As this picture illustrates, a vineyard site as flat as a billiard table is ideal, but not essential, for clear cultivation.
In the page on "Organic Vineyard Site Selection", we suggest one of the goals of the organic grower should be clear cultivation of the vineyard floor. Where clear cultivation is not practicable (due to the threat of erosion) we suggest the alternative of aisles planted with grass and clear cultivation under the trellis wires only.
If you choose not to use synthetic and systemic pesticides then you should go the extra distance to try to keep the vineyard as clean as possible. Weeds serve as as an excellent host for fungal disease, and their control by all grape growers should be a part of routine. For the organic grower, weed control can make the difference between success or failure.
Vineyards differ from orchards because the foliage and fruit are typically much closer to the ground. Mildew spores are easily splashed back onto vines from weed hosts. Perennial weeds are definitely the enemy, but annuals, such as Mare's Tail can grow among the vines and grapes to a height of six feet in one season, and serve the same host function as the other weeds.
Where Black Rot is a problem (see page in "Grapevine Maladies and Pests"), and unless you are willing to use one of the "almost organic" pesticides recommended in this section of the GGN, it may serve as your Achilles heel. Eliminating weeds and other vineyard sanitation methods will definitely help to reduce the threat of Black Rot
Assuming a planted, three year old vineyard, floor management routine by the organic grower might be based upon the following options.
In a vineyard less than 3 years old, weed control is still necessary, but grow tube protection is recommended for the young vines. Young vineyards should not serve as an on-the-job-training site for operation of mechanical weed control devises under the trellis wire.
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