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Effects of Diffuse Colonization of Grape Berries by Uncinula necator on Bunch Rots, Berry Microflora, and Juice and Wine Quality

October 2007 , Volume 97 , Number  10
Pages  1,356 - 1,365

David M. Gadoury, Robert C. Seem, Wayne F. Wilcox, Thomas Henick-Kling, Lorenza Conterno, Andrea Day, and Andrea Ficke

First, second, and third authors: Department of Plant Pathology, fourth and fifth authors: Department of Food Science and Technology, and sixth and seventh authors: Department of Plant Pathology, Cornell University, New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, Geneva 14456.

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Accepted for publication 31 May 2007.

Production of grape (principally cultivars of Vitis vinifera) for high-quality wines requires a high level of suppression of powdery mildew (Uncinula necator syn. Erysiphe necator). Severe infection of either fruit or foliage has well-documented and deleterious effects upon crop and wine quality. We found that berries nearly immune to infection by U. necator due to the development of ontogenic resistance may still support diffuse and inconspicuous mildew colonies when inoculated ≈3 weeks post-bloom. Fruit with diffuse mildew colonies appear to be healthy and free of powdery mildew in late-season vineyard assessments with the naked eye. Nonetheless, presence of these colonies on berries was associated with (i) elevated populations of spoilage microorganisms; (ii) increased evolution of volatile ethyl acetate, acetic acid, and ethanol; (iii) increased infestation by insects known to be attracted to the aforementioned volatiles; (iv) increased rotting by Botrytis cinerea; and (v) increased frequency of perceived defects in wines prepared from fruit supporting diffuse powdery mildew colonies. Prevention of diffuse infection requires extending fungicidal protection until fruit are fully resistant to infection. Despite a perceived lack of improvement in disease control due to the insidious nature of diffuse powdery mildew, potential deleterious effects upon crop and wine quality thereby would be avoided.

© 2007 The American Phytopathological Society