Canada’s wine regions could face challenges due to climate change during the grape breeding season.
“In Canada we will have milder winters, but it is unpredictable because you have an early spring and even if you have a few days of extreme cold - that will almost destroy the crop,” said Ravindra Chibbar, professor of the Molecular Biology and Genetics program in the department of sciences at the University of Saskatchewan.
Climate change has a crucial part in primal and fundamental grape growth. Extreme cold or hot weather can cause crop damage and strenuous heat resulting in an unfavorable quality of wine, according to the researched article by Micah J. Hewer and William A. Gough about climate risk management.
Professor Chibbar said during an interview that the idea is to develop wines which can have cold tolerance or low-temperature resistance. When extreme temperatures hit, they can survive.
Different species of grapes have a very limited climate window for primal and quality growth. This poses a greater risk for grape production during both longer and shorter weather changes compared to other crops, according to the researched article by Micah J. Hewer and William A. Gough.
Zoe Migicovsky is the Canada Research Chair in Agri-Food and Sustainable Agriculture at Acadia University.
During an interview Migicovsky said while all grapevines are at risk, hybrid grapevine varieties - or those bred using wild species, generally have the best chance of survival in response to sudden cold events.
“Although there is a variation, about 65 per cent of overall hybrid varieties have the best chance of producing fruit this year,” said Migicovsky as she referenced the article about Nova Scotia vineyard growers recovering from the extreme cold weather from Global News.
Contrastingly, common grape species such as Vitis vinifera can grow in Europe due to the geological grounds. Professor Chibbar said one strategy people have used in Europe is moving upwards in the mountains. This option isn’t available in Ontario because of specific growing regions.
“In Europe when they change the altitude, it changes the UV light quality which then affects the compounds in the grapes - and that affects the taste,” said professor Chibbar.
CRISPR is a genetic editing technology system that includes bacterial defences. Experts can use this system to alter genes for treating genetically rooted diseases, according to the Broad Institute’s questions and answers about CRISPR.
Experts and researchers may be using CRISPR to create grape species that can sustain the unpredictable climate in Canada, avoiding diseases and depleting crops.
“If we do more on plant biology research and create grape vines to be more resistant to extreme temperatures - and still have the same product in the end, it might be a much better strategy to keep the market going,” he said.
“In Canada we’re trying to invest and make climate change resilient crops like wheat which sustains extreme temperature, moisture, and diseases,” said professor Chibbar.
Another factor to consider is the wine industry’s consumers and if people are willing to adapt to these changes ahead. As wine also includes tradition, the industry has yet to maintain this for the future.
Edited by Kavya Venkateshwaran
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