Chapter 23

Vineyard Weed Management

Mechanical Weed Control

Mechanical weed control includes tillage and mowing. Mechanical weed control may involve weeding the whole vineyard, or it may be limited to selective in-row or row middles weeding.


Cultivation works by disturbing or cutting the root system so the plant dies from drying out before it can reestablish its roots. Cultivation easily controls small weeds and is most effective in hot, dry weather with dry soils.


Mowing is used to control weeds by cutting or shredding the foliage. It is most effective on annuals before they flower and set seed, but timing and frequency of mowing varies with each species.

Mechanical Implements

There is a wide assortment of mechanical implements that can be used for weed control in vineyards designed to stir the soil and disrupt weed growth.

Row-Middle Weed Control

Weeds in row middles are controlled using a number of implements including rotary tillers, mowers, disc plows or cultivators.

Disc Plows: Disc plows (See Figure 23.2) break up undisturbed soil by inverting it to bury surface weeds. Tandem discs are often used given their affordability and the fact they do not displace the soil that much.

Rotary Tillers: Rotary tillers have blades anchored on rotors that are bolted to a single, horizontal power shaft.

Mowers: Growers often use two types of mowers—rotary and flail mowers.

In-row Weed Control

Weeds under the vines are controlled with a French plow (grape hoe), rotary tillers or mowers. These implements have various types of trigger mechanisms that cause the implement to swing back out of the way when a sensor contacts a grapevine trunk or trellis post. Many of these implements can be front, rear or side mounted and driven as a single or double mounted unit.

French Plow: The French plow or grape hoe consists of a cutting blade that undercuts weeds working just a few inches below the berm surface (See Figure 23.3).

Rotary Tillers: Rotary tillers can rotate on a vertical or horizontal axis.

Mowers: Alternatively, there are mowers for controlling weeds under the vines (See Figure 23.6).

Click on the following topics for more information on vineyard weed management.