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December 1, 2022 28 min

Under vine cover crops can both improve soil health and control vine vigor. Justine Vanden Heuvel, Professor and Chair of the Horticulture Section School of Integrative Plant Science at Cornell University and Michela Centinari Associate Professor of Viticulture at the Department of Plant Science at Penn State University have trialed different cover crops to find the best plants for vineyards. By adding a cover crop under the vine, growers can impact the size of the vine by stopping vegetative growth at version. Ground cover has additional benefits on the soil including decreasing the impact of water drops, improved water infiltration, increased carbon, soil aggregate stability, and microbial activity. Listen in to learn which cover crops are best to improve the overall sustainability of a vineyard.


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Craig Macmillan  0:00 

Today our guests are Justine Vanden Houvel from Cornell University and Michela Centinari from Penn State University. And we're going to talk about some really exciting work they've been doing around the topic of under vine vegetation. Thank you both for being here.


Justine Vanden Houvel  0:14 

Thanks, Craig.


Craig Macmillan  0:16 

Tell us a little bit first of all about what under vine vegetation kind of is, to me that sounds like weeds coming from California. To me, that means weeds and it's gotta go. Your work is looking at some maybe some benefits of it and things that might help in the eastern United States at least, can you tell me kind of what the basic definitions of these things are?


Michela Centinari  0:33 

I understand why you think you know, that the under vine vegetation should go because I'm from Italy. And also we don't like to see weeds. Cover crops grown under the vines, because it's a dry, you know, hot warm climate. Is a little different for us here in the eastern United States and the Northeast US, because we have a very different weather conditions, you know, it's more or less humid, wet, and we have fertile soil. So cover crops are weeds, even weeds growing under the under the vine can actually be beneficial for the vine and for the soil. And this is because our vines can be overly vigorous, because it's, you know, it's humid is wet, and the soil is fertile. And this competition provided by the cover crops to the vine for water and nutrients can actually decrease the amount of vigor of the vines. So that is seen as a positive traits in our region, at least some of the sites in our region.


Justine Vanden Houvel  1:31 

I agree with what Michela said, and sometimes they are weeds. Sometimes they're specific species that we're we're cultivating. From a management perspective, it really doesn't make any sense in some of these eastern vineyards, not all of them, but in some of them to have this bare strip under the vines because we have to go through and hedge the top of the canopy two, three time

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