WCN0222 Archives - West Coast Nut

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A New Web-based Tool for Predicting Pistachio Nut Growth

Thus far, deciding when to deficit irrigate, spray pesticides and harvest pistachios has been based on the current season’s weather, historical calendar dates and direct observation of when the growing pistachio nut begins and ends with the three seasonal growth stages: Stage I - shell enlargement; Stage II - shell hardening and thickening; and Stage III - kernel growth and split. Based on the work of Goldhamer and Beede in the 1980s, 25% to 50% deficit irrigation should not begin until the nutshell has fully grown in Stage I, should continue through Stage II, and should stop when the kernel...

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Sprayer Maintenance More Critical Than Ever

Sprayer maintenance is one of the most important steps a grower can take going into the season to ensure they get the most out of their crop protection inputs, according to Franz Niederholzer, UCCE farm advisor for Colusa, Sutter and Yuba counties. And with so many uncertainties facing nut growers these days, getting top value out of crop inputs is critical. “Growers are looking at rising costs and prices being variable as well as uncertainties with global trade and supply chain issues,” Niederholzer said. “Now is the time to look carefully at costs and expenditures. And if you are going...

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The Power of P

Looking back over the last couple years of articles, I seem to talk a lot about matches. I always try to get my growers that I consult for to match the amount of a specific nutrient to a calculated level of the other nutrients they are applying in a season. I make every attempt to get them to match the nutrients they are applying to the nutrient demand curves of their specific crop. Why apply a nutrient if the trees aren’t taking it up at that time? I even try to get them to match their irrigation schedule to nutrient...

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An Unsettling Trend

As Mel Machado, Blue Diamond Growers’ vice president of member relations, clicks through the data comparing reject levels from 2021 to previous years, he doesn’t like what he sees in the brown spot column. “What’s got me spooked is not just the total amount of [brown spot] damage, but it’s the trend,” Machado said. “It’s growing as a percentage of damage, and we don’t have a lot of good ways of controlling it. There are no treatment thresholds; it’s just a judgment call. [caption id="attachment_12663" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Signs of stink bug feeding and, to...

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Regulatory Update: Employment Laws to Know for 2022

The start of a new year marks the launch of new goals and resolutions for many, but it also means new regulations have begun to take effect. Beginning in 2022, there are several new laws agricultural employers need to pay close attention to and implement into their businesses. California Wage Increase In 2016, Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation that would gradually increase minimum wage rates over the period of seven years in California, with the intent that by 2023, all California employees would earn at least $15 per hour. January 1, 2022 marks the sixth year of this increase. California’s...

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From Potential to Practical: Applying What We Know About Coproducts

Almond hulls and shells represent approximately 70% of the almond fruit weight that comes out of an orchard each year, but they account for only 3% of revenues gained from harvest. Guided by years of strategic research and investment, the Almond Board of California (ABC) seeks to narrow that gap by developing higher-value uses for hulls and shells, once simply thought of as byproducts of the almond growing process. For growers, that could mean lower costs for hulling and shelling and a better return for hullers, too. “We’re at a pivotal point of shifting from thinking about biomass as just...

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Top 5 Things You Can Do Now to Improve Walnut Quality at Harvest

Depending on the California growing region, walnut harvest 2022 is at least several months down the road. Does that mean it is too early in the year for growers to start thinking about practices that can promote quality in their next walnut crop? Growers and UC farm advisors say no. Standard orchard practices in the winter not only promote tree health, but they can play a role in maximizing crop quality and value. High yields are always welcome, but crop quality, including kernel size, weight and color, can be influenced by orchard sanitation, soil health, removal of dead wood from...

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Considering Soil Fertility for Tree Crops

Wherever trees are being grown, no matter what kind they may be, there are specific considerations that can make great differences in terms of growth and production. The first consideration about fertility for aptly growing trees of any type should be that you can correctly manage only those needs you can correctly measure. Needed measurements for growing trees can involve several different aspects for the best growth and production, including climate and other environmental factors as well as fertility to help determine growth and yield potential. Trees will all grow the best in an ideal environment. That will vary depending...

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Identifying Trunk and Scaffold Disease of Almonds

With 26 fungal species associated with canker disease, it is important for growers and farm managers to determine which pathogen is attacking their almond trees. Field diagnosis plus a laboratory test can reveal the responsible pathogen or point to an abiotic reason for canker formation. Florent Trouillas, UCCE plant pathology specialist at the Kearney Agriculture Research and Education Center, noted during a presentation at The Almond Conference that in order to use the most effective control options, it is critical to understand which diseases can affect the trunks and scaffolds of almond trees. UCCE Plant Pathologist Themis Michailides and USDA...

