Smart vineyard: shaping on a trellis or arbor

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In the previous article, we decided that forming a grape bush is easy – the main thing is to understand the basic principles. In this article, we will continue the conversation and find out how to form young bushes on a trellis or on a gazebo, and how to give the bush a load to obtain an optimal harvest..

Smart vineyard: shaping on a trellis or arbor

Today, in many vineyards, it is customary to grow bushes using a horizontal low formation on trellises, which is quite convenient and easy to care for, such bushes are easy to cover for the winter. However, it should be noted that low trellises have a number of significant disadvantages, due to which they are used less and less often. Firstly, it is the proximity to the soil, due to which the grape bushes suffer from weeds, receive less sunlight and are poorly ventilated. Secondly, practice shows that a bush formed in this way is characterized by poor winter hardiness, more often suffers from mildew and fruit rot and requires constant care in summer. Therefore, taking into account all the above-described disadvantages, experienced growers today form young bushes using high booms and wide aisles. Let’s see what the advantages of this technique are and how to properly form a young bush using high trellises or a gazebo.

The main advantages of high-stem bushes

Experts, studying the history of the development of viticulture, say that the vineyards of ancient times were not low. The level of formation began to decrease already in the days of deep plowing, which led to the loss of potassium reserves by the soil. And this, in turn, affected the winter hardiness of the bushes – the grapes began to tolerate frosts poorly, so it was necessary to cover it for the winter, and this is more convenient to do if the bushes are located close to the ground.

However, such a formation is contrary to the nature of the grapes, in principle, therefore, it negatively affects its condition. Experienced growers, having studied the issue, proposed another technique that allows the bushes to grow in accordance with their nature. And this formation quickly justified itself – the harvest doubled, and the production cost significantly decreased.

Growing grapes on a stem

The essence of the high-standard formation is as follows: the bush is a single horizontal branch located at a height of about 1.3-1.5 meters. Between bushes – 1.5 meters, and between rows – 3.5 meters. Let’s find out the main advantages of this vineyard arrangement technique:

  1. At a height of 1.5 meters, it is a little warmer, so the grapes tolerate lower temperatures better and can not be sheltered for the winter, and if the variety has low winter hardiness, then you can simply wrap such grapes with foil or paper right on the trellis.
  2. Young shoots and brushes do not touch the soil at this height. This protects them from mildew infection and decay. And yet, in this case, shoots do not need to be tied up. In addition, at this height, the bushes are well ventilated and receive the maximum amount of sunlight, the soil dries out better under them. This means that there will be no outbreaks of fungal diseases. Having formed the grapes in this way, you can limit yourself to one or two treatments per year, and disease-resistant varieties can not be sprayed at all.
  3. It is much more convenient to work with high-standard bushes – no need to bend over, because the grapes will be located at the level of your chest.

When forming high-standard bushes, it is important to observe the following rule – the width of the row spacing should be one and a half times greater than the height of the trellis (if the height is 2.2 meters, then at least 3.5 meters should be left between the rows). It is this width that allows the shoots and brushes to hang freely on the sides and at the same time do not experience a lack of sunlight, which means that your bushes will always be well developed, healthy, frost-resistant, and will give stable high yields. In addition, with such a row spacing, it can be used for growing other plants, which is especially important if you have a small plot of land. We talked about what crops can be planted next to grapes in the article “Smart Vineyard: How to Plant Grapes Correctly”.

We form a high-stem bush correctly

So, we have a well-rooted seedling growing in our school – how to root grapes, we told in the article “Smart vineyard: rooting without problems”. In the first year, he will grow a shoot, which will become the basis of the bush. By the fall, this shoot can grow 1–2 meters, depending on conditions. When transplanting, it must be cut very shortly – by 2-3 buds. If this is not done, then in the spring all the buds will begin to grow, new shoots and leaves will be thrown out, and there will not be a well-developed root system yet, as a result of which the bush will experience a strong lack of moisture and may dry out (Figure 1).

Forming grapes on a trellisfig. 1

In the middle of spring of next year, we plant a cut off twig in a permanent place, from which several shoots will grow during the summer. The upper shoot is the strongest, we leave it as a base, the others should not be completely removed either (the more leaves, the faster a powerful root system will develop). But to strengthen the upper leader, the lateral shoots will need to be pinched over the second to fifth leaf (Figure 2).

Forming grapes on a trellisfig. 2

Thus, by the fall of the second year, we will get the first vine, the length of which should be 1.5–2 meters. We cut this vine to the level of the first wire and cover it for the winter (Figure 3).

Forming grapes on a trellisfig. 3

In the spring of next year, we begin vertical formation – near the seedling we stick a wooden lath or a piece of reinforcement into the soil and tie it to the lower wire, then we tie our vine to this lath. If your grape variety is not frost-resistant and requires shelter for the winter, then the rail, and, accordingly, the seedling is given a slope. Further, during the summer, we fix the shoots growing from the top of the bush on the wire, while we do not pinch or pinch anything – the bush will gain strength and develop well. At this time, we remove only the shoots growing from the bottom.

In the fall, we will have 5–6 vines that have grown from a subsoil knot. Cut the twig again, leaving a couple of buds on the lower vine, and bend the strongest of the upper vines and tie it to the lower wire at a height of 1.4–1.5 meters above the ground. We get the base of the bush, its skeleton, on which our heads and knots will form in the future every year (Figure 4). How to properly shape the head, we understood in the article “Smart Vineyard: Forming and Pruning”.

Forming grapes on a trellis fig. 4

In the third year, our head will give the first harvest and will overgrow with new shoots, which should not be broken out either. By autumn, we will get about a dozen new vines, from which we will further form the required number of heads. At the same time, one should not forget that if the volume of the trellis is small, then the load of the bush should be doubled every year, that is, if there were 9 eyes, then we leave no more than 18.

