Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture Enrollment

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Weed Management in Newly Planted Orchards

Mike Basedow, Tree Fruit Specialist
Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture

May 3, 2018

Early weed control is a critical component of establishing a new planting. Newly planted fruit trees compete poorly against fast growing weeds for water and nutrients. This competition can severely limit a new block's growth, which can ultimately reduce potential yields in the third year by 50 percent (Breth and Tee, 2013). Weeds also harbor insects and diseases, provide habitat for rodents, and can serve as hosts for viruses, further complicating effective orchard management (Stivers et al., 2017).  

Weed management for a new orchard should begin with excellent site preparation. Prior to planting, your orchard site can be cultivated, allowed to fallow until weeds emerge, and then treated with a post-emergence herbicide to control problematic perennial weeds. Cover crops can then be planted to compete against emerging weeds, subsequently mowed and incorporated back into the soil. In the fall prior to tree planting, you can seed the planting site with your preferred orchard sod mix. This will give the sod for the row middle some time to establish. You can then kill the sod in the rows with glyphosate two weeks prior to planting the orchard (R. Crassweller, 2018).  The killed sod in the rows will act as a mulch for the trees at planting.

Once the trees are planted and the soil has had time to settle, a mix of pre-emergence herbicides should be utilized. There are a number of pre-emergence formulations that can be used in newly established orchards (they require the soil around the trees be settled before applications are made), and a few provide some post-emergence control when weeds are in the seedling stage.  These are listed below, and more in-depth product descriptions can be found in the 2018 Cornell Tree Fruit Guide.

  • Surflan (oryzalin) controls most annual grasses and some broadleaf weeds. It controls pigweed, but not ragweed or PA smartweed. Surflan can be used in new plantings as soon as the soil has settled, but requires ˝ to 1 inch of rain prior to seed germination to be effective.
  • Prowl (pendimethalin) controls annual grasses, and some broadleaf weeds, including lambsquarters and pigweed when used as a pre-emergent. Prowl 3.3EC can be used in non-bearing trees in newly planted orchards. Using the higher rate will give a longer window of control.
  • Chateau SW (flumioxazin) provides pre-emergent control of grasses and broadleaves, and will also control emerging broadleaf seedlings when they are between 2 and 6 inches tall. It must be applied prior to pink bud. It can be applied to trees that have been established less than 1 year, but trees must be protected with non-porous tree wraps.
  • Goaltender (oxyfluorfen) has pre and post-emergent activity on young seedlings. It controls broadleaf weeds, and should be combined with a grass herbicide. It can only be applied to trees when dormant.
  • Sinbar (terbacil) controls most annual grasses and broadleaf weeds, and has some activity against perennials like quackgrass, horsenettle, and nutsedge. Sinbar requires rainfall within 3-4 days after application to effectively move into the germination zone. It can be used in newly planted trees at very low rates once the soil has settled.   Do not use on soils coarser than sandy loam, this would include high gravel content soils in the Hudson Valley.
  • Solicam (norflurazon) controls most annual grasses and many annual broadleaf weeds, and suppresses nutsedge and quackgrass. It requires rain to move into the seed germination zone, and is often combined with another pre-emerge that has greater efficacy against broadleaf annuals.

This initial treatment can be combined with post-emergence herbicides to control any weed seedlings that may have already emerged (Always check the label before combining any products). Additional follow-up spot treatments of post-emergence herbicides should be performed to control weeds that escape your initial treatments. Be careful to avoid contact with the trunks and green tissues of the young trees.  The application of white latex paint to trunks affords some protection, but the use of spiral tree guards should be discouraged in regions with high dogwood borer pressure, such as the Hudson Valley.

You might also consider developing an orchard weed log or map for your blocks to fine tune your weed management plan.  When you see weeds in the orchard, write down their location, the species that are present, and the average height, growth stages, and percentage of ground cover for each species. These records can help you schedule your post-emergence treatments. They can also help you select an appropriate herbicide mix in your future applications when you have more herbicide options as the block matures. Having these notes to look back on will also allow you to recognize your long term persistent weed trends, and determine the effectiveness of your weed management program (Stivers et al., 2017).

