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Optimizing nitrogen fertilization practices under intensive vineyard cover cropping floor management systems
D'Attilio, DeAnna Rae
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Under-trellis cover crops have become more prevalent in East Coast grape growing regions through either intentional planting or adoption of native vegetation, to minimize the potential for erosion and to help regulate grapevine size and vigor. These companion crops, however, have sometimes resulted in increased competition for soil nitrogen, leading to decreased vine nitrogen status and berry yeast assimilable nitrogen (YAN). The aim of this study was to determine the effects of different nitrogen fertilization methods applied at varying doses and different times, on vine and berry nitrogen parameters of cover cropped grapevines. The research described herein involved Sauvignon blanc, Merlot, and Petit Manseng grapevines (Vitis vinifera L.) subjected to different sets of nitrogen treatments, and was primarily conducted over two years. There were very few differences in pruning weights, canopy architecture, components of yield, and primary fruit chemistry amongst nitrogen treatments. Sauvignon blanc petiole nitrogen concentration, season-long chlorophyll content index (CCI) values, and berry YAN were most affected by the highest rate of soil nitrogen treatment (60 kg N/ha total split between two calcium nitrate applications at bloom and six weeks post bloom) and foliar fertilization (40 kg N/ha split over seven to nine urea applications); however, the foliar fertilization was most effective at increasing the concentration of certain individual amino acids. Petit Manseng berry YAN at harvest was increased in response to post-véraison foliar applications (10 kg N/ha split between two urea applications), corresponding to an increased concentration of nine amino acids. Merlot berry YAN, petiole nitrogen concentration, and season-long CCI values were most affected by a high rate of soil nitrogen treatment (60 kg N/ha total split between two calcium nitrate applications at bloom and six weeks post bloom) and establishing clover as the under-trellis cover crop. This study identified nitrogen treatments that improved berry nitrogen concentration and content in cover cropped sites.
- Masters Theses