Location: Sacramento River
Irrigation system: Solid set sprinklers
Soil detail: Silt loam?
Special farming challenges: gophers, bermuda grass
- Cropping Systems Information
- Crop: walnuts
Acres of orchard or vineyard: 417 (67 prunes, 350 walnuts)
Other crops: Rice and row crops
Acres of other crops: ~2500
Organic management: No
Certifications: None in orchards.
Certifications notes: ~900 acres of rice and row crops are certified organic
Where using cover crops: Prunes, walnuts (all resident cover)
- Grower Experience, Farm Priorities, and Cover Cropping Goals
- When started farming (yr): Their family started farming the property in the 50s, but they started about 25 years ago.
Farm priorities: For them, it all starts with taking care of the dirt for long-term soil health. They try to be as low-impact as possible. "Some people call it IPM. I think maybe we are a step further in that we've brought a lot of the practices from the organic system into the conventional and vice-versa."
Years growing orchard or vineyard crop: 25 years
Years growing cover crops: n/a
Initial transition to cover cropping: NRCS trial in the prunes a long time ago. Three way mix with clover and grasses (unsure of composition)
Goals and benefits: Soil improvement, water infiltration/retention, insect predator support
Benefits description: Reduce dust, improve infiltration, beneficial habitat, soil health, allows the orchards to be cooler during bloom.
Change in goals over time: Has tried a clover mix with 9 different clovers in walnuts. Just looking for the right variety, and wanted it to mostly disappear by October. Didn't see enough benefits for the cost relative to resident vegetation.
Reasons: Have so much native clover and grass that they just use resident vegetation
- Cover Crop Details, Planting and Management Methods
Block described here: Walnuts
Current cover crops: Resident Vegetation
Species and mixes: Resident vegetation
Planting method: n/a
Planting date (2020): n/a
Was that optimal? n/a
Pre-plant soil prep: n/a
Planting equipment: n/a
Seeding rate: n/a
Seeding depth: n/a
Did it germinate well? Enough, trying to establish a permanent sod, reduce dust
Additional management and advice: n/a
- Cover Crop Termination Methods and Biomass Management
Termination method: Mow
Termination equipment and process: Flail mower
Termination date: n/a. Do a rotational mow to keep some height as long as possible.
Was it optimal? n/a
Biomass management: No-till, so they are not removing organic matter. It gets incorporated through mowing, traffic and irrigation
- Cover Cropping Challenges and Strategies to Address Them
- Challenges: Vertebrate pests, cost, labor availability
Challenges description: gophers, labor availability for mowing, cost
Strategies to address challenges: n/a
Was the cover crop worth it? Did not see enough extra benefits from seeded cover crops to be worth the additional cost, compared to resident vegetation.
Least successful past cover crops: n/a