NMSU: Managing Weeds in Grapes in New Mexico
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Managing Weeds in Grapes in New Mexico


Guide H-334
Jamshid Ashigh, Bernd Maier, and Carry Hamilton
College of Agricultural, Consumer and Evironmental Sciences


Authors: Respectively, Extension Weed Specialist/Assistant Professor, Department of Extension Plant Sciences; Extension Viticulture Specialist, Department of Extension Plant Sciences; and Program Manager (Pesticide Registration, Endangered Species and Pesticide Disposal), New Mexico Department of Agriculture, New Mexico State University. (Print friendly PDF)

Introduction

Weeds compete with grapevines for resources such as water, nutrients, and light. However, the intensity of this competition varies during the lifecycle of the grapevines and is more significant during the early stages of vineyard establishment. This significant competition from weeds in the early stages of vineyard life is due to (a) limited root development and (b) limited vegetative growth of the vines. Weeds' competition with vines for water and nutrients is most severe when vines' root systems are shallow and not well developed. At the same time, newly planted vines, due to their smaller size, can be overgrown by tall weeds such as Palmer amaranth (Amaranthus palmeri), kochia (Kochia scoparia), Johnsongrass (Sorghum halepense), and many others, which reduces the development of young vines. Some weed species can also directly reduce the vines' growth and development by releasing growth-retarding allelopathic chemicals. Weeds can also indirectly affect the grapevine by serving as an alternative host for pests and diseases. Furthermore, weeds that grow around the grapevine trunk can provide a habitat for rodents that can damage the trunks and/or the roots, thus reducing the growth and production of vines. Therefore, successful weed management in vineyards will significantly improve grapevine establishment and grape production.

Because weed management techniques are often species-specific, the first step to weed management is to correctly identify weeds and keep a record of weeds that are present in the vineyard. Weeds can be identified using resources such as weed identification books, websites, Cooperative Extension Service publications, Extension personnel, and crop consultants. It is important to know the name of a weed, as well as the lifecycle and reproductive mode and capacity of that plant, in order to make sound management decisions. Keep in mind that common names of plants can vary, or the same name may refer to different species. Cross-referencing weeds by their scientific names can help confirm the identity of the weeds. Accurate information on the biology and lifecycle of the weeds can help growers apply weed management techniques more effectively, based on the susceptibility of the species. It is important to know that weeds are often more susceptible to certain management techniques during specific stages of their development. All weeds, including grasses, sedges, and broadleaves, are categorized based on their lifecycle (a process including germination, vegetative growth, flowering, seed set, and death) into annuals, biennials, and perennials. Some of the common weeds found in New Mexico agricultural fields and their lifecycles are listed in Table 1.

Table 1. Some of the Common Weeds Associated with Agricultural Fields in New Mexico


Common Name Scientific Name Class

Annuals (Plants that complete their lifecycle within one year and reproduce by seed production only.)

Summer Annuals    
Barnyardgrass Echinochloa crusgalli Grass
Junglerice Echinochloa colona Grass
Marestail Conyza canadensis Broadleaf
Pigweed Amaranthus spp. Broadleaf
Sandbur Cenchrus spp. Broadleaf
Sprangletop Leptochloa chinensis Grass
Foxtail Setaria spp. Grass
Kochia Kochia scoparia Broadleaf
Morning glory Ipomoea spp. Broadleaf
Russian thistle Salsola iberica Broadleaf
Southwestern cupgrass Eriochloa acuminata Grass
Lamsquarters Chenopodium album Broadleaf
Winter Annuals    
Downy brome Bromus tectorum Grass
London rocket Sisymbrium irio Broadleaf
Shepherd's purse Capsella bursa-pastoris Broadleaf
Flixweed Descurainia sophia Broadleaf
Rescuegrass Bromus catharticus Grass
Tansymustard Descurainia pinnata Broadleaf

Biennials (Plants that require two years to complete their lifecycle and reproduce by seed production only.)

Common mallow Malva neglecta Broadleaf
Musk thistle Carduus nutans Broadleaf

Perennials (Plants that live more than two years. They reproduce by seed and vegetative reproductive structures such as root buds, rhizomes, crowns, tubers, stolons, or bulbs.)

