruit arrow, then all the juices will go to its development. Powerful tops will grow, and the fruit arrow will be frail and barren.
  • It does not matter where the replacement knot is directed: up, down, or sideways. However, annually try to trim the knot so that it "looks" in the same direction as last year, for example, only down or only up. It is believed that if every year you make slices from different sides of the sleeve, then sap flow may be disturbed. The nutrition of shoots and bunches will be weak, which will affect yield.

Sleeves are a perennial part of grapes. If we draw an analogy with a tree, then these are skeletal (main) branches. Every year, fruit links are formed on the sleeves from the shoots of last year. According to Guyot, the fruit link is a long vine (arrow) and a short knot of substitution. 5-10 buds are left on the fruit arrow, shoots with berries will grow from them. The knot of substitution is cut shortly, for 2-3 buds, so sterile shoots grow on it to form the fruit link of the next year.

Cutting grapes in autumn according to the Guyot scheme (covering form)

The fruit link, the knot of substitution plus the arrow, is the main element of Guyot’s scheme. It is called a brick, with which you can create different forms, because the grape bushes are grown in one, two, three, four sleeves. Their number depends on the variety and climatic conditions.

After fruiting, the vine is cut into a fruit link: at the top there is a knot of substitution, at the bottom there is a fruit arrow

When buying seedlings, try to learn more about the variety. Each has its own characteristics of the formation. For example, Early Violet is grown in 4 sleeves, leaving up to 7 buds on each vine, and Anniversary of Novocherkassk in 2 sleeves with 8-10 buds on them. The total number of buds left on the fruit shooters usually does not exceed 20–30, in the northern regions or on young and dwarf bushes, they should be less, in the southern regions on powerful varieties - more. If they form in 2 sleeves, then up to 10-15 kidneys are left on each arrow, 5-7 kidneys in 4 sleeves.

The Guillot system can be applied to any variety with a different number of sleeves. The main thing is to understand the principle of creating and placing fruit links. Therefore, we take as the basis the simplest grape formation in 1-2 sleeves with one fruit link on each.

First year after planting

Guyot's covering form implies the formation of grapes without a stem, so that it is possible to bend the vines and fill them up with winter earth, straw, reeds and other materials. Therefore, when planting, plant the seedlings to the first shoot, that is, the entire stem should be underground, and the vines should be located directly above it. It is even better to plant cuttings at an angle, with an inclination in the direction where you plan to plant vines in the fall.

To create a stamp-free form, the seedlings are buried so that the nearest branch is almost near the ground

In the first year after planting, one long shoot will grow by autumn. To create a fruit link from it, you need only 2 kidneys. So, you need to count two buds from the base and cut off the rest of the long part, but this can be done in the spring. In the fall, cut with a margin - over 3-4 buds. After a successful wintering, leave only the top two, remove the rest. All subsequent years, do not forget to do the final rationing of the kidneys every spring.

On the left, pruning a bush with one shoot, on the right - with two

If you bought a seedling with two shoots, then grow both and cut them symmetrically. In the future you will have a bush with two sleeves. Another option: shape your seedling like a two year old bush. Fruiting will begin a year earlier.

Formation of a two-year bush

Of the two remaining buds over the summer, two shoots will grow. In the autumn, remembering the tips of the experienced, the upper one needs to be cut off like a fruit arrow, and the lower one, which is closer to the base of the bush, like a replacement knot. A knot of substitution is always cut into 2 buds, in the fall - with a margin. The fruit arrow on 2-3-year-old bushes is usually shortened to 6 buds.

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Two-year-old seedling after pruning, the first fruit link has already been formed - the knot of substitution plus the fruit arrow

Forming pruning of a three-year bush

The most exciting time is coming, the first bunches of grapes should appear on your seedlings. In the spring of the third year, tie up the fruit arrow (vine) horizontally. Fruitful shoots will start to grow from the buds on it, tie them up and guide them along the trellis vertically upwards. Two shoots will also grow on the knot of substitution, but barren. In the fall, after leaf fall, again grasp the pruning shears.

Grapes bush for 3 years, barren shoots are shown by strokes, but they will bear fruit next year

In the third year, you are offered several options for further trimming:

  1. Trim the entire fruit arrow to a knot of substitution, 2 cm away from it. From two shoots on the knot of substitution, again form the fruit link, as on a two-year-old seedling. As a result, you will have the simplest one-sleeve uniform with one fruit link.
  2. Shorten, not cut off the whole fruit arrow, leaving on it the two shoots closest to the base. A two-sleeve form is formed, that is, two shoots on the arrow and two on the knot of substitution. Trim them symmetrically, as on a two-year-old seedling: those closest to the base - to knots of substitution, distant - to the fruit arrow.
  3. Every year the bush will offer you spinning tops - shoots growing from the root or the stem. You can use them to create additional sleeves or to replace old, sick, broken, frozen, etc. Cut them into 2 kidneys and grow a knot of replacement and arrow.

Two sleeves are formed from a shortened fruit arrow and shoots grown from a replacement knot; each sleeve (shoulder) ends with a fruit link

The main thing in pruning grapes is your iron nerves. Over the summer, lush green mass will increase. All of it will have to be cut to the desired number of kidneys. I know for myself how pathetic it is to shred plants grown with love. I live in Siberia and for the first time last year planted two grape cuttings. All summer I was happy how the shoots grew wildly, cling tendrils to supports, entwine them. Waved under 2 meters. And imagine, all this must be cut to two kidneys from the ground! But I did not cut in the fall. She laid everything that had grown on the ground, she covered it with branches, covering material, and film. In the spring I will see how my grapes survived the winter, and begin to form. If you regret and leave more than recommended by the masters, then savages with many shoots will grow, the berries will be small and sour.

