Mechanical crop control in New York 'Concord' vineyards target desirable crop load levels
'Concord' producers in western NY strive for maximum sustainable yield at acceptable fruit quality thresholds and low production costs. Currently, mechanized vineyard tools are available to reduce labor costs associated with crop control but they need to be used within the framework of vine crop load (crop weight: pruning weight) to maintain vine health and fruit quality. A five-year field trial was conducted to evaluate the use of mechanical pruning, mechanical shoot thinning, mechanical shoot positioning, and mechanical fruit thinning on 'Concord' productivity. Control vines were mechanically pre-pruned with manual follow-up manual pruning to achieve 120 nodes vine-1 with high crop levels. Five crop reduction treatments consisted of: (i) manual pruning to 60 or 90 nodes vine-1, (ii) mechanical shoot thinning at high or low rates, (iii) manual or (iv) mechanical fruit thinning at 30 days after bloom, (v) or mechanical shoot positioning at approximately 12.5 cm shoot growth. Mechanically pruned vines with hand follow-up pruning achieved the highest crop levels, the lowest pruning weight, and the lowest juice soluble solids. Manual pruning decreased yield, increased pruning weight, and increased juice soluble solids but had the highest labor cost. Mechanical shoot thinning, fruit thinning, and shoot positioning all reduced crop and gave similar crop load ratios as the manual pruned treatments.
Bates, T.R. (2017). Mechanical crop control in New York 'Concord' vineyards target desirable crop load levels. Acta Hortic. 1177, 259-264
Vitis labruscana, mechanization