Weed Management in Vineyards Injured by the Polar Vortex – 2014

Cold injury experienced in our vineyards as a result of the ‘Polar Vortex’ this past winter will present great challenges in controlling weeds for many growers across the mid-west.

Most of us have come to the conclusion that there will be trunk and cordon injury in all but the hardiest of grape varieties. Because of this, we will need to bring up new trunks over the summer months to replace those damaged.

After our soil take-away operation is completed later this spring we will be watching for suckers to sprout from the base of the vine at just above the graft union.

We will want to maintain as many of these suckers as possible in order to manage vine vigor. There may be 10-15 or more suckers per vine (we hope).

Many of our damaged vineyards will act as if they are 2-year-old vines with many suckers originating from the vine’s base. These shoots will, most likely, have a high level of vigor.

Weed management in our vineyards will be a huge task.

 What management tools will you be considering for weed control in this year of rebuilding?

  • Should we go with maximum rates of stronger compounds in order to keep weed growth down as long as possible? Green suckers will be in the way pretty much the entire season.
  • Will a Polar Vortex weakened vine be more prone to injury from the stronger herbicides?
  • Are we better off using mechanical weed control?
  • With so many suckers in our spray zone, glyphosate will be a challenge to apply. We don’t want to burn our suckers off with Gramoxone either.
  • Should we hit the mounds with a strong dose of glyphosate before take-away  in an attempt to clean up any sprouted perennial weeds that could pose a problem later in the season?
  • Should we consider planting a competitive low-growing cover crop under the trellis in an attempt to reduce vine vigor and out-compete other, taller, weed growth?

Let’s discuss our options, opinions, and ideas via this Blog!