Successful organic apple farming literally starts from the ground up.
Maintaining a healthy orchard floor is the key to preventing weeds and keeping soil healthy. Logically, finding effective methods to increase production and marketability of organic apples is critically important to growers who have to deal with pests and disease without the use of conventional tools available to nonorganic growers.
Dario Stefanelli of Michigan State University's Department of Horticulture led a study to evaluate three types of rootstocks of 'Pacific Gala' apples. Published in HortScience, the study compared three methods of orchard floor maintenance.
The first was an alfalfa hay mulch treatment, applied by hand in the spring and fall, to prevent weed growth and maintain soil moisture. Drawbacks of this method include the expense, maintenance, risk of rodent damage, possible nutrient leaching, and incubation of some weed species.
The second treatment was a flame burning technique in which a propane burner was used to heat the weeds under the tree canopy. The cost of this method was low, however the risks of fire, branch injury, and damage to plastic irrigation systems increased.
The third method is known as the Swiss sandwich system, which leaves a strip of vegetation to grow naturally in the tree row with two shallow tilled strips on each side. The grassy strip offers insects a space to live without bothering the trees and acts as ground cover, which improves soil condition and adds nutrients. The tilled strips help to reduce competition for water and nutrients. And, because there is no need to mow, this method is easy to maintain. However, this method, without additional fertilization, resulted in less suitable growing conditions.
No differences were noted between rootstocks with the alfalfa hay mulch treatment, though it did improve the appearance of the trees. It also created the most favorable soil conditions for growing 'Pacific Gala' trees. Trees on the Supporter 4 rootstock had the highest growth values, while there were no significant differences between the other two rootstocks. Rootstock was not a factor in crop levels of mulch-treated trees. The M.9 RN 29 rootstock was the most productive using the Swiss sandwich system and the flame treatments. The other two rootstocks' results were the same for both systems.
According to Stefanelli, the results suggest "M.9 RN 29 and the low-cost [Swiss sandwich system] are the most suitable combination that should be considered by growers who want to plant 'Pacific Gala' under organic protocols in Michigan and related climatic regions."
The complete study and abstract are available on the ASHS Hortscience electronic journal web site: http://hortsci.ashspublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/44/2/263
Founded in 1903, the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) is the largest organization dedicated to advancing all facets of horticultural research, education, and application.
Michael W. Neff | EurekAlert!
Combination of Resistance Genes Offers Better Protection for Wheat against Powdery Mildew
22.01.2018 | Universität Zürich
New study shows producers where and how to grow cellulosic biofuel crops
17.01.2018 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
Physicists have developed a technique based on optical microscopy that can be used to create images of atoms on the nanoscale. In particular, the new method allows the imaging of quantum dots in a semiconductor chip. Together with colleagues from the University of Bochum, scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute reported the findings in the journal Nature Photonics.
Microscopes allow us to see structures that are otherwise invisible to the human eye. However, conventional optical microscopes cannot be used to image...
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
24.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
24.01.2018 | Health and Medicine
24.01.2018 | Health and Medicine