American Journal of Agricultural and Biological Sciences 5 (2): 143-147, 2010
© 2010 Science Publications
Organic Alternative for Breaking Dormancy in
Table Grapes Grown in Hot Regions
Consuelo Corrales-Maldonado, Miguel Angel Martinez-Tellez, Alfonso A. Gardea,
Antonio Orozco-Avitia and Irasema Vargas-Arispuro
Center for Research and Development in Food, AC Km 0.6, Road to Victory,
Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico, CP 83000
Abstract: Problem statement: In warm-winter regions, the need for intervention of chemical means
to break bud rest becomes a dominant factor for maintaining economic production of table grapes.
However, the problem is more acute when farmers want to grow organic table grapes in the absence of
environmentally-friendly budbreak promoters. Approach: This study aimed to evaluate the effect of a
mix of naturally occurring Garlic Compounds (GC) in comparison to the conventional use of hydrogen
cyanamide to promote budbreak and its effects on cluster quality in four table grape cultivars field-
grown in hot region (Sonora Desert). Results: Four cultivars responded to GC, the vines bursting bud
about 3 weeks after application. Quality of fruit from 4 cultivars treated with GC was excellent.
Clusters weigh and berry sizes were larger than other treatments. Conclusion: Ability of GC to break
dormancy in table grape grown in Sonora Desert has significant implications for organic table grape
production in hot regions.
Key words: Garlic compounds, budbreak, hydrogen cyanamide, grape production
Growing grapevines (Vitis vinifera L.) in warm
regions still poses agronomic challenges. Interest in bud
dormancy breaking agents is closely related to
commercial attempts to grow grapevines in mild winter
locations, where chilling requirements are not
necessarily met and, in absence of chemical
budbreaking agents, the results are uneven budbreak
and low budbreak rates, which lead to management
problems later in the growth season, resulting in
reducing yield (Erez, 1987), uneven maturity and
delayed harvests are problems as well. In the Sonoran
Desert in NW Mexico the problem is acute and
although low-chilling cultivars are used, continuous
chemical applications to release buds from dormancy
are required, as elsewhere (Shulman et al., 1983).
Many investigations have been conducted to
artificially interrupt dormancy in grapevines with
synthetic chemicals (Shulman et al., 1983; Weaver et al.,
1961; Lin and Wang, 1985; Nir et al., 1988; Zelleke
and Kliewer, 1989; Dookoozlian and Wiliams, 1995).
Among such products, Hydrogen Cyanamide (H2CN2)
(Dormex, BASF) has been the most effective bud
breaking agent for field use (Zelleke and Kliewer,
1989) It is very effective and leads to early and
Corresponding Author: Vargas-Arispuro Irasema, Center for Research and Development in Food, AC Km 0.6, Road to
Victory, Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico, CP 83000 Tel: (662)289-2400 Fax: (662)280-0381
vigorous vegetative growth. Despite these attributes,
hydrogen cyanamide is not accepted by organic
protocols for grape production. The increasingly
demand for organic produce, as well as premium prices
(although premium prices do not necessarily translates
into higher profits) for organically grown fruits, has
motivated farmers be convert a sizeable amount of
farmland from traditional agricultural practices to the
production of organic foods. Thus, it is necessary to
find environmentally friendly and operator safer
budbreak promoters that are as effective as hydrogen
cyanamide, suitable for organic table grape production.
