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I have a multi-trunk muscadine vine where instead of maintaining/pruning root shooters, the previous owner let them grow out of the ground from the root system. Now I have 20 trunks at the single location, where it grows up a fence trellis to a tabletop arbor.

How should I prune this to get good sweet fruit? Should I cut all but one trunk? cut half this year, half next year, etc? ... Leave them all and manage them via small sections on top of the arbor? There are actually 4 groups of multi-trunk grapes, but I didnt want to complicate it too much. Willing to experiment some but just looking for some guidance on whether it matters much which path I choose.

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    Welcome. It always adds some interest if you can add a picture to complement your question. – Graham Chiu Jan 17 '17 at 21:35
  • What is it the size of the plant? – Giacomo Catenazzi Jan 18 '17 at 8:16
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Situation no. 1: If there are 1-year old canes at the base of the plant, cut everything except for one of them (keep the most suitable one to become a new trunk).

Situation no. 2: If there are no 1-year old canes at the base of the plant, keep only one trunk from what you have and cut the rest. After that, you have two options:

Option A. Cut the branches of this trunk in order to stimulate new branches for proper training OR

Option B. Cut the trunk at 6-12 inches above the ground in order to develop new canes. When new canes grow, keep the most suitable and cut all the rest of the canes.

The most effective method is the last one, cutting to a stump and then training what newly emerges. You can read more about corrective pruning on Farmers' Bulletin no. 2157, page 10-11.

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Grapes were, in the past, cultivated also as multi-trunk plants. The real reason to have a single trunk it is mechanization.

Anyway, giving the plant a good form (so a good pruning) it is important to have a well producing plant.

If you want only one trunk, I would remove in late winter most of the branches, and prune the unwanted one a lot shorter then new trunk, so that apical dominance will help you for next year, without cutting too much now.

If you want (and you have enough space), you can also leave 2 to 4 trunks, and give the form you want. The surface of leaves (on sun) is the most important factor, to have many good grapes, so a multi trunk plant help you to have much more surface (on first years, and then you can remove some of them, when the other one are producing larger branches).

But don't worry too much, grape plants are very resistant. You can cut most of it, and it will grow again. In fact, you can put a cut branch into the ground, for few centimeters, and this branch will create a new plant.

In any case, you should not prune too long the branches. The apical dominance is strong on vines, so you risk that the plant will go higher (she is a vine, she want to go higher than the trees) and green (but few fruits).

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