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  • Coley Burgess

    December 22, 2022 at 12:47 am

    I have been testing various cover crops in my orchard for the better part of a decade and there isn’t a single one that will do it all. Some thrive in the sun, some in the shade. Some don’t take the heat too well if they’re by themselves. Some will choke out the others when a slug of one variety comes out of the planter. The list of seeds planted in our orchard is probably over 100 species now. Out of all of these there’s about 12-15 that stick around for several years, but it all got reduced to 2 without planting in new crops every few years.

    There may be some water competition, but the benefits far outweigh any loss and my oh my how the beneficials moved in. Ladybugs, green lace wings, assassin bugs, orb weaver and wolf spiders.

    I should also mention that we don’t mow, shred, weedeat, spray, or till. All ground foliage is managed with rotationally grazed cattle and sheep. They also nibble the low hanging pecan leaves and we no longer have to prune the low shoots.

    As far as weed suppression, I don’t think we “choked out” the weeds, but rather changed the soil profile so that the weeds and thistles could no longer survive. And our BeCrop soil analysis showed no harmful bacteria or fungi. Our soil isn’t perfect and is actually quite out of whack, but at least there aren’t any diseases.

    The 2 surviving ground covers on the orchard floor this year was Bermuda grass in the sun, and alfalfa in the shade. The rest of the mix the was very good at bringing in the beneficial insects and providing grazing that the livestock loved was chicory, sainfoin, plantain, African cabbage, yellow and white clovers, winter peas, hairy vetch, bromegrass, annual and perennial rye, winter wheat, orchard grass, and tall fescue.

    I am no help with the emitter issue because we flood irrigate out of the Pecos River.