Seeking for new alternatives to promote early
budbreak, Kubota et al. (1999a) demonstrated that fresh
garlic paste (Allium sativum L.) applied to cross
sectional cut surface of Kyoho, Delaware, Neo Muscat
grapevine canes, immediately after pruning was more
efficient than calcium cyanamide. Similar satisfactory
results were also obtained by using garlic-derived
compounds in Perlette and Flame Seedless grapevines
without exposure to chilling (Vargas et al., 2008). Both
studies were done using cuttings, forced under
controlled conditions. In this study we evaluated the
effect of a mix of naturally occurring Garlic
Compounds (GC) in comparison to the conventional
use of hydrogen cyanamide to promote budbreak and its
Am. J. Agri. & Biol. Sci., 5 (2): 143-147, 2010
effects on cluster quality in four table grape cultivars
field-grown in hot region (Sonora Desert). Also, we
measured changes in Flame Seedless buds metabolic
heat production (Rq) after treatments and during
forcing conditions as an indicator of overall metabolic
changes associated to such treatments.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
General procedure: Although this study started since
2004, for the purpose of this article we focused on the
2006-2007 season data. The trials were conducted in
three commercial vineyards, located in Pesqueira,
Mexico (29°20’N, 110°51’W) at an elevation of 345
masl. The vineyard was planted with self-rooted
Vitis vinifera cultivars Perlette, Flame Seedless,
Superior Seedless and Red Globe. Plot size for each
cultivar was 1.5 ha. The pruning was done on January
2, 6, 9 and 16 in Perlette, Flame S., Red Globe and
Superior S., respectively. Treatments were applied one
day after pruning. All sprays were done with backpack
sprayers ensuring a thorough wetting of buds. Ripening
was determined by measurements of Total Soluble
Solids (TSS), harvest was done at a commercial
maturity between 14 and 17° Brix. All standard
viticultural practices for production of export table
grapes were followed.
Field experiment: Treatments were (a) GC 3% (v/v)
(garlic preparation, patent in process), (b) A standard
5% (v/v) hydrogen cyanamide (Dormex®) and (c)
Untreated control. On each cultivar, each treatment was
applied to an acreage estimated of half a hectare. Bud
phenology was followed by monitoring budbreak in ten
2-bud spurs per vine in 10 plants per cultiva.
Monitoring was done twice a week until 90% of the
buds bursted. Budbreak was recorded when buds
reached the greentip stage (Coombe, 1995). Budbreak
percentage data were analyzed by ANOVA considering
a two-way factorial arrangement of treatments for
budbreak promoting treatments and time. Percentage
data were transformed to arcsine for analysis and
transformed back to percentage for graphics. Mean
separation, when applicable, was done by Tukey (α =
0.05) with SAS program (SAS Institute Inc, 1996).
Cluster quality: Cluster quality measurements were
done only at commercial harvest, directly in the field
packing facilities. Clusters on marked vines were
counted and five clusters per vine were randomly
selected and weighed. A sample of three berries was
selected from each cluster for assessment of berry
diameter with a graduated hoop and Total Soluble
Solids (TSS) with a PAL 1 temperature compensated
refractometer (Atago, Tokyo, Japan). Cluster and berry
quality measurements data were analyzed by Analysis
Of Variance (ANOVA), using NCSS (2005), while
mean comparisons were done by Tukey (α = 0.05).
Calorimetric measurements: For a calorimetric
follow up of bud metabolism after the same treatments
mentioned before, six node cuttings from current season
growth were sprayed and forced to break under
controlled conditions of 25°C and a 16/8 photoperiod,
their basal ends were kept immersed in water and water
was changed every other day. This experiment was
done only on Flame Seedless. Metabolic heat
production by buds was measured at 0, 7 and 14 days
after treatments. Six replications per date were done
and sample size was adjusted to yield appropriate heat
outputs. Metabolic heat was measured with a
differential scanning calorimeter
Calorimetry Science Corporation, Pleasant Grove,
Utah) working in the isothermal mode at 25°C for
3000 sec. The instrument has a baseline sensitivity
±1 µW and a working range of -30-110°C. Temperature
around the DSC chamber was maintained at 15°C with
a refrigerated circulating bath (Polyscience, Niles, IL).
A flux of dry nitrogen at 175 g cm−2 was used to
prevent moisture condensation inside the instrument.
Samples were measured in three 1 cm3 hastelloy
ampoules with removable lids. Metabolic heat (Rq) rate
was expressed on a dry-weight basis (Gardea et al.,
2000). Rq means were calculated on six replicates on
each sampling date. Data were analyzed by ANOVA
and means separation was done according to Tukey (α
= 0.05) (SAS Institute Inc, 1996).
