Four soil management treatments were applied from 1991 to 1993 to `Spartan'/M.9 apple trees planted in 1987. Geotextile, straw mulch, composted manure mulch, and grass sod were used to control weed growth in a 1-m-wide band under the trees. The experiment was a randomized complete block design with two blocks and seven trees per treatment; data was taken from the five inner trees in each plot. Trees in straw mulch showed the largest increase in trunk cross-sectional area (+45.6%) over the three years; those in the geotextile showed the second largest (40.7%). Straw mulch also resulted in the largest yield 2 years out of 3. Fruit set and fruit quality were also assessed, and trees in manure mulch and grass sod set the least fruit in each season. Fruit from the grass sod treatment remained harder in storage, and both straw mulch and grass sod have a higher proportion of grade A fruit (57 of total fruit).
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