WCN1221 Archives - West Coast Nut

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Navel Orangeworm Rejects on the Rise

While the amount of Nonpareil almond rejects due to navel orangeworm (NOW) damage varies from season to season, Blue Diamond Growers has noted a concerning uptick over the past 10-plus years. With the upward trend comes opportunity losses from reduced or no grower premiums. UCCE farm advisors and Blue Diamond staff point to not one, but a combination of factors that likely are responsible for the increasing rejects. “It’s hard to say exactly what’s going on,” said Jhalendra Rijal, UCCE IPM advisor for Stanislaus, San Joaquin and Merced counties. “It could be multiple factors at play.” Among potential contributors are...

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A Conversation with Blue Diamond’s Mark Jansen

As one of the biggest players in the global almond market, Blue Diamond Growers can rightly credit CEO Mark Jansen for much of its recent success. But, as Jansen shares here, the past 21 months haven’t been easy, and there’s still plenty of work ahead. Since he arrived as CEO in 2010, Jansen has helped transform Blue Diamond Growers into a $1.75 billion global food manufacturer. The Sacramento-based cooperative has become the leading shipper of California almonds into the U.S., India, China and many other countries. In 2020, Blue Diamond was named one of the nation’s 10 fastest-growing food companies...

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California Legislative Recap for 2021

The 2021 legislative session was an interesting one, still subject to COVID-19 restrictions limiting access to the Capitol, but bolstered by a big surplus budget. All in all, things could have been far worse. The following is a brief summary on the bills we felt were most important to the tree nut industry during this year’s session. AB 73 (R. Rivas) Current law requires the State Department of Public Health and the Office of Emergency Services to establish a personal protective equipment (PPE) stockpile, and requires the department to establish guidelines for the procurement, management and distribution of PPE, taking...

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CARB Updating Regulations for Trucking Industry

In January 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Executive Order N-79-20, which banned the sale of light-, medium- and heavy-duty combustion engines in the transportation sector by 2035. While 2035 is still over a decade away, his administration and representative government agencies have wasted no time in developing strategies to expedite that commitment. With the completion of the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) Truck and Bus Regulation ending in January 2023, many seasoned agricultural trucks on the road today will no longer be allowed to operate in the state. Fleets throughout the state will be reduced and replaced with 2010 or...

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Restoring Soil Health and Ecosystem Services in California’s Almond Orchards

Sustaining agricultural production through climate change, prolonged drought and economic pressure largely depends on the soil’s ability to support high-yielding crops under increasing stress and resource scarcity. California’s almond industry garners public scrutiny for its high water consumption and environmental impact. Yet, growers have installed microsprinklers and other irrigation system upgrades, successfully decreasing water usage by 33% since 1990. The Almond Board pledged to decrease consumption another 20% by 2025. Meeting water conservation goals requires a multipronged approach, and soil health management can contribute to the puzzle. While water usage rightly receives public attention, the environmental impacts incurred by poor...

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Tips for Financial Planning Through the Drought

As we watch growers rapidly implementing deficit irrigation to keep their crops alive with what water they have, protecting those same growers against wild financial fluctuations has never been more important. While much decision-making and troubleshooting is being executed at the moment, it’s a crucial time to set some concrete plans. The lack of water has meant diminished current-year crops, leading to less revenue. Undeveloped land must continue in fallow condition so that water allotments can be used elsewhere on existing crops. Longer-term conditions are impacting the value of land based on the future water outlook, and this impacts both...

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Almond Pollination 2022: Economic Outlook and Other Considerations

In this article, we summarize some considerations for the 2022 almond pollination season, including results from a 2021 survey of commercial beekeepers regarding their almond pollination agreements. The survey results provide insights on pollination fees, agreement details related to advance payment and limiting pesticide exposure as well as beekeeper preferences for bee-friendly cover crop mixes. Almond Industry Update Almond prices rebounded this summer due to a lower-than-anticipated almond crop for the 2021-22 marketing year following roughly a year of low almond prices. Relatively low competition from other exporting countries, coupled with steady growth in almond demand have kept almond prices...

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Pollinator Efforts Lead to Prestigious Sustainability Award for Almond Board of California

The past October, the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign (NAPPC) presented its Business for Bees Sustainability Award, an honor reserved for standout organizations that go above and beyond to support pollinators, to the Almond Board of California (ABC) and the state’s almond farmers. “This is about their long-term dedication to supporting all pollinators in their orchards and throughout our ecosystem,” said Kelly Rourke, executive director of Pollinator Partnership, which founded NAPPC 21 years ago. “We’ve worked with them for many years, and this is well-deserved recognition of their steadfast commitment to engaging farmers in pollinator conservation on multiple levels. The...

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Ant Management in Almonds

There are two main ant pests in almonds: the pavement ant and the southern fire ant. The pavement ant is about 0.13 inch long, dark brown and covered with coarse hairs. It has ridges on its head that are visible with a hand lens and prefers to nest in sandy or loam soils. It’s found throughout the Central Valley, but most commonly in the northern San Joaquin and Sacramento valleys. The southern fire ant is 0.07 to 0.25 inch long and has an amber head and thorax with a black abdomen. Compared to pavement ants, fire ants vigorously swarm from the...

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Winter Prep in Walnuts

December and January provide ideal opportunities for walnut growers to get a head start on weed and disease control programs. In terms of weed control, that may mean laying down some long-residual preemergence herbicides to keep orchard floors clean going into spring. In terms of disease control, the early winter is an ideal time to measure walnut blight inoculum levels and prepare your season-long control strategy. Luke Milliron, UCCE farm advisor for Butte, Glenn and Tehama counties, said most growers have a good sense of the walnut blight inoculum in their orchards from monitoring nut drop the previous May, June...

