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The Guyot pruning system is used for grape vines grown for wine and dessert grapes outdoors. This system trains one or two fruiting arms along a main wire. It is commonly used on commercial vineyards, but is easily adapted for the home gardener.
A grape vine pruned according to the Guyot system. Image: RHS/Tim Sandall
The main pruning time is early winter (late November or December in Britain). Training and pinching out of new shoots, as well as thinning of fruits, is carried out in spring and summer.
Set up a support system as detailed on the grapes: pruning and training page.
Plant the vines during the dormant season (late autumn until early spring) following the guidelines on the outdoor grapes page.
Space the vines 67-75cm (27-30in) apart for a single Guyot system (one main stem) and 1.2-1.5m (4-5ft) apart for a double Guyot (two main stems). If you are planting more than one row, space the rows at least 1.8m (6ft) apart. There should be a 60cm (2ft) band of soil at the base of the vine, with the vine in the centre.
After planting, cut back the main stem to two strong buds above the graft or above ground level. Then follow this advice from the first year:
In the growing season
Grape vines can suffer from powdery mildew in hot, dry weather or when growing in crowded positions with poor air circulation.
They can also suffer from grey mould (Botrytis), downy mildew and the physiological disorder known as shanking. Birds and wasps can be problematic, and it is a good idea to hang wasp traps nearby, especially with early-season grapes.
Vines may suffer from nutrient deficiencies, particularly magnesium deficiency.
Grapes: indoor cultivationGrapes: outdoor cultivationGrapes: pruning and trainingGrapes: the rod and spur pruning systemGrapevine diseases
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In this fully revised edition, you’ll find updated advice by the RHS experts on what, when and how to prune.
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