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.
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.
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.