Sixty five % of the agricultural area of the Basque Country located in the DO Ca Rioja corresponds to vineyards. More than 40% of it has an average slope greater than 10%, which makes it sensitive to erosive processes. Furthermore, it is foreseeable that extreme weather events (storms, hail, extreme heat and cold, etc.) will be favored due to climate change. Cover cropping can mitigate this risk, and therefore the objective of this work is to evaluate the impact that a vegetable cover has on the agronomic behavior of the vineyard, the quality of the grape and soil erosion. For this, a trial has been carried out with a Graciano variety vineyard with a slope between 10% -20% during the years 2020 and 2021. Conventional tillage management in the area has been compared (4-6 passes per year of tillage machinery) versus spontaneous vegetation cover management in the vineyard. This implies not tilling and allowing the grass of the land to colonize the range between the lines of vines, controlling their height through 1-3 mowing passes per year, always trying to affect the surface of the land as little as possible. The vegetative growth, yield and quality of the grape and wine was measured. Furthermore, erosion has been measured using Gerlasch boxes. The yield was lower in the second year of the trial in the cover crop treatment, but erosion was significantly reduced.
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.
In the context of LIFE project MIDMACC (LIFE18 CCA/ES/001099), several pilots have been installed in vineyards in mid mountain areas of Catalonia (NE Spain) to test well stablished agronomic practices to increase the adaptation of Mediterranean mid mountain to climate change. Soil water content (SWC) at three different depths (15, 30 and 45cm) was measured in continuum from August 2020. One pilot (WC) included a well-established green cover (GC), a new GC (NC) and a conventional soil management (CM, tilling+herbicides). NC presented an intermediate state between WC and CM, responding similarly to CM in autumn but quickly reaching similar SWC to WC, then following the same evolution till next spring, with CM presenting lower values along autumn and winter. Then vegetation activation decreased SWC in all plots, (much slower in CM, lacking GC). Sensibility to spring rains is again intermediate for NC, which joins SWC evolution of CM by the end of spring till next autumn. It is expected that NC will resemble WC more and more as its GC develops. In the pilot combining vine training (VSP vs Gobelet) and hillside management (slope vs terrace), no clear pattern could be related with these conditions. However, both terraces seem to be more sensitive to spring rains. A third pilot included new vineyards (7 and 1 year old). In the new vineyard (N), higher canopy development, a spontaneous green cover and row straw resulted in a slower SWC dynamic, not so sensitive to rains but conserving more soil water in spring and most of summer, even with presumably a higher water extraction by vines. In the newest vineyard (VN) the deepest sensor is still sensitive to rain events all over the year and SWC is always highest at this depth, revealing small water capture by vines.
A gradual decline in vineyards has been observed over the past twenty years worldwide. This might be explained by the climate change, practices change or the increase of dieback diseases. To increase the longevity of vines, we studied the impact of different pruning strategies in four adult and four young vineyards located in France and Spain. In France, vineyards were planted with Cabernet franc on 3309C while Spanish trials were planted with Tempranillo grafted on 110R. Vegetative expression, yield, quality of berries and wood vessels conductivity were measured. The distribution of vegetative expression, yield and berry composition between primary and secondary vegetation were quantified. Finally, tomography was used to evaluate the implication of the treatments on sap flows.
First results show that i) the respectful pruning leads to an increase of 30 to 50% more secondary shoots than the aggressive pruning in France and between 15 and 20% in Spain, ii) there is no major effect on the yield over the first two years following the implementation of the new pruning practices, although the proportion of clusters from suckers is higher on the respectful pruning method. On young vines, the development of the trunk according to a respectful pruning leads to a loss of harvest 2 years after planting. This is due to the removal, on the future trunk, of the green suckers which carrying bunches. This operation carried out in spring rather than during winter pruning, would promote a better leaf / fruit balance when the plant comes into production, and could lead to better hydraulic conduction in the vessels of the trunk. Maintaining these trials for several years will provide more robust data to assess the impact of these practices on the vines over the long term.
