There is another somewhat disputed matter connected with viticulture, which deserves a little notice; and it is the relative merits of planting cuttings or rooted vines in the vineyard. The majority of the witnesses examined by the Royal Commission on Vegetable Products in Victoria, 1889, admitted that cuttings ultimately produced a better vine. But, as in some of the preceding points at issue, may it not be that climate and soil have a great deal to do with the results ? Signor Romeo Bragato, the Expert to the Board of Viticulture in Victoria, in his Hints to Intending Vine-growers, recommended cuttings, not only for cheapness, but because if planted in the vineyard at the first they did not require removal.
In the course of his advice he proceeded to remark : - "The ways used here and elsewhere by the vine-grower are two - namely, by cuttings, and rooted vines - but they do not always agree which of the two is the better. There are many who say that, for the new plantation, rooted vines must be preferred; others maintain that it is better to plant by cuttings, because they grow more flourishing and give the vine a longer life. Both these methods are good and to be recommended; but, in a general way, I would advise you to stick to the cuttings, and that not only because by planting them you will have a sensible economy, but also because if you plant the cuttings in the vineyard you will never have to move them. If you use rooted vines, it is impossible, notwithstanding all your care and attention, for you to carry them from the nursery to the vineyard without hurting their roots, which are very delicate.
"But if the ground which you intend to plant with vines were loose and arid, then I would never hesitate to advise you to always use in that case rooted vines, because the cuttings without roots would not absorb the rainy water; which in such kind of soil runs away in the same time it takes to fall. This is the reason why, in such a soil, the cuttings seldom strike.
"On the selection of the cuttings depends the future of the vineyard, but of this the vine-growers are not sufficiently persuaded, because they do not pay all the attention required for this delicate operation. In fact, when in the vineyards in order to cut the cuttings, they take the thin and thicks - those growths on the new wood and on the old - without making any distinction, and without knowing if the old vine gives fruit or not. Many also, without other care, leave their cuttings in the vineyard for months exposed to the air, sun and rain; not thinking that the very porous wood gets dry very quickly, and becomes weak near the buds. Others, again, buy their cuttings without knowing to what variety of vine they belong, and how they were preserved. It is not surprising, therefore, that these negligent vine-growers, after having incurred great expense in preparing the soil and planting the vineyard, besides having their vineyard planted with so many varieties, are compelled to pull up a great number of cuttings that have not struck, or, having struck, do not cany fruit."