Investigator: Chuck Ingels, University of California Cooperative Extension, Sacramento County, Sacramento, California
Project location: Joe Green Ranch, Courtland, California (certified organic in 2009)
Weed control and nutrient management continue to be serious challenges in organic orchards, and the two are highly interrelated. Some weed control practices like mulching are more expensive, but they can have other benefits, such as improved fruit size or yield, that could more than pay for the practice. If it can be shown that mulching is cost-effective in a well-managed orchard, it is likely to be adopted by many growers. In-row mowing, although inexpensive, still leaves weeds that compete with trees for water and nutrients, but it could be the most cost-effective strategy. Knowing what fertilizer produces the best results and at what rate would also yield important information that will likely be adopted by growers. The results of this project will help growers make informed decisions based on the costs and benefits of these cultural practices.
This project compares in-row weed control and fertilization practices in an organic pear orchard in Sacramento County. The project originated with the grower cooperator inquiring about what practices to use. He is a third-generation pear grower, and his orchards are highly uniform and productive. It was initiated in fall 2008 in a uniform Golden Russet Bosc pear block, planted in 2001.