Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Agriculture - Crop Science


Horticulture and Crop Science


College of Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Sciences


Jean Catherine Dodson Peterson, Luis Federico Casassa

Advisor College

College of Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Sciences


A three-year study was conducted at a commercial vineyard site in California’s Edna Valley AVA to evaluate the physiological and agronomical effects of the timing of cluster thinning on Pinot noir (clone 115) grapevines. Vines were thinned to one cluster per shoot at three selected time-points during the growing season (bloom, bloom + 4 weeks, bloom + 8 weeks), and fruit from each treatment was harvested and made into wine. Across all growing seasons, yield decreased 43% in thinned vines relative to un-thinned control vines. No effect of cluster thinning or interaction with growing season was found in vine shoot diameter, internode length, fruit zone light level, or cluster weight. Growing season significantly affected more fruit and wine parameters than did cluster thinning treatment, with interactions between treatment and growing season found in fruit Brix, titratable acidity, and anthocyanins, as well as wine anthocyanins and wine b* (yellow component). For example, bloom + 8 and bloom + 12 thinning treatments advanced Brix in 2017 but had no effect in 2018. Cluster thinning treatments increased berry anthocyanins by 43% in 2017 and by 103% in 2018 relative to the control. Similarly, cluster thinning increased berry total phenolics by 87% in 2017 and by 140% in 2018 relative to the control, with no significant differences found between the different thinning treatments. However, the levels of anthocyanins and total phenolics were generally not affected by cluster thinning treatment in the resulting wines. The fact that different cluster thinning treatments resulted in nil or minor effects on fruit and wine suggests that the vines tested were at or below a balanced crop load prior to the application of cluster thinning. Edna Valley AVA could likely support higher crop loads than 3.2 on the Ravaz index without negatively impacting fruit or wine composition and reducing crop load below that level is unlikely to increase fruit or wine quality.