Studies of groundcover vegetation for improved sustainability and management of pests of grapes

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Dr. Tom Lowery
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Vineyard groundcover vegetation can influence the growth of grapevines by competing directly for water and nutrients, or conversely by providing nitrogen in the case of legumes. Selection of vineyard groundcover species with beneficial properties requires consideration of differences in growth habit, drought tolerance, and the ability to withstand mowing and vineyard activities. Previous research has shown that increasing plant diversity, particularly the presence of winter annual mustards in the vine rows in spring, contributes to the management of grape pests. Increasing use of drip irrigation and a desire to include flowering plants that provide shelter and alternative sources of food for beneficial insects favours the use of locally adapted native species, but little is known about their growth characteristics and suitability for the vineyard ecosystem. This research will investigate the suitability of a variety of native and non-native groundcover species, assess their impact on populations of grape pests and beneficial insects, and evaluate their effects on vine growth and fruit quality.

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