The evaluation and management of different grasses and legumes as potential cover crops in the vineyards of South Africa

Fourie, J.C. (2007-03)

Thesis (PhD(Agric) (Agronomy))--University of Stellenbosch, 2007


A selection of species suitable for cover crop management in the different wine grape regions is required to enable more producers to apply this environment friendly practice in a sustainable manner as part of an integrated production strategy. The correct management practice(s) to be applied to these species over both the short and long term in a cooler and warmer wine grape region needed clarification. The effect of seeding date on the dry matter production (DMP) and weed control efficacy of seven grasses and sixteen legumes, as well as varieties of three of these species, was determined during 1991 and 1992. The decomposition rate of the mulches was determined. In the cooler climate of Stellenbosch (33o55'S, 18o52'E), the Medicago species, subterranean clovers, pink Seradella and three Vicia species did not compete effectively with the winter weeds if the weekly precipitation from mid-March to mid-May (autumn) exceeded 18 mm. The two oat species, as well as rye and triticale produced more than five t/ha of dry matter if the precipitation exceeded 18 mm per week. The DMP of the above-mentioned species indicated that these species could be considered for cover crop management in Lutzville (31o35'S, 18o52'E), if full surface irrigation of 18 mm per week could be applied for 10 weeks directly after sowing, followed by 18 mm fortnightly. Seeding date had a significant effect on DMP in both regions. A highly significant correlation (r = 0.85, p ≤ 0.0001) existed between the decomposition rate of the mulches and the initial amount of dry matter present on the soil surface.

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