Pruning cordon systems

Cordon systems are those where the cane is left permanently attached to the fruiting wire so that it becomes a permanent cordon. The canes coming off these cordons are often spur-pruned. The shoots arising from these spurs can be trained either upwards or downwards. The most common cordon system used in UK vineyards is the Geneva Double Curtain (GDC), but there are many others, such as the Cordon de Royat, the Sylvoz and the Lenz-Moser.

The advantages of cordon systems are that:

  • They are easier to prune, and can be pre-pruned mechanically more easily
  • They are lower-yielding, and so may produce higher quality fruit in fertile cultivars

The GDC has other advantages, such as increasing the exposure of basal buds and fruit to sunlight, which can produce higher yields of finer quality grapes.

The systematic method for cordon pruning is to:

  1. Count the charge
  2. Count the number of growing points
  3. Divide the charge by the number of growing points
  4. Leave that number of buds per growing point

However, most pruners will prune each growing point according to its success the previous season.

Problems encountered with cordon systems

  • The loss of growing points along the cordon: this can be reduced by keeping cordons short and pruning according to charge. If this fails, the cordon will have to be replaced.
  • The lengthening of growing points: this can be controlled by pruning using the alternate crenel system