The influence of pre-heatwave leaf removal on leaf physiology and berry development
Due to climate change, the occurrence of heatwaves and drought events is increasing, with significant impact on viticulture. Common ways to adapt viticulture to a changing climate include site selection, genotype selection, irrigation management and canopy management. The latter mentioned being for instance source-sink manipulations, such as leaf removal, with the aim to delay ripening.
However, there is limited knowledge on how leaf removal influences water relations, especially when applied immediately before a heatwave. The purpose of this study is to investigate how leaf removal (reducing the total leaf area by 30 % in the apical part of the canopy) influences leaf physiology and berry quality under multiple abiotic stress conditions. Using climate chambers that allow a fine control of the climatic conditions, a 5-day heatwave with maximum temperature of 40 °C will be simulated. The factorial experiment includes two levels of soil water availability (irrigated, drought stressed) and two levels of defoliation (defoliated, not defoliated) with the intention to determine how pre-heatwave leaf removal influences (I) the usage of water under heat and drought conditions, (II) leaf physiological performance (gas exchange, photosystem efficiency), as well as (III) berry development and quality (yield, chemical composition and berry mechanical properties). Our hypothesis is that, by significantly reducing the leaf area (i.e. water transpiring surface) before a heatwave, fewer irrigation water is needed to maintain a favorable water status. The experiment is currently ongoing (summer 2023), therefore we cannot provide preliminary results at this stage. Nevertheless, with our results we hope to validate leaf removal a new and easy to implement short-term adaption strategy to make viticulture more resilient in the context of climate change.
Issue: ICGWS 2023
1Faculty of Agricultural, Environmental and Food Sciences, Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, Bolzano, Italy
2Institute for Alpine Environment, European Academy of Bolzano/Bozen, Drususallee 1, Bolzano, 39100, Italy
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grapevine, drought stress, heat stress, leaf removal, berry quality