Summary: A new Hemp in Vineyards study explores the benefits of intercropping hemp with wine grapes. The research found that hemp, when grown between grape rows, improves soil health and potentially enhances the flavor of wine, without competing with grapevines for water, even in dry conditions.
Hemp in Vineyards: A New Zealand Study’s Promising Findings on Soil and Flavor
The study, conducted on a vineyard in New Zealand, tested the impact of planting hemp alongside grapevines. Key findings include:
- Hemp was a robust grower but did not compete with grapevines for water, making it a viable intercrop even in dry conditions.
- The wine produced from grapes grown near hemp exhibited a delicious, complex flavor profile, although further tests are needed to confirm if hemp was the contributing factor.
- The research aims to investigate further whether hemp can effectively improve vineyard soil health and carbon storage.
Producing high-quality wine grapes requires meticulous management of soil and water conditions, pest control, and pollinator cultivation. Intercropping, the practice of growing different crops in proximity, is used to enhance crop resilience and adapt to climate change. In this case, hemp was chosen for its industrial applications and low THC content.
The study’s co-author, Mark Krasnow, a plant physiologist, collaborated with grape grower Kirsty Harkness to test hemp’s impact on Sauvignon blanc harvests. Despite concerns about hemp’s potential to outcompete grapes for resources due to its robust growth, the study found no evidence of such competition. In fact, during a severe drought, hemp demonstrated remarkable drought tolerance, surviving conditions that other plants could not.
The researchers noted that while hemp improved soil conditions and potentially enhanced wine flavor, it also presented challenges, such as excessive growth in fertile soils and legal complexities around harvesting it as a cash crop. The study suggests that hemp’s deep roots and biomass production could be beneficial in drier climates, like the Mediterranean.
The research continues to explore the potential of hemp in cover cropping, focusing on carbon sequestration and integrated pest management. The findings suggest that hemp could be a valuable addition to vineyards, offering both agricultural and environmental benefits.
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