WCN1021 Archives - West Coast Nut

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Blue Diamond Growers New Sustainability ‘Czar’

Blue Diamond Growers’ new Director of Sustainability position highlights the co-op’s continued commitment to sustainability for the almond industry, and the chosen candidate checks all the marks. Dr. Daniel Sonke, a sustainability ‘czar’ with a long history in the almond industry, was Blue Diamond’s candidate of choice for the position. “We’re very happy to have someone of Dan’s caliber join us from his unique history and growing up on an almond farm but also his great experience and expertise in this field, which is valuable for Blue Diamond and the almond industry,” said Brian Barczak, senior vice president of global...

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On-Farm Recharge: Lessons from a Pilot Study in Pecans

On-Farm Recharge (OFR) is a method in which growers flood farmlands during wet years when extra surface water is available to recharge and store the water in underlying aquifers for future use. Our previous research has shown that flooding a limited area leads to improved groundwater quality over time. Thus, OFR should be conducted on the same fields each year as needed to infiltrate available water. To meet this goal and recharge as much water as possible, fields are subjected to extended flooding that can lead to low oxygen levels, which can be a major concern. In response, we have...

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State Considering New Pesticide Application Advance Notifications

The environmental justice movement has hit a new threshold as the state legislature has now approved, and the Governor signed, a budget that includes $10 million for a new statewide notification system for pesticide application. The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) has wasted no time in moving on the effort and has already held a series of focus group meetings to discuss the issue and begin developing the framework of the new program. This new effort will focus on advance notification of potential pesticide applications. While admitting that California already has the most robust pesticide regulatory program in the...

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Pecan Federal Marketing Order 201

In 2016, after years of dreaming and working to develop a Federal Marketing Order (FMO), our historically divided industry came together and established the American Pecan Council for the common goal of building awareness and demand for American Pecans. In the beginning stages of the FMO, consumer research was conducted and showed pecans lagged tremendously behind other major tree nut commodities that had similar programs in place for decades. The results validated industry’s want and need to unify marketing efforts. The APC is governed by industry representatives from each growing region, and every five years, growers can vote to continue...

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Almond Leaf Scorch: A Periodic Disease in Almonds

An almond disease that has been present in California since at least the 1950s raised concerns last year among growers and UCCE advisors when symptoms began showing up in Sacramento Valley orchards. Although this disease has been present for at least 70 years, UCCE advisors noted that it only surfaces periodically. They also reported that warmer summer and winter temperatures appear to increase disease prevalence. There is a concern that ALS could move from a minor issue for the industry to a potentially serious problem as the climate changes. ALS has predominantly been found in the Sacramento Valley. As reported...

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What’s in the Pile?

For decades, California’s two leading agricultural commodities have enjoyed a productive and synergistic relationship. Rather than decomposing in landfills, almond hulls and shells often find a home on Central Valley dairies where they are upcycled as a feed ingredient and bedding material for cows. While the movement of almond coproducts from orchards to dairies is routine, ongoing research suggests that an even stronger relationship may be possible by sending one of dairy’s coproducts, manure-based compost, to almond orchards. “We’re very excited about the partnership between the almond and dairy communities to better quantify the benefits of applying dairy compost to...

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Biopesticides Complement Traditional Insecticides for Resistance Management and Residue Limits

With biopesticide use, it’s more about returns and less about risk. It is a safe bet that most tree nut growers have heard of biopesticides and their use to control pests and diseases in orchards. Many have questions about biopesticide efficacy and cost compared to their synthetic counterparts. Growers understand that reducing their use of synthetic pesticides while maintaining control of damaging insects and diseases is a positive move, but they also take a hard look at their return on investment. Biopesticides are pest and disease control materials that are derived from plants, microorganisms and other natural substances such as...

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A Look Back at 2008-12 Navel Orangeworm Area-Wide IPM Project and Development of Mating Disruption for NOW

In principle, an area-wide integrated pest management program (AW-IPM) is a coordinated effort to target an entire pest population over a region with coordinated IPM tactics. AW-IPM, like IPM itself, is an ideal to be approached rather than a recipe to be followed. The USDA sterile insect technique (SIT) program to eradicate the New World screwworm is perhaps the best-known program of this type. The USDA-ARS AW-IPM program provides supplementary funding to USDA researchers and collaborators for five-year demonstration programs used to show how new or improved technology can be used. Grower and industry support is a prerequisite. A five-year...

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Fall Weed Control a Good Prep for Winter’s ‘Heavy Lifting’

As harvest comes to a close and tree nut growers and PCAs start looking to next year, fall weed control and planning ahead for winter weed management should be priorities, according to Brad Hanson, UCCE weed specialist at UC Davis. While fall isn’t the most critical period for controlling weeds from an orchard crop standpoint, it can be a vital time to get a head start on winter weed control programs. “I kind of half-jokingly have said that what you are doing in the fall is buying enough time after harvest is done to enjoy Thanksgiving and go deer hunting...

