grapes and rabbits

Asked April 26, 2013, 2:17 PM EDT

I have some Swensen Red table grapes that are in their third season and were well established. However, this winter rabbits have chewed much of the bark on all of my canes.

Is there hope that these canes can repair themselves with new growth around the (almost 50%) damage or should I prune them down to near the ground and start over?


Dakota County Minnesota

1 Response

Grapes are pretty resilient and can repair damage to trunks. But if your canes or trunks have almost 50% damaged, it is likely that they will not be able to fully recover. I suspect they will bud out above the damage, but my mid-summer the growth may show signs of stress. It is likely that new shoots will develop from below the damage. Those should be saved and trained up the old trunks so they can be replacements. Even if the existing trunks are able to produce and ripen a crop this year, you may want to consider replacing those trunks with the new shoots when you prune next spring. If the existing trunks die out this year, you can remove them at that time, leaving the new shoots to replace them. Now that you know rabbit damage is a concern, but sure to protect the base of the vines from damage.