What is Guyot pruning?

Guyot pruning is a type of vine breeding invented by Dr. Jules Guyot in the mid-19th century. Through this system, it is possible to modify and improve the growth of the plant and its fruit to suit the purposes for which it is grown. 

Vine breeding systems are various, each with different characteristics. The choice of breeding technique, depends, in fact, on the use that will be made of the cultivation itself. Guyot pruning, for example, is applied for vineyards that produce grapes destined for winemaking. Let’s explore all the particulars in more detail below.

Vine pruning: everything you need to know

Vine pruning is one of the most important steps for good grape production. Among the different pruning methods that can be done during the year, winter pruning is the most important for the development of cultivation. It is called dry pruning and is usually done between leaf fall and plant recovery. 

The first pruning that is done is called ” breeding”, which is used to give the shape and growth structure to the vineyard. The shape that is chosen is then kept through production pruning.

Here are the main types of vine breeding in Itly:

  • Guyot
  • Goblet
  • Pergola
  • Spur pruning 

The first vine breeding cut is usually made in the winter following the planting; during this operation, the shoot with the greatest vigor is chosen and shortened to 2-3 buds, while the other shoots are eliminated.

This operation will allow the plant to form roots and properly grow the shoots that arise from the buds of the chosen branch. 

Next, the production pruning related to the chosen breeding is carried out. In the vine, the most productive buds are the main ones inserted on the node.

When to choose spur pruning?

Spur pruning is a popular form of vine breeding in hillside areas with fairly dry terrains and is particularly suitable for vines with medium to high bud fertility.

According to the form one wants to give to the vine, this type of breeding takes longer to set up, as it is necessary to form a strong permanent structure.

This breeding system involves short pruning: both vegetative and productive functions are assigned to shoots that are shortened regularly while retaining a maximum of 3 buds.

The spur-pruned vine can be simple (with only one cordon) or bilateral (with a double cordon).

The advantages of spurred pruning are many, here are the main ones:

  • dense and regular vineyard;
  • excellent vegetative-productive balance;

good exposure of vegetation and grapes.

What is vine disbudding?

Vine disbudding is the process of removing excess shoots from the spurs. These sprouts may arise from buds placed on the old shoot, or from those left by winter pruning. The intention is to keep only one shoot per node. 

Disbudding the vine is an operation that is done by hand on a 20-30 cm shoot, which is very important for aerating the foliage and decreasing the risk of diseases that the vine might develop.

Guyot vine training system

As mentioned earlier, Guyot training is one of the most effective and frequent vine breeding systems for having maximum flavor and phenolic and aromatic substances concentrated in a few berries. It is called mixed or long type (it retains medium-length shoots and between 10 and 20 buds, on a vine between 80 and 100 cm high).

Guyot pruning ensures good aeration and excellent foliage exposure, but it requires several green pruning (also called summer pruning) operations. Different productivity characteristics of the plant can be worked on with this training method.

Guyot pruning can be:

  • simple: a pruning that removes all of the plant’s foliage except for a shoot that grew in the previous year and a smaller part consisting of two to three buds, called a spur; 
  • double: a pruning that leaves two shoots, instead of one, and a smaller shoot, called a spur; 
  • inverted: similar to simple Guyot, it requires the vine to be supported on the second of three iron wires that sustain the vineyard strands;
  • double inverted: a system that combines the characteristics of double Guyot with those of inverted Guyot;
  • spurred palmette: a multiple Guyot having four shoots and several spurs.

How many buds should be left in Guyot pruning?

When practising the above type of breeding, it is good to know how many buds to leave in the Guyot to ensure proper pruning and optimum vine performance. 

On the spur, it is common to leave two buds so that, the following year, the shoot born from the distal one can be used as the fruiting head (producing the fruiting shoots), while the one generated from the proximal bud will be the new spur.

Regarding the number of buds that will consequently be on the plant (the length of the fruiting head), the choice is determined by two factors: the distance between one vine stock and the next, and how vigorous the variety grown is. If the plant is not very vigorous, in fact, it is not recommended to leave a large number of buds, because the vine will not be able to develop them properly.

The purpose of Guyot pruning is ultimately to ensure the homogeneous development of all buds on the fruiting head, to best emphasize the plant’s potential and obtain the best possible raw material for successive winemaking.

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