Chapter 19

Soil Management for Orchards and Vineyards

(book excerpts)

Orchards and vineyards are long-term enterprises. Orchards can include anything from apples to almonds, peaches to pistachios, citrus, cherries, walnuts, the list goes on. While vineyards produce wine grapes, table grapes, or juice grapes. Orchard and vineyard sites must be selected carefully for both soil and climatic conditions. Many important soil properties such as texture (sand, silt, clay), slope, aspect, or depth cannot be changed. Important considerations in site preparation include soil testing, land clearing, subsoiling to alleviate soil compaction, tillage, enhancing fertility, adjusting soil pH, planting cover crops, and site drainage. In general, fruit crops do not require highly fertile soils for good production as with field and vegetable crops, though this varies with the species. This makes orchard or vineyards crops more sustainable because they demand fewer inputs. Once established, the orchard and vineyard floor can be managed in a variety of ways, using cultivation, addition of soil amendments, and soil conservation practices such as mulching or growing cover crops. A system that provides full ground cover provides the best protection against erosion, increases organic matter, decreases soil compaction, and increases water infiltration.

Click on the following topics for more information on soil management for orchards and vineyards.

Topics Within This Chapter:

  • Soil Preparation for Orchards and Vineyards
  • Soil Properties
  • Soil Testing
  • Land Clearing
  • Subsoiling
  • Time for Subsoiling
  • Subsoiling Depth and Spacing
  • Tillage
  • Planting Cover Crops
  • Site Drainage
  • Drainage Options
  • Orchard and Vineyard Floor Management
  • Soil Amendments
  • Manure and Compost
  • Calcium Materials
  • Cultivation Practices
  • Soil Conservation Practices
  • Mulching
  • Cover Crops
  • Resident Vegetation
  • Cover Crops for Orchards and Vineyards
  • Challenges in Growing Cover Crops
  • Water Use
  • Nutrient Demand
  • Risk of Frost
  • Orchard and Vineyard Shading
  • Cover Crop Types
  • Legumes
  • Grasses
  • Brassicas
  • Annuals
  • Perennials
  • Planting Cover Crops
  • Cover Crop Termination
  • Cover Crop Rotation
  • No-Till versus Tilled Orchards and Vineyards
  • Annually Seeded and Tilled Cover Crops
  • No-Till Cover Crop Systems
  • No-Till with Annual Cover Crops
  • No-Till with Perennial Cover Crops
  • Tilled and No-Till Floor Management Systems