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The sweet "lethargy" of the vineyards
Just like some animals, also the vine during the winter retreats into a long hibernation lasting a few months and, just like these mammals, as this period approaches, it begins to accumulate resources to deal with the cold and the lack of nourishment. When the plant perceives the drop in seasonal temperatures, it prepares by programming the fall (abscission) of the leaves. First, it absorbs all the useful substances from the leaves such as carbohydrates, organic substances and mineral elements and transports them to the reserve organs of the plant, that is shoots, stem and roots. Once the necessary resources have been obtained, the vine creates a double layer of separation cells from the leaf, the first causes it to fall, the second acts as a protection from external agents. The sugars obtained will subsequently be transformed into reserves in the form of starch.
Left bare and withdrawn the vital juices in the subsoil, an area more protected from winter frosts, the plant begins its vegetative rest period during which it prepares the buds for the new season. It is essential that this dormancy phase temperatures are rigid: it is only thanks to a certain number of hours of cold in fact that the bud can come out of this stage and wake up promptly in spring. Having a mild winter does not favor this process and increases the risk of having reduced or uneven budding. The rise in average temperatures due to climate change can therefore also cause serious damage to this phenological phase of the vine.
The state of quiescence in which the plant is found is the ideal time for humans to perform pruning activities. The scarcity of insects avoids the danger of bacterial and fungal infections, the wounds caused by the cut will be easily healed by the spring vigor and the plant will not suffer from this radical change of its aerial part. What might therefore seem like a period of total immobility is in reality a quiet slowdown aimed at storing resources, energy and structure for an excellent recovery of the new cycle that will begin with the end of winter.
Just like nature, we too need from time to time not to stop completely, but to slow down in order to be able to leave again full of new stimuli and energies. This period has taught us this, practically imposed, and perhaps in the future we will remember more often to do so.