Dragon’s vineyard is cordon trained on a vertical shoot positioned (VSP) trellis. The end state is that each arm of the plant (the vines are trained in a manner that each plant has two arms that are supported by the fruiting wire; this wire is three feet off the ground), have no more than fifteen or so shoots on it, all of them bearing berries, with no more than three shoots per spur. The spur is the knobbly bit on the arm that the shoots grow out of. The spurs should be six inches or so apart.
Let’s start with the trunk. We don’t care to have any water sprouts coming off the trunk below the fruiting wire, so those come right off. If there are any suckers (shoots coming off the root of the plant from below the graft; they will be recognizable because the leaves will be radically different than the leaves of the plant above the graft), get rid of those as well.
Running my hand under the arm, I automatically pull any shoot growing from under because in all likelihood there are no berries on it. And we are not, as Dragon Six so succinctly puts it, in the business of growing sticks. Some shoots grow in strange, unwarranted directions. They will never submit to the constraining catch wires of the trellis. Off they go, berries or not.
Starting where the arms bifurcate we move to the first spur. We identify which shoots belong to this particular spur. Let’s say there’s seven of them. Two do not have berries. They go. One has some small berries but, just as that one cousin every family seems to have, will never amount to anything and so off it goes. That leaves four. A suitable shoot is about the size of a number two pencil. All four that are left are good candidates for further employment, but one has only one bunch of berries while the other three have two. It’s gone. Move to the next spur. Repeat. The end of the arm is where all the action is. This is because of something I’m informed is called “apical dominance.” Please don’t ask me to explain it. I can tell you that the shoot coming directly out of the end of the arm often doesn’t have any grapes on it. Take it off automatically. The remaining multitude get culled in the manner described above. Once you’ve done the other arm, you’ve completed this plant. Now ratchet yourself upright, move four feet to your left or right and do it all over again. Two thousand, four hundred and ninety-nine more times.