By being proactive with weed management in the first few years, you can get your trees off to a great start to maximize your future potential yields.

Breth, D., and L. Tee. 2013. New Findings in Weed Control in Young Apple Orchards. New York Fruit Quarterly. 21(4):13-18.

Crassweller, R. 2018. Orchard Establishment - Site Selection and Preparation. Penn State Extension. 24 April 2018.

Stivers, L., T. Baugher, and M. Basedow. 2017. Integrated Weed Management: Weed Scouting for Fruit Production. Penn State Extension. 25 April 2018.



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Upcoming Events

Berry Production Twilight Meeting

Event Offers DEC Credits

July 8, 2021
Peru, NY

Rulf's Orchard, 531 Bear Swamp Road, Peru, NY 

Many berry topics will be discussed including growing Juneberries (Amelanchier, not strawberries), using entomopathogenic nematodes to control strawberry root pests, low tunnel production in June bearing strawberries, SWD monitoring and management. 2.5 DEC pesticide recertification credits available in categories 1A, 10, 22, and 23. Contact Elisabeth Hodgdon (eh528@cornell.edu or 518-650-5323) or Laura McDermott (lgm4@cornell.edu or 518-746-2562) with questions.

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Announcements

U-Pick Farm Practices During Covid-19 Pandemic

U-Pick is a critical direct marketing approach for many of our farms and provides
customers with a unique connection to fresh produce grown close to home. In light
of what we understand about the spread of COVID-19, new management practices
will be needed to protect your farm team and your customers. This document
provides recommended practices and communication strategies for U-Pick
operations for the 2020 season.

https://rvpadmin.cce.cornell.edu/uploads/doc_864.pdf

Growers-are you running low on fall pumpkins, etc?

The Produce Auctions located around the state may have what you need.  Check out all of the opportunities here: https://harvestny.cce.cornell.edu/submission.php?id=4

Resources from CCE ENYCHP!

We are developing new ways to connect with the CCE ENYCHP team this year! We have a Youtube page located at this link. Check out videos on Table Grape Production, Pest Updates and the 20 Minute Ag Manager - in 4 Minutes series

We have a Facebook Page here as well as an Instagram page. We keep these places updated with current projects, events, and other interesting articles and deadlines.

There are also text alerts available. Fruit and vegetable farmers in 17 Eastern NY counties can now receive real time alerts on high risk disease and pest outbreaks texted directly to their cell phone. The Eastern NY Commercial Horticulture program, which is supported by local Cornell Cooperative Extension associations, will now offer text alerts to those that enroll in our program in 2019. 

The text alerts will be reserved for important crop alerts that could impact management decisions immediately. For instance, if there were an outbreak of Late Blight in the area, this would be transmitted to vegetable growers.

Farmers can choose the crop for which they wish to receive updates. Additionally they can request that Ag Business Alerts be sent to them. These alerts might include due dates for crop insurance deadlines, market opportunities etc.

If you have questions, please contact enychp@cornell.edu


Podcasts

“Understanding Fungicide Resistance and How to Avoid It” with Dr. Margaret McGrath

June 16, 2021
ENYCHP Veg News Farm and Field Updates with Teresa Rusinek
“Understanding Fungicide Resistance and How to Avoid It” with Dr. Margaret McGrath of Cornell University
In this this podcast ENYCHP vegetable specialist Teresa Rusinek interviews Dr. Margaret McGrath, of Cornell University School of Integrative Plant Science, to discuss the development of fungicide resistance in plant pathogens and steps growers can take to avoid it.
Resources:
https://www.vegetables.cornell.edu/pest-management/disease-factsheets/general-guidelines-for-managing-fungicide-resistance/
Vegetable Pathology – Long Island Horticultural Research & Extension Center (cornell.edu)
The Cucurbit Downy Mildew Forecast Homepage
https://cdm.ipmpipe.org/

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