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Ian A Merwin and John A. Ray

Temporal and spatial combinations of tree-row weed suppression treatments were evaluated during 5 years in a New York apple (Malus domestica Borkh. cv. Imperial Gala on Malling 26 rootstocks) orchard planted in Apr. 1991, and provided with trickle irrigation. Twenty-eight factorial treatment combinations [0, 2, 4, and 6 m2 weed-free areas (WFAs); and May, June, July, August, May + June, June + July, May + June + July, and June + July + August weed-free times (WFTs)] were maintained from 1991 to 1995 by postemergence paraquat herbicide applications in tree-row strips. Trunk cross-sectional area (TCA) growth and yield were monitored annually, and few differences were observed as WFA increased from 2 to 4 to 6 m2 per tree. However, WFT substantially influenced TCA, fruit production, and yield efficiency. Early summer WFTs increased TCA during the first two growing seasons, compared with late summer treatments. When trees came into production in 1993-94, yields increased as the duration of WFT increased, but where similar periods of WFT had been established later during the growing season, annual yield, cumulative yield efficiency, and the ratio of crop value to weed-control costs were all reduced. Groundcover species distribution was evaluated each year in September, and graminaceous weeds were more prevalent in the early and midsummer WFTs, while herbaceous broadleaf weeds dominated in the August treatments. A quadratic model regressing cumulative yield efficiency on WFTs grouped into 30-, 60-, and 90-day categories showed that efficiency peaked between 60 and 90 days of WFT. It appeared that timing of weed suppression may be as important as the area of suppression beneath trees in comparable apple orchards, that early summer weed control was especially important for newly planted trees, and that drip irrigation allowed reductions in the area and amount of tree-row herbicide applications, without significant losses in apple tree growth or crop value.

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Ian Merwin, Michael Biltonen and John A. Ray

Three orchard groundcover management systems (GMSs) were established in a newly planted apple (Malus domestica cvs. Liberty, Nova Easygro, and NY84828-12 on Malling 9 rootstock) orchard on a silty-clay loam soil (Aeric Ochraqualf). The GMSs were applied in 2-m-wide strips within tree rows as follows: 1) a 6-cm-thick mulch layer of composed manure, straw, sawdust, and vegetable plant wastes applied in May 1992 and 1994; 2) a “green manure” cover crop of canola (Brassica campestris cv. Humus) seeded in mid-August each year and tilled under the following May; and 3) Post-emergence applications of N-(phosphonomethyl) glycine (glyphosate) herbicide (2.0 kg a.i./ha) in mid-May and July each year. After 3 years of GMS treatments, apple tree growth and trunk cross-sectional area were similar in all three systems. Fruit yield and yield efficiency were greater in glyphosate and compost than in canola GMSs, and `Liberty' was the most productive cultivar. Topsoil N, P, K, Ca, Mg, Zn, and organic matter content were all substantially greater in the compost GMS. Leaf N, K, and P concentrations were consistently greater in trees in compost plots; leaf Ca, Mg, Cu, and Zn concentrations were lower in compost GMS. Weed growth was rank and difficult to control in the compost mulch, but this GMS substantially enhanced orchard soil fertility.

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John A. Ray, Ian A. Merwin and Warren C. Stiles

Growth, nutrient uptake, and yield of peach (Prunus persica) trees was evaluated in various groundcover management systems (GMSs) for three years, with and without preplant soil additions of Zn, B, and Cu. In July 1990, micronutrients (none, or 135kg Zn·ha-1+100kg Cu·ha-1+1.1kg B·ha-1) were incorporated into the upper 20 cm of a silty clay-loam soil (pH 6.7, 4% organic matter), and a fine-leaf fescue (Festuca ovina) turf was established. Trees were planted Apr. 1991, and four GMS treatments (wood-chip mulch, pre-emergence herbicide, post-emergence herbicide, and mowed turf) were superimposed upon the “+/-” micro-nutrient preplant treatments. Extractable Zn, Cu and B concentrations were greatly increased in soil of plots which had received preplant amendments. Peach leaf content of Zn, Cu and B was also greater in preplant fertilized plots in the year of planting. However, in subsequent years only leaf B (in 1992) and leaf Zn (in 1993) continued to respond positively to preplant soil treatments. No significant interactions were observed between GMS and micronutrient availability or uptake. Peach growth and yield were not affected by preplant treatments, but were substantially greater in mulch and pre-emergence herbicide plots compared with the mowed fescue turfgrass.

