Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A question about training young muscadine vines to a pergola

I have just become the coordinator for our school garden.  At the entrance is a pergola with a muscadine vine planted at each post.  They have been growing for 3-4 years.  At this point they are bushy, sprawling outward from posts, 3-4 feet tall, leafed out with tiny grapes already.  I am unsure if they have every been pruned.  It seems to me that they are too bushy at the entrance somewhat blocking the pathway.  I have never grown muscadines myself though I have picked them at grower's places.  I do not know how to proceed to help train them up the post and hopefully thin them at bottom? Move them?  Any advice or direction to instructions that would pertain to this particular type of situation would be helpful.

I'm assuming you want to grow them up the post.

At each post, sort through the tangle and select the longest vine. That will be your main trunk. Prune off all other vines from the main trunk. Tie the main trunk to the post with some 1" wide plastic tape. Train the main trunk to grow up the post by tying it as it grows upward. If the tape gets tight, cut it off and tie again loosely. It's not too late to prune. You'll probably lose some of the small grapes, but that's okay because the vine is too young to bear anyway. If allowed to bear, it will slow the upward growth process.

During the summer, new sprouts may grow along the trunk. Prune them off. You can simply rub them off if they are soft and young enough.

John Marshall