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Currently, the production of grape species in the southeastern U.S. is severely limited by Pierce's Disease (PD), caused by the widespread xylem-limited bacterium Xylella fastidiosa. As a result, mainly muscadine cultivars and some American or French-American hybrid bunch grape cultivars with resistance to PD can be successfully cultivated in Alabama due to the high PD pressure. Recent trials in the state have assessed the productivity and fruit quality of ten hybrid bunch grape cultivars, but rootstock cultivar evaluation in our environment has not been studied before. The interest in grape production in Alabama is currently growing and the need to generate knowledge on the effects of selected rootstocks on the overall viticultural performance has become essential. Thus, an experimental vineyard was established in spring of 2014 that consisted of 'Chardonel' and 'Norton' hybrid bunch grape cultivars grafted on selected rootstocks or grown on their own roots. The list of tested rootstocks include 1103 Paulsen (1103P), Kober (5BB), and Teleki (5C). Data was collected to compare vine phenological development, vegetative growth, cropping potential and fruit quality traits.
Figure 1. 'Chardonel' (A) and 'Norton' (B) bunch grapes grown at the CREC, Clanton.
Our results indicate that 'Chardonel' grafted on 1103P was highly productive, and is considered the best scion-rootstock combination in terms of cropping potential (Table 1). 'Chardonel' grafted on 1103P vines also produced 22 % larger cluster size that own-rooted 'Chardonel' in 2018. While the 2017-2018 growing season provided the first indications of the impact of rootstock selection on vine productivity and the potential for enhanced viticultural sustainability in Alabama and the southeastern U.S., to ascertain the long term effect of rootstocks on vineyard longevity, productivity, and vigor, further evaluations in Alabama are warranted.
Extension Specialist, ACES
Enfeng Xu, GRA,
Department of Horticulture, Auburn University
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