Carbon supply reduction was used to investigate the relationship between total non-structural carbohydrate (TNSC) concentration in the vegetative tissue and the production of phenolic compounds in the fruit of grapevines. Potted, greenhouse-grown DeChaunac vines were partially defoliated on one of three dates (berry set, veraison, or 7 days pre-harvest) during the growing season. Light environment of the fruit clusters was not affected by defoliation. Seven days following defoliation, half of the vines were destructively harvested for carbohydrate analysis, while the remaining vines were kept for fruit analysis at maturity. Defoliation of vines at berry set and veraison significantly reduced TNSC concentration in the leaf tissue. Partial defoliation of vines at berry set reduced total flavonols by 24%, total anthocyanins by 33%, and total phenolics by 13% in the fruit compared to the control vines. At veraison, partial defoliation of vines reduced total flavonols by 8%, anthocyanins by 43%, and did not affect total phenolics. While flavonol and total phenolic content was not affected by defoliation 7 days prior to harvest, total anthocyanins were increased by 39%, although leaf TNSC concentration was not affected. Concentration of total flavonols and anthocyanins were positively correlated with TNSC in the leaves (r = 0.53 and r = 0.73, respectively) while total phenolic content was not correlated with TNSC. These results indicate that development of anthocyanins and flavonols in fruit is linked to carbohydrate availability from vegetative tissues during berry set and veraison.
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