Viticultural practices: past, present and future

Practices in viticulture have greatly evolved in the last five decades. There were three objectives: improvement in the quality of the products, reduction in the production costs through mechanization, and protection of the environment. In terms of soil management, the combination of different techniques such as soil tillage, chemical weeding and cover-cropping, allowed to reach these three objectives in most cases. Insuring an adequate nitrogen supply to the grapevine was proved to play a key role, since nitrogen deficiency could impair the wine quality. The role of integrated water supply was pointed out, since moderate water restriction was favourable for the wine quality. In terms of vine training, a special interest was given to the winter pruning, keeping in mind the respect for the sap flows and trying to limit the expansion of the wood diseases, since the entirely mechanical pruning was rather inconclusive. Thresholds of leaf/fruit ratios were established and the canopy management during the summer such as leaf removal and shoot tipping were adapted accordingly. The objective was also to minimise the risk of diseases. The control of the yield has become one of the main concerns in viticulture. Although cluster thinning before maturation used to be unimaginable, it is today a common practice in all the vineyards concerned about wine quality and vine longevity. The concept of sustainability will go on influencing the evolution of the practices in viticulture.

Authors: François MURISIER, Vivian ZUFFEREY, Jean-Laurent SPRING

Station de recherche Agroscope Changins-Wädenswil ACW, CH-1260 Nyon


Keywords: soil and water management, vine management, yield, quality

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