Nutrient status of young pecan [Carya illinoensis (Wangenh.) C. Koch] trees grown under eight combinations of orchard floor management and irrigation was determined by leaf and soil analyses. Orchard floor management practices were weedy-unmowed, weedy-mowed, weed control with herbicides, and weed control by disking, with trees either irrigated or nonirrigated. The element most affected by treatment was K. Mean leaf K for the two sample years was significantly (P < 0.01) lower in the weedy plots (0.56% K) than in those where weeds were controlled (0.76% K), suggesting a highly competitive effect of weeds for K with young pecan trees. Weed competition also suppressed leaf Ca and Mg, but presence of weeds or sod resulted in higher soil pH and higher leaf Zn. Leaf concentrations of N, P, B, Cu, and Fe were not significantly affected by the treatments.
Hairy vetch (Vicia villosa Roth), common vetch (V. sativa L. `Cahaba White'), arrowleaf clover (Trifolium vesiculosum Savi `Yuchi'), crimson clover (T. incarnatum L. `Tibbee'), red clover (T. pratense L. `Redland II'), yellow nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus L.), buckwheat (Fagopyrum sagittatum Gilbert), hairy indigo (Indigofera hirsuta L.), bahiagrass (Paspalum notatum Flugge `Pensacola'), common bermudagrass [Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers.], and centipedegrass [Eremochloa ophiuroides (Munro) Hack] were grown for 3 years in a 3 × 3-m spacing around young pecan [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch] trees. Compared to weed-free plots, all cover crops suppressed tree growth substantially, and there were no differences among cover crops in the degree of suppression. Mean trunk cross-sectional area of weed-free trees increased 26-fold by the end of the third growing season but increased only 13-fold for trees grown with any cover crop. These results suggest that cover crops, if grown in young pecan orchards to promote beneficial insects, should be excluded from the immediate area around the young trees.
Orchard floor treatments of total weed control with herbicides, disking, mowing, grass control only with herbicides, and no control of vegetation were maintained in a 3 × 3-m area underneath young pecan [Carya illinoinensis (Wangehn.) K. Koch] trees. Soil compaction in treated areas was compared to heavily trafficked row middles. Mean cone index (CI) readings obtained from a cone penetrometer for the heavily trafficked areas were higher, indicating greater compaction than all other treatments in the 4.7- to 11.8-cm soil depth range. Heavily trafficked areas had severe compaction (>2.0 MPa) at the 9.5- to 22.9-cm soil depths. Mowed plots had similar CI readings at 14.2- to 54.3-cm depth as those heavily trafficked. The mowed areas had severe compaction at the 14.2- to 22.9-cm depth range. Grass control only with herbicides and plots with no control of vegetation had low CI throughout the soil profile. Disking, grass control, and no control treatments had similar effects, except at the 4.7-cm depth, where disking reduced compaction. An orchard floor management practice that minimized traffic near young trees, but also reduced weed competition, appears to be the best choice.
A field experiment was conducted from 1995 to 1999 in central Alabama to determine the effect of repeated applications of glyphosate herbicide on young ‘Sumner’ pecan trees. Herbicide treatments were applied on ‘Sumner’ pecan trees varying in age from newly established (first growing season) to established fourth-year growing season trees. Measurements taken included tree mortality, trunk cross-sectional area, nut yield, and nut quality in the third and fourth years of the study. Glyphosate applications were targeted at the lowest 5 to 8 cm of the tree trunk (“standard” treatment), a percentage (lowest 33%, 67%, or 100%) of the tree trunk below the first scaffold limb, or a percentage (lowest 25%, 50%, 75%, or 100%) of tree foliage to simulate situations ranging from minor spray drift to major misapplication. No adverse effects were detected when glyphosate was applied to trunks, regardless of tree age. However, repeated application of glyphosate to 75% to 100% of tree foliage resulted in a significant reduction of growth and, in some cases, tree death. Results indicate that limited contact of glyphosate with the lowest 5 to 8 cm of the trunk of the young pecan tree, which usually occurs during conventional orchard weed management, is unlikely to result in adverse effects on young pecan trees.