Climate change impacts on Douro Region viticulture and adaptation measures
Climate has a significant impact in the success of any agricultural system, with a direct influence on the crops suitability to a given region, interfering on yield and quality and also with the economic sustainability of the productive activity. In the Douro Demarcated Region (RDD), as in most regions of the Mediterranean climate, the scarce precipitation (33% has less than 600 mm per year), and your high variability, associated with high rates of evapotranspiration during the summer, is usually one of the fundamental factors that limit the grapevine development, as well as the production and quality of the harvest. Thus, facing the scenario in temperature changes for the next decades (1.5-2.5°C) and confirming the predictions of precipitation decreases and/or great variability in the occurrence of heat waves and intense rainfall, the consequences for slope stability in mountain viticulture and sustainability of all operations involved, are risks to be taken into account. In this way, a deepest and sustained knowledge regarding the adaptation measures to adverse environmental conditions is of a crucial importance, enabling a more efficient adaptation of plant growth conditions and the optimization of production and quality of the grapevines. The development of this work, carried out in two commercial vineyards, one located in Soutelo do Douro, São João da Pesqueira, Cima Corgo sub-region, and another located in Numão, Vila Nova de Foz Côa, Douro Superior sub-region, it seeks to establish a relationship between climatic elements and physiological, productive and qualitative parameters, as well as to evaluate the effectiveness of adaptation measures, including different types of deficit irrigation (2002-2019) and the application of shading nets (2019-2020) in the physiological, viticultural and oenological behavior in the Touriga Nacional and Moscatel Galego Branco varieties, respectively. The results showed that the application of deficit irrigation allowed to significantly reduce the impact of the adverse weather conditions at key moments in the development of the grapevine, particularly in the period immediately before veráison and maturation, reducing the negative effects on the physiological processes and productivity, without compromise the must quality parameters. On the other hand, the application of shading nets significantly reduced de leaves temperature, allowing to increase the water potential, stomatal conductance and photosynthetic rate of grapes, which was reflected in the yield increase in the 2nd year of the study. For the maturation indicators, higher levels of total acidity, malic acid and assimilable nitrogen were obtained. The last measure presents a huge potential, being essential to carry out more years of trials to obtain stronger conclusions in terms of production parameters, but also in characteristics as important as the grape ripening components and the organoleptic characteristics of wines.