Effects of Wood-chip Mulch on Growth and Productivity of `Apache' Blackberry

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  • 1 Univ. of Arkansas, Horticulture, Fayetteville, AR 72701
  • 2 Univ. of Arkansas, Horticulture, Fayetteville, AR 72701

`Apache' blackberry planted in 3-m plots spaced at 0.6 m between plants were maintained either with or without waste municipal wood chip mulch and grown for 5 years. Plots received similar weed control, pest management, and irrigation. All plots were annually hedged at 1.35-m height twice during midsummer to encourage branching. Fruit were harvested beginning in the second season after a season of establishment. Annual yield in the mulched plots was 15% greater, average fruit size was 4% larger, and cumulative yield was 9% greater in the mulched plots compared to nonmulched control plots. In two seasons, average berry soluble solids content of fruit from mulched plots was slightly, but not significantly higher. Annual primocane number was 33% greater, floricane number 41% greater, floricane dry weight after harvest was 15% greater, and average plant height before summer pruning was 24% taller in mulched plots compared to nonmulched plots. Mulch significantly reduced weeds within the plots.

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