Cropping/Rotation Plans

Orchards and Vineyards

Mighty Mustard® Cropping/Rotation Plans for Orchards and Vineyards

  1. Select growing area that will have minimal impact on trees and grapevines.
  2. Seed a Mighty Mustard® cover crop. Mustards are day-length sensitive and will winter-kill at sustained temperatures of 26 degrees Fahrenheit or colder. Prior to planting, check herbicide plant-back restrictions.
  3. At the first sign of flowering, typically 30-35 days after emergence, chop mustard as finely as possible.
  4. Immediately incorporate into soil.
  5. Immediately water and roll soil to activate and seal glucosinolates. **The incorporation process is time-sensitive, so it’s crucial to complete all the actions in one day.** PLEASE NOTE that moisture is key, as the glucosinolates are short-lived, so you need to release them into the soil ASAP to improve biofumigation potential. To learn more, read “How Mighty Mustard® biofumigation works.” 

Planting & Termination Guidelines

Nematode Suppression Protocol

In Orchards and Vineyards, Mighty Mustard® is proven to:

Suppress Columbia root-knot nematodes (Meloidogyne chitwoodi) and other types of nematodes

Suppress soilborne pathogens: Verticillium wilt, Verticillium dahlia, Rhizoctonia and sclerotina

Attract pollinators when in bloom

Reduce broadleaf weeds

Recycle nitrogen

Scavenge excess nutrients

Increase active Soil Organic Matter

Sequester carbon

Reduce soil compaction

Prevent soil erosion

Retain soil moisture

Improve water infiltration

Reduce nutrient runoff

Improve overall soil health

How-to Video: Maximizing mustard cover crop biofumigation potential.

Video courtesy of Michigan State University

Cover crop tips for orchards and vineyards:
  • Plant cover crops that provide minimal competition with trees or grapevines.
  • Recommendation: Use legumes to fix nitrogen and grasses to reduce soil compaction and improve orchard access during wet months.
  • “Use grass alleys. Narrow the strips and narrow the timing of herbicides. Use post-emergence herbicides only. Use drip irrigation.” SOURCE: Cornell University
  • “Having a cover crop in an orchard or vineyard will usually increase beneficial insects compared to a clean cultivated soil and will often prevent outbreaks of pests.” – SOURCE: University of California
  • “Some problems associated with cover crops are that they can compete with young trees for nutrients and water, and they can be a habitat for vertebrate pests such as voles and insect pests. Weed management can also be difficult in cover crops.” SOURCE: Washington State University
  • Frost hazard for walnuts: “Cover crops can increase the danger of frost damage to newly emerging leaves and blossoms of trees and vines. Bare soil that is firm and moist is best for storing solar heat during the day and re-radiating the heat during the night. A tall, dense cover crop stand can reduce nighttime temperatures by up to 5 or 6 degrees F; however, orchards or vineyards with closely-mowed cover crops and moist soil may be only about 1 degree colder than bare soil, and alternate row cover cropping may make the difference even less.” SOURCE: University of California
Mighty Mustard® tips for orchards and vineyards:
  • Choose the right glucosinolates for the job: White Gold for weed suppression; Kodiak or Pacific Gold to suppress some nematodes and soilborne pathogens.
  • Researchers recommend using mustard cover crops to enhance, not replace chemical treatments for nematodes.
  • Time the planting to ensure maximum biomass production, preferably in early spring or late fall when daylight hours are shorter. Increased biomass is key to improving biofumigation results through increased availability of glucosinolates and organic matter.
  • The biofumigation action of glucosinolates is short-lived, so it’s crucial to chop, incorporate and irrigate the Mighty Mustard® green material in one day. Leaving a trash layer of dried mustard on top of the soil will diminish biofumigation impact and decrease effectiveness of nematode suppression.
Cover Crops Research Library

Helpful research links for cover crop management in orchards and vineyards:

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