28 Apr 2020
Crop Management

Organic Orchard Management: Nutrition for Organic Orchards

In organic systems, soil fertility, crop nutrient status, and groundcover management are closely linked. As specified under the National Organic Program (NOP), “Organic producers must rely upon animal manures, compost (organic matter of animal and/or plant origin that has been decomposed by microorganisms), and cover crops to supply some, if not all, of the required nutrients for healthy crops.”

Naturally derived soil amendments have variable nutrient levels depending upon the sources from which they were derived. Therefore, nutrient availability from composts and cover crops will be specific for the soil type and crop demand in each orchard. Besides supplying nutrients, soil amendments can increase soil organic matter, balance pH levels, increase microbial activity, improve soil structure and tilth, improve drainage in clayey soils, improve water-holding capacity in sandy or gravelly soils, and help to suppress some root diseases.READ MORE

28 Apr 2020
Cover Crops

Orchard Floor Management: Cover Crops

Cover crops can be one component of orchard floor management, but are not a “system” alone. Cover crops are important in maintaining soil structure, encouraging water infiltration, reducing erosion, reducing mud and dust, and maintaining an acceptable driving surface for equipment. A good cover crop can be established with grasses, broadleaf plants such as legumes, or both, although a uniform plant stand is often easier to manage than one made up of multiple crop species. A cover crop should establish itself quickly and thereafter should not require much maintenance. It should be chosen and managed so that competition with trees is minimal.

Grasses are the most common cover crops in orchards. Many different grasses and grass mixtures are available, so orchardists can choose what is best suited to each particular situation. Several low growing perennial rye grasses are available and allow easy orchard access even when headed out.