Thousands of acres of new orchards were recently planted at high densities of 1000-2000 trees per acre. These intensive systems are giving rise to questions about ground cover management strategies and the need to update the current Cornell research information based on semi-dwarf orchards. The driving factors for these questions include the development of simazine and glyphosate-resistant weeds, potential groundwater pollution with older residual herbicides, the newly reported risk of glyphosate application resulting in bark injuries and tree death, and the concern for soil health in orchards with such restricted root systems. The goal of this project is to adapt the Cornell research on semi-dwarf systems to the more intensive high density systems and measure the impact of 6 ground cover treatments between trees and up to 14 herbicide stretegies on tree growth, tree health, and soil health. With the help of 2 growers, 2 on-farm demonstration sites will be set up where the sustainability of treatments can be evaluated in replicated plots for the short term, and potentially for a longer term after they are established. Once established, these two sites will serve as efficient educational centers to evaluate various ground cover and herbicide strategies over a longer term. Results from this project will be disseminated to the conventional and organic grower though multimedia, presentations, publications, and featured on grower tours. Although this is a 1-year proposal, this project will likely seed further work needed on a more long term basis on ground covers through other funding sources.
Project objectives from proposal:
The goal of this project is to adapt the Cornell research on semi-dwarf systems to the more intensive high density systems and measure the impact of 6 ground cover treatments between trees and up to 14 herbicide strategies on tree growth, tree health, and soil health.
Performance target 1: Weed Control in row
Apply 14 herbicide treatments (3 replicates) in newly established and 1-yr planting.
Performance target 2: Ground cover between rows
Plant 3 replicates of 6 ground cover treatments in newly established and 1-year planting.
Performance target 3: Evaluation.
Evaluate weed control in tree row.
Evalutate ground cover treatments between rows.
Measure tree caliper growth to compare differences in treatments.
Measure soil health parameters.