There’s a shift in focus from harvest to preparing the vineyard for next season. “Fall and early winter weed control are priorities now,” says Maxwell Norton, University of California Cooperative Extension Merced County farm advisor.

Other vineyard management issues should not be overlooked as the crop cycle slows for winter. “Growers need to continue rodent control if needed,” he says.

University of California researchers have studied nesting boxes for birds, bats, and owls in an effort to determine how they contribute to vineyard sustainability, and other issues such as rodent control. Results in controlling rodents have varied, but it is generally accepted that owls that take up residence in nest boxes can extend the length of the low cycle of the rodent population in vineyards.

Detailed information is available in a new booklet published by the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, “Songbird, Bat and Owl Boxes: Vineyard Management with an Eye toward Wildlife.”

“Nest boxes are readily accepted by a number of bird and bat species and provide places for these animals to roost and nest,” says Emily Heaton, co-author of the booklet. “Used properly, they can help maintain biodiversity in vineyard landscapes.”