Vineyards

Grass and Grass/Clover Mixture Design for Vineyards
Use grass and clover to improve quality and ease of growing. The reduction of grape yield increases the sugar content (higher alcohol potential) and the content of favorable flavors. Competition from grasses is a natural and efficient tool to control yield. 

Erosion Control
Many wine growing areas have problems with erosion. A grass cover is one of the most efficient ways to stop or limit erosion.

Accessibility
During wet seasons of the year it is difficult or impossible to enter fields because of slippery slopes due to to heavy soils. Grasses can fix the soil and allow access to the fields with increased safety. 

Weed Control
A grass cover will help to control weeds between the rows.

Nitrogen Fixation
Adding clover to the mixture will allow a cheaper and more sustainable production, and a slow release of fertilizer for the companion grasses. 

Disease Control
The splashing of raindrops on the soil surface can spread many diseases. The presence of a grass cover will diminish the risk of dispersal of diseases.

Choosing Species
Kentucky Bluegrass - it is very low growing and forms rhizomes like strong creeping red fescue. Very well suited for mixtures with tall fescue in hot and warm areas and perennial ryegrass in moderate climates.
Tall Fescue for hot, dry areas. It is advised to use turf types as they are low and slow growing compared to forage types. Consider a rhizomatous type tall fescue.
Perennial Ryegrass – Recommended if it is important to obtain a faster establishment and soil stabilization. Many of the new varieties are developed for increased shade tolerance and lower growth.
Fine Fescues – Creeping red fescues are suitable to insure ground cover between the rows, because rhizomes hold the soil together and help prevent soil erosion. Slender creeping red fescues are more wear tolerant, but with a limited ability to spread with rhizomes. Strong creeping red fescues are more robust and adaptable to extreme summer temperatures. Chewing fescues, while they don't have rhizomes, they are winter hardy and have excellent wear tolerance. Hard and sheep fescues have excellent drought and heat tolerance. 
White Clover – small leaved types are specially recommended because their ground cover is very high. White clover will release nitrogen to the companion grasses. White clover will allow the soil to retain more moisture during drought periods. Microclover makes an excellent choice because of its drought tolerance and small plant and leaf size.
Creeping Bluegrass – Poa reptans is a perennial subspecies of Poa annual. It establishes quickly and forms a dense uniform turf with an upright growth. It tolerates low cuts, shade and heat.

Mixture Design 
Mixtures should be composed according to importance of individual goals, e.g. if yield control is more important than erosion control etc.

As a general guideline, we recommend to:

  • Select species based on environmental conditions and management objectives
  • Include species with rhizomes or stolons in order to maximize ground cover
  • Choose main species according to yield control objectives
  • Add clover whenever possible – to support the grasses

Examples:
DLF carries a low maintenance mixture of dwarf, shade tolerant perennial ryegrass, and low growing fine fescues. It is specifically formulated for use in vineyards and orchards. It establishes rapidly, grows low and slow, and is very competitive with perennial weeds. 

If the Main Goal is Reduction of Yield:
70 % Perennial Ryegrass
20 % Kentucky Bluegrass
10 % White Clover

If the Main Goal is Erosion Control and Persistency:
30 % Kentucky Bluegrass
30 % Strong Creeping Red Fescue
20 % Slender Creeping Red Fescue
10 % White Clover
10 % Perennial Ryegrass (for quick establishment)