This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
You would oblige a subscriber by giving, in your journal, some instruction in the management of hardy grape vines: particularly summer pruning. In your "Fruit Garden," you direct that the fruit branch be pinched off at the second eye beyond the fruit; but do not say at what period of the year this ought to be done. Some writers direct the fruit branch to be stopped when the fruit is half grown. At this stage, many branches of the Catawba grape have extended six to eight feet - too late to stop with any beneficial results. Would it be safe to stop the shoot as soon as the grapes form? If not, at what period of growth ought the branches to be stopped ?
In the same work you recommend the spur system of pruning, and say little of the renewal system. My objection to the spur system in open culture, is the difficulty in keeping the vine clothed with fruit branches from the base to the top of the trellis, which may be done by always fruiting on new wood and cutting out, at the spring pruning, all wood which has borne fruit. Under this system, the vines appear clean and vigorous, produce fine fruit without so much danger of being over-cropped, and may be confined to a small space for years.
The best mode of spur pruning I have seen practiced, is to prune to a strong full eye, whether three or more eyes from the main branch; disbud all the eyes between the eye pruned to and the eyes at the base of the shoot.. When the eyes at the base break, rub off all except one, which train for bearing wood the following year, and prune to the strongest bud, as before. But the renewal system is more simple, requires less cutting, and is, perhaps, the best mode I have seen practiced for garden culture. C. - Louisville, Ky.
[The object of summer pruning is to prevent the growth of superfluous wood, injurious not only to the fruit but to the bearing canes for the following season. Its effectiveness depends in a great measure on its being done early; for if the surplus shoots, or parts of shoots, are allowed to lengthen and mature their wood, pruning can be of little service. It should be done while the shoots are young and soft, when a knife is not necessary. The bearing branch should be stopped as soon as it has made two joints beyond the fruit, the day of the month being regulated of course by the season and local climate.
Spur pruning we recommended with reference to the management of hardy grapes on trellises covering a large space.
The urenewal" is more applicable to vines kept in a small space, and trained to stakes. - Ed].