Christine Gemperle doesn’t like bare orchard floors in her almonds. “I’m a big proponent of having green stuff growing in my orchards,” she says. While appearance may be a factor, it’s not the only one she cites for wanting cover crops in her orchards. Gemperle and her brother, Erich, farm 40 acres of almonds near Turlock, Calif. and another 93 in nearby Gustine. They use cover crops early in the season to give arriving bee colonies a jump start from their overwintering status and to help promote soil health throughout the season. Christine admits the cover crops in the family’s Gustine orchard are currently opportunistic weeds that are mowed and managed the best that weeds can. At their Turlock farm, the cover crop is a mix of mustard and clover provided by Project Apis m., or PAm for short. Through its “seeds for bees” program, PAm provides seed mixes each year to growers interested in cover crops as a means to promote honeybee health, particularly during California’s almond bloom, which is the largest congregation of honeybees for a single pollination event in the United States.
Gemperle Farms sees multiple benefits of cover crops in almonds
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