WCN0321 Archives - West Coast Nut

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New Findings on Walnut Kernel Mold

Recent UC research confirmed work done in the mid-1970s that timely sweeping and pickup after shaking helps reduce the incidence of moldy walnut kernels. But the studies conducted in 2019 and 2020 led by Themis Michailides, a UC Davis professor of plant pathology based at the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center, also identified major causal fungal agents that differ from earlier work by others. In addition, preliminary results from his research found a fungicide treatment around hull split significantly reduced mold in walnut kernels compared to untreated checks. “This is some new information for the growers to follow if...

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Brown Marmorated Stink Bug in Hazelnuts

Hazelnut growers are no strangers to battling invasive and destructive species. Farmers famously battled back from the brink of disaster after Eastern Filbert Blight came to Oregon and decimated the industry in the 1980s and 1990s. Pests in all shapes and sizes have come to Willamette Valley for decades with a taste for hazelnuts. Contemporary growers are gearing up for a battle with an insect that made it ways to Oregon in the 2000s and now has a voracious appetite for hazelnuts—brown marmorated stink bug. Brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) is part of the Pentatomidae family, a group of insects...

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Smart Irrigation Technology Can Help with Water Management Decisions

Almond growers determined to get ‘more crop per drop’ heard some new takes on smart irrigation technology at the virtual Almond Conference from a panel of researchers and scientists. “Smart irrigation management will consist of a combination of hardware and software that will allow almond growers to make precision irrigation decisions,” said Sebastian Saa, associate director of Agricultural Research for the Almond Board of California and moderator of the conference session. Panelists included Ken Shackel, UC Davis; Andrew McElrone, USDA research scientist based at UC Davis; Forrest Melton, NASA Ames and CSU Monterey Bay; and UC Davis researcher Isaya Kisekka.  ...

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Almond Growers Consider Multiple Factors in Replanting Decisions

Low almond prices apparently are not deterring growers from replanting, even in the face of high tree costs, and, in fact may be pushing forward some plans, according to nursery executives. Noah Tarry, market development specialist for Dave Wilson Nursery, said the Hickman-based operation is busier than ever as growers are embracing opportunities in improved orchard performance and setting aside concerns over replant costs. “I don’t think I’ve talked to anybody who is really deterred by the cost of the trees,” Tarry said. “We continue to see orchards being removed at a good clip.” “Growers are definitely pulling out their...

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Grower Insights: Mallvinder Kahal

With the vast majority of farms in the U.S. being family-owned, the intricacies of generational farming and transitioning the family business are important to the industry. According to the latest statistics from USDA, 96% of farms in the nation are family-owned. That means at some point, nearly every farmer in the country will be faced with the role of either passing down the farm or taking on the family business. Mallvinder Kahal grew up working on his family’s Madera County almond orchard, but he says it took him awhile to decide the farm is where he wanted to be. After...

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California Businesses: How Can We Compete?

For those doing business in California, this is a question that gets asked every time another regulation gets passed or when the minimum wage goes up as it did again on Jan. 1. When it comes to the tree nut industry, the naysayers tell us there is no one to compete with so what’s the issue? Well, for one reason, that’s not true. The tree nut industry competes with other countries and, in the case of pistachios and pecans, states. Furthermore, consumers will only pay so much. For example, when the price of almonds gets too high, at least one...

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Chill, Heat and Choosing Male Pollinizers: A Complex Situation for Pistachio Growers

In spite of being a hardy tree, pistachios can be picky about bloom time temperatures. Mood swings aside, pistachio growers may want to consider using supplemental male pollinizers in addition to standard males when planting a new orchard. UCCE Farm Advisor Craig Kallsen, Kern County, made this suggestion in his presentation for the annual Statewide Pistachio Day. Kallsen also noted that ensuring bloom synchronization does not guarantee adequate pollination and yield potential in years with inadequate chill. Lack of adequate chill hours during the winter dormant period is forecast to occur more frequently in coming years. Katherine Jarvis-Shean, UCCE farm...

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Phytophthora a Major Threat to Almonds and Walnuts

Of the many pathogens affecting California almond and walnut production, Phytophthora species rank high on any list of concerns. Phytophthora species are widespread in orchard soils, difficult to control and can be deadly to trees. They are generally classified as soilborne, but can occur and move in surface water and can be moved up onto above ground tree surfaces as evidenced by a recent resurgence of Perennial Phytophthora Canker (PPC). Pathogenic Phytophthora can enter a tree through a wound, but wounds are not necessary for infection. Young trees are particularly susceptible to Phytophthora diseases, and their presence can wreak havoc...

