Hello. I am starting a food forest and organic vineyard on 19 acres on the outskirts of Atlanta, GA. I am looking to cover crop areas for future planting, and am also putting 100 muscadine vines in the ground next week and am looking to try a few different cover crops for the vineyard floor. Any advice on cover crop that would do well in my area when planted in spring, especially options that will not compete with newly planted grape vines? I am considering a field pea, oat, and hairy vetch mix for the future garden areas, but worry that this might be a bit much for around the vines. Clover seems to be a good option, but I am concerned that spring planted clover may not tolerate the hot Georgia summer. Cowpeas are another option that I am considering. I am also planning to use strawberries as ground cover for some of the grapes. Is anyone familiar with warm season cover crops that would thrive in Georgia? Your advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
I would not let any cover crop too close to those new grapevines the first year....let them get established on their own. Try to rustle up enough mulch to mulch them instead....at least around each plant to suppress the weeds. Add paper or cardboard under the mulch, especially if they are drip irrigated and you can be certain there is moisture underneath. This coming fall if the vines have taken hold well you could go in with a basic clover/grass cover, like crimson clover and rye. You might need to mow it once or twice in the spring if the vines are still small and it gets too rank.
cover crops in the South fall easily into two categories, those planted in fall that overwinter and go to seed in spring or early summer, and the summer cover crops that are frost tender and planted in spring and mature in the fall.
I agree with Alder, no cover crops around grape vines until they are well established. I have wood chips for a mulch around my grapevines.
The wood chips have been sprayed with a bacteria/fungi microorganismspray to promote in the ground fungal growth and bump up the bacterial numbers in their soil.
Once I have the vines established (another 3 years) I will plant in the pathways things like white clover and comfrey but will leave the woodchip mulch around the vines.