According to a new study out of the University of California, Davis, California grape growers in coastal areas can use less water during times of drought. Irrigation levels could be cut without affecting crop yields or quality.
The findings, published on September 1 in the journal Frontiers in Plant Science, show that vineyards can use 50% of the irrigation water normally used by grape crops without compromising flavor, color and sugar content.
Lead author Kaan Kurtural, professor of Viticulture and Enology and an extension specialist at UC Davis: “It is a significant finding. We don’t necessarily have to increase the amount of water supplied to grape vines.” Growers will also be able to use this information to plan for the next growing season. “Everybody’s worried about what’s going to happen next year,” he said.
Kurtural and others from his lab studied irrigation and cabernet sauvignon grape quality at a research vineyard in Napa Valley over two growing seasons, a rainy one in 2019 and a hyper-arid one in 2020.
Researchers found that replacing 50% of the water was the most beneficial in maintaining the grape’s flavor profile and yield. The level of symbiotic arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, which help grapevines overcome stresses such as water deficits, was also not compromised. And the water used to dilute nitrogen application was also reduced, making the process more environmentally friendly.