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CHAPTER 7

Viticultural practices: fertilisation, irrigation and vegetation management

The vine has minimal nutritional and water requirements which, if not met, will have disastrous consequences for winegrowers. This is why it will take a few years for an abandoned vineyard to stop producing balanced and abundant grapes. Will the vine survive? Probably, but the quality and quantity of the harvest will decrease.

Control and management that results in good development of the vine is carried out through well-known “viticultural practices”; some as old as organic fertilisation, others as modern as fertigation. Sometimes, as in the case of pruning, centuries of empirical practice (through trial and error) have been necessary for its maximum improvement and optimisation.

All these themes are explored in this chapter, which also presents an up-to-date perspective of irrigation: a viticultural practice that was prohibited and stigmatised for years in the Old World, but which is now used in particular circumstances with knowledge and precision, in the search for maximum quality.

The chapter ends with two innovative sections of interest to sommeliers, who are all too often unaware of these issues and consequently overlook them. We present a general classification of the main vine training systems. Then we offer an interpretation of the modern quality indices relating to vegetative surface and crop load. This information has been developed thanks to the knowledge of experts as prestigous as Richard Smart and Fernando Martínez de Toda.

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