Yield components and grape composition responses to seasonal water deficits in Tempranillo grapevines
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A field experiment was carried out over three seasons on Vitis vinifera cv. Tempranillo in order to compare pre-veraison and post-veraison water restrictions on vine performance and fruit composition. Rain-fed vines were compared with a treatment named MAX that was constantly irrigated at 75 % of the estimated crop evapotranspiration (ETc). In addition, an early (pre-veraison) water deficit strategy (ED) was applied by withholding irrigation until plant water stress experienced by vines surpassed a threshold value of midday stem water potential of -1.0 MPa. After that, 75 % of ETc was applied. A late season deficit (LD) treatment was irrigated as per the MAX up to veraison, and thereafter, water application was reduced to approximately 37 % of ETc. All irrigation regimes increased vine yield up to 58 % with respect to the rain-fed treatment, and no differences in yield among the irrigated treatments occurred. However, there were differences in berry composition among the different irrigation strategies. The ED strategy was more effective than the LD one in reducing berry growth leading to more concentrated berries in terms of sugars and anthocyanins. The LD water shortage impaired berry sugar accumulation due to the detrimental effect of water stress on leaf photosynthesis.