Your orchard's mid-term
report card: Part 2 - The orchard floor
Last week, your report card looked at your trees' performance this
season. Let's move to the orchard floor.
- Weed-free strips: This under-tree area should extend
past the dripline of the trees and remain weed-free during the
Critical Weed-free Period (bud break until 30 days after bloom)
to avoid yield losses. Later in the summer, some weak weed growth
will not affect yields, and can be beneficial to harbour predatory
insects, and reduce soil erosion. However, by harvest, your goal
is to avoid weed growth that hampers fresh or juice harvest.
- Next steps: Another herbicide application may be
needed at this time to ensure a smoother harvest. Check
preharvest intervals, (Ignite - 40 days; Poast Ultra - 25
days; 2,4-D - 80 days; Aim - 3 days; Lontrel - 30 days;
glyphosate - 30 days (Note: Glyphosate should not be used
after terminal bud set to avoid long-term tree health problems).
Mulch can also prevent weeds under trees, but requires strict
attention to discourage rodents.
- Row middles: A thick cover of planted grasses is preferred
to mowed weeds, which may attract pests or harbour
nematodes and diseases. A smooth surface is required to avoid
bruising during harvest. Ruts from the spring monsoons should
be filled in and stable.
- Next steps: Consider using 2,4-D post-harvest on
the orchard sod if broadleaf weeds are invading your grass.
Repair ruts ASAP, and spread some grass seed before the next
rains. Plan to seed row middles in new orchards mid- to late
August (mixtures containing creeping red fescue, tall fescue
and perennial ryegrass (dwarf turf-type) have
performed well in orchards).
- Drainage: Water should drain away quickly, at least within
12-24 hours of heavy rains, to ensure that tree roots do not drown.
This is important in the off-seasons, but critical in the summer.
- Next steps: Note where water accumulates, and install
additional drainage or catch basins. New orchard sites should
be systematically tile drained before planting.
- Irrigation system: Supplemental irrigation should be
applied unless 1" of rain falls each week. Trickle irrigation
is the most efficient, and provides the opportunity to fertigate
as well. Mulch can also preserve an effective moisture supply
to the roots, while cooling the soil.
- Next steps: Install irrigation systems and arrange
the necessary permits to take water. Monitor soil moisture
tensiometer or other device, and track evapotranspiration
to determine when to irrigate.
Your orchard floor is an important contributor to your orchard's
success, so small attention to details can improve both tree performance
and your crop.
For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
Local: (519) 826-4047