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
Effect on budburst rate of table grape cultivars: The
effect of natural budbreaking agent GC was measured,
quantifying the percentage of bud-burst after applying
GC on buds from 4 cultivars and was compared with
hydrogen cyanamide and untreated control. Both GC
and hydrogen cyanamide promoted an early budbreak
in the 4 cultivars, hastened budbreak by 19-28 days
compared to the control (Fig. 1). Data analysis of
budbreak shown no significant interaction between GC
and hydrogen cyanamide to Perlett, Flame S. and
Superior S. Cvs., but did found among the two
treatments and the control. For Red Globe Cv
significant interaction was found.
The budbreak of Cv. Flame Seedless (Fig. 1FS) was
initiated 22 days from application GC 3% (v/v) and
hydrogen cyanamide 5% (v/v). Untreated plants were
initiated the budbreak 28 days after that the plants treated.
Am. J. Agri. & Biol. Sci., 5 (2): 143-147, 2010
Fig. 1: Budbreak kinetics of four table grape varieties
(FS: Flame Seedless, RG: Red Globe, P: Perlette
and SS: Superior Seedless) treated with hydrogen.
Bars represent standard deviations (n = 10)
In this cultivar hydrogen cyanamide and GC reached
over 50% budbreak, 36 Days After Treatment (DAT)
and control reached 50% budbreak at 58 DAT. The
budbreak of Cv. Red Globe (Fig. 1RG) was initiated 25
days from application GC 3% (v/v) and hydrogen
cyanamide 5% (v/v). Untreated vines were initiated the
budbreak 27 days after that the vines treated. The 50%
of budbreak was reached in Red Globe at 32 DAT using
hydrogen cyanamide and 34 DAT using GC. Untreated
vines reached 50% budbreak at 43 DAT. Vines of Cv.
Perlette Seedless (Fig. 1 PS) were initiated the
budbreak 26 days from application GC 3% (v/v) and 23
days from application hydrogen cyanamide 5% (v/v).
Untreated vines were initiated the budbreak 15 days
after that the vines treated. Plants treated with hydrogen
cyanamide and GC reached 50% of budbreak at 33
DAT. Untreated vines reached the 50% of budbreak at
50 DAT. Vines of Cv. Superior Seedless (Fig. 1 SS)
initiated the budbreak 20 days from application GC 3%
(v/v) and hydrogen cyanamide 5% (v/v), this meant 11
days in advance that untreated vines. The 50% of
budbreak was reached in Superior at 28-29 DAT using
GC and hydrogen cyanamide. Untreated vines reached
50% budbreak at 39 DAT. Our data show that
application of GC in each vine cultivars was able to
promote an early budbreak, similar to hydrogen
cyanamide. The vineyard treated have reached
budburst at expecting date, it is defined by Coombe
(1995) when the 50% buds on fruiting canes have
reached the greentip bud stage. The untreated vines
had a marked delay in budbreak. This result coincides
with that reported by Botelho and Pavanello (2007)
with the use of Bioalho in cultivar Cabernet Sauvignon.
Kubota et al. (1999b) concluded that the effect to
promote budbreak of garlic preparations is due to
sulfur-containing compounds like diallyl mono, di and
tri-sulfides and dimethyl disulfide. Also, Hartmann et al.
(2000) attributed the effect of interrupting the
dormancy of different species of deciduous plants to
substances with sulfur molecules. Different sulfur
compounds are components of GC, which were
previously reported (Vargas et al., 2008). The
mechanism by which sulfur compounds can induce bud
breaking continues to be unknown. However, progress
has been made in elucidating the implied routes in the
regulation of sulfur in relation to the vegetative growth
of plants (Hawkesford and de Kok, 2006). In this
process sulfur is fixed as cysteine by the plants after a
process of reduction (Saito, 2000). Cysteine is the
initial material for the production of reduced
glutathione, which is responsible for detoxify cells
through the elimination of free radicals and reactive
species that accumulate during different types of stress
(Saito, 2004; Zang, 2004). According to Tohbe et al.,
(1998), exogenous applications of reduced glutathione
induced bud breaking on buds of grapevines of Cv.
Delaware. If the sulfur molecules derived from garlic
can be assimilated by the plant in the latent stage, might
be the increased of this tripeptide in the ecodormant
stage as stimuli that lead the dormancy release in vines
but this remains to be elucidated.
