The green berries ripening controversy

vineyard technology

As we enter veraison, we observe that the window during which berries are changing color is stretching due to the weather cooling off. What does this mean for the uniformity of ripening?

Traditionally it is assumed  that the rate of ripening is uniform between berries. Consequently, when a berry turns red later, it is believed to ripen later. Thus, when change in cluster coloration takes longer than usual, the removal of green berries from the cluster is sometimes decided. The thinking is that removal of delayed ripening berries would reduce cluster heterogeneity and help winemakers get more even cluster composition at harvest.

A natural mechanism advances the rate of ripening in green berries compared to red berries

 

This belief is challenged today. A growing body of scientific evidences suggests that green berries will mature faster than berries that turn red earlier. In a study involving Pinot Noir, Gouthu et al. (2014) have revealed that ripening rate is accelerated in delayed berries. By tracking individual berry ripening, the authors have shown that different ripening programs co-exist within the cluster. When berries stay green longer compared to other berries of the same cluster, a faster ripening “program” is triggered to speed up color and sugar accumulations.

Conclusions:

 

  • Ripening program is flexible from berries to berries.
  • Uneven berry formation and uneven coloration at mid veraison does not mean uneven ripeness.
  • Faster accumulation in under ripe berries reduces ripening differences among berries.

Practicing green berry thinning when veraison takes longer than usual may not be such a good idea after all.

Fruition Sciences follows latest research and shares with you our insights from the field. Our product Sap Flow helps you monitor your water use and identify significant water savings opportunities for grape growers while enhancing the quality of the fruit.

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