Department of Plant Pathology, Cornell University, New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, Geneva, 14456
Vineyard Research Laboratory, Cornell University, New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, Fredonia 14063
Vitis labruscana ‘Concord’ is a widely planted grape cultivar grown in the United States for processing into juice and other products. Concord fruit are sporadically but sometimes severely damaged by the grape powdery mildew pathogen, Uncinula necator. The effects of powdery mildew on vine growth, yield, and quality of Concord grapes at three levels of cropping intensity commonly found in commercial grape production were determined in vineyard studies. Top-wire cordon-trained Concord vines were balance pruned, pruned to retain 80 nodes, or minimally pruned. Replicated plots of the foregoing were then either protected from powdery mildew by regular fungicide applications, or were inoculated and left unsprayed. Over a 4-year period, the effects of foliar infection on vine growth, yield, and juice quality of unsprayed vines were compared with vines that received a conventional protection program of four fungicide applications. Failure to control powdery mildew resulted in a chronic reduction in wood maturity measured as the number of nodes on canes that developed periderm. The reduction in nodes did not reduce yield, possibly due to compensation in shoots produced from the remaining nodes. Powdery mildew did not affect bud survival or vigor, measured as the number of shoots produced per node on retained canes. The most significant effects of powdery mildew were on berry sugar levels and juice color and acidity, which on the unsprayed vines were sometimes reduced below minimally acceptable thresholds for processed grapes. Significant reductions due to powdery mildew in these parameters occurred in all three pruning treatments, but were most pronounced at higher cropping levels.