A 3-year experiment was conducted to identify problems in Coachella Valley date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) orchards that limit vegetative growth, yield, and fruit quality. Major problems that were identified included soil compaction and stratification that restrict water permeation into the root zone, and low fertility as reflected by the low organic -matter content of the sandy soils. To eliminate the impact of these stresses on plant growth, yield, and fruit quality, a no-tillage alternative management system was introduced to replace the conventional practice of tillage that compacts the soil. No-till was coupled with the use of cover crops to enrich the soil with organic matter, fix N, recycle nutrients, and improve water holding capacity of the sandy soil. In already established orchards, an additional treatment—slip plowing—was also implemented to loosen the soil at lower depths to facilitate water permeation. The positive effects of the alternative system on the soil, tree growth, yield, and fruit quality will be presented.
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