In an organic orchard, you are never going to get rid of all the plants in your understory, nor would you want to (bare ground is the #1 way to kill all life in your soil)! What you can do, however, is attempt to understand the properties of each plant and promote the growth of those which align with your management objectives. Yesterday, I took a walk out to our newly planted orchard to check out the young trees. I was delighted to see that while our ground team had weed whacked most of the “weeds” on the burms, they had intentionally left behind tall stands of a beautiful yellow Asteraceae flower, Verbesina encelioides (Golden Crownbeard). I noticed swarms of native bees, butterflies and dragonflies all around it. Dr. Gordon Frankie, from the UC Berkeley Urban Bee Lab, has identified over 10 species of native bees that use the plant! It’s always good to re-evaluate what you consider a weed, because maybe that plant actually offers an important ecological benefit to your system!