Articles - West Coast Nut

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Bacterial Canker and Blast in California Almond Trees

Bacterial blast and bacterial canker are caused by the bacterium Pseudomonas syringae pv. syringae (Pss). Both diseases are a tough problem to deal with in almond and stone fruit orchards. Bacterial diseases are more common in cold and humid regions causing significant damage to orchard trees. However, we can still see both diseases causing significant losses under certain conditions here in California. As detailed below, it doesn’t require existing wounds for infection (but they certainly can increase a tree’s vulnerability), it is exacerbated by but doesn’t need plant stress to infect, and it currently has no effective chemical control options....

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Putting Almond Waste to Good Use

Make electricity from almonds trees? Convert almond wood waste into a biopesticide? Those are intriguing business plans put forth by two new companies that aim to remove wood, shells and hulls from the waste stream and put them to beneficial use. Eric McAfee of Aemetis Inc., a renewable fuels and biochemical company, and Mike Woelk of Corigin Solutions LLC, an organic ag solutions company, laid out the science and the business plans for their technology endeavors at an Almond Industry Conference session in December. Their common goal is to divert wood waste and end open burning of orchard waste. Aemetis...

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Gains Being Made in SIT NOW Research

Hopes that sterile insect technology (SIT) can offer a viable alternative for controlling navel orangeworm (NOW) in tree nut crops appear to have undergone a reversal of fortune as researchers were able to dramatically improve trial results between 2018 and 2019. “After the initial field trials in 2018, we realized we were facing a lot of challenges with these sterile NOW,” said Houston Wilson, a Cooperative Extension Specialist with the Department of Entomology at University of California Riverside, who is leading the research along with Chuck Burks, a research entomologist at USDA-ARS in Parlier, California. “As we go into 2020,...

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Successfully Navigating H-2A: Making Decisions About Using the Farm Guestworker Program

As labor shortages continue across agriculture, many growers are wrestling with the option of using the nation’s farm guestworker program. It has been the subject of spirited debate in recent years, playing a critical role in how Congress addresses immigration reform. For many in California, though, the program appears untenable and that assessment is often made on soundbites of information as opposed to a thorough analysis of the program’s requirements, as well as its strengths and weaknesses. The reality is, unless meaningful change happens in short order, many growers need to take the time to learn the program’s specifics and...

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AB5 Changes How Agricultural Businesses Can Contract for Services from Contractors

California Governor Gavin Newsom in September signed Assembly Bill 5, or AB5, into law, which could have significant impacts on hiring, manning and staffing in California by changing the classification of certain workers from independent contractors to employees. Also referred to as the Opportunity to Work Act, according to the California State Legislature, the bill aimed to protect workers that were not otherwise eligible for minimum wage, sick leave, employment benefits, workers’ compensation and other employee protections. The bill did outline exemptions for doctors, dentists, insurance agents, lawyers, accountants and real estate agents. The initial intent of AB5 was for...

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Hazelnut Grower of the Year

About 800 hazelnut growers recently converged at Oregon State University in Corvallis for the 105th Annual Winter Meeting, hosted by the Nut Growers Society (NGS). NGS represents hazelnut growers from Oregon, Washington and British Columbia, and is responsible for keeping growers up to date on the latest industry news and trends. The Winter Meeting is one of two paramount events—along with the Summer Tour—that are held annually to bring hundreds of growers together to share ideas, learn about research results and find out about the newest technologies that could benefit them in the orchard. The 105th edition of the meeting...

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