February is the month to drag ourselves out of holiday mode and gear up for vineyard work. Except for watering the vines, installing the drip irrigation for our next 5 acres and building the basement expansion of our house, we have had the winter off! But, no more!
Pruning the vineyard is the first work in the new year which involves everybody. But thankfully, we don’t start off hand pruning!
As you can see in the picture above, there are a lot of dormant canes and tendrils that must be cut and pulled from the wires. Doing 27 acres of that by hand would be a lot of time and work. So when we bought our Pellenc 4560 multipurpose vineyard machine, we also bought a pre-pruner.
Here you can see the pre-pruner coming down the row.
It rides over the row of grape vines with the two stacks of cutting disks on either side of the posts and wires. The wires that hold the canopy of canes pass in between the cutting disks without being snipped. The Pellenc pre-pruner works like a set of hand clippers cutting through the vine wood rather than high speed saw blades. Even though there are not wood chips and vine chunks flying (as in the action picture below), the resulting cut is much easier on the vines.
Here you can see the dramatic difference pre-pruning make on a row of grapevines.
And again, a vine before the pre-pruner does its job:
Now the after photo – the same vine as above!
The pre-pruner is adjusted as it goes down the row to cut the canes off at the desired length. We shoot for cutting about 6-8 inches above the cordon wire. This length allows us to choose a more productive replacement arm as needed.
John pre-prunes seven rows at a time, ~2 acres. Then everyone takes a row and does the finishing pruning. But, more on that later.