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Italian Academy of Vine and Wine: technology and research to tackle tomorrow’s harvests

Harvest 2023 confronts Italian viticulture with the now epochal challenges of phytosanitary pressure and Climate Change
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The challenges of the vineyard

What is coming into full swing throughout Italy is a challenging harvest, in which what is important is not so much the percentages of declines per se, but the need to find solutions to climate change and difficulties. Because these are no longer occasional phenomena but, by now, regular ones. As explained by Rosario Di Lorenzo, president of the Italian Academy of Vine and Wine, which, among its members, includes university professors, the best of Italian researchers in the field of viticulture, the owners of the major companies in the sector and most of those who, in various ways, contribute to the exaltation in the social, artistic and literary spheres of appellations and high quality wines, “it is certainly a difficult and complicated vintage, with drops all over the territories. We can speak of a reduction in the overall quantity, with differences even between territories in the same Region, where sometimes the drops are significant and attributable mainly to Downy mildew, which has been very incisive in some areas, especially in Central and Southern Italy”. So, technology and research become decisive, because, Di Lorenzo continues, “these problems will certainly go to occur more frequently, and therefore it will be essential that the Italian vineyard is prepared with the technicians who now have all the elements to try to address these issues”.

In addition to plant diseases, there is also the effects of climate change to contend with, which do not have a uniform distribution anyway. Cultivation techniques have proven to be very important, and irrigation has proven to be an important element in managing these issues. For Paolo Storchi, research manager at Crea - Viticulture and Enology Center, “2023 presented various problems, mainly due to climate trends. Between April and May we had more than 30 days of rain, which means considerable difficulty for farms that, depending on vineyard management, will have different yields, with estimated losses ranging from a minimum of 10-20% to 70-80% of production. These are data that give us back the dimension of how important it is to pay attention to vine defense management. Where management has been based on predictive models and the use of the right products, damage is contained. A vintage like this is important precisely because it will give us indications for the future as well”.

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