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Winter pruning: with waning or waxing Moon?

 

Pruning has been regulated for centuries by lunar calendar. Does it make sense to follow these old procedures?

The moon over Ferruggini vineyards
The moon over Ferruggini vineyards

In winter, as usual, when trees shed their leaves, also at Podere Conca we start pruning vines.

But what is the best time for pruning?

Agronomy teaches us to prune in winter in order that sap has moved from leaves to tree roots, and that process takes place after the leaves have fallen and when the branches lignify becoming dark and stiff.

An old farm saying adds: “If you cut with the new moon, the branch cries”.

Today this rule is reused by biodynamic agriculture, which suggests pruning with waning moon, so that sap is less attracted by the moon and the tree will better heal the cut wounds and therefore it won’t cry”.

Is that only a myth? Is it true? Someone is doubtful about it, as the influence of the moon is too weak and unable to reach significant results.

Therefore, this year at Podere Conca, we decided to start a little experiment: we have pruned some rows with waning moon and some others with waxing moon.

Our wine varieties: Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Ciliegiolo are guyot crops with a type of pruning called mixed pruning.

An example of cordon spur pruning
An example of cordon spur pruning

We leave a long fruiting cane with 7-8 buds and a short spur with 3 buds for future renewals. With guyot every year we have small cuts on 1-2 years old wood, avoiding too large cuts as those that can occur in the vineyards with spur cordon training. With this last type of pruning, which is called short, every year we have spurs with 2 buds growing in time and forming the so-called candelabra. When candelabra must be cut to get them down to the cordon level, they need aggressive cuts, which can become the weak point of the plant and cause diseases.

 

Unlike the spur cordon training, guyot system is not mechanizable, therefore it is mostly used in small companies or in those vine varieties with fertility problems of basal buds (where buds produce non-fruiting shoots).

Illustrazione di una vite allevata a guyot
Esempio di potatura a guyot

Our vineyards are handmade, from pruning to grape harvest, therefore we selected the type of cultivation that we believe is the most respectful for the plant.

We will value in next months if there are visible differences between the rows pruned in the two different moon phases. We shall value the “cry” (sap going out from pruning cuts), bud sprouting and the vigour of new buds, but overall, we will see which is performing a better fruiting both in quality and quantity.

Will we find the answer to this long-standing question? Is there a “moon effect”?

You will be the first to know it!

di Silvia Cirri e Linda Franceschi