Long term ground cover options for apple orchards

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A trial was established in a new Hawke's Bay apple orchard in September 1998 to determine how well various ground cover treatments could control weed competition and infl uence tree production. Results are presented after six growing seasons. Competition during the fi rst growing season resulted in effects on the trees that were still measurable many years later. Dichondra (Dichondra micrantha) gave a good ground cover for the fi rst few years but slowly regressed to hard-to-control weed species. The red fescue (Festuca rubra) plots survived better than dichondra although also had problems. Bark mulch needed continual assistance from herbicides. Some of the treatments were modifi ed after two growing seasons to investigate establishing ground covers after initially using bark mulches. Results are discussed in terms of using any form of ground cover as a weed control option in orchards, looking at advantages, disadvantages and effects on the weed fl ora.

K.C. Harrington
M.J. Hartley
A. Rahman
T.K. James
New Zealand Plant Protection