Varying amounts of vegetation-free area (VFA) were established around newly planted `Niagara' (Vitis labrusca L. × Vitis vinifera L.) grapevines to determine their influence on vine growth during the first growing season. VFAs were either circular with radii from 0 to 5 ft (0 to 152 cm) in one experiment or in bands from 0 to 8 ft (0 to 244 cm) in width in a second experiment. VFAs were maintained with biweekly manual weeding for the entire growing season. Leaf, shoot and root dry weights as well as the number of primary shoots and the length of the longest root were measured at the end of their first growing season. The thresholds for maximum vine dry weight biomass accumulation occurred with a circular VFA of 4 ft (122 cm). When banded VFAs were used, total vine dry weight biomass continued to increase up to the widest treatment of 8 ft (244 cm). Therefore, no threshold was attained. These are greater VFAs than typically established around vines in commercial plantings. Therefore, growers who desire to maximize vine growth of newly planted vines, should consider larger VFAs around vines than has been traditional unless such a practice is likely to cause surface soil erosion.
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