Like many growers in Hardiness zone 3-4, the primary and secondary buds on my...

Asked June 27, 2014, 12:04 PM EDT

Like many growers in Hardiness zone 3-4, the primary and secondary buds on my vines froze the winter of 2013-14. Tertiary buds have begun to break (early June)and the vines are slowly trying to recover. My question is...Is it OK to prune away (seemingly unproductive) vine that does not produce bud growth during the summer so the plant doesn't struggle to feed it. It is damaged, but not dead. Will it repair itself for the future? How should I proceed to best prepare for next year's crop. I am not expecting cropload this year. Thank you very much

Otter Tail County Minnesota

3 Responses

I think you are correct in assuming this is a result of our cold winter. My 10 year old grape vine is a good 10-15 feet shorter than last year at this time.

You can safely trim back any dead wood now. You won't get fruit this year on any new growth but you can begin to encourage any new vines by judicially pruning live growth to a healthy bud. Remember that new growth is very fragile and will snap off in a heavy wind, or with incautious handling.

It's been my experience that just about all new growth will set fruit next year (on the woodier growth), so you may choose to retain the already growing vines and train them up on the wire rather than trying to encourage brand new ones.

I hope this is helpful. Please contact AaE again if you have further questions.

Thank you for this advice. My pruning question is thus. The areas of my vine NOT producing buds are still green in the phloem, however the buds have frozen and not produced new chutes. Should I feel free to prune these areas back as well because these will "never" produce new chutes?

You may certainly prune these areas of the vine back now. I understand that you are concerned about the plant having to expend resources to these "sterile" vines, but as long as they are green and growing they will eventually produce buds next year. They may end up being longer vines than you want to deal with however, so in the interest of managing the plant, cutting them back now is ok.

Your vines will probably send out new shoots in response to that pruning. Again, I would caution you to treat them tenderly because they will be fragile until they develop their woody skin.

Don't wait too long to do this pruning, however. The new growth needs to harden off before the cold weather sets in.

Thanks for your questions.