Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: February 1, 2005
Publication Date: October 22, 2008
Citation: Tworkoski, T., Glenn, D.M. 2008. Orchard floor management systems. In: Layne, D.R., Bassi, D., editors. In the Peach, Botany, Production, and Uses. Cambridge, MA: CBI. p. 332-350. Technical Abstract: The orchard floor is the soil and under story vegetation of an orchard ecosystem. It can be managed with cultivation, synthetic and natural chemicals, flamers, organic and inorganic mulch, and ground covers. These techniques can be integrated into different orchard floor management systems that will strongly affect peach yield and quality by influencing water, nutrients, microflora, and pesticide residues in soil, along with the abundance and movement of insects, pathogens, rodents, and weeds. In different geographic areas, orchard floor management of peach has undergone significant change from clean cultivation to management of temporary and permanent vegetation with mechanical and chemical techniques. In areas with limited precipitation, such as California, vegetation may be completely removed during the growing season to facilitate furrow or ditch irrigation. In areas with more precipitation, such as the southeastern U.S., grass may be maintained year-round in drive alleys and soil beneath trees kept free of vegetation during the growing season. Appropriate management of the orchard floor is important for economic success of the grower, sustainability of the orchard environment, and protection of soil and water resources. Management decisions are often based on gains from yield and cosmetic fruit quality but decisions can include less evident gains from soil and water conservation and from biological regulation of pest populations. Such economic and environmental benefits should be incorporated into future models that assist with orchard floor management decisions.