Downy mildew and the influence of leaf wetness in viticulture

Falscher Mehltau durch nasses Weinblatt

Leaf wetness - the central variable for the prediction of downy mildew.

Our last guest article by plant biologist Janna Einöder was about downy mildew (Downy mildew) and how it can infect and damage grapevines. The central variable for infection of grapevines with Downy mildew is leaf wetting time, because only when grapevine leaves are wetted with water for a sufficiently long time can the spores of Downy mildew form.

Thus, it is important to identify the conditions for spore formation at an early stage. First of all, a reliable prediction of leaf wetness is necessary for this. Leaf wetness sensors can only indicate the actual condition and cannot make any statements about future leaf wetness. However, for effective vine protection, sprays usually need to be on the plant before an infection event. Due to this, an accurate prediction of leaf wetness is essential for effective vine protection against Downy mildew.

The microclimate of a vineyard crucial for leaf wetness

Hardly any other meteorological variable is more influenced by the microclimate of a vineyard than leaf wetness. Even over a short distance of a few hundred meters, leaf wetness duration can vary greatly. Above all, topography plays a decisive role here. This is also what the experience of many winegrowers tells us.

VineForecasts Kartenmodell zur Blattnässe in Weinbergen

Philipp Franzen from the Steilgut on the Moselle recently told us about this. In his east-facing sites, he observes a lower susceptibility to downy mildew than on west-facing slopes. Vine leaves that are wet in the morning from dew or overnight precipitation dry fastest on east-facing slopes that receive morning sun. The shaded western slopes, on the other hand, are reached by the sun much later and thus remain wet longer. The risk of Downy mildew infection is significantly higher in these locations.

VineForecast leaf wetness forecasts determine Downy mildew forecasts

In order to be able to give a reliable leaf wetness forecast and thus also enable an accurate Downy mildew forecast, we at VineForecast invest a lot of time in the (further) development of our leaf wetness model. By integrating topography into our models, we have been able to provide fine-grained leaf wetness predictions.

In the map above you can see our leaf wetness forecast for the wine growing regions Moselle, Rheinhessen, Nahe, Rheingau, Mittelrhein and the Pfalz. You can see very well how the forecast is strongly influenced by the different topographical conditions.

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VineForecast Team


In our blog, we provide regular updates on VineForecast developments. Furthermore, we report on current topics in viticulture with a focus on integrated pest management and digitalization in viticulture. To this end, we talk to industry experts, among others, and also give you regular updates via our social media channels.

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