Rootstock effects on the performance of Chardonnay vines

A trial evaluating the effects of rootstocks on the performance of Chardonnay vines on the Lincoln University campus celebrated another successful harvest this month, paving the way for an experience in research for students in the second semester at Lincoln University.

Planted in 2002, the trial uses the Mendoza clone of Chardonnay, which has long been favoured by winemakers for making quality table wine. Underneath all that Chardonnay are seven different rootstocks, representing a range of different parentages, from Vitis berlandieri to V.vinifera and a selection in between.

Volunteers harvested the fruit, carefully counting and weighing the clusters from each of the 168 vines, so that information about the yield components can be calculated. Students in HORT328, the Science of Grapes and Wine, will collect data from the trial in the dormant season as part of their studies. Vine pruning weights, shoot numbers, trunk circumferences and other factors will be measured and the data analysed to compare the performance of the different rootstocks.

Students will also get to work with fruit, as clusters from harvest have been frozen so that they can get some experience with determining berry numbers, berry weights and then juice parameters such as the concentration of sugar (Brix) and the amount of acid. The data will be analysed and the students will write up a report based on the findings.

“The class is all about how research provides valuable information to the industry,” says Dr Glen Creasy, examiner of the course. “Students are exposed to the latest research happening here on campus, as well as around the rest of the world.” “The hand-on experience in seeing how a trial is set up and how information is gathered from it is valuable for those going out into industry – they then know better how to do their own experiments in industry.”

Linkage between research and teaching is a strong aspect of the V&O programmes at Lincoln University. Students emerge from their studies fully aware of what research is going on, as well as how it can help them in the “real world.” Lincoln University researchers gather new insights into results, and get a bit of help in collecting data as well.

Results from the trial, and from the work of past HORT328 students, are being presented at the American  Society for Enology and Viticulture’s National Conference this June in Seattle, USA.

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