Vine performance was tested over five years (2005–2009) on Vitis vinifera L. cv. Barbera either manually spur-pruned (HP) or mechanically hedged with light (SMP-LF) or severe (SMP-SF) hand follow-up. Although mechanical treatments retained 2- to 2.5-fold higher count nodes per vine than did HP, yield per vine (~5 kg) was almost identical between treatments due to the strong offsetting effect of reduced budbreak. Weak compensation and no compensation were seen for cluster weight and bud fruitfulness, respectively. Except for a slight reduction in anthocyanin concentration, overall grape composition was similar among treatments throughout the trial. As minor differences in vine vigor and capacity were found and the leaf-to-fruit ratio (vine basis) was unaffected by treatments, the slightly lower anthocyanin berry content in the SMP vines may have derived from increased shoot density and, hence, more shade cast in the fruiting area. Winter pruning was performed in less than 25 hr/ha in the hedged vines, thereby cutting labor demand from 54 to 70% compared with HP. Thus, if all other vineyard operations are also mechanized, a single high-wire Barbera vineyard with a mostly erect canopy can be maintained in less than 70 worker hr/ha. Such a performance, coupled with overall unchanged yield and grape composition, represents a solid and reliable approach in a wine market that demands greater efficiency and competitiveness.
- © 2011 by the American Society for Enology and Viticulture