Effect of GC on fruit quality: Berry quality
characteristics are an important factor for consumer
acceptance, why it was assessed the effect of GC on
cluster development and determine its influence on
clusters and berries characteristics such as size, weight
and maturity. Table 1 shows the comparison between
clusters produced under GC treatment, hydrogen
cyanamide and untreated control. Quality measures
were done at harvest time. Treatment using GC resulted
in highest number of cluster, cluster weight and berry
diameter in the 4 cultivars evaluated. Exceptional
cluster weight of Red Globe was markedly larger. The
SST (°Brix) resulted higher values with treatment of
hydrogen cyanamide in all cultivars evaluated; however,
there were no significant differences (α = 0.05) to this
parameter of quality between hydrogen cyanamide and
GC. SST concentration is also an important factor of
production, because, harvest date is determined by
soluble solids concentration in range of 14-17.5%
depending on cultivar and production area (Sonego et al.,
2002). Untreated vines had very poor quality fruits, also
cluster weight was less and small berry size. In addition,
quality of fruit from 4 cultivars treated with GC was
excellent. Untreated vines had variable quality fruit.
Am. J. Agri. & Biol. Sci., 5 (2): 143-147, 2010
Table 1: Effect of dormancy breaking agents on cluster and berry
quality of four table grape cultivars under commercial
Treatment number weight (g) solids (°Brix)
GC (3%) 48a 415a
H2CN2 (5%) 42b 349b
Control 32c 242c
GC (3%) 17a 1390a
H2CN2 (5%) 14a 990b
Control 15a 440c
GC (3%) 25a 585a
H2CN2 (5%) 25a 585a
Control 20b 389b
GC (3%) 32a 485a
H2CN2 (5%) 26b 435a
Control 24b 424a
GC: Garlic-derived; H2CN2: Hydrogen cyanamide. Different letters
indicate significant differences between means (Tukey, α = 0.05)
Total soluble Berry
Fig. 2: Metabolic heat production by flame seedless
buds forced to break with hydrogen cyanamide
(5% v/v), GC (3% v/v) and untreated controls at
0, 7 and 14 days after treatment. Forcing
conditions of 25°C and a 16/8 photoperiod. Bars
represent standard deviations (n = 6)
Calorimetric measurements result: Changes in Flame
seedless buds metabolic activity was measured at 0, 7
and 14 days after GC 3% (v/v), hydrogen cyanamide
5% (v/v) and distilled water application. Calorimetric
assays were performed at forcing conditions using a
growth chamber at 25°C. Figure 2 shows bud
calorimetry response. The isothermal calorimetry
showed that the buds exposed to hydrogen cyanamide
had the higher Rq values (2.5 µJ sec−1 mg−1 dw−1) at
14 days after treatment apply, following by GC with Rq
value of 2.2 µJ sec−1 mg−1 dw−1. The control showed the
lowest Rq value (1.8 µJ sec−1 mg−1 dw−1). The Rq values
were statistically different (α = 0.05) in the time, but
not between treatments. These results are consistent
with the results obtained in the budbreak percentage
(Fig. 1), even though, the heat of metabolism of buds
began well in advance of budbreak and long before any
morphological change was visible. The results of
metabolic heat in this study provide accurately
information of actual timing of induction of dormancy
release, thereby enabling the detection of early changes
following this induction. In commercial vineyards
where the time of harvest is very important, this could
be an excellent tool (Gardea et al., 1994). In the case of
Sonora, Mexico, the table grapes are exported to
different countries and the harvest time must to be
before those other table grapes producer countries
arrive to this markets.
GC promoted budbreak in all cultivars of table
grape evaluated in field-grown conditions in this study.
This can result in table grape maturity being advanced
by as mucho as weeks. The quality of fruit from 4
cultivars treated with GC was excellent. There is
considerable potential for the application of GC in the
organic production of table grapes in hot regions. The
application of GC leads to a number of questions,
including the correct dosage and timing application.
The mechanism by which GC can induce grape bud
break continues to be unknown and then further
research should be directed to elucidate the mode of
action of this budbreaking agent.
We would like to thank the Fundacion Produce
Sonora for support this research, as well as Table Grape
Producer Association for labor and use of vineyards.
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