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.
After the usual formalities of organization, subject No. 1 was read by the secretary: "Does summer pruning of the grape hasten the maturity and improve the quality of the fruit, and does it increase the size of the fruit?"
H. E. Hooker thought that very much depended upon the mode of training and richness of ground, whether free summer pruning was beneficial. If trained upon trellises, it gives improved size and quality to prune. They must not be allowed to become a mere swamp of vines. Grapes which are starved are not hastened in maturity, or increased in size.
Mr. Townsend, of Niagara county, said that summer pruning must not be carried to such excess as to force the fruit buds of next year into premature development.
Very much has been written on this subject, the pith of all being that it is desirable to have as little extra wood as possible, and yet maintain a healthy growth of vine and maturation of fruit. In our May number we drew the attention of our readers to the first point, viz., that of rubbing out or destroying all superfluous buds; but at this season the vines are vigorous, and growing so rapidly that an almost daily attention is necessary. If from neglect the shoots have got two or more leaves beyond what they should have, it is better to stop them back with the thumb and finger, leaving an extra leaf, rather than hereafter to go through and cut and slash in order to get breathing room for the foliage. Let the canes for next year's fruiting grow as strong as they may, laterals and all, without any pinching; especially is this to be heeded with Clinton, Norton's Virginia, and other sorts, which it is fast coming to be learned produce the most and best fruit on the laterals of this year, and therefore need, in fall pruning, to be left with long canes. On the fruit canes some advise stopping at one leaf beyond the last bunch of fruit.
We prefer to let it make two to. three leaves before stopping, believing that the more expanse of perfect leaf we can get on that cane or extension the better will be our fruit. \
Another point in grape culture we must urge, and that is a judicious and careful thinning of the fruit. Too much fruit not only exhausts the vine and enfeebles it so as to induce disease, but the quality of the fruit is so much impaired, that he who buys for the market or wine will reduce the price accordingly. Two pounds of really large and perfect bunches will bring nearly if not quite as much as three pounds of imperfect ones, and the grower will find for the first a ready sale, while for the second the buyer will hesitate and haggle about the price.
Cucumber and Melon Vines, as well as tomato plants, will mature earlier and better fruit by stopping the ends of the vines or shoots about one joint beyond the blossom or young fruit. The laterals or side branches should be stopped in just the same as the leaders.