Simple Perennials    
Curled dock Rumex crispus Broadleaf
Dandelion Taraxacum officinale Broadleaf
Creeping Perennials    
Bermudagrass Cynodon dactylon Grass
Johnsongrass Sorghum halepense Grass
Silverleaf nighshade Salanum elaeagnifolium Broadleaf
Field bindweed Convovulus arvensis Broadleaf
Texas blueweed Helianthus ciliaris Broadleaf
Yellow nutsedge Cyperus esculentus Sedge
Purple nutsedge Cyperus rotundus Sedge

Integrated Weed Management

A weed management program is simply a pre-planned schedule of activities based on the present weeds, the age of the vineyard, and other economic and environmental considerations. Weed management is a process that should start before new vines are planted and continue throughout the life of a vineyard. The best weed management practices in vineyards are achieved by combining preventive, cultural, mechanical, and chemical methods. Using a single weed management method continuously—whether it is cultural, mechanical, or chemical—could cause a shift in the weed populations toward weed species that can resist that method, rendering it ineffective over time. Therefore, integrating varied control methods into the management program is necessary for the sustainability of weed management and grapevine performance. The goal in integrated weed management is not only to control the existing weed infestations but also to prevent the future infestations. Integrated weed management strategies could vary depending on the age of the vines, soil conditions, weed spectrum, climatic conditions, irrigation practices, and a grower's preferences. Designing effective integrated weed management strategies requires good understanding of the weed management methods as well as agronomic practices for grape production.

Site Preparation

At sites that are infested with hard-to-control perennial weeds (e.g., bermudagrass, field bindweed, Johnsongrass, purple and yellow nutsedge, silverleaf nightshade, and Texas blueweed), efforts must be focused on controlling these perennial weeds before planting the vineyard.

In sites that are heavily infested with annual weeds, tillage or cultivation can be used for control. Since cultivation also stimulates germination of weed seeds, growers can use this tool not only to control the existing populations but also to stimulate seed germination and then control the young seedlings soon after emergence with more cultivation or herbicides. Depending on the level of infestation, this strategy could be repeated several times to reduce the weed seed bank prior to planting the vineyard.

Cultural Control

Using ground cover vegetation or mulches can reduce the weed density in vineyards. Although weed densities can be reduced by maintaining ground cover vegetation between vine rows, the cover vegetation—if not managed properly—can compete with vines, especially during vineyard establishment. Based on observations in New Mexico, a weed-free strip of 24 inches wide along the vine row (12 inches on either side of the plant) seems sufficient to keep competition between the young vine and ground cover vegetation under control. Under optimal conditions, it usually takes three years for a vineyard to be considered an established vineyard. Recommended ground cover vegetation that could tolerate mowing, flooding, and traffic falls into two categories: grasses (either resident or planted grass species) and nitrogen-fixing legumes (examples include clover and vetch species). In areas where southern root-knot nematodes (Meloidogyne incognita) are a concern, care must be taken to select ground cover vegetation that is not a host for this pest. Maintaining ground cover vegetation in vineyards can also minimize soil erosion and improve equipment access during wet conditions (Figure 1).

Photograph of mature vineyard with residential ground cover vegetation.

Figure 1. Mature vineyard with residential ground cover vegetation. Note: weeds along the vine rows are controlled by application of a post-emergence herbicide.

Organic or synthetic mulches can also be effective for weed management in vineyards. Mulches may prevent weed seed germination by preventing sunlight from reaching the soil surface. Therefore, the effectiveness of mulches is directly dependent on the time of mulch application and the thickness of the mulch layer. If the mulch is applied after the weed seeds are germinated, the weed control effect will be minimal. If the mulch layer on the vineyard floor is not thick enough (which could vary depending on the type of mulch), the light will penetrate the layer and weed seeds will germinate. It is important to understand that mulches will not prevent the regrowth of perennial weeds in the vineyards, and other weed control methods (e.g., herbicides) must therefore be implemented to control perennial weeds. Mulches also enhance the moisture conditions of the vineyard floors, which is especially important in improving the growth of newly planted vines.

Mechanical Control

Mechanical weed control is best described as a nonselective control option that is particularly effective against annual weeds (Figure 2). Mechanical control is physical weed removal by tools such as hoes, disks, cultivators, mowers, etc. These devices are designed to cover, uproot, or cut weed seedlings. The effectiveness of mechanical tools varies depending on the weed size and weed growth type. Cultivation and hoeing are best accomplished when weeds are in the seedling stage since it becomes more difficult to cultivate or hoe when weeds get bigger. However, mowing will not be effective in controlling small weed seedlings or weeds with prostrate growth habits since short weeds, depending on the mowing height, will not be injured with this method.

Photograph of mature vineyard with no ground cover vegetation.

Figure 2. Mature vineyard with no ground cover vegetation. Note: weeds under the vine rows and between the vine rows are controlled by mechanical means.

