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Planning Ahead with MidSummer Grasses

Mario Miranda Sazo, Cultural Practices
Lake Ontario Fruit Program

December 23, 2013

Growers who are planning to plant a new orchard site (or a replant site) next year can consider the use of cover crops before planting an orchard. Their benefits are numerous. When used they can: (1) improve organic matter, (2) break up compaction layers in the soil profile, (3) suppress weeds, and (4) control erosion. We recommend the use of sudangrass (review attached pdf document), but several other cover crops can be used. A more complete list of cover crop options can be found at the web site prepared by Thomas Borkman (http://www.nysaes.cornell.edu/hort/faculty/bjorkman/covercrops/decisiont). This tool was originally designed for vegetable growers, but is still very useful for fruit growers as well. Sudangrass and sorghum-sudangrass are midsummer grasses suitable for short, 8-10 week plantings. Sorghum-sudangrass is often referred to generically as Sudex. These grasses are the most heat and drought- tolerant cover crops typically grown in the Northeast. Sudangrass growth is easier to manage because the stems are narrower, it can be sown earlier than sorghum-sudangrass, and suppresses weeds better. These crops provide abundant root biomass, which is useful for increasing soil organic matter. Mowing encourages root growth. They suppress root knot nematodes and inhibit weed germination if densely sown. A few management tips: (1) land preparation: prepare a clod-free seedbed. Avoid hard soil and wet spots. Do not plant just before a heavy rain, (2) seeding rate: 30 lbs/acre for biomass and nematode control, 50 lbs/acre for weed control, (3) seeding date: June through mid-August (sudangrass), July through mid August (sorghum-sudangrass). These cover crops require warm soil to germinate, (4) maintenance: mow when 20-30 inches tall, leaving a six inch stubble. Two cuts in average can be conducted per season with sudangrass. Leave residue on the soil surface for weed suppression. Timely mowing is important because tall, fibrous plants are difficult to mow or incorporate, and (5) control: big crowns decompose slowly, making it difficult to prepare a seedbed for small-seeded crops. Incorporate sudangrass if planting something else in the fall. Otherwise, mow for winter-killed mulch on the surface and till in early spring. Tall, unmowed sudangrass will winterkill, but is difficult to manage in the spring. Summary: By implementing the use of cover crops you will reduce erosion of topsoil from slopes and suppress weed growth. Proper site preparation will often involve significant disturbance of the soil in order to add amendments (lime, phosphorous), install drain tile, etc. If a cover crop is not established soon after soil work is finished for the year, rainfall and melting snow can result in a significant loss of topsoil from the site. Sowing a cover crop will also help to prevent the re-establishment of weeds that the grower has worked hard to eliminate from the site. Note: The sudangrass technical information was excerpted/modified from Cornell cover crop guide for sudangrass. Cornell University. 2pp. Ver. 1.100716 (Borkman, T. and J.W. Shail. 2010).

Planning Ahead with MidSummer Grasses (pdf; 89KB)

more crops
Apples

Apples

Apricots

Apricots

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Asian Pears

Blueberries

Blueberries

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Cherries

Currants

Currants

Gooseberries

Gooseberries

Nectarines

Nectarines

Peaches

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Pears

Pears

Plums

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Raspberries / Blackberries

Raspberries / Blackberries

Strawberries

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2022 Events - for details and registration info click on the event title of interest:
CCE prioritizes the health, safety and well-being of the communities we serve. Given the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, and due to an abundance of caution certain events will be cancelled. Please check back through out the week for any additional event cancellations.

Have you missed a meeting recently?  All recorded LOFP hosted webinars can be found on our YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/c/LakeOntarioFruitProgram


NOW - please scroll down to find links to Strawberry Grower Survey & Degradable Mulching Films for Sustainable Agriculture Survey!
22 July - Hard Cider Summer Tour 2022 - 10am - 5pm, preregistration required, suggested $5 donation

28 July - 2022 Postharvest Reviews: Session 1. Pre- & postharvest factors affecting the quality of 'Gala' & recommendations for this year's harvest and storage season. - Noon - Free Zoom

9 August - LOF Summer Tour, eastern Orleans County - More info here:


11 August - Annual Cornell Hemp Field Day - 8am - 3pm - $25/person

16 - 17 August - NASGA Summer Tour - all day - South Central Ontario, Canada



Pollinator Resouces

Now available Pollinator Resource Links


Meeting Recordings Now Available

Did you miss the recent meeting?  Check and see if we recorded it and added it to our website or Lake Ontario Fruit Program YouTube Channel.

Honeycrisp Meetup recordings available here.

Why are my trees growing so poorly? recording available here.

Additional Recorded Webinars listing with recording and resource link are available at
https://lof.cce.cornell.edu/submission.php?id=838&crumb=crops|crops|apples|crop*38



New Publication on Growing Pawpaws

Are you a fan of pawpaws? These custardy fruits can be hard to come across, so this guide provides information on how to grow your own pawpaw from seed, and how to care for grafted seedlings. Pdf on growing now available.​ https://lof.cce.cornell.edu/submission.php?id=799&crumb=crops|crops|unusual_fruit|crop*50

New Weed Management Technology Survey

Want to move away from herbicide reliance? Are you using novel technologies to manage weeds? We want to know about it to inform our weed science research. A team of weed scientists from University of California Davis, Oregon State University, and Cornell University are asking berry, tree fruit, tree nut, and vine crop growers to take 5 to 10 minutes and answer this short and anonymous survey. Weed Technology Survey link: https://cornell.ca1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_bEpfAijoP7puQDP

For more information on this survey please visit http://blogs.cornell.edu/swd1/2020/12/02/new-weed-management-technology/


Pollinator Webinar Series - Summer 2020

The Pollinator Webinar Series presented by Penn State cover bee health and pollination services.



Bloom Pesticides for Pollinator Health

A reference table created by Janet van Zoeren and Anna Wallis, is now available at https://lof.cce.cornell.edu/submission.php?id=711&crumb=pests|pests.

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