Location: Alexander Valley
Slope: 15-3% slopes
Irrigation system: None. Dry farmer
Soil type: Gravelly loam
Soil detail: Gravelly soil
Special farming challenges: Low soil fertility and steep slopes
- Cropping Systems Information
- Crop: winegrapes
Acres of orchard or vineyard: 35
Other crops: No
Acres of other crops: n/a
Organic management: Yes
Certifications notes: n/a
Where using cover crops: Vineyard
- Grower Experience, Farm Priorities, and Cover Cropping Goals
- When started farming (yr): 1970s
Farm priorities: To farm in a way that enhances and maintains soil fertility.
Years growing orchard or vineyard crop: ~45 years - since the 1970s
Years growing cover crops: 36 years
Initial transition to cover cropping: They seeded everywhere in the vineyard. They were actually one of the first ones to do it in the region.
Goals and benefits: Nitrogen supplement, yield enhancement, pollinator support, soil improvement, water infiltration/retention
Benefits description: Nitrogen fixing, yield enhancing, support pollinators, erosion control, soil health/soil organic matter, soil water holding capacity
Change in goals over time: About the same now. They look at cover crops as means to hold nutrients in the soil.
Reasons: Not many changes
- Cover Crop Details, Planting and Management Methods
Block described here: Winegrapes
Current cover crops: Legumes, grasses
Species and mixes: We use a mix of vetch, bell beans, Australian peas, barley and oats.
Planting method: Drill seed
Planting date (2020): Late October
Was that optimal? Yes, we usually try to get the cover crop seeded after harvest right before the first rains.
Pre-plant soil prep: Compost application
Planting equipment: Drill seeder
Seeding rate: 40 lb/acre
Seeding depth: 1-2 inches
Did it germinate well? No. It did not germinate that great and mustards overpower the cover crop but the cover crop has been growing relatively well under the mustard. .
Additional management and advice: n/a
- Cover Crop Termination Methods and Biomass Management
Termination method: Mow, disc
Termination equipment and process: Mow with flail mower and disc in
Termination date: n/a
Was it optimal? n/a
Biomass management: Incorporated.
- Cover Cropping Challenges and Strategies to Address Them
- Challenges: Risk of frost, establishment difficulties, vertebrate pests
Challenges description: Risk of frost damage to vines, water availability/difficulties irrigating cover crop
Strategies to address challenges: Mowing for frost protection.
Was the cover crop worth it? n/a
Least successful past cover crops: n/a