The combined effects of climate, soils, and deficit irrigation on yield and quality of Touriga Nacional under high atmospheric demand in the Douro Region

Global warming is one of the biggest environmental, social and economic threats in several viticultural regions. In the Douro Valley, changes are expected in the coming years, namely an increase in temperature and a decrease in precipitation. These changes are likely to have consequences for the production and quality of wine.
The aim of this study was to explore the effects of different soil characteristics combined with several deficit irrigation strategies, managed throughout ETc references and predawn leaf water potentials thresholds, on physiology, yield, and qualitative attributes on the Touriga Nacional variety under years of mild to severe water and heat stress.
The studies were conducted over seven years (2015 to 2021) in two plots of a commercial vineyard located at Quinta do Ataíde (Symington Family Estates) planted in 2011 and 2014 at 170 meters elevation, growing under three water regimes: non-irrigated (NI) and two deficit irrigation strategies (30% and 60% ETc) assessed weekly by Ψpd. The site has an annual rainfall below 500 mm, with high atmospheric demand. Climate data was collected from a weather station, located on site. Berry ripening was followed weekly for fruit analysis. At harvest, yield, vigour and pruning weight per vine were determined from 90 vines by treatment. Each season at veraison the NDVI Index was accessed by a drone. The soils physic-chemistry in the experimental blocs were analysed and grouped by SWHC. Delta C-13 analyses were also performed per treatment in two years.Irrigation had a positive effect on yield per vine, mostly due to an increase in berry and cluster weight, and fertility index through the years. A significant increase in sugar content, colour and phenols was observed with deficit irrigation in some years, but vine vigour related to soil characteristics had by far the greatest impact on quality.

Authors: Fernando Alves1, Joana Valente1, Pedro Leal da Costa1, Artur Moreira1, Ricardo Silva1, Frank S. Rogerson1 and Charles Symington1

Symington Family Estates, Vinhos S.A. – Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal

Email: fernando.alves@symington.com

Keywords: Climate, Soil, Deficit Irrigation, Touriga Nacional, Yield, Quality, Douro Region

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