How climate change is changing the nursery profession

Thursday July 08 2021 by Vitisphere

 The profession is changing, not to mention weather incidents. “The risks of frost and flooding are increasing, putting our production at risk”. The profession is changing, not to mention weather incidents. “The risks of frost and flooding are increasing, putting our production at risk”. - Photo credit : FFPV

Forty years ago, each village had its own nursery, where winegrowers would come and collect their vines without wondering too much about rootstocks or clones”, said Burgundy nurseryman François Guillaume at a virtual exhibition on adapting vineyards to climate change. Those days are long gone. “We have become proper technical advisors”. Winegrowers want to try new combinations so that they can cope with climate change, seek water deeper underground, delay budburst or drop a degree of alcohol.

We know how to warn them of the risks of planting various rootstocks in specific soils. We conduct numerous trials and small-batch winemaking to try and discover what kind of wine profile they will produce”, explained Guillaume. But, for the moment at least, he can often only make guesses. “I suspect that a more vigorous rootstock is likely to produce less alcoholic wines, but it’s not all about sugar and acidity”. The last few years have also upended the way the profession is run. “My father used to grow rootstocks in the South. He even used to buy them from North Africa. That's a thing of the past now”. Temperatures have risen and rootstocks are now grown directly in Burgundy-Franche-Comté.

 

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