Under Vine Cover Crops to Reduce Herbicide Use and Management Costs in New York State Vineyards

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2017: $87,983.00
Projected End Date: 10/31/2019
Grant Recipient: Cornell University
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:
Dr. Justine Vanden Heuvel
Cornell University


  • Fruits: grapes


  • Crop Production: cover crops, cropping systems
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, participatory research
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems
  • Soil Management: organic matter, soil quality/health

    Proposal abstract:

    Problem and justification - There are approximately 150 winegrape growers in the Finger Lakes region, farmingapproximately 3,200 acres. Most of the winegrape vineyards in central NYS are situated on the banks of theFinger Lakes. In our day-to-day interactions with over 200 grape growers through the Finger Lakes GrapeProgram (FLGP) we have learned that growers manage under the vines with one of two practices. The usualmanagement practice is establishment of a 3-ft wide herbicide strip to reduce competition for the vines, althoughsome growers will cultivate rather than use herbicides. Most growers spray at least three glyphosate applicationseach year, with application costs of approximately $220 per acre/year. However, regardless of how it ismanaged, the open soil is susceptible to erosion. Herbicide runoff/leaching a serious concern among growersand area residents.

    Solution and approach - Through a series of six research experiments we have developed recommendations forreplacing herbicides or cultivation with under-vine cover crops. This project will engage all 200 winegrapegrowers in the FLGP through a comprehensive educational program as well as other grape growers around theNortheast through social media. Educational approaches include viewing a professional video to learn about theuse of under-vine cover crops in vineyards, presentations at cooperating vineyards so growers can personallyevaluate the impact of the practice, one-on-one meetings with the project team, grower discussions to maximizepeer learning, and final delivery of outcomes to industry via production of a final podcast (via The Presspad:http://blogs.cornell.edu/presspad). All growers interested in experimenting with under-vine cover crops will be personally assisted with cover crop seeding, establishment, management, and evaluation of the practice.

    Performance targets from proposal:

    50 New York State (NYS) winegrape growers replace herbicides with annual under-vine cover crops on a total of250 acres, reducing production costs by at least $150 per acre per year.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.