Monday, April 20, 2020

Spring Pruning and Hanging Curtains

Beautiful time of year and its always a surprise to find what has happened under the snow over the winter. It reveals so many questions...what is the bud survival rate, is there any damage to vines, what trellis wires need tightening etc. etc.
This year we had 5 feet of snow on the ground in mid winter. This is the most we've ever had and with this much snow it builds up and compacts and becomes dense and heavy (ice like) and freezes to the trunk and cordons of the vine. As the snow melts at ground level and more falls on top, the trunk and cordons get pulled with the snow and ice and ripped off the fruit wires. The photo below shows a cordon arm (right side) that was pulled from the vine trunk.
So we are moving all varieties that can be trained to a top wire to the hanging curtain method. This includes Marechal Foch, Leon Millot, and Petite Millot. This will keep the canes above the snow in winter especially when we do the November preliminary pruning.  But the L'Acadie Blanc and Evangeline are not suited to a top wire, hanging curtain training style, so we will have to keep those vines as vertical shoot position style (VSP). Pruning itself doesn't take too long but pruning and retraining vines does. The photo below shows the row on the right is VSP trained and not pruned and the row on the left is now pruned and retrained to hanging curtain.
Hanging curtain is supposed to give better fruit sun exposure and is supposed to be easier to manage vine training and tucking over the summer. But in very hot areas the fruit may be prone to sun burn..We'll see how it works out this year.