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Spur Pruning of Grapevines

Spur pruning ('short pruning') is the simplest pruning technique and is easy to learn. The description here is for fully trained grapevines. Please refer to the information under Training for 1st - 3rd year grapevines 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, i.e., with 3 - 5 eyes; otherwise, switch 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 shoots arising from the trained main stems (Diagram 00). Within the frame (red), the stem wood (dark brown) in the left bottom corner grows diagonally. 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 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 budburst 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 accentuated.
Sketch of spur-pruning

Beginning of the 4th Year

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

Beginning of the 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 - 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 a fruiting cane in the following year; thus, it is cut back to a spur with 2 eyes. An approx. 2cm long stub is kept between the last eye and the cut.
Diagram 06: The finished spur. Its direction is not important-- it can face up or down.

Beginning of the 6th Year

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

Beginning of the 7th Year

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