Giovanni Battista TORNIELLI, Ron SHMULEVIZ
University of Verona – Italy

Email contact: giovannibattista.tornielli[@]

AIM: Winegrape cultivars are particularly sensitive to temperature and recent changes in climate have advanced the onset of berry ripening, resulting in unbalanced fruit composition at harvest. High temperatures during ripening result in berries with increased sugar concentration, reduced acidity and colour and unwanted or underdeveloped aroma compounds. To reduce the negative effects of climate change, several adaptation strategies, represented especially by viticultural practices, have been proposed. In this work we tested and compared the effect of two different treatments aimed to delay ripening of the most important grape varieties cultivated in Valpolicella (Verona, Italy).

METHODS: Clusters of Corvina and Corvinone, cultivated in Valpolicella, cordon trained, cane pruned, were treated one week before veraison with 1-Naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA), a synthetic auxin. On another block of vines of the same cultivars in the same vineyard, a postveraison defoliation treatment was applied, with the effect of removing about 30-40% of the leaves thus creating a vertical window without leaves above the bunch area. The dynamic of the main ripening parameters was monitored over the course of maturation and yield and yield components were determined at harvest.

RESULTS: Leaf removal had a very limited effect on delaying the accumulation of sugars in berries, which was the main scope of the trial, compared to berries from untreated vines. On the other hand, the NAA treatment greatly impacted the ripening dynamic of both varieties, postponing the accumulation of sugars and anthocyanins and the decrease in acidity. The effect was more pronounced in Corvinone than in Corvina.

CONCLUSIONS: The results evidenced that a relevant delay of ripening time can be obtained by treating clusters of the main grape varieties cultivated in Valpolicella with auxin-based products. On the contrary, the leaf defoliation treatment only weakly affected the ripening dynamics, possibly due to the remobilization of reserves from the perennial organs of the plant.

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