Screening of stand-alone and mixture of cover crops for ground cover management in a temperate organic Peach orchard.
Cover crops are alternative strategies for managing weeds within the tree row in organic orchards. The choice of the botanical composition of cover crops is a key issue to propose a reliable alternative. In this study, we investigated the interest of cover crops composed of stand-alone or a mixture of species of the Fabaceae and Poacaea family, respectively chosen for their soil nitrogen release and soil bearing capacity, and mixed according to biological complementarity. Eight cover crops were assessed in an irrigated organic Peach orchard in southeastern France during 3 years. Results highlight the high potential of three species for ground coverage and different patterns of interspecific competition. Cover crop dynamics pointed out the importance of mowing in weed vs. cover crop development and appropriate mowing schemes need to be further tackled.