Nematodes are some of the most common and stubborn pests that can be found in an apple orchard. Not only do these tiny roundworms burrow into and damage the roots of your trees, but they also spread diseases that can stunt and reduce the quality of your fruit. Worse still, nematodes and the diseases they carry can remain active in the soil long after their original host trees are removed, which can make replanting on the same land a risky proposition. If you are removing trees infested with nematodes to start fresh in your apple orchard, follow these four tree removal tips for a successful replanting.
Treating the Nematode Infestation
Before you remove your trees, you should do everything you can to eradicate the nematodes living within them. This may seem like a waste of time any money, but once the trees are gone, any surviving nematodes will quickly scatter into the soil and nearby plants. It is better to eliminate nematode colonies while they are still concentrated and then dispose of the infested trees.
Removing the Roots of the Infested Trees
In most cases of tree removal, it is enough to chop down the tree and then pull out or burn the remaining stump. But this typically leaves behind a large chunk of the tree's root system to decompose naturally, which can harbor nematodes for years. When you speak to your tree removal service, emphasize the importance of removing as much of each tree's root system as possible to give lingering nematodes fewer places to regroup and build again.
Planting Nematode-Resistant Ground Covers
Once your trees are gone, you may want to fumigate the soil again to wipe out any survivors. After this, you should leave the orchard unplanted for at least one growing season to give the soil time to recover and ensure the absence of disease. Typically, the longer you can wait, the better. During this time, sow ground covers that are known to suppress nematode populations, such as marigolds, sorghum, cowpeas, vetch or lupine. These plants spread quickly and may improve your soil quality, and they have the added advantage of not supporting nematode populations.
Testing the Soil Before Planting New Saplings
Before you take the plunge and purchase new saplings for planting, it is wise to have your soil tested for any remaining nematodes and their associated diseases. This can typically be done through a professional testing company or your local agricultural extension. By relying on a seasoned tree removal service and demonstrating patience, you can prevent your new trees from growing in stunted and disappointing and instead enjoy the fruits of your diligence.