The development of fertigation could be a possible solution to adapt PGI Côtes de Gascogne (south-western France) wine production to climate change. The goal would be to limit the negative effects of water stress on yield performance expectation (around 15 tons per hectare) and to make the use of fertilizers more efficient. This study aimed to compare the effects of three strategies of water and minerals supply on grapes and wines qualities. Two fertigation practices were compared to a rainfed control which is the current standard of the local grape growing production. The fertilizers (nitrogen and potassium) were (i) fully brought by irrigation pipe during the season, (ii) partially brought by irrigation pipe and partially on the soil or (iii) fully brought on the soil at the beginning of the season for the non-irrigated control (local standard). The trial was run on cv. Colombard trained on spur pruned with vertical shoot positioning system on a sandy-silty-clay soil over the 2020 vintage which was particularly hot for the region. Moderate to strong water deficit appeared during the growing period of the berries and held on after veraison. Irrigation strategies allowed for maintaining grapevine without water deficit and being significantly different from the control water status. Grapevine with fully or partial fertigation strategies produced 25% more yield mainly due to the increase of the bunch weight. Also, the fully fertigation showed the best ratio between yield and maturity and brought 30% less of fertilizers (both nitrogen and potassium) than the two other strategies. Finally, the analysis of aromatic compounds in Colombard wines, varietal thiols family, showed the same level of concentrations for the 3 treatments, confirming that the yield performance did not impact the aromatic potential in this trial.
The modification of cultural practices in grapevine cv. Syrah, does it modify the characteristics of the musts?
The work shows the results of a year of experimentation (2020) in a Syrah variety vineyard in La Roda (Castilla-La Mancha, Spain). The trial approach was on a randomized block design with two factors: Irrigation (I) and Pruning (P).
Irrigation schedules were adjusted to apply amounts close to 1,500 m3/ha. With this provision, 2 different irrigation treatments were proposed: I1) Start of irrigation from pea-sized grape to post-harvest (providing at least 20 % of the total amount of irrigation water to be provided post-harvest); I2) Start of irrigation from pea-sized grape to harvest (usual irrigation practice in the study area). Pruning was proposed with two treatments, one at the end of January (P1), which is pruning on a conventional date; and P2) pruning carried out at the beginning of budding. In total, 4 repetitions were designed with 4 elementary plots, each one of them representing one of the proposed treatments (I1P1; I1P2; I2P1; I2P2). In total, 16 plots were worked on and each elementary plot consisted of 30 strains, distributed in 3 lines.
The productive response was evaluated with the yield results of the harvest harvested at 23 ºBrix. The qualitative response was measured in the musts through the indices of technological (acidity, pH and potassium) and phenolic maturity and aromatic compounds in free and glycosylated fractions. The treatments tested had, in general, an effect on the different variables analyzed.
Second pruning as a strategy to delay maturation in cv. ‘Touriga nacional’ in the Portuguese Douro region
The advance in maturation of wine grapes is an important climate change risk related effect that could affect warm regions like Portuguese Douro Wine Region. Indeed, the climate analysis over the past years registered a decrease in the precipitation, significant higher average temperatures, and a more frequent occurrence of extreme weather events, including heat waves. In these conditions the length from anthesis until maturation is shortened and the uncoupling of technical and phenolic maturity results in berries with higher sugar concentration (and lower acidity), but lower anthocyanins, tannins, and total phenolic concentration, which produce unbalanced wines.
