The pruning of the branches of Melgaço this year was late, perhaps more “Easter pruning” than “winter pruning”, but we have already waved the starting flag for the vines to start another healthy vegetative cycle.
Pruning is not a hobby or an option, it is essential. “Why? If we don’t prune the vines, won’t they still produce grapes?“, you ask. Really, if the vine is not pruned, it will continue to produce grapes like any other plant, but will it be a healthy option for the vine and economically viable for the producer?
A good pruning practice comprises four objectives/benefits: Conservation of vegetative balance (grapes weight VS wood weight); Production regularization; Improve the quality of production; Allow the rejuvenation of the vine. It is a time-consuming process because, in our case, it is entirely manual with the help of scissors, rubber bands and wires.
The choice of pruning system, which is defined by the orientation of the canes (or branches), load of the budbreak eyes, among others, is entirely dependent on the grape variety/variety, its age, the yield of the bunch production that we we intend to obtain at the time of harvest and also from possible weather disasters that may arise during the year. In the case of choosing an Easter pruning or late pruning, it will allow better protection of the vines from late frosts. It’s all a strategic game. Looking at a “naked” vine and understanding how it will look in a few days when it starts to sprout. A few more days and the green and recent part of the vine has already doubled. A few months later, we understand the density of the leaves on the vine and tried to balance the protection of the bunches against solar radiation, while avoiding air condensation between the leaves and the bunches, allowing the bunches aeration. These are some of the examples that predominate in our heads and that sometimes become real nightmares.
Pruning is important and takes work. But for us, it’s one of the ways to thank our vines for the excellent performance every year.