Water limitation has a major effect on agricultural crop production, influencing yield as well as external and internal quality parameters of table grapes. Due to their high yield potential, table grapes have a particularly high risk for yield and quality losses when water is limited, but grapevines are known for high heterogeneity within cultivars. Therefore, we investigated the effect of prolonged water deficits (control, moderate, and severe deficit) during fruit development on yield and quality parameters of four different table grape cultivars (Vitis
L.). Furthermore, we ranked their suitability for cultivation in areas suffering from water limitation. Up to 31% of irrigation water could be saved in comparison to the control, without significant negative effects on plant yield, berry size, or internal quality parameters, such as total soluble solids and total phenolic content. However, single bunch yield was highest at a moderate deficit and number of seeds in berries increased with the severity of deficit. Cultivar selection had the greatest influence on water consumption and mainly defined yield and quality parameters. The cultivar ‘Fanny’ produced the highest yields (195.17 g per plant), most bunches per plant (2.04), and biggest berries while cv. ‘Nero’ had the highest total soluble solids content (26.33 °Brix) and the highest total phenolic content (67.53 mg gallic acid equivalents per 100 g fresh weight). Overall, ‘Fanny’ was the most promising cultivar for cultivation under water-limited conditions during fruit development, without significant effects on yield and quality parameters.
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