Ron Wilson

Ron Wilson

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No Grapes last year. . . What should I do? - Mike Gastier and Thomas deHaas

No Grapes last year on my Concords. What should I do?

by Mike Gastier and Thomas deHaas


Many times, we neglect our fruiting plants in our home landscape. Can we revive them and help them begin to produce fruit? The short answer is yes, eventually.


Recently Mike Gastier and I received a call from a homeowner in Erie County who had not pruned his Concord Grapes for years. They were over 30 years old and had stopped producing fruit.


After a site visit, it was obvious that in order to get these grape vines to produce, some very drastic pruning was required. The vines showed cracking at the base, some were rotting.


No matter what kind of fruit you are trying to maintain, a great resource in the Midwest Home Fruit Production Guide Cultural Practices and Pest Management (Bulletin 940).

This guide is available for purchase at:


I am smart enough to know that I was not sure where to start. On page 60. The authors had a paragraph on “What to do with a neglected grapevine.”


The authors suggested the following:

  1. Pick two strong canes from the base.


     2.   The rest of the canes can be removed.


   3.   Another approach is to select a new plant by layering. But this only works if the vines are on their own rootstock.

            Grafted grapes if layered will lose the effects of the rootstock. In this case, the concord grapes that were observed were on their own rootstock, so layering was an option.


   4.   This new plant can be treated as a new vine.


As we looked at the vines, there were canes that were rooting, older canes were cracked, decaying, and appeared to be cankered. We selected 3 or 4 canes that had naturally air layered (Concord grape vines on their own rootstock) and the canes looked healthy. The rest of the canes were cut down and removed.


As these new vines are being trained, they will produce minimal fruit for a couple of years. But these Concords should begin to produce in the future.


In the commercial setting, vineyards have been pruning their vines right now or have finished pruning.


This vine is yet to be pruned.  See full article here.


This young vine has been pruned very hard to help establish a healthy, sturdy vine and rootstock. This is an example of a drastically pruned vine in the vineyard.


Pruning is the key to an eventual sweet outcome.


Two suggestions for you:


1.) Get the Handbook


2.) Happy Pruning!

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