The Crush October 2022 - 1

Volume 49 | Issue 10 | October 2022
Cover Crops Offer Soil, Climate, Management Benefits
Article by Ted Rieger
Planting and managing cover crops are post-harvest
operations to prepare vineyard floors for the grapevine's
dormant season and beyond. Potential benefits of cover
crops include: preventing erosion and soil loss, improved
soil tilth with nutrients and organic matter, suppressing
unwanted weeds, improved water infiltration into soils,
preventing soil compaction, improved vineyard access,
enhanced integrated pest management and improved
carbon sequestration. Cover crop usage and selection is
highly dependent on multiple factors including vineyard
site and soil conditions, local climate, and the grower's
goals related to overall vineyard management and crop
quality and yield.
Grape growers are sometimes reluctant to plant cover
crops, or maintain native cover in vineyards, due to
concerns about competition for water and soil nutrients
with the grapevines. During drought years, such
concerns are even greater. However, recent studies and
experiences of growers and viticulturists indicate that
cover crop competition with vines may be less significant
than previously thought, and in fact, some cover crops
may provide benefits that offset any water they may
Chris Storm, PCA and viticulture consultant with Lodibased
Starr & Storm Crop Solutions, believes, " The
more ground cover you have, the better it will be for
vineyard water infiltration, for reducing temperature and
dust in warmer weather, and for having more roots to
keep microbes alive and active in the soil. " He favors
no-till and reduced till practices and the termination of
cover crop growth by mowing rather than disking after
the vine's growing season begins. He summarized,
" I think the benefits outweigh the perceived
consequences of competition from
having a cover crop and maintaining
vineyard floor ground cover. "
Options for permanent cover crops in vineyards include,
but are not limited to, California native grasses, and
some species of bromes, fescues, ryegrasses, clovers and
barleys. Blando Brome and Zorro Fescue are options for
drought tolerance and no-till/reduced till practices that
mature early and reseed annually without significant vine
A new perennial grass cover crop, Oakville bluegrass,
has shown benefits for sustainable no-till vineyard
management, grapevine water use efficiency, carbon
sequestration and cultural cost savings during trials
conducted in California vineyards and by UC Davis (UCD)
researchers. Oakville bluegrass is comprised of patented
hybrid cultivars of Poa bulbosa, known as Radix Hybrid
bulbosa, developed and distributed under license from
Oregon-based Radix Evergreen.
Oakville bluegrass grows during the grapevine's dormant season.
Photo courtesy of Vitidore
Oakville bluegrass was originally marketed by Vitidore,
Inc., that has conducted cooperative research trials
with growers and researchers since 2019. Since March
2022, it has been sold through the Oakville Bluegrass
Cooperative (OBC). John Knutson, Vitidore co-founder
and VP of solutions, who is also an OBC director, said,

The Crush October 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Crush October 2022

The Crush October 2022 - 1
The Crush October 2022 - 2
The Crush October 2022 - 3
The Crush October 2022 - 4
The Crush October 2022 - 5
The Crush October 2022 - 6
The Crush October 2022 - 7
The Crush October 2022 - 8
The Crush October 2022 - 9
The Crush October 2022 - 10