How do you control White Clover around your Fruit Trees? Apple and peach trees. Clover seems invasive. When I spray when clover is in bloom the bees get it


#21

Interesting, I kind of assumed glyphosate just kills everything. In retrospect that does make sense since there are glyphosate resistant crops.


#22

That is true but in my experience Roundup will sort of stunt clover.


#23

Clover is good for your orchard. It is better than grass because it fixes nitrogen and does not get as tall. To kill it from around your tree you could put hay or straw thickly around your tree for a 2 or 3 ft round mulch circle to stop grasses from intruding and also to hold in moisture around your tree.
But clover is better in the organic orchard than grass because it fixes nitrogen and does not get as tall. I need to get a lot started in my orchard. :slight_smile:
And be careful about spraying poison, it can get in the soil and stunt or damage your fruit trees.


#24

Well that figures because in the early spring I threw some lime under my poor little apple tree thinking that it would weaken the clover and now the clover is the healthiest clover that I have ever seen. I wonder what would happen if I threw some Sulphur on the clover. Course that might not be good for my apple tree.


#25

I put pelletized gypsum on my lawn every year in an attempt to deal with pet urine. I don’t think it does a damn thing in regards to pet pee…but it sure makes my grass grow. The sulphur in gypsum is likely the reason for the exponential grass growth


#26

No, I personally would not get rid if it. In fact I left patches grow high around my fruit trees to help attract the bees. I had to have my lawn sprayed for an abundance of dandelions that kept creeping more and more into my orchard from across the street from an unoccupied lot. The owner keeps it mowed but not weeded. So now all that white clover is gone because of my spraying to get rid of the dandelions. I missed seeing all the bees in my yard last year.


#27

Looking back at this comment, it seems like you have two concerns: (1) will the clover harm the trees, and (2) will the clover make it hard to spray the trees without harming the bees.

The consensus seems to be that the clover is not harmful to the trees, and may actually be beneficial. That leaves the concern about spraying and bees.

If that’s the real problem here, I wonder whether it might make sense to cover the area immediately around the tree with some kind of tarp/plastic sheeting when you spray, and move it from tree to tree as you go. If you were to do that, you wouldn’t have to deal with the hassle of trying to mow/whack around the trees, and you wouldn’t have to deal with the hassle of trying to get rid of the clover and replace it with something else.

Of course, you WOULD have to deal with the tarp, but if you’re working with a fairly small number of trees in a fairly open space, that might not be such a big deal, and could be less of a hassle than some of the other options.

Just an idea.


#28

I have a bunch of volunteer white clover growing in the orchard. It produces a luxurious mat to walk on. When I mow, I direct the clippings from the clover and the grass into the row middles. When I am able to let the grass/clover grow a while before I have to mow, it can produce a surprising amount of organic material.

The problem with my clover is that I have to mow it very close to the ground to make sure the bees and other pollinators are gone before I spray which is not always convenient.


#29

Crossbow has both 2,4-d and Triclopyr as active ingredients. Both are “broad leaf” affecting herbicides. In my experience though, Triclopyr can harm grass. 2,4-d on the other hand I’ve sprayed on grass and weeds and it’s only seemed to affect the weeds. Could have perhaps just been the species of grass I sprayed 'em on though…


#30

Creeping Charlie is a pain. It will invade the healthiest of grass lawns and spread like crazy. Around here at least…

We also have tons of Virginia Creeper around here but mostly in the forest. I’ve found it fairly easy to keep out of the orchard area.


#31

I think you’ll find Va creeper
is something different
than
creeping charlie


#32

Creeping Charlie is awful, but I manage to successfully fight it back by summer most years…

Around here bindweed is the bigger pain.

(white) clover is a blessing. Nitrogen fixer, good bee forage and keeps fairly short. Best of all, I don’t fight against it all summer long

Scott


#33

Because of potential bee danger with clover (from over-spray) and because it harbors stink bug, removal is recommended for commercial orchards. It is good for soil, but not good for raising saleable fruit. You could mow keep it mowed low enough to keep the blooms off, as Rick does, to reduce bee risk. This also probably reduces the habitat for stink bugs, if it’s short enough.

