WCN0121 Archives - West Coast Nut

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Delaying Irrigation Offers Benefits in Walnuts and Almonds

Six years of UC research has shown that walnut growers may be able to delay starting irrigation by up to two months without significantly affecting yield. And one year of research into delaying irrigation in almonds is showing similarly positive results. The research could have profound effects on water usage, pumping costs and plant health, according to researchers. The results in walnuts were surprising, UC Davis Plant Sciences Department Professor Ken Shackel said, in part because of the belief that walnut trees rely on stored soil moisture to avoid defoliation and other negative occurrences at harvest. Researchers, however, found no...

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FARM Advisor Profile: Rachel Elkins

After 36 years in the industry, Rachel Elkins, UCCE Pomology Farm Advisor, Lake and Mendocino Counties and County Director, Lake County, is enjoying the best of both her working and retired worlds. Elkins returned to work part-time as an emeritus farm advisor the day she retired. “I still have my office, and I’m doing what I like to do, which is being purely a farm advisor, working with growers and the industry,” said Elkins. As a native of Richmond, Calif., Elkins’ early exposure to agriculture was mostly in passing; commercially grown flowers were popular for the area. While she was...

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Leafing Failure Perplexes Experts

Although delayed leafing in almonds has been reported sporadically for more than two decades, in 2020 it captured the attention of researchers who say they want to make an effort to better understand the malady. Marked by vegetative buds that do not push or are slow to push, the problem has raised several yet unproven theories about the cause. “I can’t tell you what’s causing it, but I can tell you what isn’t causing it in many instances,” said Luke Milliron, UCCE orchard systems advisor for Butte, Glenn and Tehama counties. He said he also believed the problem, dubbed leafing...

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Rough Year for California Beekeepers

While individual beekeepers were impacted by the California wildfires, potentially preventing them from filling their pollination contracts, the overall honeybee supply is expected to meet almond pollination demand in 2021. Roger Everett with Terra Bella Honey Co. said he can’t see the hive loss due to fire as a huge issue for the almond industry, but individual beekeepers in many locations statewide experienced hive loss due to wildfires. Hives placed in foothill areas for the summer and fall forage were lost in some instances, but other beekeepers were able to gain access to the bee yards and remove hives. The...

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Adoption of COVID-19 Regulation Places Additional Pressure on Employers in 2021

After months of establishing guidelines and already enforceable requirements for employers to follow in the efforts to minimize the spread of COVID-19, the Cal-OSHA advisory board has decided to adopt a formal COVID-19 regulation that will add to the challenges employers are facing in 2020. In March, Cal-OSHA and the Centers for Disease Control teamed up to provide a variety of industries with guidance on the measures they can take to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These measures included completion of a risk assessment for each work area to determine and establish controls, employee training, sanitation practices and monitoring of...

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Spring Diseases Provide Challenge for Almond Growers

When it comes to managing diseases in almonds, watching the weather can be as important as watching your crop. Especially in the spring, when diseases like brown rot blossom blight, jacket rot, anthracnose and bacterial blast threaten crop health, it is often the weather that determines disease pressure. “Watching the forecast is critical when it comes to control for all spring diseases,” said Florent Trouillas, UCCE Assistant Extension Specialist in plant pathology. In a typical year, brown rot blossom blight, caused by the fungus Monilinia laxa, is the most prominent disease at bloom. It is an outlier of sorts in...

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Bacterial Blast in Almond

In the wet and cold spring of 2019, the disease bacterial blast blasted almond orchards from Butte to Fresno county, destroying shoots and dormant buds and exposing trees to canker infections. There was no treatment or preventative product allowed for this infection at the time. By the spring of 2020, a Section 18 emergency registration use in almonds was secured for a bactericide that proved effective against bacterial blast, but warmer and drier conditions limited the opportunities for the bacteria to attack trees. A renewal of the Section 18 registration for UPL’s Kasumin has been submitted to DPR and EPA...

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Getting the Most Out Of Mating Disruption

Mating disruption for navel orangeworm (NOW) has been a commercial pest management option in California nut crops for several years as the 2021 growing season nears. With both continued use and expansion into acres new to mating disruption since 2014, many growers may be multiple seasons into their implementation. For others, 2021 may be the first year of incorporating NOW mating disruption technology into their overall nut crop IPM program. And some may still be considering whether to adopt this approach on some or all of their acreage. As our collective knowledge about the applied use of NOW mating disruption...

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Nutritional Demands for Tree Nuts

As the liquid gold falls from the heavens in December and January (we hope!), tree nut farmers get a bit of a reprieve from the crazy schedules spring will deliver. We pistachio farmers still make our daily pilgrimage to the computer to check our chilling hours, making sure the requirements will be met. Almond farmers keep a close eye on the temperatures to make sure a deep freeze isn’t in the forecast, ruining those delicate, precious little buds so close to bloom. Pecan and walnut farmers laugh at us a bit as they typically have a little less to worry...

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Canopy Management in Pistachios

There are two reasons to train and prune a tree: to facilitate orchard operations, primarily harvesting, and to produce annual quality crops by controlling alternate bearing. For the first five years in the ground, canopies are being trained with a mixture of heading and training cuts; the objective is a tree that eventually intercepts maximum light infiltrating the canopy. When trees begin to produce a harvestable crop in years six through eight and full bearing, pruning helps maintain a canopy that intercepts maximum light and produces efficiently harvestable annual quality yields. Beginning at years six through eight, a pistachio tree...

