Bryan Hed, Department of Plant Pathology, Penn State University, Lake Erie Regional Grape Research and Extension Center, North East, PA 16428; and
Henry K. Ngugi and
James W. Travis, Department of Plant Pathology, Penn State University, Fruit Research and Extension Center, Biglerville, PA 17307
The impact of cluster compactness and debris retention on harvest bunch rot of Vitis interspecific hybrid ‘Vignoles’ was investigated between 2001 and 2005 near Lake Erie, in Pennsylvania. Cluster compactness was characterized subjectively based on the OIV code 204 standard and objectively by determining the number of berries per centimeter of rachis. In 2001, 2002, and 2004, the median number of berries per centimeter for loose clusters was 6.3, 7.0, and 6.4 compared with 10.2, 12.7, and 12.4 for the compact clusters, respectively. Kolmogorov-Smirnoff and the Mann-Whitney U two-samples tests confirmed that the distribution of the berries per centimeter was significantly (90 ≤ χ2 ≤ 184.3; P < 0.0001) different between the two subjective compactness categories. Cluster compactness was strongly correlated with bunch rot incidence (χ2 = 73.1 and 62.2 for 2001 and 2002, respectively; P < 0.0001), whereby disease incidence was higher in compact than in loose clusters. Logistic regression analysis indicated that every additional berry per centimeter unit of compactness almost doubled the likelihood of a cluster becoming infected with bunch rot (odds ratio = 1.828, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.392 to 2.399 in 2001 and odds ratio = 1.705, 95% CI = 1.394 to 2.085 in 2002). In 2004, bunch rot severity in compact clusters was nearly four times that of loose clusters. Linear regression analysis revealed that berries per centimeter accounted for >89% of the variation in bunch rot severity (R2 = 0.893, P < 0.0001, n = 30) and >74% in cluster weight (R2 = 0.745, P < 0.0001, n = 30). Accumulations of dehiscent floral debris contributed to greater bunch rot severity, and the effect was more pronounced in compact clusters than in loose clusters. Removal of basal leaves at trace bloom reduced berries per centimeter by 13% in 2004 and >25% in 2005, with corresponding reductions in bunch rot severity of 60% in 2004 and 62.5 to 82% in 2005. These results indicate that berries per centimeter is a good indicator of cluster compactness in Vignoles, and that practices that reduce cluster tightness would be effective in an integrated program for control of bunch rot on this cultivar.