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Organic plant waste proves effective weed control for citrus trees
Date:12/29/2008

GIZA, EGYPTInterest in organic crop production is increasing around the world. Organics are healthy for consumers while adding environmental benefits and decreasing the amount of synthetic herbicides in foods, soil, and water. While organics gain popularity with consumers, organic farmers are faced with new production challenges, especially managing and reducing invasive weeds.

Synthetic mulches, manufactured from petroleum-based materials, have been used extensively for weed control. The downside: synthetic mulches cause increased runoff compared with "natural" mulches, disposal and landfill concerns, and are highly restricted in "certified organic" production. Interest in non-chemical weed control methods has increased in recent years with the spread of organic farming and environmental concerns over the adverse effects of herbicides. Economically and environmentally sustainable weed control alternatives, such as non-synthetic or natural mulch, can provide many benefits for growers. Natural mulches have been proven effective in weed suppression, moisture conservation, and improved water infiltration.

Egyptian citrus fruits, especially those grown organically, are exported to many countries. "Mandarins" include a diverse group of citrus fruits that are characterized by bright peel and pulp color, excellent flavor, easy-to-peel rind, and segments that separate easily. Mandarins are grown in sandy soil, presenting special challenges to growers. Weeds compete with citrus for nutrients and water, harbor pests and host pathogens, and impact the efficiency of orchard operations. Not surprisingly, use of chemicals for controlling weeds in citrus crops can affect physical and chemical properties and quality of fruits.

Researchers from the Botany Department at the National Research Center in Giza, Egypt recently published the results of a two-year study of 15-year-old mandarin trees. The study compared the effects of rice straw mulch, cattail
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Contact: Michael W. Neff
mwneff@ashs.org
703-836-4606
American Society for Horticultural Science
Source:Eurekalert  

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