After a Waste & Resources Action Programme-funded project to assess the effect of green waste as a mulch in newly planted orchards, the HDC funded project TF 177 managed by Tim Biddlecombe of the Farm Advisory Services Team to compare subsequent effects on fruit size, weight, number per tree, maturity, mineral analysis, storage potential and soil moisture in both a Braeburn and Cox orchard in Kent.
In each year of the trial, the green-waste mulch significantly increased fruit size in the Cox orchard, although this was not replicated in the Braeburn orchard.
However, there were significant increases in fruit numbers in both Cox and Braeburn, which translated into significantly higher yields.
In all years of the trial, there was a significant increase in shoot growth in the mulched trees versus non-mulched trees of both Cox and Braeburn. As a result, the mulched trees filled their allotted space in the orchard more quickly than non-mulched trees.
However, the mulched trees produced fruits with lower calcium levels, thus reducing their long-term storage potential. This fruit also matured some two weeks earlier than that from the non-mulched trees and it had poorer red colour, suggesting that heavier summer pruning would be required in these trees.
As expected, the mulched trees had greater soil-moisture content than those without mulch.
The final report for project TF 177 is available via the HDC website at www.hdc.org.uk.
Horticultural Development Company
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