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Effects of Vegetation-Free Strip Width and Irrigation on Newly Planted Peach

Buckelew, Juliana K., Mitchem, Wayne E., Monks, David W., Chaudhari, Sushila, Jennings, Katie M., Mehra, Lucky K.
International journal of fruit science 2019 v.19 no.1 pp. 75-90
field experimentation, fruit yield, irrigation, leaf area, leaves, nitrogen, nitrogen content, orchards, peaches, seasonal variation, summer, tree growth, trees, vegetation, weeds, winter, Southeastern United States
Field experiments were conducted at two locations (Clayton and Jackson Springs, NC) to determine the influence of vegetation-free strip width (VFSW) and irrigation on newly planted peach growth and yield in a low-density orchard with a volunteer weedy ground cover. The experiments included VFSW of 0, 0.6, 1.2, 2.4, 3, or 3.6 m under irrigated or nonirrigated conditions. Seasonal variation in the orchard floor vegetation was observed as different weed species reported in summer and winter. However, this difference was not apparent with respect to VFSF and irrigation. At Jackson Springs, NC, the predicted irrigated VFSW which would produce the same trunk cross-sectional area (TCSA) as the grower standard (3-m nonirrigated) was 1.5, 1.3, and 0.8 m for one-, two-, and three-year-old trees, respectively. The predicted irrigated VFSW which would produce the same yield as the grower standard was 1.16 m. At Clayton, TCSA and fruit yield were not different by irrigation, but did increase linearly with VFSW. At both locations, leaf nitrogen (N) concentration was lower in irrigated trees than nonirrigated trees. Leaf N, leaf area, and SPAD were positively related to VFSW at Jackson Springs. In contrast, leaf N concentration was not different by VFSW at Clayton. However, leaf area and SPAD were positively related to VFSW at Clayton. These results suggest that a 1.5 m VFSW combined with proper irrigation and fertilization will produce tree growth and yield in newly planted orchard with volunteer weedy vegetation similar to the current grower standard in the southeastern USA.