Farming Archives - West Coast Nut

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Drone Adoption Grows as Technology Rapidly Evolves

Before drone technology became available farmers would have to procure images of their operations from satellite services or through the use of manned aircraft. In a relatively short period of time the cost, quality and sophistication of aerial image capture changed significantly. What began as somewhat of a novelty has grown into a full-fledged industry that continues to become more advanced every year. While drone technology initially developed outside of the agricultural sector, it did not take long to realize that many of the features being utilized in other industries could be applied on farming operations. An increasing number of...

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Irrigation by Variety in Almond Orchards

As farmers face increasing pressure to use water wisely due to environmental and policy changes in California, the importance of developing site-specific irrigation practices has never been more important. Site Specific Irrigation Site-specific irrigation management can account for heterogeneous soils, variable topography, diverse tree varieties and ages, changing environmental conditions, and more. In almond orchards, which typically have two or three varieties to improve cross-pollination, diverse tree varieties offer a potential application of site-specific irrigation management. My major advisor, Dr. Isaya Kisekka, and I have begun an experiment to investigate the potential...

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Getting the Most Out of a Golden Hills Pistachio Harvest

Prior to the release of the cultivar Golden Hills, pistachio growers in the San Joaquin Valley (SJV) of California were accustomed to harvesting a single female cultivar named Kerman. Since Kerman was the only female cultivar that most growers had any experience with, the way Kerman was harvested became synonymous with how pistachios, in general, should be harvested. However, different cultivars have “individualities” that should be addressed to make a harvest more successful. What makes for a successful Kerman harvest is not, necessarily, that which makes for a successful Golden Hills harvest and vice versa. Although Golden Hills was released...

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Another Record Breaking Almond Crop Predicted for 2019

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)/National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) releases two almond reports every year. The first is the subject report based on opinions from randomly selected California almond growers throughout the state by a phone survey conducted in April and May. NASS’s objective report provides a more precise estimate on yield based on actual almond counts and measurements gathered from over 850 orchards statewide that includes the weight, size and grade of the average almond sample broken down by growing district and variety. The 2019 subjective report was released in May, and for the second year in...

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Lowest Nut Count in Six Years

The recent California Almond Objective Measurement Report by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) brought a sharper focus on the 2019 California almond crop. With the lowest nut per tree count in the last six years, the 2019 almond crop is estimated by NASS to be 2.20 billion pounds, down 3.5 percent from the 2.28 billion pound 2018 almond crop. The crop estimate is also 12 percent lower than the May California Almond Subjective Forecast of 2.5 billion pounds. The objective report is based on an actual count of the crop on the tree, compared to subjective report gathered in...

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Stink Bug Territory Expanding

The invasive brown marmorated stinkbug is in the Central Valley and has caused significant damage in some almond orchards. The brown marmorated stinkbug (BMSB) is a polyphagous insect native to Asia (i.e., China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan) that feeds on fruit, nut, and vegetable crops. BMSB established in the mid-Atlantic states during the 1990s and since the initial detections, has spread to more than 42 states, and more than 170 agricultural and ornamental host plants have been recorded. Almond growers and farm managers who know BMSB infestations occurred in their orchards last year should be on the look out for...

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Infrared Drying Technology Developing

Infrared drying technology for removing moisture from in-shell walnuts, was tested in 2017 with funding from the California Energy Commission and in collaboration with Wizard Manufacturing of Chico. United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientist Zhongli Pan led the research to both reduce energy use in the drying process and to improve nut quality. Standard hot air drying of walnuts is a process that uses natural gas or electricity. Infrared drying uses intense light that is felt, but not seen is a type of electromagnetic radiation much like radio waves, ultraviolet radiation and microwaves. The process...

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Hazelnut Cover Crops Funding

Oregon hazelnut growers in Marion, Polk, Washington and Yamhill counties are at the heart of the recent boom in hazelnut production, representing more than 60 percent of hazelnut acres planted in the Willamette Valley. This boom has also brought challenges, with soil erosion becoming a concern. Orchards are typically managed to eliminate vegetation on the floors to prevent competition with young trees for water and nutrients. In some areas, these bare floors are causing severe soil erosion, especially during the rainy winter months. Erosion impacts not only the health and productivity of the orchard, it also poses water quality issues...

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An IPM Approach to Vertebrate Pests

By Cecilia Parsons | Associate Editor

They don’t look that destructive in Disney movies, but vertebrate pests in almond orchards can drive growers and managers nuts. Vertebrate pests run the gamut from coyotes to ground squirrels, to voles and even roof rats. Depending on the species, they can cause yield losses by feeding on nuts, pose food safety issues in the orchard, and damage irrigation lines. Their burrows can slow harvest, damage equipment and pose safety hazards for workers and livestock. Some vertebrate species can also transmit diseases to humans. Vertebrate Pest Pressure Roger Baldwin, a University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) specialist in the...

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INDUSTRY ALERT | USDA Announces Details on Support for Growers

Today, USDA Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced funding for walnut growers impacted by unjustified tariff retaliation and trade disruption. The funds are being made available through the Market Facilitation Program (MFP), authorized under the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) Charter Act and administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA). The funding is part of the trade relief package, announced by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in May, which includes $14.5 billion in direct payments to producers and well as $100MM in Agriculture Trade Promotion funds for export market development. To date, the...

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Expanding your NOW Toolbox

By Kathy Coatney | Editor

Overall the first flight of navel orangeworm (NOW) has been lighter than normal this year. This could be attributed to relatively low 2018 damage levels, especially in pistachios, and the cooler, wetter weather during the 2019 spring. “If we get really warm sustained temperatures early in the spring, navel orangeworm wakes up early and becomes active,” according to David Haviland, University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) entomology farm advisor for Kern County. But this spring was cooler, overcast and wet, so the first flight was more spread out than normal, Haviland said. NOW Damage “Damage last year in almonds was...

