Apple: Clean cultivation, Sod culture, Mulching and Irrigation

Clean cultivation: Under clean cultivation apple orchard is kept free from all types of weeds and vegetation. The clean cultivation is only possible by continuous weeding or use of weedicides (Paraquat 0.5%) because mechanical weeding is not easy on sloping land and terraces. The clean cultivation is recommended to young non-bearing orchard to check the competition between young apple tree and weeds for nutrients and moisture since young tree and weeds both absorb nutrients and water from upper layer of soil. In bearing orchard when tree roots penetrate deeper clean cultivation is not suitable because it increases moisture loss, fertile soil erosion and decreases humus content in soil. The weeding should not be done even in non-bearing young orchard during rainy season.
Sod culture: In sod culture practice, suitable sod (cover grass) is grown in apple orchard and no tilling is done however some time soil is raked to improve the aeration and water absorption

 capacity. The legumes like Kudzu vine (Pueraria sp.), alfalfa (Medicago sativa), subterranean clover (Trifoliun subterraneum) and non-legumes like Timothy grass (Phleum pretense), orchard grass (Dactylis glomerata) and Kentucky blue grass (Poa pratensis) are grown for sod cultivation. Sod cultivation checks soil erosion and increases soil humus but causing competition between sod & trees for nutrients and moisture.
 Mulching: The covering of soil with organic materials like straw, dry leaves, hay or inorganic materials such as polythene sheet is called mulching. Mulching reduces soil moisture loss through evaporation, discourages weeds emergence, maintain soil temperature and organic mulches increase soil organic matter content. Mulching also reduces soil erosion and provides cushion for fruits falling from the tree thereby minimizes the fruits damage.

Irrigation: The critical period of water requirement in apple is after fruit set from April to August. Under rainfed conditions soil moisture should be conserved by mulching after rainfall during spring. In areas when irrigation facility is available apple plants should be irrigated at 8 days’ intervals during April to June before starting the pre-mansoon shower. The drip system of irrigation is best for water scare and sloping areas.