The Use of Ground Covers during the Establishment of Heart-of-Palm Plantations in Hawaii

in HortScience

Pejibaye (Bactris gasipaes Kunth) is being evaluated in Hawaii for production of fresh heart-of-palm. Yields and offshoot (sucker) production were evaluated in response to woven black polypropylene mat (control), three legumes [Arachis pintoi Krap. & Greg., Cassia rotundifolia Pers., and Desmodium heterocarpon (L.) DC], and a grass (Chloris gayana Kunth) used as ground covers. D. heterocarpon and C. gayana formed closed canopies quickly and controlled weeds well, but required more frequent mowing. A. pintoi formed a closed canopy slowly and only controlled weeds after forming a thick canopy, but required less mowing. Cassia rotundifolia died out after flowering and setting seed. All vegetative ground covers delayed heart-of-palm harvest and had reduced yields 1.5 years after planting. A combination of polypropylene (adjacent to plants) and vegetative ground covers (in service rows) may provide the best solution to minimizing labor for vegetative management in this orchard crop.

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