Effects of severity of post-flowering leaf removal on berry growth and composition of three red Vitis vinifera L. cultivars grown under semiarid conditions

Yorgos Kotseridis, Afroditi Georgiadou, Panagiotis Tikos, Stamatina Kallithraka, Stefanos Koundouras
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2012 June 13, 60 (23): 6000-10
The effects of the severity of post-flowering leaf removal on the growth and phenolic composition of berry skin and seeds were studied in three Vitis vinifera L. genotypes over two consecutive seasons, 2007 and 2008. The study was conducted in a commercial vertical shoot positioned (VSP)-trained nonirrigated vineyard of northern Greece, planted with cultivars Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Sangiovese. Three different severities of leaf removal in the fruit zone were applied manually at berry set: nondefoliated (ND), removal of the lateral shoots of the first six basal nodes (LR), and full removal of the total leaf area (main leaves and lateral shoots) of the first six basal nodes (FR). Grape samples were obtained at commercial harvest. Leaf removal decreased yield per vine and cluster weight in Merlot and Sangiovese. Cluster compactness was reduced with the severity of defoliation only in Merlot, due to a decrease in berry number per cluster; berry fresh weight was unaffected in both cultivars. On the contrary, in Cabernet Sauvignon, yield was unaffected but berry size was restrained by leaf removal. Skin and seed mass followed variations in berry mass (except for seed mass in Sangiovese). Fruit zone leaf removal did not affect must soluble solids and increased titratable acidity only in Merlot. Defoliation increased skin anthocyanins in Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon in the order FR > LR > ND but significantly reduced seed flavan-3-ols mainly as a result of the reduction in catechin and epicatechin amount. For these varieties, FR had lower seed flavan-3-ols than ND in both varieties, whereas LR had intermediate values. However, in Sangiovese, the highest seed phenolic content was recorded in LR. The results showed that post-flowering leaf removal improved the overall berry composition in Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon but had limited effect in Sangiovese.

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