Theinfluences of a synthetic fabric cover in the row area of sweet cherry trees on soil fertility and plant nutrition are largely unknown. A field trial has been conducted on young `Regina' sweet cherry on a sandy loam soil at the Mid-Columbia Agricultural Research and Extension Center, Hood River, Ore., since 2001. The difference in soil NO -3, P, K, Ca, Mg, S, B, Zn, Mn, Cu, pH, or organic matter was nonsignificant between the covered and non-covered treatments in any year. Leaf N content was 11% to 16% greater with the covered treatment compared with the non-covered treatment in 2002 and 2003, but leaf N was similar for the two treatments in 2001. Leaf P content was similar for the two treatments in 2001, but was about 36% less with the covered treatment than the non-covered treatment in 2002 and 2003. Leaf Ca content was decreased by 11% to 17% due to a synthetic fabric cover in 2002 and 2003. Leaf Mg content was 13% to 24% less with the covered treatment than the non-covered treatment in 2002 and 2003. However, the decreased leaf P, Ca, and Mg contents with the covered trees were due to the dilute effects of increased tree growth. The effects of a fabric cover on leaf K, S, B, Zn, Mn, and Cu contents were primarily nonsignificant. Our results suggest that although nutrient availability in the soil is not reduced by a wide synthetic fabric cover, higher rates of fertilizers may be needed for the covered sweet cherry trees due to the elevated tree growth and fruit production from a long-term perspective.
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