Some growers, when renewing heads, use the following rule – the number of eyes on the vine should not exceed its thickness in millimeters. The usual thickness of normally developed vines can be from 7 to 10 mm, which means that the same number of eyes should be left on such vines..

So, the basic principle is clear. Further, after mastering the theory, it would be nice to consolidate all this knowledge in practice. If possible, visit the vineyards of your friends or neighbors in the country and take a close look at them to see everything that you have already read.

In addition to forming on trellises, there is a technique for growing grapes on arbors, such a formation is distinguished by its unpretentiousness and simplicity.

Grapes on the gazebo

It is even easier to grow a grape bush on a gazebo than on a trellis. In this case, the grape first grows upward, which is its natural state. There is a lot of space, and there is no need to restrain growth. The main formation when growing on an arbor will be reduced to growing heads every one and a half meters of a bush in height and width.

Grape gazebo

Practice shows that bushes grown on a gazebo are usually three times stronger, and can carry a huge load, compared to the same variety formed on a trellis – the main thing is to provide the bush with sunlight and free space.

Given that it will be problematic to cover the bushes formed on the gazebo for the winter, it is thus better to grow frost-resistant varieties – Moldova, Lydia, Isabella, Kesha, Vostorg, December and others.

Grapes on a pergola

However, growing vines on a gazebo has some disadvantages:

  • As already noted, it will not work to grow grapes that require shelter for the winter..
  • The design of the gazebo, as a rule, is irrational for such purposes – the walls are vertical, and the roof is located high enough. It is simply inconvenient to work with such grapes; additional devices are required, a ladder, for example.
  • Some people mistakenly believe that grapes on the gazebo do not need to be formed at all. As a result, the bush very quickly goes up under the roof, forming impassable bushes, and, as a rule, there are very few side branches. After one or two years, it will be very difficult to deal with such grapes, and due to the difficulties in forming, many gardeners simply cut it off into branches. Because of this, winter hardiness is lost and the quality and quantity of the crop deteriorates..

In order to avoid all these difficulties, it is recommended to grow grapes on specially designed arbors – inclined. An inclined gazebo is easier to build, and much less material goes to it.

Inclined arbor for grapes

The slope should be 45 degrees, with a slope to the southeast, south, or southwest, so the grapes will receive more sunlight. Vines grow better on sloping walls than on horizontal ones. It is convenient to work with such grapes, it can be sheltered for the winter without any problems. The fact is that it is not necessary to tie up the vines on an inclined arbor, they themselves cling to the support with their antennae. For insulation, you just need to pull off the grapes from the structure and cover with the available material. We will talk in more detail about preparing grape bushes for winter in the next article..

In addition, a tilted gazebo gives much more shade than an ordinary one, and it looks very cozy..

How to give the bushes the right load

Experienced growers unanimously say that only a normal load will allow you to get the maximum possible amount of harvest, and the bush will not hurt, it will winter well and develop. What is the right load and why is it so important?

Pruned to the very branches, underused grape bushes yield very little yield, but only drive out powerful shoots and juicy leaves. Overloaded bushes give many small bunches, while they get very sick and develop poorly, and some vines die at the first frost.

Ripe grapes on a branch

In practice, experienced craftsmen have developed norms that must be adhered to when shaping to ensure the correct load on the bush:

  1. On a high-stemmed trellis bush with a distance between the bushes of two meters and a row spacing of 3–3.5 meters after the autumn pruning, it is necessary to leave 30–40 eyes on three or four heads.
  2. The grapes on the gazebo can carry 3-4 times more load, depending on the availability of free space. Up to 160 eyes can be left on such bushes in autumn..

The total load of each individual bush is calculated using the formula – multiply the number of strong vines by 3 and add the number of medium vines multiplied by 2.

It should be noted that different varieties can handle congestion in different ways. Calmly they include Rapture, Moldova, Kesha 1 and Kesha 2, Romulus and others. But Muromets, Kishmish, Dekabrsky, under heavy load, produce small sour berries, and the next year they need a mandatory rest. How to choose the right grape variety for your conditions, we told in the article “Smart vineyard: the basics of the basics”.

Adjusting the size of the brushes

Adhering to simple rules, you can adjust the size of the brushes, depending on the desire and need. To get large brushes you need:

  1. Remove half of the brushes of the future harvest at the pea stage – the rest will gain their mass, and the yield will not decrease, but its quality will improve.
  2. Water and feed the bushes correctly, without this there will be no large brushes. We will talk in more detail about the technology of watering and feeding in the following articles..
  3. Remove all vines that are thinner than a pencil, and leave the brushes on half of the strongest shoots.
  4. Do not artificially pollinate the brushes.
  5. A lot of foliage should be left over ripening clusters..

Young vine

If you wish to have regular sized brushes, leave one on each normal shoot. In this case, the bunches will be larger, and their size will be smaller..

If you need a maximum of brushes, and their size is not important, this is usually true for wine varieties, you must:

  1. Do not limit the space – let the grape bush grow as long as there is room, the more vines, the more brushes.
  2. Leave the vines for 10-20 eyes, while a twig is required for each vine.
  3. Vines thinner than a pencil are best removed.

A large number of grape clusters

So, we figured out how to form a high-stemmed bush from a rooted cutting on a trellis or on a gazebo, we found out the advantages of these technologies. Now the choice is yours – everything here will depend on the desire and available opportunities. It is important not only to make the heads correctly, but also to give the bushes the right load, then, following simple rules, it will be possible to adjust the size and number of brushes as you wish. In the next article, we’ll talk about how to properly prepare grapes for winter. To be continued…

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