[NAFEX] Fw: Training muscadines, 'fuzzy' and hardy kiwi to a trellis

Ron ron at kiwigrower.com
Mon Oct 12 19:21:16 EDT 2009


About the Hardy Kiwis ... it seems like the skinnier the shoot, the tighter it wants to twine.   

A disclaimer: my oldest plants are just finishing their fourth year, so I'm not the expert, but I'll say what I've learned so far in case it helps.  I would have gotten fruit this year, but my original three plants turned out to be all female, even though I had ordered a male and two females.  

This is obviously not the only way, but I'm following a plan that looks like a canopy with 5 wires running between T-Posts (image link here):

For a new plant,  I try to wait for a much stronger shoot to come up after it get's over its transplant shock.  Then tie a piece of sisal twine between the base of the plant and the center wire directly above. Using the twine (rather than a post) as a guide, the main trunk has nothing to constrict around but the twine keeps it from flopping around until a couple of main laterals take hold.  The twine will eventually decompose.

I think your intuition is right about the main laterals: they have to wrap a few times around the center wire for stability, but not real tight like the skinny ones want to.  I have actually unwrapped some and then immediately re-wrapped them looser so they don't constrict themselves tightly on the center wire.  The same principle works here: wait for a much thicker shoot to come out of the trunk so it will natural be straighter.   After a year or two these get very woody and permanent like a grape main cordon.  

For the side branches, it works good to let them grow up and out from the main laterals above all the wires but tie them down (while green) to the outside wires keeping them spaced apart for sun.  They just hang there perpendicular to the wires.  I cut mine off a foot or two past the outside wire and not let them twine back up and onto the wires again.

As you probably know, these plants grow like Kudzu once they get established and it will be a real challenge to keep any sense of order in that jungle.  I plan on winter pruning out any branches that didn't produce much fruit the year before.

This is just one example and I think is the way a commercial orchard would do it when trying to maximized fruit production.  I suspect these plants would do quite well if left to sprawl over a pergola or up some wires attached to a wall or even a manicured espalier style if one was so inclined.

Ok, so that's the theory, I hope this makes sense and is some use to you (or other readers).

btw: here is some useful info from UGA with a couple more pictures (pages 7-9)

Good luck,

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Hilborn.E at epamail.epa.gov 
  To: North American Fruit Explorers 
  Sent: Monday, October 12, 2009 12:33 PM
  Subject: [NAFEX] Training muscadines, 'fuzzy' and hardy kiwi to a trellis

  I am growing muscadine grapes and kiwi fruit on an arbor trellis system for the first time this year. I have built a system using 2 horizontal wires, one at 4 feet, one at 6 feet.


  I have read references that describe training grapes and kiwi up a temporary support to reach the bottom wire. They caution to avoid twisting of the vine around the support.  Makes sense, the trunks will grow large and will be weaken if spiraled and constrained.


  However, I am having trouble finding information about training laterals.  I assumed that I should avoid spiraling, and have trained each lateral to rest on top of my wire.  I have them temporarily tied with green plastic plant tie material.


  My husband viewed this year's growth and expressed his skepticism that the laterals will be stable for the long term.  He asked why I did not let them spiral around the wire to support their own weight, to provide strength and resistance to the occasionally high winds we experience during the growing season (we may get tropical storm or hurricane-force winds here during the summer).


  He has a point in that I have seen mature muscadine and kiwi vines; they are massive and have a lot of surface area.  I could imagine using enough steel wire to keep them up on the arbor, but then I must be vigilant to loosen the wire as the laterals expand. 

  I have let the muscadine tendrils wrap around the wire where they exclude encircling the lateral itself.


  Should I let my laterals spiral?  If not, how do I keep them securely tied to the trellis wires as they mature?

  Betsy Hilborn

  7a NC


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