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trpnbils

Need advice for starting a new orchard

trpnbils
last year

We are building our house now and will be moved in by end of May sometime. Eventually we would like to have a small home orchard of 10-15 trees off in the one corner of the property (see below). The current plan is to bare-root the trees late fall of this year, which means we'd have basically from now until then to get the site ready. The area, as you can see, is all farm field that has been planted with either corn or soy (occasionally hay) since at least back as far as the 30s up to as recently as 2018. We will soil test before planting anything, but haven't yet.


My question is this: There are lots of junk weeds there now and I'm assuming we should probably plant some kind of more substantial cover crop to help the soil, eventually cut back on water needs, and even just to look better. What kind of cover crop would you recommend, and how would you recommend prepping the site for that? I've seen things online about fruit orchard cover crops where they let the cover grow right up to the trees and to a couple of feet high, which seems ridiculous. I don't want it to look like a forgotten farm field for 75% of the year, so if I can find something to provide those benefits while still being able to mow it would be ideal (even if it means letting it get a foot high between mowings or whatever).



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