Aronia Planting Guide Part IV – Inter-Row Cropping

Inter-row Cropping

Bale Crops

An alfalfa crop growing between two-year old aronia bushes at with plant spacing’s of 30 inches and the row spacing is 15 feet provides up to a $500/acre income source during the time required for the plants to mature. Alfalfais an important perennial rotation crop that adds nitrogen to soil and improves soil. Alfalfa has an average life span ranges from 5 to 25 years although one field in New York has been mown successfully for more than 60 years.

Organically grown alfalfa is a popular fodder to raise healthy, strong animals and it can also help raise strong, healthy and long-lived human beings. Alfalfa is an Arabic name meaning ‘good fodder and it is considered to be one of the best fodders. Some people use alfalfa as a herb for making tea and claim great benefits from its use. They sometimes call alfalfa the miracle herb.Add a teaspoonful or two of alfalfa seed to your aronia berry juice for an even more healthy drink. It is like adding liquid sunshine. You can sprout alfalfa seeds easily and thus obtain the benefits of Alfalfa. Alfalfa sprouts make a good ingredient in a salad. Put alfalfa sprouts in with your aronia berries when you make a salad.

An efficient irrigation system may be a necessary requirement for growing large amounts of alfalfa. The sprinkler is an inefficient system. Sprinklers can deliver a large amount of water in a short period but looses large amounts of moisture to evaporation. Sprinklers however may be the ideal choice for watering when establishing alfalfa. Alfalfa growth does depend on the availability of soil water however it is relatively drought tolerant.

Alfalfa has a high water demand and good water management is essential to high yields. On average, alfalfa needs approximately 6 to 10 acre-inches of water for each ton of hay produced. If little or no irrigation water is applied, annual yields will be low.

The average rain fall during June, July and August in Cub Run Kentucky is about 3 to 4 inches thus there may not be enough rain to grow large crops of alfalfa without irrigation. A different crop should probably be considered where water availability and efficiency of water use is an issue. At some farms and nurseries the availability of water is limited requiring the use of more efficient drip irrigation.

Other inter-row crop ideas include the following:

Mulch crops

Crops with which to mulch aronia bushes can work well

Perennial rye grass (Lolium perenne) is very effective in suppressing weeds. It will need to be mowed or by using No-Till rolling down the cover crop in spring instead of mowing it, the cover crop takes longer to decompose and becomes a weed-suppressing mulch.. Another perennial is tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea). These crops improve the soil by the nutrients they bring up from the lower soil and converting them into plant organic matter. The dandelion is a beneficial plant as a good companion plant for allowing growing in the rows between aronia bushes. It has a long taproot that will bring up nutrients for shallower-rooting plants, and add minerals and nitrogen to the soil.

Pasture grasses

( Because of the astringently of the aronia it might be worth investigating to possibility of pasturing horses until the fruit begins to ripen in the rows between the aronia plants without the plants being bothered.??? I think trying to pasture horses without a fence to protect the aronia plants is questionable. However if feasible this could avoid the cost and time to put up fencing to protect the aronia plants.) My guess is the best thing to do is to simply mow the grass.

Annuals / vegetables or Clover

Clovers Builds Soil and Fruit Production

For the first two years the inter-rows can be used to grow vegetables and clover. Cover crops such as white and crimson clover can take center stage on a blueberry and aronia berry farm. The farmer can reap significant rewards. Growing bushes on ten-foot or 12 foot centers, there is a lot of space between rows that need to be managed as economically and efficiently as possible. Many farmers choose rye or sod as a crop that will not compete with the cash fruit crop. Rye and sod require significant management in terms of time and labor in addition to seed and fuel costs. A different tack is to focus on improving the soil by reducing tillage and planting cover crops. You do not need to till white clover for two or more years which can amount to a significant savings. Clover requires less labor in planting and mowing because it is low-growing. There are many positive things to say about cover crops. They save time and money. An urgent sense in North America is that drought is increasingly becoming a factor when making choices about what to plant. Clover provides a solution to the problem of environment, money and labor.

Source by Harold Stewart