Mulching is a great idea as many of you
know we at the Saskatoon Farm mulch our orchards extensively with a compost we
manufacture here in large quantity (50% well rotted manure and 50% wood chips). We apply
an approximate volume of 300 dump truck loads with a side discharge manure spreader
biannually to all of our orchard of 50 acres plus. We benefit greatly from this practice
#1) fantastic moisture retention and uniformity - ie: not wet then dry then wet then dry, etc. but uniformly moist throughout season.
#2) Weed control - not only does the mulching make weeding a breeze but it also greatly increases the effectivity of Casoron (Casoron binds to organic matter). Because of the mulch Casoron can be applied at a stronger rate safely. Also, by using this compost we are able to safely apply Casoron on younger trees because the chemical heeds close to the surface.
#3) On new orchards it allows for easy control of the #1 pest of newly planted saskatoons, the root aphid. This being for two reasons;
a) Aphids tend to hang about in mulch, thinking (if aphids think -) that they are home which tends to be less damaging to the seedling because feeder roots are not present in this layer and
b) Orthene application can be done without having to inject . It can be applied to the mulch layer from a tank and therefore the Orthene hangs up in mulch and fumigates the area.
#4) I also feel that the overall environment under the mulch is condusive to the plant health. ie: microbiotic activity, positive insect life generally a natural environment for the Saskatoon.
#5) Mulching helps delay of flowering in Spring which is helpful in some areas.