Growers establishing a shelterbelt often make one of these four mistakes, says National Plant Materials Centre* scientist, Bob Hathaway.

• Inadequate weed control:

This problem particularly affects the new horticulturalist or part-timers who haven’t time for weed control. All new shelterbelts should be kept free from weeks for the first two years, either by cultivation or herbicides. Spraying with herbicides is the main method.

• Irrigation not organised until trees are already suffering from drought stress:
Many plant their shelterbelts before deciding to have irrigation. By the time they get organised the trees have already suffered stress. Growers should think of irrigation before or at the time they plant because irrigation is most important in the first year after planting.

• Trees that are planted too close to fences being damaged by stock.
Cattle and horses are particularly eager to lean over fences and eat shelterbelt trees. The minimum distance from the fence should be at least 1½m, preferably 2m, Mr Hathaway says.

• Shelterbelts not planted before the crop:
In most situations, the shelterbelt should be planted at least two years before the crop. Those who plant their shelterbelt and crop in the same year may find the lack of shelter affects the rate of growth and exposes the crop to physical damage, especially such crops as kiwifruit.

Most horticultural crops are long-term projects so there is no real advantage in planting at the same time as shelterbelts.

From Growing Today, July 1983
* National Plant Materials Centre? Ministry of Works? Gone the way of increasing numbers of valuable taxpayer assets – you can hire the smirking services of off-shore corporates instead; dumb stupid kiwi voters, serves you right…?