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Ian A. Merwin, Tammo S. Steenhuis and John A. Ray

Non-point source water pollution by agrichemicals is a recognized problem that has been studied in agronomic crop systems, and simulated using computer models or artificial soil columns, but rarely measured at field scale in orchards. For three growing seasons, we monitored the movement of nitrate and pesticide analogs and a widely used fungicide (benomyl) in two apple orchards under four different groundcover management systems (GMSs), including turfgrass, wood-chip mulch, residual pre-emergence herbicides, and post-emergence herbicide treatments. In subsoil lysimeter samplers at one orchard, we observed that nitrate and pesticide analogs leached more rapidly and in higher concentrations under herbicide plots compared with turfgrass plots. At another orchard where subsoil leaching and surface runoff of benomyl and nitrate-N were monitored in replicated GMS plots, we observed higher concentrations of benomyl (up to 30 μg·liter–1) and nitrate-N up to 50 μg·liter–1) leaching under herbicide GMS. The highest benomyl concentrations (375 μg·liter–1) and most frequent runoff of this pesticide were observed in the residual pre-emergence herbicide plots. Yearly weather patterns, irrigation, and development of different soil physical conditions under the four GMSs determined the relative magnitude and frequency of agrichemical leaching and runoff in both orchards. The agrichemicals apparently leached by mass flow in preferential flowpaths such as old root channels and soil cracks, while surface chemical runoff occurred mostly adsorbed on eroding soil sediment. These observations indicate that orchard GMSs can have a significant impact on leaching and runoff of pesticides and nutrients.

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Ian A. Merwin, John A. Ray and Paul D. Curtis

Meadow vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus Ord) populations, feeding activity and damage to young apple (Malus ×domestica Borkh.) trees were monitored for several years in a New York orchard by direct observation, trap counts, and a feeding activity index in various groundcover management systems (GMSs). Meadow vole population density differed among GMSs, with consistently higher densities and more trees damaged in crown vetch (Coronilla varia L.), hay-straw mulch, and red fescue (Festuca rubra L.) turfgrass tree-row strips. Vole densities were high in autumn and low in spring each year. Anticoagulant rodenticides and natural predation did not adequately control voles in GMSs providing favorable habitat. Groundcover biomass per m2 was weakly correlated with vole densities in 2 of 3 years, while the percentage of soil surface covered by vegetation was not significantly correlated with vole populations. Applications of thiram fungicide in white latex paint were better than no protection, but less effective than 40-cm-high plastic-mesh guards for preventing vole damage to tree trunks. A combination of late-autumn trapping, close and consistent mowing of the orchard floor, trunk protection with mesh guards, contiguous habitat for vole predators, and herbicide applications within the tree rows provided effective control of meadow-vole damage to trees at this orchard during 3 years without applications of rodenticide baits. Chemical names used: Tetramethylthiuram disulfide (thiram)

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Georgios Psarras, Ian A. Merwin, Alan N. Lakso and John A. Ray

A 2-year field study of `Mutsu' apple [Malus sylvestris (L.) Mill. var. domestica (Borkh.) Mansf.] on `Malling 9' (M.9) rootstock was conducted to observe root growth in situ, and compare patterns of root growth, root maturation and turnover rates, and soil-root respiration. Rhizosphere respiration was monitored with a portable chamber connected to an infrared gas analyzer; root emergence, browning, and turnover rates were measured by direct observation through minirhizotron tubes inserted in the root zone. Negligible root growth was observed before the onset of shoot growth in mid-May. In both years, a main peak of new root emergence in late June and early July coincided partially with major phases of shoot and fruit growth. A smaller peak of root emergence during August to September 1997 consisted primarily of new roots at 20 to 45 cm soil depths. Most roots remained <1 mm in diameter and developed in the upper 25 cm soil profile; no roots were observed at any time below 50 cm, due to a compacted soil layer at that depth. The cumulative survivorship of new roots was 38% in 1996 and 64% in 1997, and 50% of emergent white roots turned brown or senesced within 26 days in 1996 and 19 days in 1997. Root turnover rates were highest in mid-August both years. Rhizosphere respiration was correlated (r 2 = 0.36 and 0.59, P = 0.01 and 0.004) with soil temperatures in 1996 and 1997, with Q10 values of 2.3 in both years. The Q10 for root-dependent respiration (the difference between soil only and combined soil-root respiration) in 1997 was 3.1, indicating that roots were more sensitive than soil microflora to soil temperature. The temporal overlap of high rates of shoot, root and fruit growth from late May to mid-July suggests this is a critical period for resource allocations and competition in temperate zone apple trees.

