Effects of Low-growing Perennial Ornamental Groundcovers on the Growth and Fruiting of `Seyval blanc' Grapevines

in HortScience
Authors: N.G. Krohn1 and D.C. Ferree1
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  • 1 The Ohio State University, Department of Horticulture and Crop Science, Wooster, OH 44691

Greenhouse and field-grown `Seyval blanc' grapevines (Vitis sp.) were grown with low-growing, shallow-rooted, mat-forming, ornamental perennial groundcovers, and the effect of the groundcovers on the vegetative and fruiting growth of the grapevines was evaluated. The groundcovers used in this experiment were `Kentucky-31' tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea); white mazus (Mazus japoonicus albus); english pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium); dwarf creeping thyme (Thymus serpyllum minus); strawberry clover (Trifolium fragiferum); `Heavenly Blue' veronica (Veronica prostrata `Heavenly Blue'); and a companion grass mixture of 75% perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne) and 25% red fescue (Festuca rubra). A control treatment grown without any groundcover was also used in both the greenhouse and field experiments. All of the groundcovers reduced `Seyval blanc' total shoot length from 22% to 85% in the vineyard. Cluster size was reduced in the field from 7% to 68% by the groundcovers compared to the herbicide control treatment, and from 9% to 66% in the greenhouse experiment, but none of the groundcovers in either the greenhouse or field experiments affected the pH, total acidity, or soluble solids concentrations of the `Seyval blanc' juice. English pennyroyal was the only groundcover that reduced in the leaf area of the grapevine. Single-leaf photosynthesis of the `Seyval blanc' grapevines in the field experiment was reduced by all groundcovers except mazus and creeping thyme. Water infiltration rates were 10 to 50 times higher in the groundcovers compared to the bare soil of the herbicide control treatment. Weed growth in the field caused reduction in shoot length similar to the most competitive groundcovers. Weed growth was reduced in the early season by the english pennyroyal and companion grass, and in the late season by all groundcovers. The reduction in growth of the grapevines caused by groundcovers in the greenhouse was a reasonable screen for the affect of groundcovers in the field. The mazus treatment was the only groundcover in our experiments that coupled fast growth with low competitive ability.

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