Cover Crop Effects on Weed Control and Growth of First-year Grapevines

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  • 1 Dept. of Horticulture, 1165 Hort. Bldg., Purdue Univ., West Lafayette, IN 47907-1165.

Four cover crops were evaluated for weed control and effects on first-year vine growth. Winter wheat (cv. Cardinal), rye (cv. Wheeler), oats (cv. Ogle), and hairy vetch (no cultivar name) were either fall- or spring-planted and compared to cultivated and weedy control plots. Cover crop and weed biomass dry weight was collected twice during the growing season. Vines (Vitis labrusca cv. Steuben) were planted in the spring and destructively sampled at the end of the growing season for analysis of leaf area, leaf number, shoot length., shoot number, top growth dry weight, and root system dry weight. None of the vines in cover crop treatments had growth as good as vines in the weed-free check. Vines in the best cover crop treatments had ≈70% as much leaf area, 75% as many leaves, 50% as much shoot dry weight, and 40% as much root dry weight as vines in the weed-free check. Cover crop biomass dry weight and vine growth was greater in fall-planted plots than in spring-planted plots. Despite low cover crop biomass dry weight, spring-planted plots had few weeds (low weed biomass dry weight). However, vine growth in spring-planted plots was not significantly different than vine growth in the weedy check.

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