Bending and Tying Grapevines

After cane pruning, the fruit canes on a wall espalier or in the vineyard tend to point upwards in a diagonal/slanted 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 the canes which have already been removed! It is not necessary to bend the canes at the time of pruning; it 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 in 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 bow (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 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... again, 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 ('flat arches'), semi-circles ('half arches,' Image 04) or full circles ('full arches'), depending on the make of the trellis system. A detailed description can be found under training.


Tying is also required during the training of the stem framework: all arms and shoots should be evenly distributed along the wire ropes or lattice and tied to these. It is best to use elastic cord or soft rubber binder to prevent constriction of the vine. For very strong stems, use velcro or heavy duty rubber strip/band. Always tie the wood at the front of the espalier, never behind: the girth growth of the canes may force the construction apart.