Combining effect of leaf removal and natural shading on grape ripening under two irrigation strategies in Manto negro (Vitis vinifera L.)

The increasingly frequent heat waves during grape ripening pose challenges for high quality wine grape production. Defoliation is a common practice that can improve the control of diseases in bunches, but also it increases the exposure to sunlight. Grapes exposed to solar radiation reach temperatures over the optimum for berry development and maturation. This makes the development of irrigation and canopy management techniques of great importance to maximize yield and grape quality. A field experiment was carried out during 2021 using Manto negro wine grapes to study the effect of applied irrigation and different light exposure levels on grape quality. Two irrigation treatments were imposed based on the frequency and amount of water doses in a four-block experimental vineyard at Bodega Ribas (Mallorca). Three light exposure treatments were randomly applied in each irrigation plot. The light treatments included exposed clusters from pea size, non-exposed clusters, and shaded clusters after softening. Leaf area index and canopy porosity was estimated every 2 weeks. Midday leaf water potential was measured weekly. Additionally, apparent electrical conductivity was measured between rows to estimate the soil water content variability. Light and temperature sensors were installed at the bunch level to quantify the differences in bunch temperature and light intensity among treatments. The effect of irrigation and cluster light exposure on berry weight, TSS, TA, malic acid, tartaric acid, K+, and pH were analysed at 5 moments along grape ripening. During different heat waves, the natural shading technique decreased the maximum bunch temperature around 10 °C respect to the exposed bunches in both irrigation strategies. The combination of defoliation and shading techniques after softening decreased TSS at harvest and affected most of the quality parameters during the last stages of ripening, showing an interesting technique to delay ripening in warm viticulture areas.

Authors: Esther Hernández-Montes1, Belén Padilla2, Guillem Puigserver1 and Josefina Bota1

1University of Balearic Islands, Palma, Mallorca, Spain
2Bodega Ribas, Consell, Mallorca, Spain

Email: e.hernandez@uib.es

Keywords: shading, defoliation, grape ripening, irrigation

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