Under-vine cover crops: impact on weed development, yield and grape composition

OENO One – Special issue

This study aims to evaluate the interest of using an under-vine cover crop as a sustainable management tool replacing herbicides or tillage to control weeds, evaluating its effects on yield and berry parameters in a semi-arid climate. 
The performance of Trifolium fragiferum as an under-vine cover crop was evaluated in 2018 and 2019 in a Merlot vineyard in Traibuenas (Navarra, Spain). This trial showed that the soil under the vines was covered by 80 % of the cover crop in August 2018 and 100 % in Aug 2019, with clover (T. fragiferum) comprising around 26 % and 70 % of the cover crop surface, respectively. The presence of the cover crop only reduced the number of shoots in the second year, although both years there was an increment in water stress. Neither yield, cluster weight nor berry weight were affected by the presence of the under-vine cover crop. Similarly, no changes in grape composition were observed. 
The use of T. fragiferum-like cover crops under the vine allows for better control of weeds, provided a good installation is achieved. In the first two years, this cover crop reduced vegetative growth and increased water deficit slightly. However, no changes in yield and grape composition were observed.
In a context of herbicide suppression and search for sustainable management, under-vine clover cover crops constitute a viable alternative in semi-arid regions provided drip irrigation can be applied. 

Authors: Javier Abad1,2, Diana Marín2, Luis Gonzaga Santesteban2, Jose Felix Cibriain3 and Ana Sagüés

1INTIA, Edificio de Peritos Avda. Serapio Huici nº 22, 31610, Villava, Spain 
2Dpt. Agronomy, Biotechnology and Food Science, Univ. P. de Navarra, Campus Arrosadia, 31006 Pamplona, Spain 
3Sección de Viticultura y Enología, Gobierno de Navarra, C/Valle de Orba nº34, 31390, Olite, Spain 

Email: jabad@intiasa.es 

Keywords:  Trifolium fragiferum L., vine, water potential, Carbon isotope ratio 

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