Producing Grapes on Marginal Land Research



A Central Valley grape meeting showed continued work on finding new land that is suitable for grape production. The 2019 San Joaquin Valley Grape Symposium took place in Easton. UC Cooperative Extension Viticulture Advisor George Zhuang coordinates the yearly event. There were several topics covered at the event, including red blotch and it’s vectors, mechanization and potential issues with freezing temperatures. 

However, Zhuang led off the symposium with his continued work on farming grapes on land that isn’t necessarily suited for it. The availability of land is significantly decreasing and with competition from permanent crops, historically grape-farmed land is being converted to nuts. Zhuang started looking at taking available land, such as on the west side of the Central Valley that is notoriously salty and water-challenged, and modifying the vines to see if a profitable crop could be grown.

Zhuang started with five rootstocks that have higher levels of both salt resistance and good tolerance to drought conditions. Those rootstocks included 1616c, Schwarzmann, 140Ru, Ramsey and 1103P. There are several other issues in the soils he is looking at, including boron and other nutrients, but Zhuang said he is focusing on water quality and salinity. The findings he presented this year showed that 1103P, 140Ru and Schwarzmann all had a significantly lower uptake of salt from the soil than the others. 

About the Author

Taylor Hillman