Friday, April 06, 2012

Frost season.

Having a cover crop in a vineyard is generally a good thing for the vineyard's health.  However, a tall cover crop (like the 5' tall mustard in the above photograph) can artificially raise the vineyard floor, thus encouraging frost to settle on the new plane which is what the top of the cover crop has now effectively become. Unfortunately, that can be right in the bud/fruit zone. Napa had a fairly hard frost event yesterday. Currently, it's 31 degrees F as I type and the roof of Vinoland's barn is white with frost - it faces west.
The folks at Far Niente mowed down their cover crop yesterday. Just when the bell beans, field peas and vetch had started to bloom and look very pretty, the rain ended, took the clouds with it and opened the door to usher in frost season.  A disked, vegetation free, dark-soil vineyard floor is the best condition in which to capture the sun's daytime warmth.  In my opinion, a cover crop is essential to soil health, but for frost protection the timing of mowing down a vineyard's cover crop is crucial to saving the grape crop.  And, that's the conundrum of cover cropping.
By the way, Happy California Poppy Day!


About Last Weekend said...

Yes chilly here too. And of course facing a week's skiing I'm praying for rain! I love this pic you took, reminds me how wonderful the mustard plants are out there. Have a great weekend!

Vinogirl said...

ALW: OK, just for you, I hope you get your own, personal snow cloud over Tahoe. Me? I'm done with rain!!!
Have a Happy Easter.

Thud said...

Get me some of those poppy seeds.

Vinogirl said...

Thud: Will see if I can collect some seeds before my hols.