The methods of pruning established vines admit of much diversity, as the plants are in different situations. Without reckoning the cutting down of young or weak plants alternately to the lowermost summer shoot, which is but a temporary course, three different systems of pruning are adopted.
The first is applicable only to vines out of doors, but it may be transferred to plants in a vinery without any capital alteration. In this method one perpendicular leader is trained from the stem' at the side of which, to the right and left, the ramifications spring. Soon after the growing season has commenced, such rising shoots as are either in fruit or fit to be retained, or are eligibly placed for mother-bearers next season, are laid in either horizontally, or with a slight diagonal rise at something less than a foot distance, measuring from one bearing shoot to the next. The rising shoots, intended to form young wood should be taken as near the origin of the branch as a good one offers, to allow of cutting away, beyond the adopted lateral, a greater quantity of the branch, as it becomes old wood; the newsprung laterals, not wanted for one of these two objects, are pinched off. The treatment of those retained during the rest of the summer thus differs: As the shoots in bearing extend in growth. they are kept stopped about two eyes beyond the fruit. The coronate shoots, cultivated merely to enlarge the provision of wood, are divested of embryo bunches, if they show any, but are trained at full length as they advance during the summer, until they reach the allotted bounds. In the winter pruning there will thus be a good choice of motherbearers. That nearest the origin of the former is retained, and the others on the same branch era cut away; the rest of the branch is also taken off so that the old wood may terminate with the adopted lateral. The adopted shoot is then shortened to two, three, four, or more eyes, according to its place on the vine, its own strength, or the strength of the vine. The lower shoots are pruned in the shortest, in order to keep the means of always supplying young wood at the bottom of the tree.
The second method is to head The natural leader so as to cause it to throw out two, three, or more principal shoots; these are trained as leading branches, and in The winter-pruning are not reduced, unless to shape them to The limits of the house, or unless the plant appears too weak to sustain them at length. Laterals from these are cultivated about twelve inches apart, as mother-bearers; those in fruit are stopped in summer, and after the fall of the leaf are cut into one or two eyes. From the appearance of the motherbearer, thus shortened, this is called spur-pruning.
The third plan seems to flow from taking the second as a foundation, in having more than one aspiring leader, and from joining the superstructure of the first system immediately to this in reserving well-placed shoots to come in as bearing wood. Thus, supposing a stem which has been headed to send up four vigorous competing leaders, two are suffered to bear fruit and two are divested of such buds as break into clusters, and trained to the length of ten, twelve, fifteen feet or more, for mother-bearers, which have borne a crop, are cut down to within two eyes of the stool or legs, according to the strength of the plant, while the reserved shoots lose no more of their tops than is necessary to adjust them to the trellis.
_To prune Vines to advantage._
In pruning vines leave some new branches every year, and take away (if too many) some of the old, which will be of great advantage to the tree, and much increase the quantity of fruit. When you trim your vine, leave two knots and cut them off the next time, for usually two buds yield a bunch of grapes. Vines thus pruned have been known to bear abundantly, whereas others that have been cut close to please the eye have been almost barren of fruit.
_To mature Grapes by Incision of the Vine Bark._
It is not of much consequence in what part of the tree The incision is made, but in case the trunk is very large the circles ought to be made in the smaller branches. All shoots which come out from the root of The vine or from the front of the trunk, situated below the incision, must be removed as often as they appear, unless bearing wood is particularly wanted to fill up The lower part of The wall, in which case one or two shoots may be left.
Vines growing in forcing houses are equally improved in point of size and flower, as well as made to ripen earlier, by taking away circles of bark. the time for doing this is when the fruit is set and the berries are about the size of small shot. the removed circles may here be made wider than on vines growing in the open air, as the bark is sooner renewed in forcing houses, owing to the warmth and moisture in those places. Half an inch will not be too great a width to take off in a circle from a vigorous growing vine, but I do not recommend the operation to be performed at all in weak trees.
This practice may be extended to other fruits, so as to hasten their maturity, especially figs, in which there is a most abundant flow of returning sap, and it demonstrates to us why old trees are more disposed to bear fruit than young ones. Miller informs us that vineyards in Italy are thought to improve every year by age till they are fifty gears old. For as trees become old the returning vessels do not convey the sap Into the roots with the same facility they did when young. Thus by occasionally removing circles of bark we only anticipate the process of nature. In both cases stagnation of the true sap is obtained in the fruiting branches, and the redundant nutriment then passes into the fruit.
It often happens after the circle of bark has been removed, a small portion of the inner bark adheres to the alburnum. It is of The utmost importance to remove this, though ever so small, otherwise in a very short space of time the communication is again established with the roots, and little or no effect is produced. Therefore, in about ten days after the first operation has been performed, look at the part from whence The bark was removed, and separate any small portion which may have escaped the knife the first time.
_To prevent the Dropping off of Grapes._
Make a circular incision in the wood, cutting away a ring of bark about the breadth of the twelth of an inch. the wood acquires greater size about the incision, and the operation accelerates the maturity of the wood, and that of The fruit likewise. The incision should not be made too deep and further than the bark, or it will spoil both in the wood and the fruit.
_To retard the Sap._
At certain periods preventing or retarding the mounting of The sap tends to produce and ripen the fruit. An abundance of sap is found to increase the leaf buds and decrease the flower buds. A process to retard sap has long been employed in the gardens of Montreuil. The practice is to divaricate the sap as near The root as may be, by cutting off the main stem and training two lateral branches, from which the wall is to be filled. Another process of interrupting the rising of the sap by separating the bark has been long in practice in vine-forcing houses; this is done when the grapes are full grown, and is found to assist the bark in diminishing the aqueous and increasing the saccharine juice.
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