Excessive cultivation can lead to undesirable consequences such as soil erosion, reduced soil organic matter, and breakdown in soil structure resulting in compaction and reduced rain/irrigation permeability. Also, if not done carefully, cultivation could injure vine roots. Cultivated soils can also restrict equipment access for vineyard operations; therefore, it is important to avoid excessive cultivations and to time this practice to limit the possible negative effects of cultivation. Mechanical control of weeds in between the rows can be achieved using cultivators or mowers. However, mechanical weed management in the vine rows requires specialty tillage equipment (examples include weed badger, French vineyard plough, or Clemens radius).

Flaming is a method that utilizes direct flames and/or intense heat to kill young weeds. It is most effective when used in the seedling stage of young annual weeds. However, caution must be taken to avoid flaming the vines, irrigation tubing, and other fire hazards when using this method for weed management.

Chemical Control

Herbicides are the most commonly used weed management tool in vineyards. Many herbicides are registered for use in New Mexico vineyards (Table 2). Herbicides vary greatly in their target species and sites of action, so it is important to select the appropriate herbicide for the conditions and weeds present. The following are the terms describing the times at which herbicides may be applied, and they refer to the stage of development of the weeds.

Pre-emergence herbicides are generally applied to the soil prior to weed emergence for residual weed control, and may require incorporation by either mechanical tillage or water (rainfall or irrigation). However, some herbicides, such as Diuron (Direx 4L) and flumioxazin (Chateau), have both pre-emergence and post-emergence activities that can control small seedlings of certain weed species as well as provide residual weed control.

Post-emergence herbicides, such as clethodim (Select 2EC), glufosinate-ammonium (Rely 280), glyphosate (Roundup PowerMAX) and carfentrazone-ethyl (Aim EC), are all applied after weed emergence. However, the method of application could vary depending on the herbicide (see Table 2 for more detail on each herbicide).

Particular herbicides may be labeled for non-bearing vines only, bearing vines only, or for both bearing and non-bearing vines. Non-bearing vines are plants that will not bear fruit for at least one year following application a particular herbicide.

When using chemical control, growers must be aware that repetitive use of a single herbicide, or of a particular herbicide group with the same site of action, could select for herbicide-resistant weeds. To avoid selecting for resistant weeds, make sure to rotate herbicides with different groups, and do not make more than two consecutive applications of herbicides from the same group against the same weed. Herbicides kill plants by binding to a specific protein and inhibiting that protein's function. The binding site of an herbicide is referred to as the herbicide's site of action. Herbicide grouping is based on the sites of action of herbicides; therefore, herbicides with the same site of action are assigned the same group number. Since no single herbicide controls all weeds commonly found in vineyards, mixing two or more herbicides from different herbicide groups can delay or prevent the development of herbicide resistance in weeds and dramatically increase the spectrum of weed control. However, it is important to follow the label directions on tank-mixing different herbicides since some herbicides may not be compatible with each other. If such herbicides are mixed, the efficiency of one or both partners in the mixture can be reduced. When using herbicides it is important to use proper equipment and calibrate the equipment regularly. A wide variety of equipment, ranging from a simple backpack sprayer to units with optical controllers for precise application, is available in the market and can be used for herbicide application in vineyards

A list of currently registered herbicides for vineyards in New Mexico, their Weed Science Society of America (WSSA) grouping, and some information regarding their usage is provided in Table 2. Be sure to read, understand, and follow the label instructions when using any pesticide. Pay particular attention to information such as required personal protective equipment, timing of application, rates of application, harvest restrictions, vineyard characteristics (e.g., soil type), restrictions, and types of weeds controlled. Many times the poor performance or non-performance of an herbicide can be traced to improper use and failure to follow label directions. Since some herbicides have long residual activities, it is also important to obtain the history of herbicides used in the field before planting vines; this will help to reduce the risk of herbicide injury to vines due to carryover of previously used herbicides.

Table 2. Herbicides for Use in New Mexico Vineyards¹


Common Name/
WSSA Grouping²
Example of Trade Name³/     
EPA Registration No.
Grapevine Status Weeds Controlled

Carfentrazone-ethyl/Group14 Aim EC/279-3241 Bearing and non-bearing Annual and perennial weeds

May be applied for post-emergence control of certain weed species listed on the label or for sucker control in grapes. Aim EC can be applied as a directed spray treatment or as a hooded spray treatment for the control of emerged and actively growing weeds. Effective control with Aim EC requires thorough coverage of the emerged plants.

Clethodim/Group 1 Select 2EC/59639-3 Non-bearing Annual and perennial grasses

May be applied for post-emergence grass weeds control. Select 2EC should not be applied over the top of vines. Instead, spray should be directed at the base of the vines where grassy weeds are growing near the ground. Non-bearing vines are plants that will not bear fruit for at least one year following Select application.

