The Nursery Industry
CHANGES IN THE NURSERY INDUSTRY
The viticulture nursery has ancient and noble roots - mentioned in the Georgics 36 - 29 B.C. - owes its current importance to the reconstruction of the vineyards following the phylloxera invasion.
The invasion of phylloxera: France 1868 and Italy 1879
Phylloxera (Viteus vitifoliae - Daktulosphaira vitifoliae Fitch), an aphid of the Hemiptera order of insects, - studied by the entomologist Fitch in the USA in 1854 - arrived in Europe from America in 1863, in the Gard and Vaucluse vineyards (France). Identified with the name Phylloxera vastatrix by Planchon in 1868.
In Italy, the first outbreaks were detected in 1879 and, a year later, found from the Italian Riviera to Sicily. The long march that led to the gradual and destruction of whole vine-growing regions had started.
From the agronomic fight to the graft on American rootstocks
The first attempts to defend from the "cursed louse" by physical means represented by the submersion of the vineyards in chemical substances (carbon disulfide) were in vain. Hence the idea of replenishing the vineyards both with the use of European-American hybrids nor maintaining the purity of the European varieties grafted on rootstocks of resistant American vines or tolerant to phylloxera attacks in its radicola phase.
There was significant work by the “Americanists” (who supported the grafting of European vines onto American rootstocks) from the École National d’Agriculture in Montpellier, which produced hybridizers such as De Grasset, Couderc, Teleki, and Paulsen. In their respective countries of origin, they pursued research in the field of hybridization and crossing, an activity carried forward by followers such as Kober, Ruggeri, Cosmo, and others.
The spread of rootstocks: anti-phylloxera consortia and nursery industry schools
The anti-phylloxera consortia, which created the law of 6th June 1901, were set up as associations of private individuals with public subsidies and their aim was to spread the grafting technique.
Alongside them were also private associations such as the Papadopoli nursery in Veneto, Incisa Della Rocchetta in Piedmont and many others.
Several researchers and technicians worked hard to introduce and spread the best nursery techniques; those worth mentioning are Guttuso-Fasulo (1906), Paulsen and Gibertoni (1908), Coceani (1908), Carlo and Fabiani (1912). Their publications and research deal with the cultivation of mother plants, the conservation of cuttings (both scions and rootstocks), the best grafting techniques, callusing and the advancement of scion grafts in the rootling field.
The study of callogenesis
Noteworthy are the works of Professor Luigi Manzoni of the Enological School of Conegliano (TV) who published a monograph dedicated to the callogenesis of the English double-split manual graft used until a few years ago.
The callus is the fusion process of the two cuttings that have been physically united by the graft. The aim is to make a plant with a root system that can resist attacks from phylloxera (rootstock) and with the aerial part of the plant of the Vitis vinifera variety (scion). The rootstocks are material of American origin Vitis riparia, Vitis rupestris and Vitis berlandieri and their hybrids. The grafting scion maintains the identity of wines from different areas.
In proper humidity and temperature conditions, achieved in rooms prepared for forcing the callogenesis, a mass of undifferentiated cells is produced, which will generate new vascular tissue, xylem or wood inside and phloem or bast on the outside, after the bonding of the cambium layers. The vascular connections between the rootstock and scion gradually consolidate the connection between the two grafted parts.
The evolution of nursery industry techniques
The different practices of nursery industry techniques remained unaltered for almost a century, although they based on practical knowledge, extensive artisanal experience and the massive use of human resources.
A change was necessary, given the burden nature of this production method and to make the different operations measurable (to standardize the methods).
The first significant innovation in nursery industry technique was grafting with the grafting machines like the Engle and then the Omega, that replaced hand grafting.
The use of paraffin allowed to avoid protecting calluses by covering the graft-cuttings with an embankment of soil.
The conservation of vine propagation material in cold storage, done by the perfect maintenance of the moisture and the healthy state of the material itself, contributed to an increase in the percentage of plants taking root and therefore the yield of the rootling field.
These techniques had already been entirely or partially widespread for some time in other vine growing nations and were introduced by skillful technicians to the Friuli area and the nursery industry in Friuli and Veneto. Another essential evolution, implemented by the Enotria Nursery, was the method of callusing and stratification no longer in peat or conifer sawdust, but solely in water, thus avoiding or reducing the risk of fungal infections.
BIBLIOGRAFIAPeglion V. 1902. La Fillossera. Milano.Ed. Ulrico Hoepli
Guttuso- Fasulo G. 1906. La Ricostituzione dei Vigneti Fillosserati. Palermo. Ed. Alberto Reber
Libreria della R. Casa.
Paulsen F., Gibertoni L. 1908. Relazione Tecnica sui Lavori Eseguiti nel Cantiere di Forzatura ed Innesto Meccanico delle Viti Americane presso la Società di Acclimazione e degli Agricoltori Siciliani in Palermo. Palermo Stabilimento Tipografico Virzì.
Coceani F. 1908. La Forzatura degli Innesti su Viti Americane. Casale Monferrato. Tipografia e Litografia C. Cassone.
Fagiani C. 1914. Il Vivaio di Viti Americane Innestate. Casale. Casa Editrice Fratelli Ottavi.
Hidalgo L. 1993. Tratado de Viticoltura General. Terza edizione 2002. Madrid Ed Mundi Prensa.
Translation: JANE UPCHURCH & MATTEO MARENGHI
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