In conditions of drought and thermal stress, a smaller leaf area reduces the crop's evapotranspiration and allows it to adapt to water shortages. This leaf area will also be balanced with the amount of grapes that the vineyard can produce under certain conditions.
The management of the vineyard during the growth period of the plant (also called green pruning or leaf stripping from the vine) groups together a series of tasks that allow the modification of its vegetative development and therefore influence the yield of the crop, the quality of the fruit and its health status.
These include leaf stripping, a technique that consists of removing the basal leaves from the shoots, i.e. those leaves that are in the vicinity of the bunches.
When is leaf stripping done?
Traditionally, leaf stripping is done during the grape ripening season, normally in those plantations with excessive leaf density.
Why is leaf stripping carried out on vines?
Among the objectives sought, leaf stripping is a preventive measure against various types of rot, since the elimination of these leaves increases the porosity of the canopy, which favours aeration and solar exposure of the area of the bunches, and generates a better thermal, hygrometric and light microclimate.
As a consequence of this greater exposure to the sun, this leaf removal also improves the colouring and aromatic quality of the berries, and results in a more heterogeneous ripening throughout the bunch.
Likewise, by eliminating part of the plant's foliage, this practice facilitates manual harvesting and increases the effectiveness of phytosanitary treatments (Tardáguila 2009).