With 20 students undertaking the Heartbreak Grape course at Dromana Estate we had plenty of hands to undertake the pruning of our 400 vines.
We Cane prune our vines. A laborious method that takes twice as long as the alternate Spur pruning. Cane pruning is the best type of pruning the cooler maritime climate of Mornington Peninsula but requires both more time and greater skill than spur pruning.
With Cane pruning the, 2-year-old cordon is removed, and a new 1-year-old cane is laid down along the fruiting wire. Canes that are thicker than a pencil, but not too thick are preferred with spacing between the buds of about 10cm.
Occasionally there will be vines where the crown has risen above the fruiting wire. Here we sometimes make the decision to cut the trunk back below the wire so that it will better structured for coming years.
We prune after the leaves have all fallen and the vine has shut down after Autumn, with carbohydrates stored in the trunk and roots. Avoid wet weather either during or just after pruning as this can cause or spread disease in the trunk of the vine.
Work done during pruning can manage crop size and reduce congestion in the vine.
For vineyards it is one of the most expensive labour tasks, but well done set the vines up to perform well not just in the coming vintage but also the following years.