Root restriction, under-trellis cover cropping, and rootstock modify vine size and berry composition of Cabernet Sauvignon


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Virginia Tech


Vineyards in the Mid-Atlantic often have large, vigorous vines that can be costly to manage and produce inadequate fruit for wine production. Dense canopies increase the incidence of fungal disease, require greater allocation of resources to manage, and inhibit fruit development. The primary objective of these studies was to determine effective vine-size modification treatments that would optimize fruit quality, while reducing labor and chemical control. Research factors included root manipulation, under-trellis ground cover, and rootstock. Treatment levels were root bag (RBG) or no root manipulation (NRM); under-trellis cover crop (CC) or herbicide strip (HERB); and one of three rootstocks: 101-14, Riparia Gloire, or 420-A. Effects of these treatments were measured in two experiments: Experiment I compared combinations of all three treatments, while Experiment II explored the individual effects of root restriction using root bags of varying volumes. Root restriction consistently demonstrated the ability to reduce vegetative growth and vine water status. In the first experiment fruit-zone photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD) was increased by 234% in RBG vines. Timed canopy management tasks indicated that RBG canopies required about half the labor time of NRM canopies. Anthocyanin concentration and total phenolic content were increased by 20% and 19% respectively in RBG fruit. CC increased fruit-zone PPFD by 62%, and increased soluble solids and color compounds. The 420-A rootstock reduced potassium uptake, resulting in lower must potassium concentration. Results demonstrated that these treatments significantly reduce vegetative growth in a humid climate, decrease management labor, and produce higher quality fruit.



grape, grapevine, Vitis vinifera, vigor, fruit composition, root restriction, cover crop, rootstock, viticulture, anthocyanin, phenolic, stem water potential, Cabernet Sauvignon, water stress, potassium, yeast assimilable nitrogen (YAN), crop load