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Start Thinking about Pollinator Contracts

Harvest is over. Mummies are shaken and swept. Is it time to think about almond pollination? According to bee brokers and beekeepers, tighter supplies this year and increasing demand for pollination services mean almond growers need to contract for hives early and plan ahead for their arrival in the orchards. New Era of Pollinator Contracts Denise Qualls, a bee broker with Pollination Connection, said contracts with growers are welcomed sooner rather than later to ensure an adequate honeybee supply. Some almond growers do book early, she said, but for the most part, growers don’t think about bees until after harvest....

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Sweet Flavor Keeps Chestnut Buyers Coming Back for More

Chestnuts are not just a Christmas season specialty. The familiar Christmas song gained this unique tree nut a place at the holiday table, but its sweet flavor places chestnuts among the ingredients for many dishes prepared year-round. Joe and Jenni Avila, chestnut growers in the Modesto area, were familiar with chestnut use in Portuguese cuisine when they began growing chestnuts, but found their customers of diverse ethnic backgrounds value chestnuts for their sweet flavor. The Avila family operation, The Chestnut Farm, grows, harvests, processes and sells chestnuts onsite. Weeks prior to Christmas, in most years, they must hang their ‘sold...

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Grower-Cooperators a Vital Cog in Research

For the past three years, walnut harvest has taken a little longer on one block of Jerry Moore’s Visalia, Calif. farm. There are no weather issues or equipment malfunctions slowing harvest. Moore has volunteered the block to UCCE for research into solving a nematode problem that has plagued walnut growers for decades. Moore receives no compensation for the extra time it takes as UCCE researchers test and weigh walnuts after each row is harvested. But he rests easy knowing that he is helping growers across the state who have lost yield to nematodes. “What I get out of it is...

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What It Could Mean for Californians if We Have Another Dry Year: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Our water year began October 1, and it’s no surprise to any of us that 2020-21 was the second driest on record. While the atmospheric river that drenched the state in October was good news, we still must prepare for a dry 2022 and think about what choices we may face if October’s drenching rain was an aberration. It’s not all doom and gloom, but there is some good, bad and ugly. The Good A bipartisan infrastructure bill passed by congress and signed by the president is expected to bring much needed relief to the state. We’re hopeful that federal...

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Organic Walnut Production Increases as Growers Learn New Management Techniques

Organic walnuts are rapidly growing out of the ‘niche’ market. Evidence is in the number of retail online outlets for organic walnuts and the increase in production over the past six years. Mike Poindexter of the vertically integrated Poindexter Nut Company in Selma, Calif. said that domestic production of organically grown walnuts has ramped up to surpass foreign imports and pricing has reached more consumer-friendly levels. Supply of organic walnuts has increased greatly over the past several years, Poindexter said. In 2015, 4,424 tons of organic walnuts were produced. By 2019, production had increased to 10,055 tons. However, he said...

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Health Research Helps Drive Consumer Demand for Walnuts

Through investment in health research, the California Walnut Commission (CWC) drives consumer demand by keeping walnuts and their health benefits top of mind with consumers and health professionals. This is accomplished in three important ways: Gives more science-based reasons for consumers to eat walnuts, especially in top topics of nutrition interest; builds on the credibility of walnuts as a nutrient-rich food among health professionals who strongly influence consumer dietary choices; and appeals to top-tier media read by consumers. “The first 15 years of research in heart health led to walnuts’ qualified health claim* with the FDA and being the first...

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Planning for Nitrogen Efficiency for 2022

Nitrogen is 78% of the air we breathe. 78%!? Yet we have to pour the N to our crops to get them to perform at optimal levels because we are told they can’t find a way to use it themselves. Right? So, what happens when N prices double? It’s damn near as debilitating as California West Side surface water costing $2000 an acre-foot or more! The Midwest would be losing their minds if they knew what we pay to farm here in California, but of course, they have their own set of problems. One of which is certainly the price...

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A Peek into the Pecan Powerhouses Network

In our last article, we shared about the various marketing activations we’ve engaged in this past year to reach the eyes and minds of a crucial audience: health professionals and registered dieticians. These individuals educate and engage with consumers as experts in health, nutrition and wellness. They advise people on what to eat, so by reaching them, we can move the needle in the health food and wellness marketplace at large. We’ve engaged with this audience on multiple fronts, from developing useful nutrition resources to partnering with well-known and well-respected influencers and chefs amongst the health professional community. In this...

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Weighing in on Almond Profitability

There is no doubt that production costs per acre in tree nut farming have cut into profit margins. Rising labor and fuel costs are part of the production cost increase, but water availability and cost is ultimately the deciding factor in almond profitability. According to information on almond production supplied by UCCE Orchard Systems Advisor Franz Niederholzer, since 2016, total cost per acre (at 2,200 pounds per acre) has gone from $3,890 to upwards of $4,000 per acre. While almond prices have fluctuated since 2016, they have garnered positive net returns for most growers. Water costs and availability vary throughout...

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Joseph Jackson on “Doing What Matters”

Farming has been practically inescapable for most of Joseph Jackson’s life, and it’s become his livelihood. Jackson, a part-time grower himself and account manager with Phytech, helped his father grow row crops and stone fruits for much of his childhood in the Kettleman City area. It wasn’t until the early 2000s when his father shifted to farming almonds that he entered the world of tree nuts. “Like a lot of people in the [Central] Valley, he saw the great prices of almonds and pistachios and thought, ‘Hey, I gotta get in on that as well,’” Jackson said, noting however that...

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