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Using Cover Crops to Improve Soil Health and Vine Productivity in Intensively Managed Concord Vineyards

Grant Program: OAR
Agricultural Sector: Fruit
Region: Statewide
Project Duration: 4/1/2015 - 3/31/2017
Amount Awarded: $45,130.00
Lead Organization: Cornell University
Project Leader: Luke Haggerty
Co-Leader: Terry Bates
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Proposal Abstract

As a perennial crop, grape production implicates many practices that deplete soil health, and overtime limit vine productivity. A majority of the vineyards in the Lake Erie grape region have been in production for over 50 years, with an intense regiment of management practices leading to a range of soil health problems. This project will involve working with area growers who are currently using cover crops to benefit their grape production in multiple ways.  Currently, growers are using cover cropping to reduce compaction, decrease the number of noxious weeds, and increase the beneficial physical, chemical, and biological properties of soil.  Successful commercial adoption of cover crop management requires education supported by research to develop tools and management plans for growers. Over 400 grape growers from the Lake Erie grape region will receive the information through weekly small grower meetings and electronic newsletters, resulting in 30 area growers producing cover crop management plans to increase soil health and vine productivity.

Final Report Summary Statement

“Using Cover Crops to Improve Soil Health and Vine Productivity in Intensively Managed ‘Concord’ Vineyards”

As a perennial crop, grape production implicates many practices that deplete soil health, and overtime decrease or limit vine productivity. A majority of the vineyards in the Lake Erie grape region have been in production for over 50 years, with an intense regiment of management practices leading to a range of soil and vine health problems. Members of the Lake Erie Regional grape program teamed up with local growers currently using cover crops to measure possible benefits of planting cover crops. The focus of the project was to collect physical, chemical, and biological data that assesses soil compaction, vine size, and noxious weed suppression. Results identified cover crop mixes that suppress weeds and increase vine size in heavy soils.  Details can be found at http://lergp.com/cover-crops/

Project Impact Data

Producers Participating: 70

Producers Advising: 3

Retained Full-Time Jobs: 13

Retained Part-Time Jobs: 12

Research/Extension Employed: 1

Potential Industry Impact: $2,250,000.00

Articles/Publications: 7

Presentations: 1

Workshops: 8

Total Producers Engaged: 350

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