The Crush - January 2020 - 1

Volume 47 Issue 1 January 2020


Fallowing Vineyard Land

By Ted Rieger
Fallowing vineyard land after vine removal may not be
widely practiced in California, but given current grape market
conditions, and pest and disease issues in some locations, it could
be a practical option for some growers. Growers with vineyards
nearing the end of their productive lifespan, vine health issues
affecting quality or yield, or with varieties in locations that
currently have low demand, could benefit from removing these
vineyards and waiting for market conditions to improve.
In general agricultural practice, the term "fallow" is associated
with cultivated land that is not seeded or planted for one or more
growing seasons in order to restore its fertility and productivity,
or as part of a crop rotation, or to avoid surplus production.

Reasons to fallow land could be to remove an underperforming vineyard,
reduce risk of pests and diseases, or improve soil fertility. Photo: Ted Rieger

Possible reasons to fallow a vineyard block:
ECONOMICS: Removing an underperforming vineyard in a
down market can save management costs for labor, and input
costs for water, chemicals and mechanized operations. Leaving
land fallow until the market recovers, or until a new planting
contract is secured, may be more cost-effective than managing an
unprofitable vineyard.
PESTS AND DISEASES: Vine removal and fallowing can
reduce the risk of pest and disease spread to nearby vineyards.
Fallowing vineyard land can reduce the risk of reinfection of new
vines when the vineyard is replanted.
SOIL MANAGEMENT: If soils are low in certain nutrients or
organic matter, a fallow period with additions of compost,
nutrients or the use of cover crops can improve fertility
and soil health.
PLANT MATERIALS: If desired vine replant
materials suitable to the site (rootstocks,
varieties, clones) are unavailable in

sufficient quantities from nurseries, it may be better to wait until
appropriate vine materials become available and replant later.
When a vineyard is removed, replanting should not be followed
with the same rootstock, or a rootstock with similar parentage,
previously planted at the site.
Although fallow by definition means not planting the ground
after crop removal, there can be different approaches for
managing vineyard land without immediately replanting
it to grapevines. Allowing soil to remain bare may not be
recommended depending on site and soil conditions.
In recent years, when vineyards have been removed related
to market conditions, growers have sometimes replanted to a
different higher-demand, higher-value crop (such as almonds).
Planting a different crop that is not susceptible to or does
not harbor grapevine pests and diseases can keep the land in
production while also acting as a buffer zone to prevent pest and
disease spread between vineyards.


The Crush - January 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Crush - January 2020

The Crush - January 2020 - 1
The Crush - January 2020 - 2
The Crush - January 2020 - 3
The Crush - January 2020 - 4
The Crush - January 2020 - 5
The Crush - January 2020 - 6
The Crush - January 2020 - 7
The Crush - January 2020 - 8
The Crush - January 2020 - 9
The Crush - January 2020 - 10
The Crush - January 2020 - 11
The Crush - January 2020 - 12