Grapevine Control
Grapevine TSI
Posted by Drew Yarkosky on 02.08.12

Today's blog is actually a guest blog from Brady Miller.  Brady has BS degrees in Wildlife Management and Forestry from Purdue University, and is a Forester for the Dept of
Defense, located in Indiana.  He is also an avid whitetail hunter/outdoorsman.  He is the County Coordinator for a venison donation program called Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry and would like to share information about this nationwide program that hunters can take advantage of to help feed those less fortunate in our communities.  The following blog was written by Brady Miller.

"Long term ownership of forestland will likely require some type of timber stand improvement. TSI is a forest management technique that can have long lasting positive effects on a forest. Grapevine control is one of the easiest things a landowner can do on a piece of property; it is also one of the most important to the health of the forest. Wild grape (Vitus spp.) is a common forest vine that grows throughout the Midwest.  Grapevines can rapidly grow and climb their way through the branches to the upper canopies of trees. Grapevines can cause poor form, decreased growth, decreased seed production and eventually death in trees. The vines climb to the top of trees trying to reach as much sunlight as possible, and once they reach the top of a tree they can quickly overtake a tree by outcompeting it for sunlight. If left unmanaged the vine can eventually kill the tree and send runners out to adjacent trees.

However, a landowner must also consider the wildlife value that grapes produce. Grapes are a consistent source of food for many wildlife species, including deer. Deer utilize the fruit produced by the vines as well as browse leaves and new growth.  Grapevines can also form “arbors” which create cover for wildlife. Most landowners can find a balance with managing for both wildlife and timber when controlling grapevines on a piece of property. A good place to start is to consider leaving grapevine “arbors” for wildlife. Arbors are created when grapevines have basically taken over an area by climbing all over the surrounding vegetation to the point that it falls to the ground and forms a dense matted tangle of vines. These areas can vary in size and are very hard to control once the vines reach the point of becoming an arbor. These arbors create great wildlife habitat in the form of cover and food.


If the landowner is interested in the timber value it is a good idea to control the grapvines in a forest in areas that are not arbors.

 Grapevines can be controlled by simply cutting them off at or below knee height.  Herbicide can be applied to the cut to further control re-sprouting but may not be necessary in a dense forest where very little sunlight reaches the ground. In the shaded conditions of a dense forest where the tree canopies prevent much sunlight from reaching the ground the grapevine may sprout but will eventually die due to lack of sunlight. If vines are treated in areas where there is a lot of sunlight reaching the ground it is a good idea to treat the vine with herbicide as this will provide immediate results and prevent re-sprouting. There are also herbicides available that can be applied directly to the base of the vine without cutting the vine.


Grapevine control TSI is something that can be done stand alone or in combination with crop tree release or any general TSI, but is a must if any timber harvests are planned in the near future. Getting the grapevines under control several years prior to a major disturbance such as a timber harvest is much easier than waiting until after the harvest where vines may be harder to find and treat. In addition, getting the vines under control prior to the harvest will make the job of cutting the timber much safer for the logging crew since tangled vines running from one tree top to another can pose major safety issues for the logging crew.

Doing the grapevine control on your own is fairly easy as long as you are able to identify the plant. You can use a chainsaw, handsaw, pruners, machete or anything that will severe the plant.  If you are unsure about doing this on your own it’s a good idea to contact your states’ district forestry office or a local forestry consultant for guidance."