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  • Darrin Petzer

    March 11, 2023 at 11:46 pm

    I took over the management of an existing stone fruit orchard in central California. Managed with tillage, herbicide, no cover cropping (except volunteer mustard) for 40+ years. It was largely dry farmed/flooded monthly with a broken irrigation system. OM 0.5%. I would say there was a lack of caring and stewardship of the land. Replaced all Irrigation which is head to head micro sprinklers. Diverse cool season cover crops did alright the first 2 winters, but the broadcasting of 8tons/acre of half decent compost last summer gave a huge bump to this past winters cover crop. Have sown sudan, buckwheat during the growing season for 2 years. I usually wait for the buckwheat to flower and then mow. The sudan “bushes” when the meristem is cut, and then it really charges! It lays down a pretty good thatch. Even with our mild winters we haven’t had a problem with the Sudan. Just replanted 500 new bare roots with just 2gallons of compost per planting hole. Granular blended fertility will be applied in May. If I could have started with a clean slate I would band compost within tree rows conservatively. Soil type is dominated by sand, and was not compacted in tree rows, so ripping wasn’t needed. Keep you posted as these youngsters hit their stride this season.