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6 questions for Aubrey Bettencourt, President and CEO of the Almond Alliance of California

Aubrey Bettencourt has spent her career tackling some of agriculture’s thorniest issues. As the director of sustainability for Western United Dairymen, she focused on watershed health and other natural-resource issues for California’s highest-valued ag sector. Before that, Bettencourt served as deputy assistant secretary in the Water and Science Division of the U.S. Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C. From 2017-19, she fought to keep “farmers farming” as the California state director of USDA’s Farm Service Agency. She also spent almost nine years, from 2009 to 2017, as the executive director of the California Water Alliance. And underpinning all that...

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Looming European Green New Deal Policy Could Affect Almond Exports

The Almond Board of California is closely following the development of European climate and sustainability proposals, which, according to sources monitoring the situation, will likely affect agricultural imports. And the industry may need to take some steps to ensure almond imports continue to flow freely into Europe. “Almond growing here in California is incredibly efficient,” said Julie Adams, vice president of Global and Regulatory Affairs for the Almond Board of California. “Growers are looking at their resource use. They are looking at efficiencies in terms of alternate energy. It is really a matter of how do we communicate what is...

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View from the Top: Q and A with Aubrey Bettencourt, President and CEO of the Almond Alliance

The American Pecan Council (APC) was approved in its inaugural referendum by 71% of production this past year. This can largely be attributed to the successes the industry saw in the FMO’s first five years. These wins include: Accelerated demand for pecans, with 36% growth in consumption. Prices have grown or sustained at a level 11% higher than without APC marketing. Growers’ money has been put to good use, with a 10x return on every marketing dollar. Inventory has been moving. Export volumes have grown. Pecans have dominated the holidays, becoming the most talked-about nut. The American Pecan Council...

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Careful Rootstock Selection Can Ensure Long-Term Productivity

Choosing the correct almond rootstock based on specific environmental limitations at an orchard site can help ensure long-term productivity. Speakers at the 2021 Almond Conference rootstock presentation stressed that the best rootstock choice made for a 20-year orchard investment should be based on appropriate vigor, rooting anchorage, tolerance to poorly drained soils, nematodes, salt and boron, root rots, intermittent flooding and replant syndrome. Since many speakers pointed out that there is no ‘perfect’ almond rootstock, making the best possible planting choice for a specific orchard site relies on a number of data points from rootstock trials. “Selection is extremely important,”...

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Spotted Lanternfly Risk to California Walnuts

The spotted lanternfly (SLF), Lycorma delicatula, which is an invasive pest in many parts of the Eastern U.S. and is spreading westward, has multiple cultivated and wild hosts in California (Dara and Bocco 2021). The black walnut (Juglans nigra) and other Junglandaceae members are common hosts of SLF (Dara et al. 2015). The cultivated English walnut (Juglans regia) and the endemic California walnut (Juglans californica) are among the important hosts that could harbor SLF populations and are at risk if the pest invades California. The extent of SLF risk to various cultivated hosts, potential economic losses and the distribution of...

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No Mandatory Testing for Farms in New Proposed Water Requirements of the Produce Safety Rule

In the last month of 2021, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced they would postpone the Food Safety Modernization Act’s (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule (PSR) water compliance requirements, subpart E, which was set to begin in January 2022. The FDA intends to exercise enforcement discretion for the agricultural water requirements for covered produce while proposing changes to the current water requirements. Industry Pushes Back FDA held public meetings on the initial water requirements and had great pushback from farms throughout the U.S. and internationally, given the vast uses and practices of agricultural water for hundreds of commodities and regions....

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New Pistachio Yield Prediction Project Underway at UC Davis

Growers are under constant pressure to properly and efficiently utilize their nitrogen and water. One of the key determinants in an orchard for how much nitrogen/water to use and when to use it is yield, according to UC Davis Pomologist Patrick H. Brown. However, growers don’t know the actual yield until nuts are harvested. A new UC Davis project is looking to change this for pistachio growers. Brown and UC Davis Professor Yufang Jin have begun working on a USDA grant proposal to develop a method to predict pistachio yield by using historic yield data, free satellite imagery, automated climate...

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Taking Care of Your Neighborly Nuts: Orchard Sanitation, Pest Control are Neighborly Acts

As tree nut acreage throughout the West increases, chances are that isolated block of trees planted several years ago is now at least partially surrounded by other tree nuts. Those new acres may be planted to the same variety of tree nut or a different variety, but how those new blocks are managed can have an effect on your orchard health and crop quality. “The two biggest concerns with neighboring orchards are navel orangeworm and dust,” said Almond Board of California Chairman of the Board Brian Wahlbrink. “You hope your neighbor will maintain adjacent roads, control dust and keep their...

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