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Spur Pruning of Grapevines

Spur pruning is the simplest pruning technique and is easy to learn. It is discussed here for fully trained grapevines. Please peruse the information under Training for 1st to 3rd year first!

Spur pruning is suitable for many grape varieties, although it often fails in older varieties or very vigorous, young plants. They will produce abundant foliage but no fruit, because the buds close to the stem have no fruiting buds. In this case the spurs need to be pruned slightly longer, ie with 3 - 5 eyes, or else change to Rod Pruning


The following diagrams illustrate the training and pruning based on a selected side shoot position over several years. Spaced approx. 25 - 50cm apart are numerous other side shoot positions arising from the trained main stems (Diagram 00). Within the frame (red) the stem wood (dark brown) in the left bottom corner grows obliquely. The spur pruning described below is not influenced by that, and the diagrams also apply to vertical or horizontal stems.


The diagrams in the column to the left illustrate the side shoot position after leaf fall in winter, and Pre- Pruning of the old wood (dark brown). These canes have been summer pruned, otherwise they would be much longer now. Each cane produced approx. 1 - 2 grape bunches in summer. The diagrams in the central column depict the pruning of the fruiting canes into the wood from the previous year (ochre); the diagrams in the column to the right show the results.

"Spur" with 2 buds at bud break in spring.
Spur-pruning a grapevine
Diagram 00: Vine trained into fan form, the framed section is enlarged in the following diagrams, outline and buds of the observed cane are accentuated.
Sketch of spur-pruning

Beginning 4th Year

Diagram 01: A new, well lignified side shoot on a young vine (Diagram 00), or, on an older vine growing along a façade, this could also be a water shoot.
Diagram 02: Trimming back to 2 eyes; a third, dormant eye may also sprout at the axil, ie at the transition of the light coloured and the dark brown wood.
Diagram 03: The formed spur. Usually it is cut about 1 - 2cm beyond the last eye, to prevent the bud from drying out (only the extra stub will dry out).

Beginning 5th Year

Diagram 04: The most important principle in spur pruning: the shoot positioned further away from the main stem is cut off completely including about 5mm of the old wood (pre-pruning back into the dark brown old wood). This way, the side shoot position - which is gradually becoming gnarled over the years - remains close to the main stem, and its life span is extended. If a third shoot has grown from the axil, then the upper two of the three light coloured shoots are completely removed.
Diagram 05: The remaining, near-stem shoot (ochre) will be used as fruiting cane in the following year, hence it is cut back to a spur with 2 eyes. An approx. 2cm long stub is retained between the last eye and the cut.
Diagram 06: The finished spur. Its direction is not important: it can face down or up.

Beginning 6th Year

Diagram 07: Pre-pruning of the cane situated further away from the stem ie it is removed completely.
Diagram 08: Pruning the remaining cane to a spur with 2 eyes, ie "fruit cane pruning."
Diagram 09: The finished spur on the side shoot position.

Beginning 7th Year

Diagram 10: Pre-pruning of the cane situated further away from the stem ie it is removed completely.
Diagram 11: Pruning the cane to a spur with 2 eyes, ie "fruit cane pruning."
Diagram 12: The finished spur on side shoot position.