Warm spring temperatures induce persistent season-long changes in shoot development in grapevines

Ann Bot. 2010 Jul;106(1):131-41. doi: 10.1093/aob/mcq091. Epub 2010 May 31.


Background and aims: The influence of temperature on the timing of budbreak in woody perennials is well known, but its effect on subsequent shoot growth and architecture has received little attention because it is understood that growth is determined by current temperature. Seasonal shoot development of grapevines (Vitis vinifera) was evaluated following differences in temperature near budbreak while minimizing the effects of other microclimatic variables.

Methods: Dormant buds and emerging shoots of field-grown grapevines were heated above or cooled below the temperature of ambient buds from before budbreak until individual flowers were visible on inflorescences, at which stage the shoots had four to eight unfolded leaves. Multiple treatments were imposed randomly on individual plants and replicated across plants. Shoot growth and development were monitored during two growing seasons.

Key results: Higher bud temperatures advanced the date of budbreak and accelerated shoot growth and leaf area development. Differences were due to higher rates of shoot elongation, leaf appearance, leaf-area expansion and axillary-bud outgrowth. Although shoots arising from heated buds grew most vigorously, apical dominance in these shoots was reduced, as their axillary buds broke earlier and gave rise to more vigorous lateral shoots. In contrast, axillary-bud outgrowth was minimal on the slow-growing shoots emerging from buds cooled below ambient. Variation in shoot development persisted or increased during the growing season, well after temperature treatments were terminated and despite an imposed soil water deficit.

Conclusions: The data indicate that bud-level differences in budbreak temperature may lead to marked differences in shoot growth, shoot architecture and leaf-area development that are maintained or amplified during the growing season. Although growth rates commonly are understood to reflect current temperatures, these results demonstrate a persistent effect of early-season temperatures, which should be considered in future growth models.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Plant Shoots / growth & development*
  • Seasons
  • Temperature
  • Vitis / growth & development*