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.
WE think it safe to say, that, there is no horticultural operation upon which there is less correct knowledge and practice among the great mass of those who cultivate the grape, as may be found in summer pruning. Though no great skill or study is essential to a correct understanding and performance of the work, not one in a score who undertake summer pruning makes it a success. They go about the work with no fixed object, or under the guidance of anything like regular system. With, a commencement somewhere they cut away, here and there, seemingly more as a pastime than for any specific purpose, exposing the fruit to the full force of the sun's rays and cold, damp night air - an exposure that dwarfs the fruit and renders it comparatively worthless.
We find a communication' in the Rural Alabamian upon summer pruning of the vine that so completely reflects our views upon the subject, that we copy it in full. In our practice, however, we do not spare the knife in the removal of surplus wood that may chance to "harden." We can see no good reason for not using the knife - in fact prefer a clean smooth cut of the knife to a ragged pinch any time.
"As to the value of summer pruning, some are inclined to think it unnecessary and useless labor; but I find it one of the most important, as well as profitable, items connected with grape culture. Summer pruning does not mean a general pruning - cutting off large quantities of wood and stripping the foliage. Such would be disastrous to the crop. What is generally termed trammer pruning is what I call Bummer dressing of the vines. And this dressing is done without the knife. It is simply the removal of a superabundant growth- - of weak and useless wood, which, if . left on the vines, would grealy injure their vigor, and to a great extent impair the full development of the fruit. Of this I am perfectly convinced from the size of the berries on some vines I did not summer prune last season. Last summer was noted •as one of our dryest and hottest; not only in one locality, but almost throughout the entire South. I commenced about the 10th of May and gave the vines a thorough cleaning of all'the surplus growth, leaving no shoots but those that were to take the place of the old wood that was to be cut out in the winter pruning. All the other 'growth was disbudded or rubbed off, leaving the young and healthy shoots as near as possible to take the place of all old and weak wood.
The bearing shoots were stopped without any regard to the number of leaves on each. All were kept tied in as they advanced in growth. The crop ripened well, and there were not many green berries to be found on either the Concord or Ives, and all brought a fine price in the New Orleans market.
" I have here stated the mode of summer pruning that I have always followed, and found it to be successful with all varieties. On this mode of pruning, the crop is a sure one, provided it is taken in time. If the work is deferred later than May, it would be better not to do it at all, as the wood commences to harden, and in trying to rub off the shoots the vines are injured to some extent.
" Cutting off large canes of the current season's growth and stripping off the foliage that the sun.may have fair access to the fruit, are practices that are reprobated by all good cultivators. Superfluous growth should be checked by pinching when it first manifests itself, and the direct rays of the sun should never reach the fruit."