What is a cutting? Davide Sordi, from Vivai Cooperativi Rauscedo, explains it to us

Cos’è una barbatella? Ce lo spiega Davide Sordi, dei Vivai Cooperativi Rauscedo

We had the pleasure of interviewing Davide Sordi, Area Manager North West and Sardinia of Vivai Cooperativi Rauscedo, who told us what a cutting is. And many other things.

Here is the interview with Davide Sordi!

What do Vivai Cooperativi Rauscedo do and what do you do in detail?

Vivai Cooperativi Rauscedo is a cooperative founded in 1933: it deals with the production of cuttings exclusively from grafted vines . I am the area manager for the North West and Sardinia and I deal with sales management through a network of around fifteen agents and as many resellers in the area, and I provide pre- and post-plant technical assistance.

This world of the vineyard in general, and of cuttings more specifically, is a fascinating world and at the same time not very well known to enthusiasts, who perhaps know the history of phylloxera but are unlikely to be aware of the real impact that the agronomic world has on the wine being produced. found in the glass.

When phylloxera arrived in Europe in a few years it created a real destruction of our genetic heritage at an agricultural level. I'll give you a small example, with some numbers: the Piedmont we know today is planted with vines more or less everywhere, from Monferrato to the Langhe - we're talking about around 43 thousand hectares; pre phylloxera there were around 120 thousand hectares of vines.
There were certainly other problems as well, but this significant decline was largely due to the parasite which, once it arrived in Europe, found a species of vitis vinifera which did not enjoy any protection and by attacking the vineyards caused knots and of the bottlenecks and knots in the roots which led to the death of the plant. This decline in the vineyard has greatly impacted the world of wine.

How was phylloxera defeated?

The botanists knew that this insect had arrived from a place where there were other species of vitis , species which by their nature were resistant to the attack of parasites, and therefore they had the intuition of crossing the local plants with the American ones in order to associate the characteristics with each other and obtain a stronger specimen. The crossing was done through the use of grafts and rootstocks.

Between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, a conflict arose over the use of this technology, a contrast that saw scientific progress on one side and doubters, perplexed by the totally innovative nature of the solution, on the other. .

And what happened after botanists had this intuition?

At that point the graft began to be used. This is an operation in which another vine, of a different type, is grown on a plant (called rootstock). Today there are around twenty most used rootstocks, but over time at least a hundred have been tested.

This tool has become fundamental, also because it has allowed cultivation even in territories with very difficult characteristics (for example soils with high limestone, high salinity or other) and over time it has become both a modulator of the effects of the soil and a method for mitigating the environmental impact , from an ecological perspective.

And the Rauscedo Cooperativi Nurseries deal with exactly this. Can you explain to us what a cutting is?

The cutting is a cutting of the vine, when it has grown roots. It is a piece of wood made up of two segments: the rootstock with the roots, and the scion on the other side, which usually contains two or three buds. A graft is made (a cut in a specific point) and then with a series of practices the graft itself is allowed to weld together and the cutting to root. In the nursery, the cuttings are planted and treated until they are sold.

scion root vine and rootstock

Can you tell us how your supply chain works?

I start from a fact: every year our company produces 80 million cuttings: 55% in Italy, through a widespread sales network, the remaining 45% in the rest of the world. In fact, we sell both in Italy and abroad: primarily Spain and France, but also Portugal, Eastern countries, Argentina and Brazil.

The supply chain is entirely within the town of Rauscedo: ours is a cooperative made up of 210 members with a very precise statute: to be able to rejoin the cooperative you must be from Rauscedo or have married someone from Rauscedo, as well as producing entirely on the territory of the municipality. We take care of everything: from the creation of cuttings to their marketing .

To understand the topic of cuttings as facilitators of viticulture even in complex climates: does their use play a role in containing the effects of climate change and against the proliferation of pathogens?

Sustainable development is one of the lines of research in which we invest the most: all our activities adapt according to the needs of the moment. Today, adopting strategies to address climate change is more than necessary and we are constantly studying new strategies starting from the genetic material we have available to create increasingly high-performance hybridizations in viticulture, such as the creation of more drought-resistant biotypes .

An example on a very precious commodity like water: we are looking for new crosses that give life to biotypes that are less demanding in terms of resources but still aligned with the parameters of oenology in terms of yield and quality.

PIWI comes to mind, the result of research with the aim of creating stronger vines: this practice could be a response to the sustainability needs of today's viticulture, attentive to waste and the need to limit the use of chemical products in the vineyard . Is PIWI research that you carry out?

We started in 2006 with a collaboration with the Institute of Applied Genomics , a spin-off of the University of Udine, which since 1998 has resumed studies begun in the 1970s by the German school. The objective is to study biology to have a resistant and therefore competitive vineyard also from an environmental point of view.

We joined forces by partly financing the project, providing space, support, know-how and professionalism to carry out this research. Necessarily, the studies are long and complex due to the biological limitations of the vine, which - let's remember - bears fruit only once a year . Furthermore, since 2015 we have begun our study on the hybridization of resistant varieties starting from European vines and this will lead us to have a good range of varieties in the future.

It is interesting to note how hybridizations are a winning weapon in matters of eco-sustainability, not only because they require different treatments, but because they allow us to reduce the waste of raw material with less invasive and less frequent interventions.

An example? Suffice it to say that to carry out a phytosanitary treatment it is necessary to use from 300 to 1000 liters of water per hectare, spread throughout the vineyards by machinery that consumes fuel.

Are there any limits?

The main limit for the development of these varieties are the bureaucratic aspects.

PIWI plants have a genetic component different from vitis vinifera for a range from 2 to 7%, therefore according to the national register of Italian varieties they cannot be included in the DOC. Each region has its own legislation regarding the classification of these vines: for example Veneto is one of the most open regions. The French are also very avant-garde, after having started the cultivation of the four native resistant varieties, they immediately registered them in the register as vitis vinifera .

And in the United States?

In America there are not the same limitations as Europe from the point of view of regulations, but on the other hand overseas they have a very rigid phytosanitary barrier which does not allow the introduction of new varieties unless after strict control by local universities.

A consideration comes to mind: you told us about this small town in Friuli where there has been a strong innovative push. The idea of ​​joining together to do research and sell all over the world with a very short supply chain denotes a strong seed of innovation: what is this due to?

Vivai Cooperativi Rauscedo was born in the 1930s, but already in the early 1970s it began to experiment from various points of view: luck was that the members immediately wanted to select far-sighted professionals projected towards the future . The winning key was the continuous collaboration with universities: on the one hand, academic study and on the other, know-how ensured that the results were achieved and brought us to where we are today.

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