Apr 26, 2024
San Joaquin Valley vineyard tips offered

Mechanical pruning can help winegrape growers save costs.

That’s among some of the suggestions provided in the latest From the Vine/Vit Tips Newsletter from the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Kern County.

Mechanical pruning (box pruning) is the standard practice for newly planted wine vineyards in the San Joaquin Valley (SJV). According to the 2019 SJV South winegrape cost study (Zhuang et al. 2019), mechanical pruning can reduce production costs from $3,000 to $2,500 per acre resulting in 17% cost savings.

UCCE Kern County


“With the California minimum wage again increasing to $16 per hour in 2024, the labor savings from mechanical pruning could be even greater now. An understanding of how different varieties perform under mechanical pruning systems is desirable to advise growers on cultural practices for these varieties,”  according to the report.

“Currently, the most used trellis system on wine vineyards are single-cordon or quadrilateral cordons without any catch wire. Cordon height varies from 52-72” above the vineyard floor across various vineyard sites. Also, irrigation management on mechanically pruned vines might be different from hand-pruned vines due to the different canopy shapes and shoot density,” according to the report.

Other items in the newsletter include:

  • Effect of variety, cordon height and irrigation on mechanical pruned vineyard in the southern SJV
  • Tackle summer bunch rot and sour rot now
  • Table grape needs assessment summary
  • Impacts of rootstocks on performance and fruit quality of mature Autumn King vines
  • Trialing nematode resistant rootstocks for use in the SJV

Download the newsletter here.

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