Effect of soil fertilization on the incidence of berry shrivel and the quality of resulting wine


  • K. Bachteler
  • M. Riedel
  • N. Merkt
  • B. Ullrich
  • M. Erhardt
  • J. Wünsche




berry shrivel, "Traubenwelke", potassium, magnesium, soil fertilization, wine quality


Berry shrivel is becoming an increasing concern for winegrowers all over the world. Until today, no single factor causing this physiological disorder has been determined. Studies concerning berry shrivel conducted in Austria have shown that an unbalanced ratio of K and Mg in the soil is a likely factor contributing to the disorder. The aims of the present study were to establish a better understanding of the causes and consequences of berry shrivel and observe the effects of K and Mg fertilization via the soil on the incidence of berry shrivel, the mineral composition of affected berries and the resulting wine quality. A two-year fertilization trial was conducted on two sites located within southern Germany with the varieties 'Zweigelt' and 'Pinot Blanc'. Different amounts of K and Mg were applied each year at both locations in order to generate different ratios of K and Mg in the soil. Before harvest, the incidences of berry shrivel of the different treatments were determined. In addition, macronutrients including K, Mg and Ca that were translocated in healthy berries and berries affected by berry shrivel were determined at harvest. To compare the quality of wine influenced by berry shrivel, different wines were produced consisting of shrivelled berries, berries affected by bunch stem necrosis and healthy berries.
In the soil fertilization trials, no significant differences in the incidences of berry shrivel were observed in relation to the soil fertilization. Major differences were found in the wine qualities of the different wines. Wines produced from healthy berries were always rated as the best wines, whereas wines produced from shrivelled berries were always rated as the lowest quality. The low quality parameters found in the must did not improve in the wine making process. Wines produced from berries affected by bunch stem necrosis were rated better than berry-shrivel-wines, however, rated less than the wine produced from healthy berries. The determinations of macronutrients’ level in the berries showed significant differences regarding the concentration of Ca. In the variety 'Zweigelt' in 2009, an average of 36 mg∙L-1 of Ca were found in healthy berries and 107 mg∙L-1 in berries affected by berry shrivel. In 'Pinot Blanc' in 2010, the average of Ca in healthy berries was 46 mg∙L-1 and 70 mg∙L-1 in berries affected by berry shrivel. No significant differences were found for K and Mg in the berries.