Chapter 10

Vineyard Canopy Management

Indirect Canopy Management Techniques

While direct canopy management practices can be used to modify the canopy, indirect canopy management techniques are also used to alter vine growth and canopy size, thereby affecting vine balance. For example, vines with a weak canopy typically require methods such as irrigation and fertilization to increase vine size relative to fruit yield while floor management practices can be used to control overly vigorous vines. The following irrigation, fertilization, and floor management techniques can have strong impacts on canopy and overall vine growth and productivity over time.

Irrigation

The main purpose of controlling the application of irrigation water to wine grapes is to produce high quality fruit. Each vineyard can be very different in location (climate), soil-water capacity, vigor, and trellis design. Production goals may also depend on the variety and wine program to which the fruit is destined. Each of these factors exclusive of irrigation can significantly affect production and quality.

Fertilization

Most vineyards require some form of fertilization, whether it is macro- or micronutrient supplementation, for maintaining proper growth and fruitfulness. The decision to apply fertilizers should be based on visual observations of vine growth and interpretations of vine tissue analyses.

Vineyard Floor Management

Vineyard floor management has multiple goals that encompass improving weed management and soil conservation, influencing desirable aspects in wine quality, and managing soil resource availability to control vine vigor. Cover crops have the potential to improve soil and vine health, can be adapted to many climates and soils, and may influence vine vigor by adjusting parameters such as the length of their growth period, coverage of the vineyard floor, and aggressiveness. In the case of excessive vegetative growth (vigor) cover crops can be used to reduce vine vigor by competing for water or nutrients.

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