Dichlobenil/Group 20 Casoron 4G/400-168 Bearing and non-bearing Annual and perennial weeds

May be applied for pre-emergence control of certain weed species listed on the label. Do not apply this herbicide until four weeks after transplanting. Do not allow livestock to graze treated areas.May be applied for post-emergence control of certain weed species listed on the label. Diquat 2L AG is a contact herbicide, and thorough coverage of all green plant tissue is essential for effective control. Non-bearing vines are plants that will not bear fruit for at least one year following Diquat 2L AG application. Do not allow livestock to graze treated areas.

Diquat dibromide/Group 22 Diquat 2L AG/2749-530 Non-bearing Annual broadleaf and grass weeds

May be applied for pre-emergence and post-emergence control of certain weed species listed on the label. Karmex DF should not be applied on soils with less than 1% organic matter. Apply only as a band treatment to established vineyards at least three years old.

Diuron/Group 7 Karmex DF/66222-51 Bearing Broadleaf weeds and some annual grasses

May be applied for post-emergence grass control. In established vineyards, do not harvest grapes within 50 days of last application. Maintain a minimum of 14 days between applications. Refer to main and supplemental labels for more information.

Fluazifop-p-butyl/Group 1 Fusilade DX/11-1070 Bearing and non-bearing Annual and perennial grasses

May be applied for pre-emergence and post-emergence control of certain weed species listed on the label. Avoid direct or indirect spray contact to foliage and green bark (non-barked vines, with the exception of undesirable suckers). Do not apply to grapes established less than two years unless they are trellised at least 3 ft from the soil surface or are protected from spray contact by non-porous wrap, grow tubes, or waxed containers. Refer to main and supplemental labels for more information.

Isoxaben/Group 21 Gallery 75/62729-145 Non-bearing Annual broadleaf weeds

May be applied for post-emergence control of certain weed species listed on the label. Rely 280 is a contact herbicide, and thorough coverage of all green plant tissue is essential for effective control. Do not apply this product within 14 days of grape harvest. Do not graze, harvest, and/or feed treated vineyard cover crops to livestock.May be applied for post-emergence control of certain weed species listed on the label. Do not apply this product within 14 days of grape harvest. Apply this product for weed control only when green shoots, canes, or foliage are not in the spray zone.

Napropamide/Group15 Devrinol 50-DF/70506-36 Bearing and non-bearing Annual grass and broadleaf weeds

May be applied for pre-emergence control of certain weed species listed on the label. Do not apply Gallery 75 to newly transplanted vineyards until soil has been settled by irrigation or rainfall and no cracks are present or plant injury may occur.

Norflurazon/Group 12 Solicam DF/100-849 Bearing and non-bearing Annual grass and broadleaf weeds

May be applied for pre-emergence control of certain weed species listed on the label. Do not apply within 35 days of harvest. Can be applied through irrigation systems. Refer to the label for further information.

Oryzalin/Group 3 Surflan A.S./70506-43 Bearing and non-bearing Annual grass and broadleaf weeds

May be applied for pre-emergence control of certain weed species listed on the label. Do not apply within 60 days of harvest. Avoid contact with fruit or foliage. The soil must be settled, firm, and relatively free of weeds and debris at the time of application. Soil should be free of depressions around vines where rain or irrigation water can concentrate.

Oxyfuorfen/Group 14 Goal Tender/62719-447 Bearing Annual broadleaf and some grass weeds

May be applied for pre-emergence control of certain weed species listed on the label. The soil must be in good tilth, free of clods, and relatively free of weeds and debris at the time of application. May be applied through properly equipped chemigation systems.

Paraquat dichloride/Group 22 Gramoxone Inteon/100-1217 Bearing and non-bearing Annual broadleaf and grass weeds

May be applied for pre-emergence and post-emergence control of certain weed species listed on the label. Effective post-emergence control requires thorough coverage of the emerged plants. Do not apply to grapes established less than three years unless they are trellised at least 3 ft from the soil surface. Do not apply GoalTender during the period between bud swell and completion of final harvest or when fruit are present. GoalTender may be applied upon completion of final harvest. This herbicide can be applied through irrigation systems. Refer to main and supplemental labels for more information.

Pendimenthalin/Group 3 Prowl H2O/241-418 Bearing and non-bearing Annual grass and broadleaf weeds

Gramoxaone Inteon is a restricted-use herbicide, and can only be purchased and applied by licensed individuals. May be applied for post-emergence control of certain weed species listed on the label. Do not allow spray to contact green stems (except suckers), fruit, or foliage. Use a shield or wrap plant when spraying around young trees of vines. Do not graze or feed cover crops grown in treated areas to livestock. Treat when sucker growth is no more than 8 in. long. Late-season applications to weeds should be made to avoid contact with desirable foliage.

