Developing Organic and Reduced-Input Tree-Fruit Production Options

Jennifer Reeve, Brent Black, Diane Alston, Corey Ransom, Ruby Ward, Silvana Martini


The Wasatch Front is a prime location for tree-fruit production in Utah.

Rapid urbanization, dwindling water resources, rising costs of inputs, and loss of export markets is making it increasingly difficult to continue farming in the area.

Organic and reduced-input production may help growers access growing local markets, benefiting a rural way of life and providing economic incentives for managed urban growth and farmland preservation.

Organic and reduced-input production may help reduce costs and benefit the environment through enhanced synergies between ecosystem services and production goals.




Orchard Floor Management

We are investigating alternative orchard floor management strategies in order to reduce inputs for shallow alkaline soils, short hot summers, and cold winters.

Soil Fertility and Soil Quality

Baseline soil nutrients (0-30 cm) and soil quality (0-10 cm) measurements were taken from each plot. Soil and tissue N will be sampled monthly from April to September. Compost is applied to meet soil test phosphorus needs and fertilizer (NatureSafe 13-0-0) adjusted at the plot level to meet tree need.

Water use Efficiency

Each plot is equipped with micro sprinklers on individually controlled irrigation systems.  This allows each of the treatments to be watered independently based on tree need, and allows water use for each treatment to be calculated separately. 

Mulch and Organic Herbicide Selection

In 2008 and 2009 we assessed newsprint, straw and woodchips alone and in combination with acetic acid (20%), Matran (clove oil), Greenmatch EX (lemongrass oil), a citric acid based experimental product and glyphosate for weed control.

Organic Pest and Disease Control

We are monitoring pest and disease dynamics and the efficacy of organic pest control strategies. Information is available on Utah's pests and diseases.

Educational Activities

Field days to showcase the project were held at the Kaysville Horticultural Research Station in August  2008, 2010 and 2012. A field day and workshop dedicated to organic treefruit and vegetable production is planned for June 2013.

Field day at the Kaysville Experiment Station

Further results can be found at the Urban Small Farms Workshop and ISHS symposium talks.