Flame Grape Pruning question - technical stuff

homey_birdJune 27, 2013

(X-post for California Gardening forum, only received one reply, and hope to get more replies here):

Apologies in advance for a long post and thanks for reading patiently.

I've been growing a Flame Seedless vine in my yard for few years and been getting fruits for 2 years or so. Last year, I pruned as per the books (spur pruning with two cordons, 8-9 spurs on each side, with 4-5 buds per spur. Sorry, should have left only 2-3 but got scared :-) Source was a UC Davis video on Youtube). I got berries this year, but they are far away from the main trunk, like on spur numbers 8,9. Also, the spurs 1-7 grew very vigorously but got no fruits on them.

Another interesting thing I noticed: I found a potted grape vine at Costco with two clusters of berries, with very short cordons, and on starting spurs alone there are fruit growing! (Side note: could they have treated them to bloom prematurely?)

Also, while visiting Disneyland, I saw grapevines growing in California Adventure Park, behind Wine Country Trattoria. There was no labelling but it looked like Flame variety. I noticed that none of its cordons was super long, they were short ones with again tons of clusters on a very compact vine. Unfortunately, I could not count the number of spurs and buds etc.

Now, I am wondering, if I make two more cordons on my vine, do I increase my chances of getting grapes? Is there a way I can get fruit on all 9 spurs on the horizontal cordon? Or will the fruiting happen on the end spurs no matter what? Does this mean that I prune the vine with more cordons and fewer spurs on each cordon to maximize fruiting? (And then, does this not resemble cane pruning?)

Sorry for the long post, and sorry if I made technical errors in describing. I am a grape newbie, and really do want to eat home grown grapes, but my real estate is limited so I'm trying to make most of what's available! Thanks in advance!!

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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

It's pretty obvious spur pruning isn't working for you so why not switch to cane. I've never spur pruned because I've had such good luck with cane on about two dozen varieties of table grapes. I generally need to remove at least half the clusters to avoid over cropping.

Some varieties aren't fruitful on the lower buds hence need to be cane pruned. It sounds like Flame may be one of those although I've not seen that cane pruning. I seem to have fruit even on the lower buds.

Have Flame in a 12 gal pot in my greenhouse. I only left about 4ft total of canes. There are 8 big clusters ripening and I thinned off more than that.

Outdoors my Flame was covered in fruit with two canes each about 6ft long. Unfortunately a severe freeze May 3rd nearly killed the plant but it still has some fruit.

Next winter just select 2-4 canes arising near the trunk and you should be in business. If not I'd have no idea why not. Flame is a heavy producer.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2013 at 9:12AM
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Hi fruitnut, thanks for sharing. Amazingly I haven't had much luck collecting information on this topic. I think it seems like people are not willing to share because this knowledge is commercially valuable. Anyway. Flame does not seem like a varietal that only grows fruit on far away buds. The potted Flame in Costco and the vines in Disneyland were very compact, almost like a tree.

So I guess next season, I will leave one cordon short and one cordon long to see what result I yield. This will allow me to compare and will give me some fruits at least.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 3:20PM
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