In this work, an innovative strategy of crop forcing, based on forcing vine regrowth after a second pruning of green shoots, was tested, aimed at delaying ripening until the temperature becomes lower and, therefore, preventing acidity loss and increasing anthocyanin-to-sugar ratio. The experiments were conducted in 2019 and 2020 in a commercial vineyard of ‘Touriga Nacional’ located in the Douro Region. Crop forcing was conducted 15 (CF1) to 30 (CF2) days after fruit set. Vines pruned with conventional methods were used as control (CF0). Results confirmed that fruit ripening was shifted from the hot season (August/September), until a cooler period (October through early-November). At harvest, grapevine berries from CF1 and CF2 presented lower pH and higher acidity, than control, with no significant differences in colour intensity and phenolic levels composition. Sugar content was lower in CF2-treated vines in both seasons. However, in CF-treated vines the number and size of clusters were significantly lower (up to 88% reduction) than in control plants. A metabolomics analysis of mature berries from CF-treated vines and control is underway. Crop forcing was indeed effective in producing a more balance berry composition but severely reduced grapevine yield,
Increasing temperatures worldwide are expected to cause a change in spatial distribution of plant species along elevational gradients and there are already observable shifts to higher elevations as a consequence of climate change for many species. Not only naturally growing plants, but also agricultural cultivations are subject to the effects of climate change, as the type of cultivation and the economic viability depends largely on the prevailing climatic conditions. A shift to higher elevations therefore represents a viable adaptation strategy to climate change, as higher elevations are characterized by lower temperatures. This is especially important in the case of viticulture because a certain wine-style can only be achieved under very specific climatic conditions. Although there are several studies investigating climatic suitability within winegrowing regions or longitudinal shifts of winegrowing areas, little is known about how fast vineyards move to higher elevations, which may represent a viable strategy for winegrowers to maintain growing conditions and thus wine-style, despite the effects of climate change. We therefore investigated the change in the spatial distribution of vineyards along an elevational gradient over the past 20 years in the mountainous wine-growing region of Alto Adige (Italy). A dataset containing information about location and planting year of more than 26000 vineyard parcels and 30 varieties was used to perform this analysis. Preliminary results suggest that there has been a shift to higher elevations for vineyards in general (from formerly 700m to currently 850 m a.s.l., with extreme sites reaching 1200 m a.s.l.), but also that this development has not been uniform across different varieties and products (i.e. vitis vinifera vs hybrid varieties and still vssparkling wines). This is important for climate change adaptation as well as for rural development. Mountain areas, especially at mid to high elevations, are often characterized by severe land abandonment which can be avoided to some degree if economically viable and sustainable land management strategies are available.
Postveraison shoot trimming in Tannat and Merlot: preliminary results on yield components, plant balance and berry composition
There is currently a trend towards the production of wines with low alcohol content. To achieve this, grapes with low sugar content must be used. There are techniques at the vineyard level that can delay ripening and avoid excessive sugar accumulation without, a priori, affecting the final polyphenol content. Postveraison shoot trimming (PVST) is experimentally evaluated for these purposes, but its impact under Uruguayan climatic conditions with high interannual variability is not known. The aim of this work is to assess the PVST in Tannat and Merlot cultivars and their impact on yield components, plant balance and berry primary composition. In this study, two commercial vineyards of 10 years old Tannat and Merlot (grafted on SO4) at Canelones Department were selected. During the 2020-201 growing season, grapevines were submitted to PVST when grapes reached 15º Brix. In a randomized block, trimmed (T) and control (C) plants were evaluated with three repetitions each cultivar. Evaluation of the evolution of primary berry composition during ripening, measurement of yield components and plant balance were performed. For both cultivars, PVST did not affect yield components. Merlot reached 5.4 kg per plant and Tannat 7.1 kg, with not statistical significance between treatments. However, statistical differences were observed in terms of plant balance. In Merlot Ravaz Index reached a difference of 5.3 (12.0 in T and 6.7 in C) meanwhile Tannat reached 3.5 of statistical difference (13.7 in T and 10.2 in C). The tendency to imbalance for the treated plants had an impact on the final grape composition. Merlot grapes showed statistical difference in final total acidity (0.3 g of difference between treatments) while treatments impact final sugar content on Tannat grapes (10.0 g of difference between treatments). Further studies are needed to assess the impact of different canopy management techniques in our conditions.