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Decisions, Decisions…

When it comes to planting a new walnut orchard, growers and farm managers throughout California’s walnut growing regions have a wide range of choices. In addition to rootstock and variety, decisions are made on planting bare root, potted or finished bare root trees. Another round of decisions is required for tree establishment and training the first year the trees are in the ground. There are University of California guidelines for training walnut trees from planting to first leaf, there are tree nursery recommendations for orchard establishment and there are innovations in tree training methods. “There are hundreds of opinions on...

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Grower Insights: Jeff Schmiederer on Roots, Rootstock and Regulations

If you take a walk through Jeff Schmiederer’s Mendota-area pistachio orchards, you’ll see trees of various ages and stages. He started planting pistachios in the mid-90s and has continued planting new blocks throughout the years. The fourth-generation farmer has made some changes to the family land over the years. His maternal great-grandfather started the farm and gave some land to his son, Frank Coit, in the late 1920s. Coit started with about 160 acres and grew that into about 12,000 acres of row crop production, including cotton, tomatoes, melons, grains and more. Farming continued through the generations, and when it...

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Manipulating Soil Salt Content

Harvest winds down and many of us love to celebrate with an ice-cold beer. If that beer is at a favorite watering hole, you’ll likely reach for a few peanuts, pretzels or bar mix in the bowl in front of you. Have another handful of snacks, and you’re certainly going to need another frosty long neck. Ever wonder why they give you that free salty snack on the bar? It makes you thirsty. As a former starving college student who got wrapped up for a time in the restaurant business, I thought, “That was a pretty cool trick. Make your...

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Bolster Your Defenses Against Ag Crime

Wondering where to find your stolen tractor, all-terrain vehicle (ATV) or other farm equipment? Try searching Craigslist, OfferUp or Facebook Marketplace. Rural crime experts say thieves often use those social media sites to sell stolen property. “Some thieves post photos of stolen farm equipment on those sites, conduct the sale online and then send the buyer to the field to take possession of it,” said Don Stuhmer, president of the California Rural Crime Prevention Task Force (CRCPTF) and a detective with the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office. “The buyer never sees the seller and doesn’t even know it’s stolen property.”...

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A Pound of Brrrrr: Late-Season Irrigation Can Help Prevent Freeze Damage to Walnut Trees

Walnut growers, particularly those in the northern Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys, used to view sudden fall freezes as a one-in-seven- or one-in-10-year occurrence. But consecutive freezes during the past three autumns may cause them to change their thinking and become more prepared for cold snaps before leaf drop. “This is something that’s going to have to be on [walnut growers’] radar,” said Luke Milliron, a University of California Cooperative Extension orchard systems advisor for Butte, Glenn and Tehama counties. “My perception is walnut growers see these freeze events in fall as less predictable, and they creep up on them...

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Orchard Layout in Hazelnut: Take Orchard Spacing, Variety and Equipment into Consideration

It all begins with spacing. While the temptation exists to maximize the land and plant as many trees as possible, several factors need to be considered before a tree ever hits the soil. Proper spacing should address the room around the orchard, between rows in the orchard, between trees within each row and accommodate the various equipment that will be going in and out of the trees. For the boundaries, growers need to allow at least 25 feet on the edges of the orchard to allow adequate space for equipment to make turns. For the bookends of the orchard, up...

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Postharvest Concerns for Walnuts

Harvest is finished, and it’s tempting to sit back and rest from the work of the season. But as any good grower knows, the season these days never really ends. Postharvest is an important time for pruning, nutrition, protecting trees from freeze damage and a host of other things, according to Luke Milliron, UCCE orchard systems advisor for Butte, Tehama and Glenn counties.   Reducing Freeze Damage A top postharvest priority should be preventing and reducing freeze damage, Milliron said. The one thing growers should be most aware of for preventing freeze damage is, “Soil moisture, soil moisture, soil moisture,”...

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Don’t Be Left in the Dark

During the hot summer (and early fall) months, nut growers, farm managers and their crews aim to start work before the sun comes up and save additional tasks for after sunset in order to beat the heat. While some level of additional lighting has been the norm during those early morning/late evening hours, as of July 2020, the State of California began enforcing a regulation that specifically governs how much lighting is required and the kinds of reflective clothing needed to protect anyone working at night in an agricultural environment. The Outdoor Agricultural Operations During Hours of Darkness standard was developed...

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‘Transformational’ Budget Offers Hope for Tree Nut Research and Extension

For the first time in years, tree nut industry executives are enthused over the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources budget after California lawmakers pushed through what one university official characterized as a ‘transformational’ increase this past summer. The increase of $32 million over and above existing service levels could go a long way toward filling research and extension vacancies that have piled up over the years, according to Bob Klein, manager of the Administrative Committee for Pistachios and the California Pistachio Research Board. “The increase in the UC ANR budget was welcomed news,” Klein said. “We anticipate that...

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