How can cover crops be a benefit to pear orchards? Juliana Wu was in the horticulture and Agronomy Graduate Program at the University of California Davis studying the benefits of cover crops.

“You're looking at how the cover crop can benefit the pear roots and also the pear nutrition potentially as well as soil health,” said Wu.“Cover crops as well as legumes which can fix nitrogen, will help in increasing nutrient uptake in crops.” 

“I think the unique piece that I am adding is that cover crops such as legumes can acidify the soil which could potentially change nutrient availability,” said Wu. This is beneficial particularly in Lake County, where their soils tend to have a lot of calcium carbonates and are more alkaline. There is low iron availability that can lead to chlorosis. “We are hoping to see that the cover crops can increase iron availability either through releasing chelators or through decreasing pH,” she said.

Wu’s main goal is to prove how cover crops such as legumes can have a benefit to pear orchards rather than compete with them for nutrients.