High concentration of sugars in grapes and alcohol in wines is one of the consequences of climate change on viticulture production in several wine-growing regions. In order to investigate the possibilities of adaptation of vineyard management practices aimed to reduce the accumulation of sugar during the maturation phase without reducing the accumulation of anthocyanins in grapes, a study with severe shoot trimming, shoot thinning, cluster thinning and date of harvest was conducted on Merlot variety in Istria region (Croatia), under the Mediterranean climate. Four factors which may affect grape maturation and its composition at harvest were investigated in a two-years experiment; severe shoot trimming applied at veraison when >80% of berries changed colour (in comparison to untreated control), shoot thinning (0 and 30%), cluster thinning (0 and 30%), and the date of harvest (early and standard harvest dates). Shoot thinning had no significant impact on berry composition, despite the obtained reduction in yield per vine. Lower Brix in grapes were obtained with earlier harvest date and if no cluster thinning was applied, although at the same time a reduction in the concentration of anthocyanins in berries was observed in these treatments. On the other hand, if severe shoot trimming was applied when >80% of berries changed colour, a reduction of Brix was obtained without a negative impact on berry anthocyanins concentration. We conclude that in cases when undesirably high sugar concentrations at harvest are expected, severe shoot trimming at 80% veraison may effectively be used in order to obtain moderate sugar concentration in berries together with the adequate phenolic composition.
Farming management practices aiming at conserving soil moisture have been developed in arid and semiarid-areas facing water scarcity problems. Organic mulching is an effective method to manipulate the crop-growing microclimate increasing crop yield by controlling soil temperature, and retaining soil moisture by reducing soil evaporation. In this sense, the effectiveness of different organic mulching materials (straw mulch and grapevine pruning debris) applied within the row of a vineyard was evaluated on the soil and on the vine in a Tempranillo vineyard located in La Rioja (Spain). Organic mulches were compared with a traditional bare soil management technique (based on the use of herbicides to avoid weed incidence). Mulching coverages favourably influenced the soil water retention throughout all the grapevine vegetative cycle. However, the soil-moisture variation was not the same under different mulching materials, being the straw mulch (SM) the one that retained more water in comparison with grapevine pruning debris (GPD) based-cover. The changes of soil moisture in the upper surface layer (0–10 cm) were highly dynamic, probably due to water vapour fluxes across the soil-atmospheric interface. However, both, SM and GPD reduced these fluctuations as compared with bare soils. A similar trend occurred with soil temperature. Both organic mulches altered soil temperature in comparison with bare soil by reducing soil temperature in summer and raising it in winter. Moreover, the same buffering effect for the temperature on the covered soil also remains in the deeper layers. To conclude, we could see that organic mulching had a positive impact on soil-moisture storage and soil temperature and the extent of this effect depends on the type of mulching materials. These changes led to higher rates of photosynthesis and stomatal conductivity compared to bare soils, also favouring crop growth and grape yields.
A multidisciplinary approach to evaluate the effects of the training system on the performance of “Aglianico del Vulture” vineyards
Vineyards are complex agro-ecosystems with high spatial and temporal variability. An efficient training system may counteract the adverse effects of this variability. Moreover, considering the climate change issues, choosing an efficient training system that enhances water use and protects the vines from radiative thermal stress has become a priority for the farmers. A multidisciplinary approach that assesses the soil-crop-yield-wine relationships of vineyards in a distributed and holistic way could bring added knowledge on the behavior of the different training systems. This ongoing research aimed to implement a multidisciplinary approach to study the behavior of “Aglianico del Vulture” grapevines trained with two different systems: a spurred cordon (SC) and an “Alberello in parete” (AL), grown in a high-quality wine production area of Basilicata region (Italy). The approach merged several methods and scales of soil, ecophysiology, must/wine quality, and spectral data collection to assess the influence of the training system. Homogeneous zones (HZs) in both training systems were defined through a procedure based on geomorphological classification, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) images analysis, and a traditional soil survey supported by geophysical scanning. During the 2021 season, TDR probes monitored soil water content, while grapevine health status was assessed using eco-physiological measurements (LWP, chlorophyll content, PSII photosynthetic efficiency, LAI, and point-based field spectroscopy). These grapevine in-vivo measurements validated the spectral vegetation indexes (NDVI, RENDVI, CVI, and TVI) derived from the UAV multispectral imagery, which monitored the grapevine status in a distributed and non-invasive way. Grape yield, quality of berries, must and wine were measured to assess the effects of the training systems. The first experimental year results showed the variability of the vineyards and revealed relationships among soil parameters, crop characteristics, and vegetation indices of the SC and AL training systems. This multidisciplinary study could bring new insights into the vineyard training system’s effects on grape yield and wine quality.