Influence of cover crop residue management on soil moisture, vine growth, and productivity in a pre-production vineyard in the Willamette Valley Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/3x816q23m

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  • The use of cover crops in young vineyards is not widely accepted in the Pacific Northwest due to concerns of water and nutrient competition between the cover crop and vines. The last 2 years of a 4-year study started in 2009 are reported here. The study evaluated the use of biomass management of a winter annual cover to enhance growth and conserve soil moisture. A winter annual cover crop of cereal rye (Secale cereale) and crimson clover (Trifolium incarnatum) was planted each fall in a pre-production Vitis vinifera 'Chardonnay' vineyard. Cover-cropped treatments were compared to an unplanted treatment which was never planted to cover crop and kept free of vegetation by tillage and/or herbicides for the duration of the study. In spring, cover crop biomass was mowed and residues were placed in the alleys, removed from the alleys, or applied as a mulch to the vine row at two densities (one equal to the alley biomass, and one with triple the alley biomass). All treatments were tilled and kept free of vegetation during the summer. Insufficient residue was produced in 2012 and data collected in that year was used to determine residual effects from three prior years of treatments. Higher levels of soil moisture were maintained in mulched treatments through the summer of 2011. Soil mechanical resistance was decreased under the high level of mulch. Root density was increased in mulched vine rows, likely as a result of both increased soil moisture and reduced soil mechanical resistance. In 2011, shoot growth was increased by 17% in mulch treatments, and fruitfulness was higher in 2011 and 2012. Tissue nitrogen and leaf chlorophyll were increased in mulched treatments at bloom, and potassium and boron were higher with the high level of mulch in 2011. Clusters were larger in the high level of mulch treatment with more berries per cluster, but berry weight and fruit yield were not different. Cover crop and mulch did not alter soluble solids, pH, titratable acidity, or yeast assimilable nitrogen. By using a winter annual cover crop, consisting of a mix of grasses and legumes, and applying the biomass to the vines in the spring, cover crops can be a viable management option for establishing vineyards in the Pacific Northwest.
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