Cover crops, rootstocks, and root restriction were evaluated as means to regulate vegetative growth of Cabernet Sauvignon grapevines in a humid environment. Treatments were arranged as a strip-split-split plot with row-middle and under-trellis cover crop (UTCC) compared to row-middle only cover crop combined with 85 cm weed-free strips in the vine row as main plots. Rootstocks Riparia Gloire (Riparia), 420A, and 101–14 were subplots, while sub-subplots comprised two treatments: vines were either planted in root-restrictive (RR) fabric bags (0.015 m3) at vineyard establishment or were planted without root restriction. Root restriction and UTCC were independently effective in suppressing vegetative development as measured by rate and seasonal duration of shoot growth, lateral shoot development, trunk circumference, and dormant pruning weights. Riparia was the most effective rootstock in limiting vegetative development among the three evaluated; vines grafted to Riparia had ~25% lower cane pruning weights than did vines grafted to 420A or 101–14. Under-trellis cover crop reduced cane pruning weights by 47% relative to vines grown on herbicide strips. Canopy architecture was generally improved by both UTCC and by root restriction, but generally unaffected by rootstock. Root restriction reduced the discrimination against 13C assimilation in both berries and leaf laminae tissue as measured by δ13C, while under-trellis floor management did not affect this measure of chronic water stress. The principal direct effect of the UTCC and the root-restriction treatments was a sustained reduction in stem (xylem) water potential (ψstem). Stomatal conductance and net assimilation rate were depressed by increasing water deficit, particularly for root-restricted vines. Results suggest practical measures can be used to create a more favorable vine balance under conditions of variable rainfall, such as exist in the eastern United States.
- © 2011 by the American Society for Enology and Viticulture