Climate represents one of the main inputs necessary for plants to complete their vegetative–productive cycle, having a direct effect on the onset and duration of phenological stages and development of crops. Equally important are its indirect effects, affecting field operations such as the application of fertilizer, pruning and crop protection, finally determining the yield.
In the present study, phenological stages of the Sangiovese grapevine for the production of Nobile di Montepulciano wine were analysed and related to historical series of meteorological information (since 1970 in Tuscany, Italy). Weather conditions were described through large-scale meteorological information; in particular geopotential height at the 500 hPa level (500 hPa GPH) and North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) index were considered. All data were provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration-Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (NOAA-CIRES) Climate Diagnostics Center, Boulder, Colorado, USA, available from the NOAA-CIRES website (http://www.cdc.noaa.gov/) and processed by the National Center for Environmental Prediction/National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCEP/NCAR) Reanalysis Project. Conventional meteorological data, such as air temperature and cumulated rainfall, from ground weather stations were also used.
The effects of meteorological parameters on crop phenology (bud-break, flowering and harvest time) were investigated by means of regression analysis, while teleconnections between phenological data and large-scale meteo-climatological data were analysed through correlation maps created using the interactive plotting and analysis link from the NOAA-CIRES website (http://www.cdc.noaa.gov). All correlations were calculated on a monthly to a multi-monthly basis, and also in relation to the different physiological stages of the crop, from 1970 to 2006.
The climate change and variability impact on the crop was investigated by trend analysis of meteorological information and its effect on the onset of grapevine phenological stages.
The results demonstrated that large-scale meteorological information has a significant effect on the onset of the phenological stages of grapevine. In particular, winter NAO was negatively correlated with bud-break and flowering dates, while GPH of February–March, March–May and May–September were negatively correlated with bud-break, flowering and harvest dates, respectively. The trend analysis demonstrated that the change and variability of climate, due to global warming, directly affects the development of grapevine leading to an anticipation of all considered phenophases.