What is in this article?:
- Sonoma County grower switches cover crop regime
- Cover crops each year
Veteran Sonoma County grape grower Duff Bevill of Healdsburg, Calif., is changing his cover crop regime to generate more nitrogen for his wine grape vines.
Cover crops each year
Bevill has tried both permanent and annual cropping systems. Two years ago, after a decade of maintaining a year-round cover crop, he returned to seeding and incorporating the cover crop each year in some vineyard blocks.
After a decade of growth, Bevill found that permanent, no-till cover crops weren’t providing enough nitrogen to meet the long-term needs of the vines. So, two years ago he began converting from no-till to a reduced tillage approach, disking the crop under in the spring and re-seeding in August.
“We’re going back to growing our own nitrogen again,” he says.
His cover crop includes a blend of bell beans, vetch, field peas and barley, which he purchases from LeBallister’s Seed and Fertilizer, Santa Rosa, Calif.
He plants a cover crop each year in every other row middle, leaving alternating strips of bare and vegetated soils between the vine rows over the winter. He mows the crop in late winter to reduce frost risks in the vineyard and disks the crop under in early spring. If needed, he’ll come back in early summer with Roundup to knock down problem weeds that may have emerged after disking.
At one time, Bevill planted his cover crop right after harvest in late October or early November. However, cold, rainy weather then made establishing the stand a hit or miss proposition, he reports.
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