Video: Formation in 4 sleeves with a knot of substitution

Pruning in the fall of the fourth year and later

In the fourth year, you will already have a fruiting bush that needs to be cut, according to the recommendations for a particular variety. Two shoots should still grow on the knots of substitution, and the fruit shoots, depending on the variety and number of sleeves, leave the required length. Having understood how to create one fruit link, you will be able to form bushes in 2–4 sleeves.

Three buds are sometimes left on the substitution knot and three shoots are grown: one is the next year's substitution knot and two fruitful arrows. This link is called reinforced. However, the number of buds on each of the two arrows should be less than if you were growing a fruit link with one arrow. Or make fewer sleeves. After all, the number of shoots and bunches for one bush during any formation should remain constant.

Fruit links: a - a simple link with one arrow (2), b - a reinforced link with two arrows (2); the number 1 marks the knots of substitution

Over the years, each sleeve (shoulder) will lengthen and thicken. When he reaches the neighboring bushes, it becomes a cause of thickening, you need to cut the entire sleeve to a stump, and to replace it, from the top, grow a new one. There may be other reasons for replacing the sleeve: outdated, become barren, broke, badly damaged by diseases, etc. By gradually replacing the old sleeves, you can completely rejuvenate the bush.

Video: what to do if you got a plot with an old vine

Vine growers say that the owners of four-year-old bushes are no longer newcomers, but professionals. The basics are studied, in practice you will already see how the vine grows, where clusters are formed, in which part of the sleeve the most fruitful shoots, etc. In skillful hands, grapes give the first fruits in the second year. Of course, this should be facilitated by weather conditions and the characteristics of the variety.

More complex form: 2 sleeves and 4 fruit links, created in two years

Highly grape forming for beginners

It is believed that the standard formation is relevant only for the southern regions, in the territories of industrial viticulture, where the vines for the winter do not bend and cover. However, there are gardeners who have learned to lay on the ground and such forms of grapes. The principle of link formation is the same - with a knot of substitution, but the bases of the vines are not located near the earth itself, but high above it. The average height of the stem is 0.8–1.2 m, and for varieties and hybrids with high growth forces - 1.8 m. That is, the trunk is grown to this height, all buds are removed from it, only the upper ones are left. Of course, appropriate props, stakes or trellises are needed.

The stem grapes are formed in two sleeves, each with three fruit links

Pruning one-sleeve standard grapes with the ability to cover for the winter

This form is well suited for a small area where you want to experience many varieties. Bushes can be planted at a distance of 50 cm from each other. In addition, the scheme is easy to understand and can become the basis for other standard forms.

  • The first year after planting. In the fall, cut the seedling into 3 buds. In the spring, remove the bottom two, and from the top, grow a vertical shoot, tie it to the stake.
  • Second year. In the autumn, shorten the shoot to the desired length. In the spring, remove all the buds, leave only the top two.
  • Third year. By the fall, two shoots will grow and mature. One cut into a knot of substitution, the other into a fruit arrow. Tie the fruit vine horizontally to the trellis, as in a stampless form.
  • Fourth year. Cut the whole fruit vine into a stump, from two shoots on the knot of substitution form a new fruit link.

Video: the simplest pruning of grapes in autumn in pictures

The first years of this formation of the shaft will be flexible, it is easy to remove it from the support and lay it on the ground. When it becomes thick and unbending, grow a shoot from the shoot to replace it. In the southern regions, you can not remove the grapes from the supports and do not cover. But there is always the risk of an extreme winter, so frugal amateur gardeners often acquire a spare young shoot, which is laid on the ground and covered in autumn. If the bush survived the winter well, the spare vine was not useful, it is cut to a knot of substitution and a new young shoot is grown. In other words, it is not necessary to remove all buds and shoots from zero, leaving only the upper uncovered to winter. So you risk losing the whole bush.

Not only severe frosts, but also freezing rains are dangerous for grapes. The vines are covered with a thick layer of ice, while on weight, they can break. In addition, water penetrates under the scales of the kidneys, there it freezes, turns into crystals and destroys them from the inside.

Professional formation scheme: the bushes differ in the height of the boles, the sleeves are on different tiers, each consists of several fruit units

The formation of standard forms differs from standard-free cultivation only in the first year, when instead of two buds, one is left for growing the trunk. Otherwise, everything is done according to the Guyot system or any other. Stamp formation with one obvious drawback (it is inconvenient to shelter for the winter), has several advantages:

  • The land is used twice as efficiently as bushes can be planted more often - 50–70 cm between bushes instead of 1–1.5 m.
  • No need to tie up fruitful shoots vertically, they hang freely down. This means that labor costs are reduced, simpler trellises are used.
  • The ripening of the berries improves, since the leaves are less densely arranged, the shoots are not fixed, swaying in the wind.
  • It is convenient to grow in areas where herbivores have access to the vineyards.
  • The leaf cover is located a meter from the ground and above, which facilitates the fight against weeds.
  • The higher the leaves and bunches from the ground, the less chance of the appearance of fungal diseases.

Pruning grapes in the fall, on the one hand, only complicates the work. In the spring, you still have to adjust the number of kidneys. On the other hand, a pruned vine is easier to lay on the ground and shelter from frost. Indeed, on fruiting bushes grows up to 40 shoots. All this mass will require a lot of strength, space and covering material for shelter. And one-two-year-old seedlings can be given wintering as a whole. It’s better to use the well-known and popular scheme for forming, having gained experience, you can improvise and choose your own.


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