Using a Trellis to Train Your Grape Vines

One of the key ingredients to success in growing your vineyard is training the grapes to grow on a trellis.
As grape clusters grow big and ripen they become relatively heavy by comparison to the branches supporting them.
The grape trellis helps support the weight of the fruit and protect the vine.
Grapes will grow along the same primary branches throughout the life of your vine, so damage to the branch will result in reduced grape production until you are able to train another primary branch from the main stem.
There are several varieties of trellis that will work well.
A home-made trellis can consist of several wooden posts and some wire strung between them.
You can also buy ready-made fences or trellises that are ideal for the home grower.
Depending on your home environment you may choose a grape trellis that is designed to match your outdoor decor or garden theme.
If you are on a budget, a simple wooden trellis is cost effective.
You can use iron or aluminum if you prefer, or even steel or PVC.
For each grape vine use approximately six to eight feet square for the trellis.
Vines have a life expectancy of several thousand years and one vine is capable of producing enough fruit to make a gallon of wine each year so it is worth taking trouble with the trellis so that it will last a long time.
If you want to build a really sturdy fence you can use concrete to set the fence posts, especially if your soil has a tendency to be soft.
Hybrid grapes grow taller than traditional European grapes, so you may need a higher fence if you are growing hybrids, probably six to eight feet tall.
European grape vines will do well on a trellis of three feet high.
Run at least two wires, one near the top of the posts and one near the bottom.
You can use more if your grapes seem to need it.
Secure the wires with nails or a staple gun.
Then tend to your grape vines throughout the growing season, helping them latch on to the wires and train them to grow along the wire.
You can use a little string to keep them attached, but remember to monitor throughout the season and ensure the string is not prohibiting growth or causing damage to new shoots.
If you are a new grower and lack experience, don't invest too much money in the trellis until you understand better how your grapes will train, how big they will grow and so on.
It would be a pity to build an eight foot fence with several wires and cement posts only to find that your grapes only grow to three foot high.
Once you have trained the vine to grow along the trellis, you will find you have to tend it less and less over the years.
You can check on it periodically as you are out there pruning, but once the main arms of your vine have latched on to the trellis, they will do fine by themselves.
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