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Monday, December 29, 2014

Delay Pruning Grapes Until Very Cold is Past

Q. I usually prune my grapes when I do the roses but would like to get a jump on it this year. Will I do them any harm if I prune them now (December)?

A. You can do it but I worry a little bit about possible freezing damage if these are winter tender grapes and desiccation. Some grapes are less cold hardy than others. For instance, Thompson seedless has some wine grape heritage (vinifera) and tends to be less cold hardy than some other table types.

I have noticed in our desert climate that we can also get winter desiccation (drying out) in windy locations. Those grapes which are pruned to spurs usually leave only one or two buds which means the spur may only be one half inch long after pruning. If we lose this half inch of growth from winter cold or desiccation, then we have lost our crop for the season.

I usually delay it until almost the first week in March when buds are starting to swell. By delaying it I can prune out the dead wood that occurs during the cold winter months and focus on the stuff that is still alive. I would wait.

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