Grounded Grapegrowing


Vineyard Irrigation Strategies

June 2011
by Glenn McGourty
Nature has blessed California with abundant rain this year, and this will be very helpful for most vineyards. After several years of very dry weather in some areas, the rain is providing plenty of water in the root zone. (In my own vineyard planted along the Russian River, the water table was one foot below the surface at bud break!) In areas dependent on irrigation for most of the vines’ water needs, the rain will provide much-needed leaching of salts that may have accumulated from less-than-ideal water quality (the Central Coast comes to mind, as many irrigation wells have high amounts of dissolved minerals). The rains also will recharge depleted aquifers, fill irrigation ponds and provide our fields, forests and chapparal with a blush of healthy growth across the state. Snow packs in the Sierra are at near-record levels (more than 50 feet of snow has fallen in many areas), a delight to skiers and a promise of almost-normal water delivery to many irrigation projects serving growers in the interior valleys.

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