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Ian A. Merwin, John A. Ray, Tammo S. Steenhuis and Jan Boll

Commercial apple (Malus domestica Borkh.) orchards in the northeastern United States receive heavy pesticide inputs and are often located on well-drained soils near surface and groundwater resources. Nonpoint-source water pollution by agrichemicals has been monitored in agronomic crop systems and simulated using computer models and laboratory soil columns, but inadequately studied at field scale in orchards. We monitored the concentrations of agrichemical tracers, nitrate-N, and benomyl fungicide in water samples from two apple orchards under mowed sodgrass (Mowed-Sod), shredded bark mulch (Bark-Mulch), preemergence residual herbicides (Resid-Herb), and postemergence herbicide (Post-Herb) groundcover management systems (GMSs). In one orchard, we evaluated subsurface spatial patterns and flow rates of a weakly adsorbed blue dye (pesticide analog) and potassium bromide (nitrate analog) under trees after six years of Post-Herb and Mowed-Sod treatments. Nitrate and pesticide tracers leached more rapidly and in higher concentrations under Post-Herb treatments, apparently via preferential macropore flowpaths such as root channels, soil cracks, and macrofauna burrows. At another orchard, we monitored subsurface leaching and surface runoff of benomyl and nitrate-N on a whole-field scale. Peak concentrations of benomyl (up to 29 mg·liter-1) and nitrates (up to 20 mg·liter-1) were observed in subsoil leachate under Resid-Herb plots during 1993. In 1994, nitrate concentrations were greater in leachate from all GMSs, with upper ranges from 48 to 66 mg·liter-1, while benomyl concentrations were lower in all GMSs compared with the previous summer. In surface water runoff during 1993, the highest benomyl concentrations (387 mg·liter-1) and most frequent outflows occurred in Resid-Herb plots. During 1994, benomyl runoff was more frequent in both herbicide GMSs, with concentrations up to 61 mg·liter-1 observed in the Post-Herb plots. Weather patterns, irrigation intensity, differing soil conditions under each GMS, and the turfgrass/clover drive lanes affected the relative frequency and concentrations of benomyl and nitrate leaching and runoff. Preferential bypass flow appeared to be a major subsurface leaching pathway, and erosion sediment an important factor in surface movement of these agrichemicals. Our studies suggest that nitrate-N and benomyl fungicide may be more prone to leaching or runoff from orchard soils under some herbicide GMSs in comparison with mowed sodgrass or biomass mulch systems.

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Freddi A. Hammerschlag*, Sandra Garces, Margery Koch-Dean, Stephanie Ray, Kim S. Lewers, John L. Maas and Barbara J. Smith

Diseases affecting strawberries have been of major concern in recent years because of their widespread occurrence and potential for yield loss. Anthracnose caused by the fungus Colletotrichum acutatum is one of the most serious disases of strawberry worldwide. Although chemical controls are being used to treat anthracnose, generating disease resistant plants is a more attractive solution to the problem because chemicals can pose a health hazard, have a negative impact on the environment and may only be moderately effective. Tissue culture-induced (somaclonal) variation provides us with one strategy for generating disease-resistant genotypes. An in vitro screening system was used to evaluate several commercially important cultivars, Chandler, Delmarvel, Honeoye, Latestar, Pelican and Sweet Charlie, and shoots regenerated from leaf explants of these cultivars for resistance to C. acutatum isolate Goff (highly virulent). Somaclones with increased levels of anthracnose resistance were identified for all the cultivars. The greatest increases in disease resistance were observed for somaclones of cultivars Chandler, Pelican and Sweet Charlie that exhibited 6.8-, 12-, and 4.2-fold increases in resistance, respectively. These studies provide evidence that: 1) in vitro screening can be used to evaluate strawberry germplasm for anthracnose resistance, 2) soma-clonal variation is influenced by stawberry genotype, and 3) generating somaclonal variants may be a feasible approach to obtaining strawberry plants with increased levels of anthracnose resistance.