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Temperature Controlled Bee Storage

Avoiding losses due to varroa mites, lack of adequate fall forage and high overwintering feeding/labor costs are all reasons California beekeepers have for considering storing their colonies indoors during the winter.   Temperature-controlled In temperature-controlled storage, bees are less active and go into a hibernation mode. This extends the life of the bees and causes a break in reproduction as the queen does not lay eggs. Bees normally live 40-50 days, but inside, their life span can be extended to 150 days, as they are not burning themselves out feeding their young. The break in reproduction can also break the life cycle of the parasitic varroa mite, one of the leading causes of hive mortality. Last year in Kern County, one of the first large scale storage facilities housed about 40,000 bee colonies over the winter. The controlled atmosphere building was an alternative to field storage and supplemental feeding over...

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Advanced Harvest Almonds

Alternative Harvesting Practices

Josette Lewis, the Almond Board of California’s (ABC) new Director of Agricultural Affairs predicted exploring alternative harvesting options will be a journey for almond growers as they make decisions and evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of what would be a major change for the industry. The topic of advanced harvest is so intriguing that it is one of the opening topics at The Almond Conference 2019 in December. (more…)

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Whole Orchard Recycling, a Grower’s Perspective

Christine Gemperle farms 135 acres of almonds in Stanislaus and Merced counties with her brother Erich. In November 2018, the pair pulled out 20 acres of old trees and decided to try Whole Orchard Recycling (WOR) for the first time on that same 20-acre block. Christine lives on the land that underwent WOR and had a front row seat to the whole process. WOR involves grinding trees into small chips then spreading that material across the field and disking it about six inches into the soil. For many growers uncertain of what to do with their old trees, WOR provides a sustainable solution with multiple benefits for soil health as well as yield increases for the new orchard planted on the same ground. “What amazed me is looking at these massive mountains of chips when they shredded the orchard,” said Christine, who is active on the Almond Board of California’s...

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Night Work in Agriculture Standard Imminent

For nearly half a decade, Cal/OSHA (California Division of Occupational Safety and Health) has been considering the creation of a regulation that specifically addresses the unique hazards found while working at night in agriculture. After many starts and stops, sufficient traction was reached in 2018 to meaningfully move the process forward and now the industry faces only a few bureaucratic hurdles before the long-discussed standard is reality. It is critical that anyone engaging in activities between sunset and sunrise understand the various steps to take to ensure compliance. Lighting Fundamentally, the risks to be addressed by the new standard are the hazards inherent in the workplace when natural light, provided by the sun, is no longer available. Poor visibility that could result in physical harm or the unsafe execution of duties, as well as potential vehicular and worker traffic collisions, create the greatest pause for concern. As a result, it...

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The Latest in Drone Technology

Stressed trees and pest outbreaks in large orchards are not always easy to see with “on the ground inspections.” Time and cost for labor in checking orchards comes into play. There is also the possibility of an incorrect diagnosis. Identifying problem trees or areas and determining reason for tree stress can now be done with aerial drone technology. Aerial Drone Technology Chris Lawson, development manager for Aerobotics, a Cape Town based AgriTech startup, said aerial drone technology can assist growers and farm managers in identifying health or pest problem areas in large orchards. The company was co-founded by James Paterson (CEO) and Benji Meltzer (CTO) in 2014. In Lawson’s presentation at the first annual Crop Consultant Conference, he said drones, combined with machine learning algorithms identify areas in orchards where pest and disease are potentially present. Lawson said the drones could survey large areas, providing timely data on 600-700 acres...

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