Defend Your Apple Orchard from Yield-Reducing Weeds

apple orchard

According to the U.S. Apple Association, close to 100 varieties of apples are grown on 363,000 acres of orchards throughout the country.1 While the varieties of apples grown can range from Gala to Granny Smith, and everything in between, each orchard has at least one thing in common– weed pressures that can affect fruit quality and crop yield if left untreated. Marestail, pigweed and ragweed are common weeds that affect apple growers’ yields across the nation.

Treating weed threats before they emerge in an orchard is vital because they compete with trees for nutrients and they can harbor harmful diseases and insects.2 Utilizing the best practices mentioned below can help you ensure a healthy, high-quality harvest for your apples.

1) Monitor your orchards for weed pressures

Taking a walk through your orchard can provide more than just a breath of fresh air – it allows you to monitor for weed growth in all areas of the orchard. Weeds can thrive in a variety of places in the orchard, depending on the variance of light, water and even soil type. If you come across any unknown weeds while surveying your acres, be sure to take samples for later identification.

2) Be especially vigilant during vital crop growth periods

Flowering, fruit set and fruit enlargement are critical times during crop growth when competition from weeds for nutrients can lead to undersized fruit and reduced crop yield.2 Pay special attention to any weed growth in this period, typically from spring until early July,2 and take care of the threat immediately.

3) Get ahead of the problem with pre-emergent herbicides

Pre-emergent herbicides enter weed seeds and prevent them from germinating normally, neutralizing the threat before plants breach the surface of your orchard. Pre-emergent products, such as Alion® herbicide from Crop Science, provide residual control of weeds that can last several months.

4) Use the correct mixture of herbicides

While pre-emergent herbicides are an excellent preventative method, they do not control weeds that already exist. Post-emergent herbicides are necessary to combat weeds that have already broken the soil surface. Using a variety of herbicides also reduces the risk of weeds developing resistance. Pre-emergent products like Alion can easily be tank-mixed with post-emergent sprays for comprehensive control of weeds that have yet to grow and those already established.

5) Follow the use rates on the label

Use rates vary depending on numerous factors, including soil type, age of the orchard and amount of irrigation. Low-dose applications have the potential to allow otherwise controllable weed species to escape and lead to resistance. Always adhere to the use rate indicated on the label.

Weed management is an essential part of ensuring the highest yield and healthiest trees from year to year. Follow the above Best Management Practices for a comprehensive weed management program for the entire season.

Learn more about weed management and how a long-lasting, pre-emergent solution like Alion can help you reduce yield loss and improve tree health.

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