Choice of rootstock

The choice of rootstock is a fundamental moment in the realization of a new plant

The choice of rootstock is a fundamental moment in the construction of a new plant, as, in the current context, is characterized, as well as resistance to phylloxera, and especially as a “bridge” able to regulate and balance the difficult and varied relationship vine environment. The use of rootstock in the vine takes place in the old world at the end of the 19th century, after a fearsome parasite, phylloxera (Philloxera vastatrix), which attacked the roots of Vitis vinifera, falcidiò the vineyards of all Europe. Some French scholars, including Gustave Foex of Montpellier, noted that the roots of American wild species were resistant to the fearsome aphid and thought to graft the European vine on the latter. The result was the one hoped for and this is considered today the first successful example of biological struggle. The result was the one hoped for and this is considered today the first successful example of biological struggle. The wide range of rootstocks rootstocks that are currently available, has the purpose to satisfy 

every kind of requirement that depends: from the pedoclimatic conditions, from the management of the vineyard, from the variety and from all the factors that must be taken into consideration at the moment of realization of a new plant. The choice of rootstock must be made, therefore, evaluating first of all the edaphic (referring to the soil) and limiting climatic conditions, due to abiotic factors (drought, limestone, microelements deficiencies, fertility) and biotic (presence in the soil of nematodes, radical root agents, mealybugs), and subsequently in relation to the induction of the plant’s vigor, in order to optimize the relationship between quantity of grapes per strain and its quality. 

The main rootstocks used in Italy derive from the hybridization of the Vitis ripariae, Vitis rupestris and Vitis Berlandieri species, for which, in their description, we will divide them into homogeneous groups according to the genetic origin.

Berlandieri x Riparia

Selected rootstock in Austria at the beginning of the 20th century. It is widely diffused for the plasticity of adaptation to the different types of soil and for the good affinity of grafting. Vigorous, it is preferably used in the fresh plain or medium-hill soils, heavy and clayey, provided they are not excessively dry. Ideal for expanded breeding forms and not overly thick plants.

Hybrid obtained at the Oppenheim Viticulture School. Compared to the previous one, it is slightly less vigorous as well as less resistant to limestone. It prefers medium-textured or loose soil, fresh or fertile but also heavy, but not asphyxiated, soils. It tends to slightly anticipate the age of ripening of the grapes and to induce a good lignification of the shoots.

Obtained in France by Millardet and de Grasset in 1887. Of medium vigor, it has a good resistance to limestone and drought and an interesting adaptability to different types of soil: from those of medium mixture to clayey and compact ones of hills. It develops more slowly in the first years of planting but induces, subsequently, an excellent vegetative-productive balance. Suitable for slightly expanded breeding forms and dense plants. It is not very suitable for restocking.
Hybrid obtained in France by Couderc in 1889, with characteristics similar to the previous one, with the difference that it tolerates to a lesser extent dry and drought soils, preferring those deep and fresh. The vigor is medium, and therefore adapts to contained forms of farming and to dense plants.
Hybrid obtained in France from Couderc crossing Riparia x Berlandieri. It is recommended in dry, gravelly, calcareous soils, well exposed. Its rooting is rather slow in the early years, although later this delay tends to disappear. Of contained vigor, it can be used for not expanded breeding forms and dense plants.

Berlandieri x Rupestris

Selected by Paulsen in Palermo, it is widespread in most of the hot and drought vine-growing areas. It is a rootstock with high vigor, so it should be used in not too fertile soils, even if compact and salty, and in combination with not too vigorous vines. It tends to delay ripening of the grapes, but allows acidity levels of the highest musts.

Obtained from Paulsen in Palermo at the end of the 19th century, it is similar to 1103P but has a more reduced vigor. It is always characterized by a good resistance to drought, to limestone and to the compactness of the ground, but it is also suitable for medium-fertile soils.
It is the least vigorous of the Paulsen, it adapts to dry soils, provided they are not very dry, on average chlorosanti, although it is preferable to those of medium dough, a bit ‘fresh.
The vigor induced to the “marza” with possible prolongation of the vegetative cycle justifies the low diffusion in the northern provinces of Italy where it could find adoption only in particularly calcareous and drought soils. It is therefore recommended in low fertile soils, in drought and in warm areas.
Obtained from Richter in France. It is vigorous and adapts to dry and dry soils and tolerates chlorosis. The development of the marza the first year is slower since the rootstock promotes the development of the roots. It subsequently induces an excellent productive balance on the marza. It prefers not excessively expanded breeding forms and medium-high density plants.

Riparia x Rupestris

Obtained in France by Millardet and de Grasset in 1882. Its vigor is medium-weak depending on the conditions, so it adapts to high plant densities. It can be used for medium-textured, fresh, fertile and fairly deep plains. It is also suitable for “cold” soils, but it is not recommended in sandy, stony, dry and calcareous soils.

It is demanding in terms of climate and soil, not tolerating those that are too compact, dry and drought, and not even those that are a little wet; it is therefore suitable for lean soils. Due to its low resistance to limestone it does not adapt to chlorinating soils.

Download the table with the properties of the rootstocks