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Use of Technology in Regulatory Functions

By Terry Brase | Director, Farm of the Future at West Hills Community College

As more and more technological devices and practices are developed, growers will continue to get  and more sales pitches. A walk through any conference exhibit hall is a small look at the huge market that is ag technology. It is a very competitive market and these companies and developers are not only fighting for the investor’s dollar, they are competing for the growers sales dollars. Developers and their marketers must provide justification to the grower for their products. If the market is to support the product, it must have a specific benefit to the grower. Benefits of Technology The obvious...

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Tips for Almond Harvest

Being prepared increases the likelihood of a successful almond harvest

By Cecilia Parsons Associate Editor

Being prepared increases the likelihood of a successful almond harvest.   Pest Control The number one concern for growers approaching harvest should be controlling navel orangeworm (NOW) in their orchards. Mel Machado, director of grower relations for Blue Diamond Growers said timing of spray applications for this pest is critical to control and minimizing nut damage due to NOW. Timing hull split sprays should be at the top of every grower’s harvest preparation checklist, Machado said. “You don’t want to be too late with your hull split sprays, you want to make sure you get good coverage.” Timing and coverage...

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Ins and outs of SGMA

Sustainable Groundwater Management Act

By Cecilia Parsons Associate Editor

Aaron Fukada, general manager of Tulare Irrigation District (TID) provided some historical perspective to groundwater pumping and overdraft as well as current status of local groundwater sustainability agencies at the Almond Day event in Fresno. Overdrafting of groundwater began in the 1920s, Fukada said and the answer was to drill deeper wells. During the 1940s, the Central Valley Project and State Water Project were developed to overcome the overdraft situation. Local efforts included groundwater recharge basins. Extended drought periods in the last decade and continued overdraft led to the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) legislation that seeks to balance recharge...

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SIT Update

By Cecilia Parsons Associate Editor

Research to determine why sterilized navel orangeworm moths are not flying or following pheromone plumes when they are released in pistachio orchards continues at the University of California (UC) Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center. The releases are part of the navel orangeworm (NOW) sterile insect technique (SIT) program funded first by the California Pistachio Research Board and more recently by the Almond Board of California. The NOW-SIT project is aimed at area-wide suppression of navel orangeworm, a serious pest of nut crops in California. Infestations of this lepidopteron pest affect nut quality in almonds, pistachios and walnuts. Houston Wilson,...

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TCD Poses Threat to Walnut Production

By Cecilia Parsons Associate Editor

Smaller than a grain of rice, the invasive walnut twig beetle continues to threaten California walnut production by vectoring the fatal thousand canker disease (TCD). A recent report in the Journal of Forestry confirmed this bark beetle species is associated with a recently described fungus, Geosmithia morbida, causing thousand canker disease. The walnut twig beetle (WTB) is a native, phloem boring bark beetle that has invaded both native forest habitat and commercial walnut production. The WTB is native to the southwestern U.S., but has spread and impacted health of black walnut trees in many  western states. The Journal reports that...

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Pacific Flathead Borers are on the Move

By Cecilia Parsons Associate Editor

Oregon hazelnut growers and farm managers have been notified that Pacific flathead borer (PFB) emergence is underway. Nik Wiman, extension orchard specialist and researcher at Oregon State University said over the past two years emergence has gone from the last week of May/first week of June through mid August. Hazelnut growers have a number of viable management strategies for this pest in new plantings, he said. One strategy is to maintain a contact insecticide residue during the flight period, which lasts until mid August. This residue will knock out adults and eggs. A second strategy is to apply systemic materials...

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Drip Irrigation Isn’t Just for Young Hazelnut Orchards Anymore

By: Danita Cahill, Contributing Writer

The census is in: drip irrigation produces bigger hazelnut trees faster, more nuts sooner, and fuller, heavier kernels. With drip irrigation, hazelnut production is now possible in dry soils with low-clay content, instead of only in historically-used prime soils. “Drip irrigation is increasingly being adopted. It really has enhanced orchard establishment,” said Nik Wiman, Assistant Professor, Orchard Crops Extension Specialist at Oregon State University (OSU) Wiman Lab. “Grows trees a lot faster. We’re seeing nuts by year four.” Benefits of Drip Irrigation on Established Trees Jeff Newton, farm manager for Crimson West/Christensen Farms in McMinnville, Oregon, got in on the...

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Salt Control Program Offers Choices

By Cecilia Parsons Associate Editor

A salinity management strategy that stabilizes and cost effectively restores water supplies in the Central Valley while keeping economic vitality will be undertaken in three phases. The Salt Control Program was established in 2018 by the Central Valley Salinity Alternatives for Long Term Sustainability (CV-SALTS) along with the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board. The program has both a short-term salinity management approach and long term salinity management planning. Goals for this stakeholder-driven plan are to control the rate of groundwater degradation, implement salinity management strategies, maintain water quality and pursue restoration where practical and to protect high quality...

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Reasons for Sampling Pistachio Kernel Fill

By Cecilia Parsons Associate Editor

Sampling pistachio kernels in July can help growers determine their harvest timing as well as show percentage of fruit set. Crop advisor Nate Laux with Integral Ag of Chico said while the samples can help with estimating crop yields and split nut percentages, early sampling can also be misleading. Kernel fill can take place at a faster pace later in the season provided trees are not water stressed or deficient in nutrients, he said. “We sample orchards to see where the crop is at, developmentally, there have been times where we’ve predicted 30 percent blanks based on early sampling only...

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