Grapevine sugar concentration model in the Douro Superior, Portugal

Increasingly warm and dry climate conditions are challenging the viticulture and winemaking sector. Digital technologies and crop modelling bear the promise to provide practical answers to those challenges. As viticultural activities strongly depend on harvest date, its early prediction is particularly important, since the success of winemaking practices largely depends upon this key event, which should be based on an accurate and advanced plan of the annual cycle. Herein, we demonstrate the creation of modelling tools to assess grape ripeness, through sugar concentration monitoring. The study area, the Portuguese Côa valley wine region, represents an important terroir in the “Douro Superior” subregion. Two varieties (cv. Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca) grown in five locations across the Côa Region were considered. Sugar accumulation in grapes, with concentrations between 170 and 230 g l-1, was used from 2014 to 2020 as an indicator of technological maturity conditioned by meteorological factors. The climatic time series were retrieved from the EU Copernicus Service, while sugar data were collected by a non-profit organization, ADVID, and by Sogrape, a leading wine company. The software for calibrating and validating this model framework was the Phenology Modeling Platform (PMP), version 5.5, using Sigmoid and growing degree-day (GDD) models for predictions. The performance was assessed through two metrics: Roots Mean Square Error (RMSE) and efficiency coefficient (EFF), while validation was undertaken using leave-one-out cross-validation. Our findings demonstrate that sugar content is mainly dependent on temperature and air humidity. The models achieved a performance of 0.65<EFF<0.92, with an error of 2.90<RMSE< 5.87. Overall, the behaviour of the two cultivars was similar, whereas the atmospheric variables provided suitable modelling of technological maturity. The models provided herein may help growers to better define and plan their annual activities, thus being a key decision support tool in viticulture. 

Authors: Nicolò Clemente1, João A. Santos1, Natacha Fontes2, António Graça2, Igor Gonçalves3 and Helder Fraga1

1Centre for the Research and Technology of Agro-Environmental and Biological Sciences, CITAB, Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, UTAD, Vila Real, Portugal 
2Sogrape Vinhos S.A., Avintes, Portugal 
3Associação para o Desenvolvimento da Viticultura Duriense, Edifício Centro de Excelência da Vinha e do Vinho Parque de Ciência e Tecnologia de Vila Real, Régia Douro Park, Portugal 


Keywords: viticulture, yield, Douro, Portugal, climate change

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