Three canopy management methods, hand pruning (HP), mechanical prepruning with hand shoot thinning (MP+HT), and mechanical box-pruning with mechanical shoot thinning (MP+MT), were applied with the objective of achieving similar and commercially marketable ‘Cabernet sauvignon’ grape (Vitis vinifera) yields while maintaining vine balance and comparing labor operations costs. Canopy management system labor operation cost estimates indicated a 62% and 80% labor savings with the MP+HT and MP+MT treatments, respectively when compared with HP. The total shoot density of the vines was unaffected by the treatments applied. However, the contribution of count shoots increased with the concomitant addition of mechanization to canopy management. All treatments achieved similar canopy architecture and microclimate. The treatments did not affect photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) intercepted in the fruiting zone of canopy at veraison. All treatments had similar yield, total soluble solids (TSS), juice pH, and titratable acidity (TA) at harvest. Berry skin total phenolics, anthocyanins, and tannins when measured at harvest were also similar among the treatments applied. All treatments tested were within acceptable Ravaz index limits of 5 to 10 lb/lb. However, only MP+MT treatment reached a near optimum leaf area to fruit ratio of 1.2 m2·kg−1 and pruning weight of 1.0 kg·m−1 for warm climate viticulture. The results of this study provide commercially acceptable mechanical canopy management options that may provide labor cost savings for winegrape growers in the San Joaquin Valley (SJV) of California.
S. Kaan Kurtural, Geoffrey Dervishian and Robert L. Wample
S. Kaan Kurtural, Lydia F. Wessner and Geoffrey Dervishian
A trial in the San Joaquin Valley of California investigated how the interaction of pruning systems and mechanical shoot thinning affected canopy performance, yield components, fruit phenolic composition at harvest, and production efficiency of a procumbent cultivar in a warm climate grape-growing region. Two pruning systems and three shoot thinning treatments were arranged factorially in a randomized complete block design with four replications. The pruning methods were applied by either hand-pruning to a target of 25 nodes/m or mechanically hedging and retaining a 100-mm spur height. The shoot density treatments were applied mechanically at a modified Eichhorn-Lorenz scale, stage 17 to retain 40 or 45 shoots/m of a row, or left unthinned. The contribution of count shoots to total shoots increased when mechanical box pruning replaced spur pruning. The contribution of percent count shoots to total shoots was greatest with 40 shoots/m and unthinned treatments. The percent photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) transmission and percent canopy gaps increased with mechanical box pruning and also with the decrease in shoot density per meter of row. Berry and cluster size decreased with mechanical box pruning application. However, because mechanically box-pruned vines carried more clusters, yield per meter of row increased. There was a quadratic response to shoot thinning where berry skin phenolics, anthocyanins, and tannins decreased with the 45 shoots/m treatment when compared with 40 shoots/m and unthinned treatments. Pruning weight per meter of row and leaf area-to-fruit ratio decreased, whereas Ravaz Index (kg yield/kg pruning weight) increased with mechanical box pruning. Shoot thinning treatments did not affect pruning weight per meter of row or leaf area-to-fruit ratio. Increasing amount of PAR and percent canopy gaps by shoot thinning resulted in vegetative compensation from a sparsely populated grapevine canopy, thereby negating its purported effects. The 40 and 45 shoots/m treatments repopulated the canopy rapidly with non-count shoots thereby increasing the pruning weight per meter of row at the end of the season. In the absence of a physiological response, shoot thinning in a procumbent cultivar is not recommended. Mechanically box pruning to a 100-mm spur height and slowing down vegetative growth by irrigating to 50% of daily evapotranspiration (ETo) variance between fruit set and veraison have resulted in a Ravaz Index window (5 to 10 kg·kg−1) and is recommended for procumbent red wine grape cultivars for the region with similar or better berry skin phenolic accumulation than spur-pruned vines.
Anil Shrestha, S. Kaan Kurtural, Matthew W. Fidelibus, Geoffrey Dervishian and Srinivasa Konduru
Weed management is an important problem faced by organic grape (Vitis vinifera) growers as there are few effective and economic options available. However, new organically acceptable weed control products have become available in recent years. Several studies were conducted to compare the efficacy of two mechanical weed control methods (French plow and Bezzerides tree and vine cultivator) with steam, and an organic herbicide (d-limonene) in organic raisin and wine grape vineyards. The experiments were designed as split plots with the aforementioned treatments as main plots with additional weed control treatments (handhoeing and no handhoeing in the raisin grape vineyards; hoeing, no hoeing, steam, and d-limonene in the wine grape vineyard) one month after the main plot treatment as subplots. The plow provided the greatest level of weed control among the treatments followed by the cultivator. The time required to hoe mechanically cultivated plots was also generally lower than the other treatments. Steam and herbicide only suppressed weeds for 2–3 weeks, and the time needed to hoe plots in these treatments was generally similar to the untreated control at all sampling dates. The mechanical treatments also were two to four times more cost-effective than steam or herbicide. Therefore, mechanical treatments were the most effective and economical weed control methods, though none of the treatments affected vine growth, midday stem water potential, petiole nitrate concentration at bloom, grape yield, or quality.