How the heck do you trellis grapes?

I’ve watched 100s of videos and read 100s of university extension guides, and I still can’t wrap my mind around it. Many videos just skip many details and make a million assumptions. Is there a grape growing for dummies guide?

I don’t know where to start. Does anyone relate? Point me to any video and I’ll tell you why it’s confusing.

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You don’t need a video. Don’t make it complicated. Prune in the winter by cutting the vines as this picture shows.:

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Many people here can help knock down confusion, but detailed info from you will help. What variety, on what rootstock, where are you, what is the soil, etc.

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Ok, we’ll start with that picture. I see you have two horizontal wires and you will grow four canes along them.

Questions (starting from the biggest)

  1. Those cane will produce shoots; where will those shoots be oriented and how will they be supported? Do they just hang down? If so, wouldn’t the shoots on the lower level canes hang down and crawl on the ground? And where will the shoots from the top level canes go? Will they hang down and overlap with the lower level canes and their shoots?
  2. Are you doing cane pruning on this or spur pruning? If you are doing cane pruning, you select a shoot growing from each cane to be net years cane; but how do you reposition a cane horizontally once they’ve hardened off after the winter wen you do your late winter pruning? Wouldn’t it snap as you’re trying to reposition it along the horizontal wires? And what if you’re not doing cane pruning - say you’re doing spur pruning; each year the size of your spurs grow because your new spurs come as an extension of your old spurs. Why is this not a problem?
  3. How much space do you give between the lower level and the top level canes - the middle space between the image.
  4. How tall is the lower level hanging wires?
  5. Do shoots from canes grow in a single line? Or will they develop suckers like tomato plants? Will the node from where those suckers grew out of no longer produce a shoot next season? If they do, why? Because it seems to me that those shoots (suckers) went ahead and grew out this year rather than next year.

I’m in Georgia; variety is unknown; it’s not a rootstock; the soil is clay but has become fertile.

Pierce’s disease is going to be the biggest problem anywhere in Georgia for most bunchgrapes. Maybe not the first year. Probably in 4-5 years. It is devastating. Some varieties have resistance but your best bet is muscadines.

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You can’t protect them with good old Sevin spray (God’s gift to man)? Because I assume they’re spread by insects.

Pierce’s disease is spread by sharpshooters. You would not be able to keep Sevin on the vines enough to prevent them from becoming infected.

I had table grapevines (Reliance, Jupiter and Swenson Red) for 5 years and Pierce’s Disease (confirmed by my county extension office) weakened the vines to the point that I just yanked them. I still have 2 Concord vines but they too may eventually succumb to Pierce’s. In the meantime, I am transitioning to muscadines.

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Interesting knowledge. Thanks for the info. I have those type of insects on all my plants, trees, and vegetables. I see them all the time.

In the meantime, I’m going to continue to try to figure out how to trellis a grapevine. Who knows, I might end up in the north one day.

There are new Pierce’s resistant varieties that have been released by UC Davis but they’re all wine grapes. Maybe table grapes will be in the next round. UC Davis releases 5 grape varieties resistant to Pierce’s disease - Food Blog - ANR Blogs

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Its not difficult.

I have used the single wire Geneva system but have since gone to the Geneva Double Curtain.

I’m just a backyard grower so I’m not so concerned about specifics. Just trying to provide the vines with plenty of sunlight while keeping everything off the ground so that I can mow underneath. Spur pruning works well for me.

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This is a nice, short video.


See I watched that video and thought it’s the worst video on earth. Why? He’s drawn the shoots growing up. What does that mean? Do the shoots suspend in the air? See you can’t be leaving out details like that. If I’m heading out to work in my garden, I would need to know what the heck is going on. I can’t go with half complete information. Why would this guy expect me know what’s going on and fill in the gaps?

You can see the shoots growing up into the trellis in the first minute of video. I don’t understand what is left out? It might help to pause the 100s of videos and observe?

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The illustration he drew has the shoots going up suspended in air. Do shoots suspend in air? I’m genuinely wondering. My current grapevine’s (which I haven’t trellised yet) shoots flop over. So why aren’t mine sticking up in the air like that?

EDIT: I’m also confused about his last part where he said something about the fist and not breaking the new cane that we want to lay down.

In the vertical shoot positioning system growers use catch wires to help keep the vines upright. Catch wires are high tensile wire that can be slightly higher gauge (smaller diameter) than the fruiting wire upon which you tie the canes. Those catch wires fit into clips or notches on the line posts. As the vine grows you move the catch wires to a higher notch to follow their growth. Ideally, the vines grab the wires with their tendrils at just the right time so that when you move the wires you don’t break the tendrils.

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Oh cool I understand now. Thank you. Yea my grapevines have a tendency to grow up. I’m going to go ahead and trellis one like you explained. So any idea about the distance between the catch wire and the fruiting wire? What about the fruiting wire’s height from the ground? Is there any suggestions you can make based on your experience?

if you are in georgia, you may consider muscadine grapes. there’s a lot of varieties and they are native to the southeast… they love heat and humidity.

Muscadines are not really affected by Pierce’s disease - in fact, they do not have major disease issues.

36"-44" is the recommended height of the fruiting wire. As for the catch wire (or catch wires if more than one is needed), my guess is that distances between wires would be dependent on the vigor of your grapevine. On an extremely vigorous variety such as Niagara the shoots would always outrun your catch wires! On an average vigor vine my guess is that around 10" would be about right.

From what I remember, muscadines don’t really have a lot of flavor. They’re bland and big and boring. Big fruits are usually less tasty for some weird reason. Am I remembering that wrong?