This work is essential -- especially if dispensing with the "summer pruning" -- in order to implement the intended training of the vine. Knowledge of the respective pruning system (spur, rod or cane pruning) is also imperative to ensure correct shoot thinning.
The following shoots are thinned:
- absolutely all water shoots, i.e., unwanted shoots arising from the old fibrous wood of the stem (Image 02 "stem cleaning"), unless they are used for the development of the main structure
- any other infertile shoots without visible inflorescences, which emerge from the pruned fruiting cane (spur, rod or cane / arched cane). However, for the following winter pruning, at least one new shoot close to the trunk must remain at each respective shoot position.
- if there are two or several shoots growing from one bud, the strongest one (with inflorescences) is kept; all others are removed. Many varieties have a tendency to produce several shoots from each shoot position, resembling a "hedgehog back," especially when spur pruned. This will be corrected by shoot thinning.
Shoot thinning is carried out when the new shoots have reached a length of approx. 10-30 cm, i.e., at a time in spring when the whole vine is still easily manageable for the layperson. The shoots are either rubbed off by applying some lateral pressure (Image 03), or grasped at their base and pulled off. If necessary, shoot thinning can still be carried out in summer; however, due to the beginning lignification, the shoots usually have to be cut off with a sharp knife instead of being pulled/broken off.