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Disease-resistant cultivars as a solution for organic viticulture

Basler, Pierre, Pfenninger, Hansueli
Acta horticulturae 2003 no.603 pp. 681-685
climatic factors, copper, cultivars, fungicides, grapes, growers, labor, markets, pesticide application, rain, soil compaction, vines, viticulture, wines
Due to the climatic conditions in several viticultural areas in the world, where the annual rainfall lies between 800 and 2000 mm, the selection of the cultivars for organic viticulture encounters very strong restrictions with traditional European varieties. These circumstances necessitate numerous routine sprayings with fungicides, which is a main problem in organic viticulture. Therefore there is an increasing interest among organic wine growers as well as among traditionally operating growers, to use, to a certain extent, less susceptible vine cultivars. This means that these more or less resistant vines need much less or even no fungicide treatments. Blind wine tastings show that the sensoric judgment and the acceptance of wines from disease-resistant cultivars are within the range of traditional European varieties. Therefore, gradually, the use of the such cultivars should be promoted and introduced in organic viticulture. This would allow to reduce drastically the use of fungicides, specially copper. The cultivation of disease resistant grape varieties, besides diminishing the use of copper, would also reduce the labour input and soil compaction by frequent sprayings. These factors are also important with regard to the reputation and credibility of organic viticulture, which is increasingly becoming a factor of interest among consumers. A few examples of promising and potentially interesting cultivars are presented, indicating also the presumed number of fungicide applications in Eastern Switzerland. However, viticulture legislation in several countries, with regard to the selection of the variety, still doesn't allow freedom of the grower. Legislation should be liberal and the market will finally decide upon the acceptance of new wines.