Canopy management involves a range of techniques used in the vineyard to manage a grapevine’s canopy (the leaves, shoots and fruit) from the time of winter pruning until harvest.

The overall aims of canopy management are to optimise grapevine yield, improve fruit quality, reduce the risk of disease, improve pest control and facilitate other vineyard operations.

Vigorous vines with excessive canopy can have reduced fruit development through shading or a higher incidence of disease and are referred to as ‘out of balance’. This can lead to the production of lower quality fruit and therefore lower returns for the grower.

Canopy management techniques to improve vine balance are aimed at producing an open canopy, which provides good leaf and fruit exposure to the sun, improves air flow and reduces the incidence of bunch rots and mildews.

Grapevines require enough leaf area to ripen the fruit and produce a desired fruit quality, without the canopy being so dense that fruit is shaded or disease encouraged.

Techniques include irrigation management, pruning, shoot and bunch thinning, shoot and leaf removal and shoot positioning. More permanent canopy management techniques include the choice of trellis system, the use of rootstocks and row spacing.

An improved understanding of vine balance and the development of new measurement methods will allow growers to refine canopy management, to ensure optimal grape quality, while reducing labour and input costs. The optimal degree of fruit-sun exposure will vary according to grape variety and climate, and canopy management techniques must be tailored accordingly.

Wine Australia’s current projects support research investigating the relationships between vine balance and wine quality.


VitiCanopy is a tool funded by Wine Australia and developed by The University of Adelaide, which growers, irrigation practitioners and scientists can use to quickly and reliably measure vine canopy size and density. Spatial and temporal growth and canopy architecture dynamics can then be associated with final yield and grape quality.  

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