Taxonomic placing: Vitaceae .
Common name: Grape; grapevine.
The grape is the most widely cultivated fruit crop in the world, and has been known since antiquity, especially as a source for wines.
All Old World varieties are derived from Vitis vinifera, which originated south of the Black and Caspian Seas (the area often called “Asia Minor”); the clustered berries of V. vinifera are black, green, red or white. The American varieties are derived from Vitis riparia, V. rupestris and V. labrusca, and their berries are black. The French varieties have originated from V. rotundifolia and provide the Muscadine grapes.
Vitis spp. are woody, deciduous vines with simple, large leaves and tendrils that support the primary shoots. The small flowers occur in clusters that blossom in the spring, the fruit ripening during summer. Grapevines need mild winters and are susceptible to high temperatures combined with high humidity, thus usually being unsuitable for the tropics. The fruit requires long, warm and dry summers to ripen optimally. Grapevines are propagated from cuttings, field-budding or (usually) graftings to resistant rootstocks, such as ‘Rupestris’ and its descendants.
Table grapes are consumed fresh, their best known variety being Thompson Seedless, which is also commonly used for raisins, along with Muscat of Alexandria. Wine varieties are separated into those providing red wines (such as Alicante, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Zifandel) and those from which white wine is made (including Chardonnay, Muscat, Pinot and the Rieslings). Efforts to improve the quantity and quality of grape varieties, as well as to enhance their resistance to diseases and pests, are ongoing efforts that are reported in periodical international conferences.
Total area under grape cultivation is estimated to be about 8.2 million hectares. Total world production was approximatly 61 million tons in the year 2002, the main producers being Chile, China, the USA and France. About 2⁄3 of the grape yield is used for wine production, the rest being for table grapes (20%), raisins (12%) and for fresh juice. About 7,000 hectares are planted to grapevines in Israel, divided almost equally between wine and table varieties.
Major grape pests in the Middle East
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Reineke, A. and Thiery, D. 2016. Grapevine insect pests and their natural enemies in the age of global warming. Journal of Pest Science 89: 313–328.
Winkler, A.J., Cook, J.A., Kliewer, W.M. and Lider, L.A. 1974. General Viticulture. University of California Press, Berkeley.