Proper pruning is important not only for the success of the season but also for the longevity of your vineyard, so how well your pruning crew prunes has both short and long term impacts for your vineyard bottomline.
Pruning experts Ivan Gonzales of Vineyard Professional Services in Paso Robles, California, Jake Busching of Jake Busching Wines in Charlottesville, Virginia, and Rob Warren of Desert Willow Vineyard in Seminole, TX share their knowledge, experience, and top tips for teaching your pruning crew
10 Expert Tips for Training Your Pruning Crew
- Start with the fundamentals. Have them understand vine anatomy and vine vigor, so they can prune accordingly for each vine’s unique growth.
- Demonstrate pruning on different scenarios. Show what proper pruning looks like for an ideal vine, a moderately challenging vine, and a highly complex vine situation.
- Communicate your pruning expectations and goals. Experienced pruning crews may expect to continue with how they have pruned in prior seasons or for other vineyards, so you must make sure the crew knows how you want your vineyard pruned for your goals for this specific season.
- There has to be a boss. You must have a good crew leader that can communicate with the crew, and help them with pruning questions or mistakes in the vineyard.
- Make sure they know where to start. When you prune a vine, you need to start in the middle of the vine, not on the left side or right side. Show how to start in the middle of the vine and prune outward vs. pruning from one side to the other side.
- Create an example row or panel of vines. A lot of people are visual, so show your crew what a properly pruned row looks like for your vineyard for this season and how you want the vines to look for this season.
- Assign every crew member to specific rows. Assign colored ties to each crew member, so you can easily ID who pruned what row to be able to intervene on pruning mistakes.
- Train your crew to sharpen their shears. Give them a sharpener that they can easily carry, so they can sharpen their shears as they go, which helps lessen pruning wounds and makes pruning go faster and easier. Check out this guide to pruning shear sharpening.
- Teach proper bud counting. Bud counting can be hard for a crew as it can be easy to mistakenly count basal buds or non-count buds, so it is essential to educate them on how to identify and differentiate a basal bud from a clear count bud.
- You must know how to correctly prune. You cannot properly train your crew if you are not up-to-date on the latest strategies and best practices for pruning. Keep learning and do not settle!
If you want to learn more about top tips for training your pruning crew, check out www.vineyardundergroundpodcast.com/vu011.