Organic Growers Can Use Synthetic Herbicides When Planting a New Vineyard

Weedy Vineyard

Weedy Vineyard

Planting a new vineyard in a weedy field is a bad idea. Weeds would compete with the small vines for moisture, space, nutrients and light which would set back their growth. Thus, in establishing a new vineyard, growers need to clear the weeds out. Most growers use synthetic chemical herbicides when planting a new vineyard due to the high cost of hand weeding and negative effects of tillage. Using herbicides is an option for organic growers since the small vines do not produce grapes for several years which corresponds to the waiting time to be certified as organic.

“…weed management is the most expensive and technically challenging practice for organic grape production, and many organic farmers rely on mechanical and hand cultivation for weed control. Although these methods are highly effective, they are also labor intensive, more expensive, and their sustainability is questionable from a labor and environmental perspective.

Another option would be to use conventional production techniques that use synthetic herbicides during the establishment phase, and once established, transition the vineyard to achieve organic certification.”

Authors: Olmstead, M., et al.
Affiliations: Department of Horticultural Sciences, University of Florida.
Title: Weed control in a newly established organic vineyard.
Source: Hort Technology. December 2012. 22(6):757-765.

4 thoughts on “Organic Growers Can Use Synthetic Herbicides When Planting a New Vineyard

  1. Very interesting…..

    N. Beth Carroll, Ph.D.| Sr. Stewardship Manager | Syngenta Crop Protection
    Office (336) 632-7178 | Mobile (336) 549-4353 |
    There are 6.6 billion people on the planet today. With organic farming we could only feed four billion of them. Which two billion would volunteer to die?” – Norman Borlaug August 2006

    • Heidi,
      If you think about it, there is nothing “natural” about Vitis vinifera grape varieties from the middle east that were selected hundreds of years ago and cloned by cuttings/rootings ever since which are grafted onto clones of Native American rootstocks and grown with irrigation on hillsides in a arid environment which would not otherwise support them. We grow these crops this way because we want the product – the high quality wine.

  2. I’m sure that helps with establishment, but the organic grower is surely going to have to use a French Plow or a propane burner in later years, and neither is very desirable from a true sustainability point of view. Of course neither are the extensive quantities of copper-based and sulfur fungicides that will be necessary.

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