Specialisation: Viticulture and grapevine physiology
Focus area: Carbohydrate balance, crop load, berry composition.
Interactions between shoot growth, canopy structure and the amount of developing fruit can strongly influence berry ripening and composition. Many viticultural practices are therefore directed at managing the relationship between vegetative and reproductive growth. Simple empirical descriptors such as the pruning weight ratio provide some guide, but responses of berry composition to crop load adjustments or canopy manipulations remain difficult to predict in advance. Through experimental approaches that separate the effects of carbohydrate supply and fruit exposure, we are investigating the physiological mechanisms underlying fruit quality responses to crop load and canopy light environment. This research will provide a basis for more informed decisions about vine crop carrying capacity, and a better understanding of how canopy or crop load adjustments can be timed for targeted effects on berry and wine composition.