Suckering is the process of removing the suckers that grapevine trunks put out in the spring. Suckering by hand is costly and time consuming and requires constant bending down, getting up and making repetitive motions. The mechanical removal of suckers with rotating scourges can damage the vine plants. Chemical suckering is a limiting factor for wine grape growers interested in sustainable and/or organic agriculture. The aim of this research was to test flaming as an alternative method to vine suckering. A three-year experiment was conducted on a 10-year-old Sangiovese vine (775 Paulsen rootstock). The treatments consisted of flame suckering at different phenological stages, hand-suckering and a no-suckered control. Data on the number of suckers, grape yield components, and grape composition were collected and analysed. The results showed that flaming significantly reduced the initial number of suckers. This effect on the suckers was highest when the main productive shoots of the vines were at the 18-19 BBCH growth stage. Flame-suckering did not affect grape yield components and grape composition. Future studies could investigate the simultaneous use of flaming for both suckering and weed control.
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