Climate change resulting in the use of more pesticides in vineyards

Researchers have said that climate change could have a significant impact on the amount of pesticides used in vineyards as rainfall and humidity levels rise.

Spraying a vineyard in France

Already affecting the ability to grow some grape species in certain regions, climate change is also resulting in plants becoming more susceptible to pests and mildew.

Deutsche Welle has reported that in Germany’s Moselle region, renowned for its Riesling, this has resulted in farmers using more pesticides in an attempt to combat these issues.

Surplus greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have led to warmer springs, with Europe and the U.S. experiencing more frequent rain and higher humidity.

While higher temperatures accelerate the ripening process, the humidity makes them more prone to pests and diseases such as mildew and cluster rot.

Requiring the most pesticides, wine grapes native to Europe including Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Riesling are the least resistant to pests and diseases consequently requiring the most pesticides.

Despite the popularity of the organic label, which forbids the use of pesticides, Germany has seen an increase since 2010 with 90% of the country’s farms using synthetic chemical pesticides and the average farm employing around 9 kilos of plant protection products each year, according to figures from the German Environment Agency (UBA).

Although little research has been done regarding the extent to which pesticides are present in the finished wine, a French study in 2013 suggested that the majority of French wines contained at least one pesticide.

Vintners continue to experiment with lesser-known native grape varieties that are more hardy to the changing conditions. These however have tended to prove less popular with consumers.

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