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Pruning Vines at my Farm Startup [Agriculture
Posted on April 26, 2013 @ 08:48:00 AM by Paul Meagher

It took me 2 and a half days to finish planting my trees and shrubs and prune my vines. I was not planning on pruning my vines as I thought I would leave well enough alone. However, when I inspected the vines closely I noticed a pattern of dead growth at the tops of the vines. The vines die back a bit over the winter. I decided I would prune the tops back to a viable bud and also prune the vines back to 1 to 3 main shoots. Year 2 for the vines will be mostly about getting better rooted and getting them trained to hang off my trellis wires properly. Usually want 2 main shoots with one shoot going left and one shoot going right on your guide wire.

Grapevine pruned back to 2 main shoots

Took about 3 and a half hours to prune all my vineyard plants. Ideally you would do this during winter months when the plants are dormant, however, that is not a very pleasant job at that time of year. Bob Osborne at Cornhill Nursury where I purchased my apple/pear/blueberry stock talked about the last two weeks of April as being an ideal time to do grafting work so I assumed that the same timeframe applies to vine pruning as well.

2 yr old vineyard is pruned.

I'm hoping to expand my vineyard this year. My neighbor at the farm, A.J. Taylor, provided plowing services last fall. He plowed 8 strip tills which I will rototill in early summer and plant my vines into.

Strip tills for grape vines with gutters draining water.

I finished planting my vine cuttings in my home greenhouse nursery over the last weekend. I planted 8 to 9 hundred cuttings in my 12ft x 15ft sunken greenhouse. This is my second year nursing vines in my greenhouse. My vines were well rooted when I eventually planted them out last year.

Densely packed vines at my home nursury.

It takes awhile for a farm startup to get to the point of producing enough farm product to generate significant income. Apple trees and pear trees could take up to 10 years before they start fruiting significantly. Vines provide a faster return as it can start producing it its third year. Then there are the annual crops that can give you more immediate returns. So far, I have plans to plant surplus amounts of potatoes and squash. I don't plan on getting rich of this crop, but if I am successful, I'd be more willing the next year to scale up my production to a level where it could be profitable. I also offer a couple of vacation rental units at the farm that cover some costs. The burn rate for the last couple of years has been quite high to repair buildings, get the rental units ready, and acquire machinery and tools. I have been able to use these expenses as much needed tax write offs (I only claim a hobby farm amount for now and don't try to spend much above that amount) but eventually a farm has to be profitable or the tax man will look unfavorably upon the enterprise.

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