Yes, even between the late rains we are experiencing this spring, the mustard seed flowers are alive and flourishing in our Sonoma County vineyards!
I love it when the first yellow flowers start to crop up. To me it’s natures statement that yes, spring is here. When I was a young boy there were old vineyards near the home I grew up in. When the flowers bloomed they were great places to run through and hide out playing cowboys and indians!
Of course, as I grew older I understood that there was a reason that there was so much mustard seed everywhere I looked. Did you know that mustard plants are used as a cover crop in vineyards to reduce erosion, add nitrogen and improve soil tilth and water penetration?
Cover crops helps to increases organic matter, reduces compaction, reduces excessively vigorous vines, dust and mite problems, & provides a habitat for beneficials. By providing firm footing during wet weather, the plants allow for winter/early spring access in the vineyard.
Like all farmed crops, young grapevines can be very sensitive to plant parasites which can cause lots of problems in proper development of a vineyard. I love it that we use all of these cultural techniques when we can, to naturally reduce harmful parasites rather than applying costly and dangerous chemicals to accomplish the same goal.
So yes, the mustard seed provides an important service in the production of our world famous wines…and, they offer us a lot of natural beauty as we drive around our countryside. Why not come and visit us here in Sonoma County? We’d love to see you.
Happy Spring Equinox!