By: Alyssa L. Ochs
Here at The Grapevine Magazine, we have covered many pruning-related topics for vineyards in past issues, such as pruning techniques, best practices and seasonal tips. But if your vineyard is looking to really improve your pruning practices this year, you may benefit from specific product recommendations from industry experts that can make your life easier by saving you time and money while keeping employees safe.
For example, a pruning shear called the Infaco F3020 is one of the best products available on the market today for vineyard pruning to consider buying for your wine grape maintenance and upkeep. Two industry experts told The Grapevine about this tool and what vineyard owners should know before buying it.
Pruning Tools and Techniques
Pruning may seem simple enough on the surface, but the tools you use and how you train your staff really go a long way in a vineyard. While removing unwanted fruit and foliage, you are also helping to control vine damage, prevent disease and improve your chances for a successful yield.
The most common vineyard tools used for pruning are hand and lopping shears, but you may also need saws and larger tools for challenging jobs.
Safety must always be the top priority while using sharp tools among the rows of grapevines, so it is helpful to be well-stocked with gloves and accessories that make the job easier and more efficient. Meanwhile, properly training your staff members to use these tools can prevent many common pruning-related injuries, such as hand lacerations, strained shoulders and aching neck and back muscles.
The pruning process is relatively straightforward: remove the canes first, remove the spurs second and ensure all old growth is out of the way of new fruiting canes and renewal spurs. Yet recent innovations in pruning tools make this tedious but necessary maintenance task more productive than ever.
While researching the latest and greatest pruning tools for vineyards, Infaco’s brand-new F3030 electric pruning shear stood out. After over six years of research, tests and fine-tuning, Infaco released this new and improved version as a follow-up to its F3015 model. The new F3020 builds upon the F3015’s technical base and adds numerous improvements to improve cutting speed and work comfort. It is ideal for vine pruning and is lighter, more compact and easier to handle than the previous versions of the tool.
Infaco-USA, Inc. carries on the legacy of M. Daniel Delmas, who invented the world’s first electric pruning shear in 1984. The company has designed, produced and sold over 350,000 pruning shears in more than 45 countries.
“Our founder invented the world’s first-ever electric pruner in response to friends he had in Southern France with vineyards,” Ananda Van Hoorn, operations manager for Infaco-USA, told The Grapevine Magazine. “At the time, they had an incredible labor shortage, and back in the 1980s, pruning was the single biggest labor expense for vineyards, just as it is today. So, the shear he invented was designed to work with all kinds of vineyards – cane pruned, cordons, goblet and so on.”
Van Hoorn said that the F3020 electric pruning shear increases productivity by an average of 30 percent in a vineyard since users can keep making the same number of cuts per hour all day long.
“So, vineyards that switch to our shear will find that they don’t need to purchase one shear per worker,” she said. “Instead, some of the workers who were previously pruning will be reassigned to cleaning up canes or other vineyard tasks.”
Van Hoorn explained how this shear has a built-in safety system, so her top safety tip is simple: use the F3020, and you’ll never have to worry about losing a finger again!
“The trigger on the new F3020 is metallic and connects to your entire body’s electric system through your trigger finger,” she said. “This means that when you touch the metal blade of the shear to your skin, the circuit is grounded out.”
She also said that maintenance of the tool is easy and only involves greasing the tool once per day and sharpening it twice daily with the included grease and sharpening stone.
Among the various pruners and canopy products offered by BDi Machinery, Paul J. Licata, the owner and president of this company, says that the best and most commonly purchased pruner is the battery-powered Infaco F3020. BDi Machinery Sales, Inc. is a complete source for innovative, specialty agricultural machinery and offers everything from pruners to sprayers, hedgers, leaf-removers, shredders, cultivators, mowers, row-mulchers and more. BDi Machinery is an authorized Infaco provider for routine and annual service programs. Licata spoke to this pruner’s cutting speeds, work comfort, compact design and ease of handling. The F3020 is used for pruning during the dormant and growing season.
“Loaded with technological advances, the pruning shear can now be ‘connected’ using an optional Bluetooth box,” Licata said. “This new system makes it possible to report highly relevant data in order to achieve ever more effective pruning work.”
Licata also said that this connectivity option, combined with the Infaco application, can make many adjustments directly from a smartphone, such as adjustable blade opening management, blade crossing and new “soft mode” speed configuration. Additionally, it offers advanced reading and analysis of the data collected during the device’s use.
“A technology differentiator is the Infaco electronic safety system (DSES) – Wireless DSES/hard-wired DSES,” Licata said. “Infaco has always considered safety to be essential. A true pioneer in the 1990s, it has never stopped investing in cut-prevention solution research for its user clients. The new safety system comprises a conductive trigger that connects the user’s body and the shears’ electronic system, Infaco patents. As soon as the cutting head touches the opposite hand, bare or wearing a glove, the pruning shear instantly opens to prevent injury.”
Pruning-Related Parts and Accessories
When discussing additional parts and accessories that vineyards may need for their pruning tools, the suggestion of additional head sizes arose. Infaco’s shear is the only electric shear in the world that features interchangeable heads, so the most common accessories that Infaco’s clients buy are additional head sizes to increase their cutting capacity up to 55 millimeters or 2.17 inches.“
This lets vineyards use the same tool for cane pruning as they do for Eutypa surgery without having to invest in a whole new set; just buy the head!” said Van Hoorn. “We also find some vineyards using our electric shear with the medium head 100 percent of the time. This is because with manual pruning, some vineyards have workers carrying around two different tools that they have to switch between when they identify a larger cut to make. Buying the F3020 with medium head gives workers a 1.75-inch cutting capacity, and they can easily flip between a customized smaller opening and the full capacity. This means that this one tool replaces carrying around a set of pruning shears and a pair of loppers or saw and cuts down on wasted time switching back and forth between tools.”
BDi Machinery’s Paul Licata pointed out that you can carry the Infaco F3020’s battery in four different ways: on a vest with straps, on the belt without the removable straps, using the trouser belt clip or directly in a pocket thanks to its small format. He also said a new shear holder with a minimal size is secure and easy to use because the cutting head is protected and stored in its sheath with just two steps.
The tool’s main asset is its versatility, thanks to the medium and maxi kits,” Licata said. “It only takes five minutes to easily transform your shears for other occasional or permanent pruning applications. The Infaco design office engineers have completely revolutionized the pole system to propose an innovative and ergonomic solution. Simply clip the F3020 pruning shear to the end of the pole and the battery to the other end: that’s it, the tool is ready for use. Forget the previous cables, and operate your tool using a wireless Bluetooth trigger system. Also, you can keep the blade profile sharp easily and in record time using the Infaco electric sharpener.”
Innovations and Considerations
Van Hoorn from Infaco-USA told The Grapevine Magazine how you’ll see many things her company offers that the competition can’t match because Infaco has been perfecting its shear for nearly 40 years. This includes the built-in safety system, more accessories to increase the tool’s versatility and the absolute lightest battery on the market that will power a shear for an entire workday.
“Quality and reliability have always been core concerns to Infaco,” said Licata from BDi Machinery. “From design, through production, then in the after-sales department, it offers users excellent products and services that fulfill the company’s strong values.”
Looking ahead, Van Hoorn from Infaco shared with us something new that will be coming from the brand in the months ahead.
“Infaco will be announcing a brand-new tying tool that works with the same battery as our F3020 shear for this spring,” Van Hoorn said. “The new AT1000 electric tying machine is designed specifically for cane-tied vineyards and will be an absolute game-changer!”