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Weed control with organic mulches in apple orchards effects on yield fruit quality and dynamics of nitrogen in soil solution



Weed control with organic mulches in apple orchards effects on yield fruit quality and dynamics of nitrogen in soil solution



Gartenbauwissenschaft 54(5): 224-232



Field trials during eight years including three apple varieties ('Boskoop', 'Golden Delicious' and 'Gloster') showed that mulches of fresh bark of conifers and oak as well as rape straw gave a good control of annual weeds under the trees. Rotten materials, often rich in nutrient elements, like bark compost, litter compost, and husks of apples, had an insufficient effect on weed development. Orgnic mulches applied in the third growing season did not decrease yield or fruit quality. Oak bark and rape straw reduced large annual yield fluctuations of 'Boskoop'. All bark mulches improved fruit quality. Highest nitrogen concentrations in soil solution were measured under bare soil surface durng three years. Maximum peaks appeared always in August and September (up to 6500 micMol/l soil solution) which is a period with very low nitrogen need of the trees. Under bark cover level of nitrogen was up to six times lower without causing nitrogen deficiency in leaves and fruits nor yield losses. During winter and also after strong precipitations in summer important percolation transports of nitrogen beneath 70 cm depth were measured. Organic mulches increased the content of organic matter in soil while soil acidity remained stable.

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