Pruning time, what is the Guyot system?

The Guyot is a vine pruning system that allows modifying and improving the growth of the plant and its fruits to adapt it to the objectives for which it is cultivated.

It is very characteristic in the French regions of Burgundy and Saint-Emilion.

In Spain it is also known as the “thumb and stick” or “dagger and sword” system.

This system applies to vineyards that produce wine for commercial purposes. The choice of vineyard management technique depends, in fact, on the use that will be made of the crop itself. There are different Guyot pruning methods to choose from depending on the characteristics of the crop.

What types of Guyot pruning systems are there?

We basically have two types: single or double.

Simple: It is a pruning that eliminates all the foliage of the plant except for a bud grown the previous year and a smaller part made up of two or three buds, called a spur. Simple Guyot is a form of pruning used for vineyards that produce more fruit than intermediate buds. It is currently the most practiced in all conditions of high productivity of the plant.

Image: Viticulture Manual, viticulture technical guide – Alain Reynier

Double: it is a pruning that leaves two buds, instead of one, and a smaller bud, called a spur. The difference between the simple and double Guyot lies in the number of shoots that are not cut: one in the simple; two in double, hence the name of the described procedures.

Image: Viticulture Manual, viticulture technical guide – Alain Reynier

There are other variants of Guyot pruning: upside-down Guyot, double upside-down Guyot, or hooded palmette, and palmette with spurs. The inverted Guyot is similar to the simple Guyot, except that the vine, instead of resting on the first of the three iron wires that support the rows of vines, rests on the second, while the head that will bear the fruit is fasten to the first The double dump, for its part, combines the characteristics of the double Guyot with those of the dump that we have just described. It is used to contain production and increase the quality of the fruit. Spur palmetto is a multiple Guyot that leaves four shoots and a certain number of spurs. But it is in the simple Guyot that we see a really articulate and interesting operation that consists of three different phases.

Let’s go step by step…

The first thing is to wait for the leaves to fall, which occurs between the months of September and October. In the middle of winter, the plant is cleaned of old parts; it can be pruned

Within simple Guyot pruning we can differentiate three phases: past, present and future.

In the “past” phase shoots that have fructified the previous year are removed.

In the “present” phase the bud that will fructify during the year is cut, up to the number of buds chosen.

In the “future” phase the shoot is cut down to the number of buds that will allow it to become the spur.

Simple Guyot system

Characteristics of Guyot pruning

This type of pruning is very useful for low-yield plants, located in rugged and not very fresh terrain. It allows to guarantee a good aeration and a good exposure of the leaves to the sun. It is a driving system in which the branches are placed horizontally.

The fruitful shoot is cut to 6-12 buds and will allow the maturation of new fruits. The intermediate spur, in which 2 buds remain, will give life to 2 shoots. One will be the fruitful shoot of the following year and the other will generate the spur.

With this type of pruning, in fact, it is possible to intervene on the different productivity characteristics of the plant which, in case of low fertility, does not sprout in all parts of the shoot, but only in the highest points that are maintained thanks to the long pruning of the Guyot system.

Can it be mechanized?

This pruning is quite difficult to mechanize, since you have to define the length of the shoots and choose the correct one.

It is a type of pruning that is usually done manually.

In Sicily they carried out an experiment to see if this type of Guyot system could be mechanized, and it was shown that with a series of characteristics (such as a distance between plants in the row of less than 1 meter and a counter-trellis height of at least 1.90 meters, among others) if it could be mechanized.

Pros and Cons of this type of pruning


  • In cases of low production, it improves performance.
  • It is a type of easy pruning, which can be carried out by personnel with little experience.
  • It allows the machining of the harvest and the defoliation.


  • The cuts made in the trunk, favor the appearance of fungal diseases.
  • Wires need to be fixed around the vineyards every year.
  • It can generate an inhomogeneous vegetation.

Ana Gomez
Graduated in biochemistry, sommelier and MBA in Digital Marketing.

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