Orchard and Vineyard Trellis Construction: Part 2

Along with your wire and posts, you will need a few tools to erect a functioning trellis. Below is an illustration of 15 hand tools needed to properly build a trellis system. Different designs require different tool use and frequency of tool use. But, these are the basic hand tools you will need when working with a high-tensile wire trellis.

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  1. Tamping Bar
  2. Wire Twisting Tool
  3. ½” Electric Drill
  4. Pilot Hole Auger
  5. 10” Adjustable Wrench
  6. Plumb Bob
  7. Spinning Jenny 
  8. Claw Hammer
  9. Wire Cutters
  10. Crimping Tool 
  11. 100′ Measuring Tape
  12. Chainsaw
  13. Chain-Grab Wire Puller
  14. Fencing Pliers

You will also need stakes and a pre-marked notching stick. Along with these hand tools, a few pieces of power-driven equipment can help save time and energy on a larger operation. A hydraulic post driver, post-hole auger, and a chainsaw will all help with the construction. For more information on the use of these tools, please refer to page 9 of How to Build Orchard and Vineyard Trellises with MAX-TEN 200 High-Tensile Fence Wire.

Each design layout and construction type of trellis will require different hardware and materials. Some basic fasteners and hardware you may need include:

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Even with using the best products on the market, your trellis will only be as successful as the hard work you put into planning and designing the system. By planning your trellis in advance, you will be able to minimize errors and costs. You will also be able to ensure your trellis is neater, lasts longer, is straighter, and is compatible with your crops. Here are some guidelines to follow when planning out your trellis system:

  • Check your soil type
  • Locate hazards
  • Check your topography
  • Consider your needs
  • Plan ahead
  • Focus on the trellis location
  • Prepare a sketch and list of materials
  • Enlist professional assistance and advice

Each of these steps plays a crucial rule in the success of your high-tensile trellis system.

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When you begin planning your trellis, it is important to remember that you cannot install high-tensile wire onto an old-style trellis structure. With this in mind, many growers have turned to operations overseas to model their trellises. The basics of construction start after the plan and design have been completed. Once you have gathered your materials and tools, you can begin laying out your trellis line. Start by staking the four corners of your orchard or vineyard. These stakes are going to mark the location of your end posts for the outside and parallel trellis rows. This step is crucial in eliminating any construction problems.

After you set your stakes, you can start placing your end posts. End posts provide the anchor points for stringing the guide wire. These posts are larger in diameter and length, and set deeper than other posts in the system. It is a standard that these end posts be driven at least 4’ into the ground. To set your end posts, you can use a pilot-hole auger or a fence post driver. Kencove offers an extensive variety of hydraulic post drivers to help set your posts quickly and efficiently.

Planting your trees or vines is easier and faster before the trellis wires are installed. You can stake your lines out to help visually plant your trees and vines or use a mechanical planter. If hand planting, you may consider planting after the guide wire is installed to create the straightest rows possible. When stringing your guide wire, remember this is the key to having a straight trellis where your bottom wire remains the same height off the ground and parallel to all the other wires. Having a straight guide wire will also help when pruning and harvesting mechanically.

Driving line posts is done most effectively by using a hydraulic post driver. Much like your end posts, solidly set line posts are crucial to a long-lasting trellis. Driven posts are much easier to set in any soil type, have a pull-out resistance 10-times that of handset posts, and can be set 6-times faster than handset posts. Line posts will be set or driven differently depending on your terrain type, it is important to research your terrain beforehand to ensure posts are set or driven properly and securely.

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Two basic types of brace assemblies are available, a single-span or a tie-back brace. The end-post brace assemblies are essential to a strong, long-lasting trellis system. These braces must withstand the tension and loads placed on the high-tensile wires in the trellis system. The table above shows the ultimate load capacities of brace assembles.

 

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There are numerous methods to stringing line wires. On short trellises and those with less than 6 wires, you may choose to string and tie off the wires one at a time. Your terrain will determine the best way to string your wires.

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When designing your trellis, you may decide to include splices and staples. Splicing your wire is a good practice as it allows you to avoid too much slack in your wire. Staples can be used to attach your wire to your line posts. Different methods are required based on your terrain type.

The ultimate goal when constructing a high-tensile wire trellis is to maintain the 250-pound tension on each wire. It is important to stretch your wires on your trellis to keep them straight and strong and prevent sagging. In order to create the proper tension, you will need to stretch the wire. This can be done by installing in-line wire strainers. Your trellis length will determine the placement and amount of in-line wire strainers you will need.

After your trellis is installed and stretched to the proper tension, you will need to install a grounding wire for lightning protection. This not only protects you, but your plants as well. And it is required by the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) and National Electrical Safety (NES). You can refer to these agencies for recommendations for grounding your wire.

Now that your trellis is complete, keep these maintenance tips in mind:

  • Inspect periodically to prevent problems
  • Keep high-tensile wire tightened to 250 pounds of tension
  • Reduce tension slightly in colder weather if your climate has extreme temperature drops

There are multiple designs and uses for trellises. The design, tools, and materials you will need ultimately depend on your operation, vision, topography, and type of plant. Below are a few types of trellises used in vineyards and orchards. For more information on the construction of trellises, you can refer to Kencove’s How to Build Orchard and Vineyard Trellises with MAX-TEN 200 High-Tensile Fence Wire book. There are also numerous resources including your local extension office. For more information on products and materials, please visit kencove.com, or give us a call at 1-800-KENCOVE. Our product specialists are happy to assist you in your endeavor!

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