Wine Words: Canopy Management

published Dec 9, 2013
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(Image credit: Sadovnikova Olga)

Canopy management is a viticultural wine word. Do you know what it means? And the different processes involved? Canopy management may not be the most exciting wine word out there but, it is a very important one.

Canopy management can be defined as a portfolio of vineyard management techniques, which manage a grapevine’s canopy from the time of winter pruning until harvest time. For the less geeky readers ‘canopy’ is a collective word for the all the foliage (i.e. the vine leaves and shoots) and the fruit.

The reason canopy management is important is that its techniques help to manage the exposure of the vine’s leaves and fruit to the sun. This is really important for key vine processes such as photosynthesis, respiration and transpiration.

Canopy Management Techniques

Canopy management techniques include the initial choice of trellis and training system as well as a whole array of vineyard jobs such as winter pruning; shoot trimming, positioning and thinning; the tucking in of shoots; striping off unwanted leaves and laterals; hedging and of course green harvesting.

What all these little job are doing is making for a less dense canopy. A less sense canopy means that more of the leaves actually get to see and absorb the sun and more air can circulate.

Benefits of Good Canopy Management

The benefits of good canopy management are manifold. First off, as mentioned above, it makes for a less dense canopy – therefore better fruit exposure. If the canopy is too dense grapes may not get sufficient sunlight to ripen.

Good canopy management practices aim for a more open canopy with a larger canopy surface area. This means higher rates of photosynthesis and rates of transpiration. All good things in terms of influencing quality.

A more open canopy helps reduce susceptibility to certain diseases especially fungal diseases. A more open canopy facilitates better air circulation, ands if you have to spray, it allows better spray penetration. Humidity builds up in dense canopies and the wind speed is slower.

An open canopy also helps toward better and more even rates of evapotranspiration.

The combination of these benefits should then have a positive impact on both vine yield and ultimately wine quality.