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the first three years

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year one

The primary purpose of the first year’s growth is to build the vine’s root system. 



*To achieve this, it is important to develop as much leaf area as possible.

*We recommend that 3-6 shoots be allowed to grow during the first year.

*Multiple shoots will create more canopy, quicker than 1 or 2 shoots can.

*Multiple shoots tend to produce smaller, more winter hardy canes.



If you are growing in a region that does not experience freezing conditions during the winter (below 30 degrees Fahrenheit), then the small/thinner canes are not as important, but if you are likely to experience temperatures in the 20’s or lower, then multiple shoots will help decrease winter injury.




 A trellis provides support wires for your grow tubes and new shoots.


*Shoots that are on the ground are at a high risk for mildew, mechanical injury, and making weed management very difficult.

*Training your shoots on the trellis will also start the process of trunk and vine structure.  

*It is important to install your trellis system early in the first season. 


Trunk and Vine Development:



*If you intend on utilizing a vertically trained canopy, you will want two of your shoots to grow up to and along the fruiting wire (the wire where the canes or arms of the vine are attached, and are usually between 30 and 40 inches off the ground).

*The remaining shoots should be spread out over the remaining trellis.

*If you are planning on a high wire system, train two of the shoots to grow straight up to the top wire. If they do not reach the top by the end of the season, that is fine, you have achieved part of the distance. The rest can be easily accomplished the second year.


Remove the fruit after bloom (end of June-July) so that the energy of the vine goes to shoot and root development.




All grape varieties requires some protection from mildew.



*Hybrids require less than Vinifera, but still should be sprayed every year that the vines are grown, even years when there is no crop.

*For best results, consult your local Cooperative Extension for guidelines for your region.


*If you are unable to find spray guidelines, Cornell University and Penn State have put together a “Pest Management Guidelines for Grapes” that is updated each year and is applicable for virtually all regions east of the Rockies.


*This guideline is intended to give basic instructions for new vineyard care. For regionally specific information or more detail, contact your area’s Cooperative Extension office or University. 

Fall: Remove the grow tubes.

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year two

The emphasis in year two is on trunk development.




-In late winter/early spring, establish your trunks by selecting the best two shoots and prune the rest off.


*If you are in a region that experiences temperatures below 30 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter, retain one or two, two bud spurs at the base vine to provide future trunk renewal shoots.

*If you choose to remove all shoots that come up from the base of the vines, you will not have shoots available to start the trunk renewal process should you ever need to do so.




  • Once the risk of any frost has past, the protective hill of soil around your vines should be removed.



For grafted vines, this is necessary to prevent scion rooting. Scion roots create two potential problems:

1.) If scion roots are strong, a young vine may drop the use of the rootstock, defeating the purpose of planting grafted vines.

2.) Frequently the roots of the scion variety are susceptible to attack by nematodes, especially the Dagger Nematode.

3)If the scion is left unchecked, this can leave the vine susceptible to transfer of Tomato or Tobacco Ring Spot virus, by the nematode from weeds to the vine.

*In the second year, one will usually leave 6 to 8 shoots per trunk, depending on vine size. If your vines are in a very low vigor site, you might need to reduce this number to 3 to 4.



-Spray your vines for mildew control.


*It is recommended to remove all of the fruit during the second year. This is to put the vine’s energy into vine development increasing the likelihood of a full crop by the end of the fourth year.

*If you are in a highly vigorous site, or have a very vigorous variety, you may want to leave one cluster of fruit per shoot to help keep the vine’s vigor in check.




-Although your vines are much more mature, it is still important to protect them from cold.



*If you are in a region that can experience temperatures that fall below 30 degrees Fahrenheit, "Hilling Up" the base of the vine is advisable, not only during the second winter, but also the third.


*If you are in a region that falls below 10 degrees Fahrenheit, it is advisable to "Hill Up" your Vitis Vinifera varieties every winter and hybrids for the first three winters.

*If you think that you can stop hilling up your vines, check with an experienced local grower, Cooperative Extension, the local University/College, or with us to see if it is advisable.

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year three



 Pruning is normally done in late winter when you can check to see if you have experienced any winter injury.


*Leaving more buds is advisable if you have bud injury.

*You will have the ability to start the trunk renewal process in the event of trunk injury.

*This is done by retaining one or more of the shoot/canes that grew up from the base.


This year should allow you to leave 20 to 30 buds/vine, depending upon vigor and vine spacing.




With the exception of very vigorous vines, the crop should be reduced to one cluster per shoot to continue the process of vine development.


*Under normal conditions, this will be the last year for crop reductions, with the exception of varieties that require crop “thinning” every year.


Don’t forget to spray your vines for mildew control.

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