Cane pruning vs Spur pruning

During our travels we often get asked the same question by growers who are used to spur pruning:

Why would you want to cane prune? It’s too expensive if you ask me!
So here is a list of 5 compelling reasons why we choose to cane prune ourselves and advocate cane pruning as a more profitable and sustainable pruning system for grape growers..

These answers are based on a combination of science and practical school of hard knocks that comes with being a grape growers in a cool climate. 

With the KLIMA pruning system the cost of cane pruning is virtually the same as spur pruning without the need to budget for those expensive vine reworking costs.

The fruitfulness of your buds (the size and number of flowers on your shoots) is largely predetermined in the pervious growing season when the buds “initiate”.  Conventional wisdom says that: Initiation happens around flowering the previous year.  However this is not exactly the case, our view is that each bud on a single cane is initiated at a different time and date.  The first buds may initiate in say November, working up the cane the next few may be December, January, February March etc. 

This initiation timing spread of the buds along a 10-12 bud can mitigates your risk of low temperatures during the initiation of bud positions.
By laying a 10-12 bud cane on the wire containing buds that initiated at different times of the previous growing season you spread your risk of low fruitfulness that can and does happen on individual bud positions. 

A spur pruned vine only contains bud positions 1&2 which increases you risk of low and small flower numbers.

The buds on a cane pruned vine don’t all burst at exactly the same time in exactly the same way.  Early in the spring it’s not unusual to have individual buds on a cane pruned vine at different growth stages ;eg leaves unfolded, some green tips visible and some at woolly bud all on the same cane

.  A spring frost event affects different growth stages; - woolly bud vs green leaves in different ways.  This built-in growth stage variation during a spring frost can be enough to turn a 90% wipe out into a 50% wipeout.  Spur pruned and uniformed bud burst may look nice until it all gets frosted in one event because it’s so uniform.

The same in-built growth stage variation continues through to flowering.  Your exposure to the poor weather at flowering is mitigated by cane pruning as every shoot on the vine won’t flower at the same time on the same day. This provides you with a larger flowering window and less likelihood of a low crop resulting from one week of cold weather over flowering.

In our experience Cane pruning (if done correctly) provides you with reliable sustainable yields year in year out.  Don’t get me wrong there will be ups and downs as mother nature makes the rules in our game.  However Cane pruning can be an effective tool to even out the humps and hollows and in turn keeps you in business.

If you would like to learn more about the advantages of cane pruning, or anything about the KLIMA system please visit us at #28 at Wine Tech 2015 in Adelaide next week.  Looking forward to seeing you there... 

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