Suzanne Fleishman

Suzanne Fleishman

  • PhD Candidate, Ecology
  • Advisers: Dr. Michela Centinari and Dr. David Eissenstat
220 Forest Resources Building
University Park, PA 16802


  • M.S. Horticulture, Penn State University, 2019
  • B.S. Environmental Science, University of North Carolina, 2013

My research examines how belowground competition by grass cover crops, when paired with devigorating rootstock choices, may beneficially reduce excessive aboveground vine vegetative growth in Pennsylvania vineyards, with a particular focus on root and rhizosphere interactions.

Standard ground cover maintenance in northeastern vineyards includes resident groundcover or seeded cover crops in the inter-row and bare soil maintained under vines with multiple applications of herbicide. There has been an increased interest in cover crop applications directly beneath vines in the Eastern US as an an alternative to herbicide. Ecological benefits of cover crops have been found in the form of herbicide elimination and reduction in leaching of total nitrogen, dissolved organic carbon, and insecticide. Growers in humid environments may also benefit directly from decreased management costs and labor associated with vegetative growth reduction (pruning, thinning, etc). This reduction in growth may be enhanced by choosing rootstocks known to impart low vigor to the scion. Presently, studies report high variability in growth reduction by cover crops; this unpredictability causes cover crops to be a high-risk practice to adopt. I am examining how cover crops influence resource uptake by two grapevine rootstocks at a variety of depths to better explain factors that influence aboveground growth reduction and reduce risks to cover crop adoption.

My research has partially funded by a 2016 NE-SARE Graduate Student Grant, 2018 USDA NIFA Grant, 2020 USDA NIFA Fellowship, and the Pennsylvania Wine Marketing and Research Board.