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Enhancement of Fruit Technological Maturity and Alteration of the Flavonoid Metabolomic Profile in Merlot (Vitis vinifera L.) by Early Mechanical Leaf Removal

VanderWeide, Joshua, Medina-Meza, Ilce G., Frioni, Tommaso, Sivilotti, Paolo, Falchi, Rachele, Sabbatini, Paolo
Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 2018 v.66 no.37 pp. 9839-9849
Vitis vinifera, anthocyanins, canopy, carbon, flavonols, fruit quality, fruits, grapes, growers, leaves, mechanical methods, mechanization, metabolomics, microclimate, ripening, sugars, temperature, vines, wine cultivars
Removal of basal leaves near blooms inevitably affects grapevine balance and cluster microclimate conditions, improving fruit quality. Mechanization of this practice allows growers to save time and resources, but to our knowledge, it has not yet been compared with the manual application of this practice in a cool-climate region where seasonal temperatures frequently limit fruit technological maturity and phenolic ripening in red Vitis vinifera cultivars. In our research, berry sugar concentration was highest with prebloom mechanical treatment (PB-ME). Furthermore, metabolomics analysis revealed that PB-ME favored the accumulation of significantly more disubstituted anthocyanins and flavonols and OH-substituted anthocyanins compared with manual application. Given that vine balance was similar between treatments, increased ripening with PB-ME is likely due to enhanced microclimate conditions and higher carbon partitioning through a younger canopy containing basal leaf fragments proximal to fruit. This information provides an important strategy for consistently ripening red Vitis vinifera cultivars in cool climates.