Pronamide/Group 3 Kerb 50-W/62719-397 Bearing and non-bearing Grass and broadleaf weeds

May be applied for pre-emergence control of certain weed species listed on the label. For newly transplanted and one-year-old grapevines, apply only to dormant vines. Do not apply over the top of grape vines with leaves, buds, or fruit. Do not apply within 90 days of harvest of fruit. Do not feed forage or graze livestock in treated vineyards.

Puraflufen-ethyl/Group 14 Venue/71711-25 Bearing and non-bearing Annual broadleaf weeds

Kerb 50-W is a restricted-use herbicide, and can only be purchased and applied by licensed individuals. May be used for pre-emergence and early post-emergence control of certain weed species in grape plantings. Kerb 50-W must be applied in the fall after the fruit is harvested but prior to soil freeze-up. Kerb 50-W may not be applied to seedling vines less than one year old, fall-transplanted stock transplanted less than one year, or spring-transplanted stock transplanted less than six months.

Rimsulfuron/Group 2 Matrix/352-556 Bearing and non-bearing Grasses and broadleaf weeds

May be applied for post-emergence control of broadleaf weeds or for sucker control in grapes. Thorough coverage is necessary for effective control. Avoid contact with green, un-callused bark of young vines established less than one year unless protected from spray contact by nonporous wraps, grow tubes, or waxed containers. Refer to main and supplemental labels for more information.

Sethoxydim/Group 1 Poast/7969-58 Bearing and non-bearing Grasses and broadleaf weeds

May be applied for post-emergence grass weeds control. Do not apply through any type of irrigation system. Do not apply within 50 days of harvest. Do not feed forage or graze livestock in treated vineyards.

Simazine/Group5 Princep 4L/100-526 Bearing Grasses and broadleaf weeds

May be applied for pre-emergence control of certain weed species listed on the label. Princep 4L must be applied between harvest and early spring. Do not apply in vineyards established less than three years.

Trifluralin/Group 3 Treflan 4EC/5905-532 Bearing and non-bearing Annual grass and broadleaf weeds

May be applied for pre-emergence control of certain weed species listed on the label. For effective control, Treflan 4EC should be mechanically incorporated based on the label direction. Treflan 4EC does not control emerged weeds. Do not apply to vineyards within 60 days of harvest.

1The list is current as of October 2013; however, labels change frequently, and the herbicide's current label should be reviewed for the most recent conditions or restrictions before the product is used. Read all labels (including the supplemental labels if applicable) carefully and comply with their site-use directions (e.g., pre-harvest interval, restricted-entry interval, registration). For the very latest label information on a given herbicide, contact the manufacturer, Extension services in your area, or the company or distributor that sells the product. Also, most chemical labels can be accessed at various online databases, including GreenBook (http://www.greenbook.net), CDMS (http://www.cdms.net), Agrian (http://www.agrian.com/home/), and Mobile Access to Pesticide Labels (MAPL; http://pi.ace.orst.edu/mapl/).

2Herbicide groupings follow the Weed Science Society of America's (WSSA) nationally accepted grouping. The grouping is based on the mechanisms of action of herbicides, and for effective herbicide resistance management it is imperative to rotate or mix the herbicides from different groups. A summary of herbicide mechanism of action according to WSSA is available at http://wssa.net/wp-content/uploads/WSSA-Mechanism-of-Action.pdf.

3Other trade names of the active ingredients alone or in combination may be available in the market. Growers are advised to read the herbicide label for selecting the correct rates based on the environmental conditions of their area. Refer to the label of each product for information regarding required adjuvants.


Brand names appearing in publications are for product identification purposes only. No endorsement is intended, nor is criticism implied of similar products not mentioned. Persons using such products assume responsibility for their use in accordance with current label directions of the manufacturer.

The pesticide recommendations in this publication are provided only as a guide. The authors and New Mexico State University assume no liability resulting from their use. Please be aware that pesticide labels and registration can change at any time; by law, it is the applicator's responsibility to use pesticides ONLY according to the directions on the current label. Use pesticides selectively and carefully and follow recommended procedures for the safe storage and disposal of surplus pesticides and containers.


Photo of Jamshid Ashigh.

Jamshid Ashigh is Extension Weed Specialist and assistant professor in the Department of Extension Plant Sciences at New Mexico State University. He received his B.Sc. in botany and his Ph.D. in weed science from the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. His program focuses on integrated weed management systems in field and horticultural crops.


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Revised December 2013, Las Cruces, NM