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Curt R. Rom and Jason McAfee*

`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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James Ferguson, Michael Ziegler, and Jack Hebb

Soil incorporation of poultry litter can damage roots of citrus trees grown on shallow soils in southern Florida. Using an alternative application method, young `Minneola' tangelo trees (Citrus reticulata Blanco × C. paradisi Macf.) on Cleopatra mandarin rootstock (C. reticulata Blanco) on bedded groves in southeast Florida were fertilized for 18 months after planting with surface-banded poultry litter (PL) overlaid with wood chips (WC). PL/WC was applied at 142, 284, and 425 kg·ha-1 N in two applications/year in one 0.6-m band within the dripline of trees planted at 278 trees/ha. Other treatments with different N rates included 220 kg·ha-1 N broadcast in the middle of the bed twice a year and 116 kg·ha-1 N as controlled release fertilizer applied within the dripline of trees in three applications per year. Eighteen months after planting, growth of trees receiving PL/WC treatments of 142, 284, and 425 kg·ha-1 N per year and 116 kg·ha-1 N per year was similar and greater than growth of trees receiving PL broadcast in grove middles at 220 kg·ha-1 N per year. Soil P, Ca, and Mg levels beneath the three banded PL/WC treatments were higher than in other treatments; in all treatments leaf N levels were optimum, but leaf P, K, Ca, Mg, and Fe levels were excessive. Banded PL/WC treatments applied at 142 kg·ha-1 N per year and even lower rates may be adequate for growth of young citrus trees, especially in terms of reducing excessive soil and leaf nutrient levels.

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Derek M. Law, A. Brent Rowell, John C. Snyder, and Mark A. Williams

A 2-year field study in Lexington, Ky., evaluated weed control efficacy and influence on yields of several organic mulches in two organically managed bell pepper (Capsicum annuum) production systems. Five weed control treatments [straw, compost, wood chips, undersown white dutch clover (Trifolium repens) “living mulch,” and the organically approved herbicide corn gluten] were applied to two production systems consisting of peppers planted in double rows in either flat, bare ground or on black polyethylene-covered raised beds. In the first year, treatments were applied at transplanting and no treatment was found to provide acceptable season-long weed control. As a result, bell pepper yields in both production systems were very low due to extensive weed competition. First year failures in weed control required a modification of the experimental protocol in the second year such that treatment application was delayed for 6 weeks, during which time three shallow cultivations were used to reduce early weed pressure and extend the control provided by the mulches. This approach increased the average weed control rating provided by the mulches from 45% in 2003 to 86% in 2004, and resulted in greatly improved yields. In both years, polyethylene-covered raised beds produced higher yields than the flat, bare ground system (8310 lb/acre compared to 1012 lb/acre in 2003 and 42,900 lb/acre compared to 29,700 lb/acre in 2004). In the second year, the polyethylene-covered bed system coupled with mulching in-between beds with compost or wood chips provided excellent weed control and yields. When using the wood chip mulch, which was obtained at no cost, net returns were $5587/acre, which is similar to typical returns for conventionally grown peppers in Kentucky. Net returns were substantially decreased when using compost due to the purchase cost. Results from this study indicate that shallow cultivation following transplanting, combined with midseason mulch application, resulted in high yields in an organically managed bell pepper system that were comparable to yields of most varieties grown conventionally in a variety trial conducted on the same farm.

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Nancy E. Roe, Peter J. Stoffella, and Herbert H. Bryan

Increasing disposal problems with polyethylene (PL) mulch and greater availability of compost prompted an investigation into the effects of using compost as a mulch on horizontal raised bed surfaces with living mulches (LMs) on vertical surfaces. Wood chips (WC), sewage sludge-yard trimming (SY) compost, and municipal solid waste (MW) compost were applied at 224 t·ha-1 on bed surfaces. Sod strips of `Jade' (JD) or `Floratam' (FT) St. Augustinegrass (Stenotaphrum secundatum Kuntze) or perennial peanut (Arachis glabrata Benth.) (PP) or seeds of a small, seed-propagated forage peanut (Arachis sp.) (SP) were established on the vertical sides of the raised beds before transplanting bell pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) into the beds. Phytophthora capsici reduced pepper plant stand in PL-mulched plots compared with organic mulch (OM) and LM. Despite the stand reduction, total pepper yields were highest in PL plots and, in the OM plots, decreased in the order SY > MW > WC. Early fruit yields and yield per plant were highest from plants in PL plots followed by SY. Among LMs, plants in SP plots produced highest early yields and FT produced the lowest. Plants in PL plots produced the largest fruit. When the same plots were seeded with winter (butternut) squash (Cucurbita pepo L.), plant stands were higher in MW than WC and SY. Squash yields were similar between PL and OM plots.

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Dan TerAvest, Jeffrey L. Smith, Lynne Carpenter-Boggs, Lori Hoagland, David Granatstein, and John P. Reganold

leguminous cover crops. The use of organic mulches such as wood chips, shredded paper, or alfalfa have increased soil N availability and mineralizable forms of N in multiple studies ( Forge et al., 2003 ; Marsh et al., 1996 ; Sanchez et al., 2003 ; Yao

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Dan TerAvest, Jeffrey L. Smith, Lynne Carpenter-Boggs, David Granatstein, Lori Hoagland, and John P. Reganold

; Sanchez et al., 2003 ). Organic mulches such as wood chips, shredded paper, and alfalfa have been shown to increase soil microbial activity and N turnover, increasing N availability, fertilizer-use efficiency, and fruit yield in some studies ( Forge et al

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Bert M. Cregg, Pascal Nzokou, and Ron Goldy

major Christmas tree species in the upper midwestern United States. We also examined growth and physiological response of seedlings grown with mulch mats and wood chip mulch as alternatives for growers that do not have access to specialized equipment to

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Geno A. Picchioni, Sharon A. Martinez, John G. Mexal, and Dawn M. VanLeeuwen

use of hardwood chips. In Fall 2012, we completed a pilot study at two nearby commercial greenhouse and nursery production sites using various rates of pecan wood chips in the substrate, prepared as described below for the present investigation. A

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David Granatstein and Kent Mullinix

orchardists do have a variety of weed control strategies and tools to draw upon ( Table 1 ). These include tillage, flaming, and other thermal techniques; inert mulches (e.g., wood chips, weed fabric), living mulches; organic herbicides; and allelopathy. None

Open access

Kevin T. Walsh and Tina M. Waliczek

( Dougherty, 1999 ; Rynk, 1992 ). Although food waste and wood chips are acidic feedstocks within compost, seaweed is slightly alkaline ( Cooperband, 2002 ; Darlington, 2007 ; Dougherty, 1999 ; Maze et al., 1993 ). Compost research has indicated that piles