INTERCROPS FOR VINEYARDS AND ORCHARDS
The importance of intercropping
This management technique is known to have a number of benefits just as, on the other hand, a poor relationship between the intercrop, the environment and tree crops (vineyards-orchard) can have a negative, depressive impact on yield and quality.
That’s why we believe there is no such thing as an “intercrop”, but rather there are numerous and diverse types of land for intercropping.
A rapidly establishing intercrop with a modest growth rate leads to improved physical and chemical soil properties, protecting against erosion, improving soil structure and allowable bearing capacity, increasing the rate of organic matter and reducing management costs. Appropriate intercropping for an orchard floor also has benefits in terms of controlling certain pathogens and developing new relationships with the herbaceous flora: decreasing Botrytis blight and reducing likelihood of replacement and side perennial dicotyledons emerging in later years are some of the countless improvements the right intercrop can offer. Wild or strong-growing artificial intercrops, however, can impoverish soils and negatively compete with vines, depriving them of nutrients.
That’s why it is essential to carefully evaluate both plant vigor and soil capability as well as rainfall and duration of drought periods. Close attention should be paid to prospective weed activity depending on whether the intercrop will only be grown between rows or completely undersown.
These preliminary assessments will guide your choice of seed mixture.
We offer seed mixes tailored to diverse needs depending on climates, yields, plants and a range of management requirements.
Period: seeding can be carried out in autumn before the vines are planted. Seeding in the autumn after harvesting is more suitable than spring seeding.
Pests: good pest control prior to seeding, whether in autumn or spring, helps quickly establish the intercrop.
Preparing the ground: a grubber and rotary harrow should be used to thin the soil surface.
Seeding method: after distributing the seeds, scattering or seeding in rows no more than 7-8 cm apart, it is important to roll the soil.
Starter fertilizer: spreading 30-50 kg/ha of Nitrogen, two-three months after seeding, helps the intercrop to grow.
Cutting and fertilizing
The first year: several cuttings may be required, starting in April, in order to “clean” the intercrop.
Subsequent years: use machinery to mince the cuttings. Cut 2-4 times each season and always before the winter. Cut whenever ears begin to emerge.
Fertilizers: spreading 60-70 units of Nitrogen per meadow is only necessary in the first 2-3 years. After that, the vines should be fertilized as normal.