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Organic Vineyard Sanitation

The recommendations on this page are for all grape growers, but are a must for successful organic growing.

Vineyard sanitation refers to the ongoing effort to keep host material for fungal pests out of the vineyard. The subject certainly overlaps with vineyard floor management, but has less to do with killing (weeds) than it does with removing things that are already dead. It also applies to the trellis structure itself.

The organic grape grower is advised to keep the vineyard as clean as possible. The idea is to eliminate anything that might serve as a host for fungal disease spores. Get into the habit very early of removing any lopped trunks and cordons, pruned canes, green shoots, thinned grape clusters, and any accumulation of leaves.

If unripened or rotted grape clusters are permitted to remain on the vines after harvest, go back through and clean them off. If they are permitted to over winter, clean off the mummies before pruning. They are probably already infested with disease, and since they fall apart when touched, they will end up on the vineyard floor if left until pruning.

Trellis wires should be completely cleaned of tendrils, string and other tie-back material. This should be done before bud swell and before a dormant spray application of lime sulfur see:

Clean Wires
Dormant Spray.


The use of natural mulch is a practice toward which organic growers tend to gravitate. In vineyards, however, mulch serves the same (or an enhanced) host function for disease as does the "trash" described above. Rocks and gravel are fine, as is black plastic. But, if you want to use shredded or bark mulch under your vines, for whatever reason, we advocate thinking twice.

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