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Rj Ewing
Posts: 18
Location: Western Oregon
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Darren,

I was wondering what your experience has been with establishing a large number of trees in regards to weed/grass control and soil health. I recently planted a apple orchard of around 1000 trees. I'm currently trying to determine what the best course of action is to reduce the competition for the trees. I am fully aware of the downsides of herbicides and really do not want to use them, but I'm not convinced that there is a better option. I've thought about using wood chips, but they they get expensive fast and depending on soil activity, I may need to replace them yearly. I have also thought about plastic/weed fabric, but I am concerned with that approach creating vole habitat and how the soil biology will be affected. There would be less air exchange as well as less carbon being added to the soil with plastic.

How do you recommend commercial orchards and/or timber plots control grass to establish trees? If spraying a 1m x 1m area around the base of every tree for 3-4 years, will this severely affect the soil health? How would a soil drench of compost extract after (1 week?) each spraying help?

I am located in western Oregon with 4 months of summer drought and 8 months of winter rain (40 in/yr). The soil is compacted clay loam, but well drained. The pH is around 5.5. Last October we did the first pass with a Keyline plow.

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!
 
Eric Thompson
Posts: 371
Location: Bothell, WA - USA
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duck food preservation solar trees
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Are you cutting surrounding grass and weeds? Laying the cut mulch in a 3 ft diameter circle around the young tree helps a lot for competition and lessens the need for frequent irrigation..

It would be much better to lay mulch as a barrier and as worm habitat than to spray and damage the soil.
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