I don’t have labor enough to keep clover mowed so short, so I kill it. I’ve used Stinger herbicide before which mainly targets clover. It’s labeled for fruit trees.

Be careful about using broad leaf herbicides around fruit trees, unless it’s labeled for them. A lot of broad leaf herbicides can damage fruit trees.

One other thing, if you do decide to keep the clover, make sure you mow it during your tree fruit bloom, if you want optimum pollination on your tree fruit crops. High nectar flowers like clover don’t help with pollination. Instead they compete with with tree fruit blooms. Bees are known to go to the best source for nectar. It’s more or less either/or for bees, not both.


#34

I would quibble with that a bit:

Bees tend to go after pollen as the priority, and then nectar in the afternoons. Fruit trees (and dandelions) would be a lot more attractive for pollen than clover.

Also, clover in most years doesn’t bloom until after petal fall on apples.


#35

Excellent point. I’ve learned that the hard way in the past


#36

I suppose it depends on the orchard crop.

The idea of weeds competing for bees is not my own. I’ve read it before from fruit specialists.

Here is the first result I came to from a quick google:

“honey bees tend to choose flowers and inflorescences based on size (martin, 2004), sex phase (greco et al., 1996), age (higginson et al., 2006) and number of flowers (duffield et al., 1993); features that often correlate with nectar production and accessibility (e.g. Kay et al., 1984; duffield et al., 1993; torres and galetto, 1998). they have shorter proboscises and visit smaller open flowers compared to Bombus spp. (corbet, 1995; Kells et al., 2001). for honey bee keepers and farmers, non-crop flowers may cause concern due to the undesirable trait of honey bees of foraging on flowers other than the crop (Jay, 1986). in most managed honey bee crops, this migratory tendency of the honey bee when food is lacking is managed by providing an energetic diet (brighenti et al., 2010), moving hives to floral rich areas, using attractants and sprays, and removing alternative forage with herbicides or even repellents used on non-target flowering plants (Jay, 1986). in particular, dandelion (Taraxacum spp.), white clover (Trifolium repens) and mustard (Sinapis alba) are thought to attract bees away from orchards (mayer et al., 1991), and are often removed” (emphasis added).

http://www.fao.org/3/a-i3821e.pdf

Here is another article about removing clover from apple orchards.

https://www.jstor.org/stable/3989698?seq=1


#37

As a 35 yr. veteran of chemical lawn care, the best clover control we ever got was an old mix called 8-1. Eight parts 24-D and 1 part dicamba. Trouble with that was it controlled all the other weeds too, trees shrubs, perennials, tulips, you name it. Trimec will work very well on clover, spray it once a year because it contains dicamba.
I agree with @Olpea about the bees. Fruit tree blooms are not the most attractive to bees because of their low sugar nectar. Bees work on an energy curve, the more sugar the nectar has the more attractive the blooms are, the reason why commercial orchardist will spray to kill weeds or over populate bee numbers. I personally don’t mind the clover and dandelions in my orchard as long as I have enough hives to force the bees into the trees.


#38

Where do you purchase Stinger herbicide?


#39

I no longer use any herbicides anywhere near my fruit trees. I have accidentally sprayed root suckers and severely damaged a few trees. I sheet mulch now.


#40

Some good points Phil. Peaches don’t need pollinators, so it really doesn’t matter what weeds are blooming during peach bloom. I’d love to keep clover in my orchard, and dandelions, but I can’t manage good control of the blooming weeds, and I have a neighbor with 3 bee hives close by, so I’m careful to remove blooming weeds in the orchard. In part of the field away from the orchard I leave blooming weeds. Right now there is tons of yellow rocket in bloom.

I probably worry too much about it, but dandelions and clover are hosts for X-disease, so that’s yet another reason for me to try to keep them out of the orchard.