Innovative Under-Vine Management in Vineyards

A.Wise & A.Gardner, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County March, 2016


Many vinifera winegrape vineyards in the eastern US are grown in a VSP or vertical shoot positioned training system. Particularly where soils hold more water, shoot growth can be vigorous, requiring managers to hedge or trim green shoots as many as three times during the growing season. Throughout the viticultural world, it is well-established that high vigor vines do not always produce high quality fruit. For the last few years, we have examined the feasibility and impacts of under-vine mowing and under-vine perennial cover crops as a means of reducing canopy vigor. Mowing native flora or maintaining cover crops under vines is a potential alternative to maintaining the area with herbicides, a desirable option for those striving to reduce pesticide use. However, it is not a straightforward issue as any green cover in that region provides competition for nutrients and water. For some varieties and some sites, this competition may be detrimental to vine health and production. We have worked closely with local vineyard managers to understand seasonal management strategies, advantages and disadvantages of these alternative systems.

For the last few seasons, we have evaluated impacts of under vine mowing and green covers on yield and fruit quality in a variety of settings. This work has been generously supported by Northeast SARE from 2012-15.

Materials and methods

Details on the establishment of under-vine mowing and under-vine cover crops trials.

Materials and methods


Single side under-vine mower in use at the Long Island Horticultural Research and Extension Center.

Survey of weeds and groundcovers

Green cover in plot areas was assessed to gauge the impact of treatments and the success of the cover crops.

Weed survey for the mowing trial

Weed and cover crops survey for the cover crops trial

Stay tuned for more information as we develop this webpage.


A comparison of three different under-vine management strategies.

Rows from left to right- fescue, clover and herbicide.



Last updated July 26, 2019