Chapter 29

Cover Cropping in Vineyards

Cover Cropping Systems

Choosing a cover crop depends largely upon the objectives in the overall vineyard management plan. There are four main categories of cover crops—grasses, legumes, insectary mixes, and resident vegetation.

Monocultures

Monocultures (single species) of sown cover crops are often used in vineyards. Single species of cover crops are often planted if operational constraints limit selection to a single species or when the species has a history of proven performance (See Figure 29.1).

Mixtures

Plant mixtures tend to have greater efficiency than monocultures (See Figure 29.2). Providing different species in a mix may enable one species to thrive in areas where another might be weak, increasing the chances for a healthy stand throughout the vineyard. For example, using drought-tolerant plants in a perennial mix builds in persistence for dry years.

Insectary Mixes

Insectary mixes includes broad-leaved, flowering plants that include both annual and perennial species which are sown for the purpose of attracting beneficial insects.

Resident Vegetation

Resident vegetation is naturally-occurring vegetation, or “weeds” that provides some of the benefits of sown cover crops, such as providing traction, improving soil tilth, and attracting some beneficial insects.

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