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Hazelnut Society Winter Meeting Goes All Virtual for 2021

One of the longest-standing traditions in the Oregon hazelnut community will look a little different this year. Set for January 21, the 106th Annual Winter Meeting will be all-digital for the first time in history. Held annually each January, the Winter Meeting is the seminal event on the Nut Growers Society of Oregon, Washington and British Columbia (NGS) calendar. The one-day conference typically brings together upwards of 1,000 hazelnut community members, from farmers to handlers, to sponsors and vendors. Due to pandemic-related restrictions, the conference will now be conducted online via live stream, but the NGS board members and staff...

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Integrated Pest Management in Hazelnuts

Integrated pest management (IPM) in hazelnuts starts with monitoring and identifying pest pressures for significant pests, assessing the presence of natural predators in the orchard, and then choosing the most selective, least impactful approach to managing these pests based on economic thresholds.   Identify and Monitor Learn to identify pests that are causing damage (extension agents are a great source for help in identification.) Learn the life cycle of pests, when to disrupt the cycle and how best to do that. Once you have identified pests, such as the filbertworm moth, check for the telltale band of iridescent copper coloring...

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Collaboration in the California Tree Nut Industry

Leaders within the California tree nut industry expressed confidence in the industry’s future during a rare meeting of the minds between the industry’s top executives. In a recent panel discussion during West Coast Nut magazine’s California Tree Nut Conference in November, top industry executives for four tree nut commodities—almond, pistachio, walnut and pecan—came together to discuss issues that the industry is dealing with now and what the future holds. The executives in attendance were Richard Matoian, president of American Pistachio Growers; Michelle Connelly, executive director of California Walnut Board; Emily Fleischmann, vice president of global marketing for Almond Board of...

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Almond Yield Forecasting by Drone

Almond yield prediction has become a priority for almond growers in California because it enables them to correctly estimate and apply seasonal nitrogen demand and prevent violation of the new nitrogen management regulation that does not allow overapplication of nitrogen. Accurate forecasting of almond yield is difficult due to complex affecting factors, such as blossom condition, environmental temperature, soil status, precipitations, irrigation volume, variety and age. One major determinant of almond yield is the amount of sunlight that is intercepted by the canopy.   Light Interception Solar radiation is used for the photosynthesis process in which carbohydrates are...

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Maximizing Your Pollinator Dollars

As almond acres have increased, so too has the price of pollination. According to the Almond Board of California (ABC), pollination accounts for between 15 and 20 percent of the cost of almond production. Hoping to lower that percentage, last year ABC initiated research to reevaluate honey bee stocking rates. “The new research will look at both conventional and self-compatible varieties to see if we can get consistent high yields with fewer bees,” said Josette Lewis, chief scientific officer with ABC in a presentation at The Almond Conference of 2020. In a phone interview after the presentation, Lewis said the...

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How One Almond Handler Has Kept COVID-19 at Bay

Safety manager Betty Chavez walks through The Almond Company’s vast processing plant near Madera, Calif., pointing out what’s different since the COVID-19 pandemic brought new restrictions last March. Every employee, from processing-line worker to forklift driver to floor sweeper, wears a mask. Each keeps six feet away from others to prevent the spread of the virus. Break-area tables offer only two chairs, one at each end, to meet physical distancing requirements. Where there were once three clock-in stations, there are now only two, separated to keep employees from standing too closely together when they punch in or out. Lines leading...

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Reports of Lower NOW Damage for 2020

Low numbers of navel orangeworm (NOW) at the start of the growing season has been cited as one reason for a trend of lower NOW damage across most of the tree nut sector this year. This is good news considering the complexity of having many more acres of nut trees coming into production across the state and different types of nuts planted in close proximity along with different management styles, including pest control, across all orchards.   Damage Levels Navel orangeworm, Amyelois transitella, has emerged as the primary moth pest in California nut crops. Without control, successive generations grow larger...

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Pest and Weed Expert Joins the Almond Board Team

Drew Wolter had his sights set on joining the Almond Board of California (ABC) long before he was hired as the Senior Specialist in Pest Management. As a graduate student at UC Davis, Wolter conducted research on almond production systems, much of which ABC supported, and his job with UCCE as a junior specialist in 2018 was also partially funded by ABC. These experiences gave Wolter an inside look at both ABC’s commitment to California almond growers and the broader industry as well as the people and culture that make up the organization. He was suitably impressed. “Since the beginning...

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Preparing for the Expected and Unexpected Changes in 2021

The 2020 season was definitely one for the history books. To say it was challenging does not even begin to scratch the surface of the issues the nut industry faced this year. However, perseverance has prevailed and now is an opportune time to wrap up 2020 and develop your plan of attack for 2021.   End of Season Employment Documentation As you are terminating employment of your seasonal workers, ensure you are following your company protocol, individuals receive the appropriate information and that it has been accurately documented. AgSafe highly recommends you develop a checklist to ensure compliant departure; however,...

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