Grapevines are more drought-tolerant than thought | Science News

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Grapevines are more drought-tolerant than thought

When pushed to the limits, the plants survive

5:33pm, January 31, 2018
Zinfandel grapevine

GRAPE SHOT Grapevines, like this healthy Zinfandel plant, have an incredible resilience to drought, a new study shows.

The latest word on the grapevine is promising.

During more than a decade of observation, grapevines in Napa, Calif., and Bordeaux, France, never reached lethal levels of dehydration from seasonal drought, researchers report online January 31 in Science Advances. Plant ecophysiologist Guillaume Charrier, at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research in Paris, and colleagues have determined just how resilient the plants are.

Grapevines lost most of their leaves only when their ability to circulate water and nutrients was reduced by 50 percent, due to lower water pressure in their stems and roots. While field conditions never led to water pressures this low, the team found the threshold for leaf loss in greenhouse tests.

Typically, when plants become extremely dehydrated and water pressure drops,

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