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Bending and Tying Grapevines

After Cane Pruning the fruit canes on a wall espalier or in the vineyard usually point upwards in an oblique direction. They cannot be used that way, because in this position only the uppermost buds would develop optimally (Image 01). Here you will find out how these canes are tied either into a horizontal position or bent into arches. Tying of the stem wood is also discussed.


Bending and tying requires some dexterity so as not to break the canes. We strongly advise that you practise bending thoroughly with the canes removed by pre-pruning!  It is not necessary to do the cane bending at the time of pruning, but is best done a little later and preferably in damp weather when the canes are more supple. Occasionally it is necessary to take a somewhat "stubborn" cane into both hands and bend or "massage" it bit by bit - you will hear some "crunching" noises - before it can be bent and tied into the desired position. When forming a very flat arch, the cane will also have to be twisted firmly around its own axis to get it into the desired position without splintering. 


If at all possible, the cane should always be bent towards its original axis (Image 05). Bending it away from its axis may cause the cane to break off at its base. To prevent  this from happening, slightly twist the canes while bending... The yearly pruned off useless shoots offer the best opportunity to practise your bending skills, without risking any losses!


The fruiting canes are either bent into very shallow arches ("Flachbogen"), semi-circles ("Halbbogen") (Image 04) or full circles ("Ganzbogen"), depending among others on the make of the trellis system. Details can be found under Training


Tying is also required during the training of the stem framework: all arms and shoots are evenly distributed along the wire ropes or lattice and tied to these. Best to use Elastic Tie or Rubber Band to prevent constriction. For very strong stems use Velcro Tape or Bandage. Always tie the wood at the front of the espalier, never behind: the girth growth of the canes may force the construction apart.

Image 03: Vertical cordon in a vineyard, two side shoot positions with an arched cane and a replacement spur. The spur near the shoot position to the right is located below on the original first eye, while a stub can be seen near the second eye: here the cane was pruned off because it could not be bent downwards. Instead, the cane of the third eye was used and tied as an arch.
Arched cane pruning
Image 04: Vines in a residential garden, the one in the foreground already tied as a semi-circle.
Image 01: Small vine with a single side shoot position after "cane pruning,"here the cane will be tied as a very "flat arch."
Pruning grapevine
Image 02: A fruiting cane is bent over the wire and tied as semi-circle.
Bending canes in arches
Image 05: Usually, bending the cane towards the original axis (grey dashed line) is unproblematic. However, bending the cane away from the axis (lower picture area) requires simultaneous twisting and delicate handling to prevent it from breaking.
Bending grapevine