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Root Lesion Nematode in Walnuts: Planting the Seeds for Orchard Longevity

When it comes to making management decisions for any crop field, such as walnut and almond orchards, it should be a standard practice for growers to collect soil samples to determine whether they have the presence of plant pathogens or key plant parasitic nematodes. In California, plant parasitic nematodes can significantly impact crop production. They are destructive pests that cause considerable damage to plant roots, thus disrupting the uptake of water and nutrients which results in reduced crop vigor and yield. Plant parasitic nematodes are microscopic roundworms that feed on plant tissues. In walnut orchards, root lesion nematode is a...

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Nutrition Plans for Pistachio Orchards

Creating a pistachio orchard nutrition plan can be a daunting task and drive you nuts. Every farmer I know wants that silver bullet that will increase those yields with better quality and size. Well, sorry Tonto, Kemosahbee didn’t really have silver bullets in the Hollywood prop belt. As a Certified Crop Advisor, it is very frustrating for me to meet with a new potential client and hear the words, “What is your normal pistachio nutrient program?” Lee Ann and I only farm 40 acres of pistachios in Madera county on the east side, and in just our little 40-acre block,...

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Federal Marketing Order Works: Studies Show Results for the Pecan Industry

In 2016, the American Pecan industry approved a Federal Marketing Order (FMO). The purpose of the marketing order was to implement five critical areas. These included: Marketing/Promotion; Research; Grades & Standards; Data & Statistics; and Compliance. The American Pecan Council (APC) does not and cannot do the following: set prices; buy/sell product; or set tariffs. Unfortunately, there are several in the industry that have a misperception that the APC sets prices or oversees adjusting the price. This is not true. The APC has the ability to increase awareness, assist in educating the consumers about pecans and their health benefits and...

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California Almond Bloom From the Beekeeper’s Perspective

Around Christmastime, Aaron Lafond and his son Felix of Southpaw Bees and Manufacturing LLC in Lebanon, Ore. start splitting their honeybee hives. Once split— the top 10 frames removed from the bottom 10 frames— they check the health of the hives and feed the bees. The long, flat pollen patties that they place on top of the bee frames is a nutritious food source that not only feeds the bees but stimulates them and convinces the queens it’s time to start laying vast quantities of eggs. Without the additional food, the queen wouldn’t start laying eggs in earnest for another...

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Optimizing Orchard Profitability in Almonds

Calculating the right mix and level of inputs to ensure high almond yields while still maintaining profitability is no easy task. A panel of experts pointed out some pitfalls and potential opportunities for improving orchard profitability while maintaining long term orchard health at the 2020 Almond Industry Conference in December. Panelists emphasized good irrigation, nutrient and pest management programs as key to long-term orchard health and yield. Moderated by ABC Director of Sustainability and Environmental Affairs Gabriele Ludwig, the panel included CCA and almond grower Bill Brush; Blue Diamond Growers regional manager Mike Griffin; UCCE farm advisor Franz Neiderholzer; and...

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Implementing Your New Season Safety Resolutions

The start of a new season is always full of possibilities and presents an excellent opportunity to reflect on successes as well as areas of improvement. This year, as you begin to develop operational goals, ensure reviewing and updating workplace safety practices and providing timely employee training is at the top of your list. This practice will help to ensure regulatory requirements are being met, reduce the risk of injuries and illnesses, and ultimately save time and resources. In this article, we will review three trainings you need to provide employees before the season kicks into full gear.   COVID-19...

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Being a Voice and Ears for the Walnut Industry

As the new director of technical and regulatory affairs for the California Walnut Board and Commission, Joshua Rahm has a very large, and very full, plate. He works on behalf of California walnut growers and handlers to be sure they are represented when new rules and regulations are being crafted and monitors within key markets to provide guidance and adherence to the technical trade barriers ensuring global growth and demand for California Walnuts. Rahm joined the Walnut Board in Fall 2020, bringing a farming background along with a lifetime of professional agribusiness experiences to his new role. “I’ve been part...

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Control Codling Moth to Control NOW in Walnuts

"In walnut orchards, navel orangeworm control starts with codling moth control.” Houston Wilson, UCCE Specialist (Dept. of Entomology, UC Riverside) at the Kearney Ag Center in Parlier and Director of the newly created UC Organic Agriculture Institute, stressed this point in a recent online Walnut Conference presentation. Walnuts are generally protected from NOW early in the season when husk integrity is high, since young NOW larvae are unable to chew through this protective covering. In contrast, codling moth larvae can readily bore through walnut husks, and this damage creates an opening for NOW larvae to access new crop walnuts. NOW...

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UCCE Farm Advisor Profile: Mohamed Nouri

Mohamed Nouri joined UCCE in July 2019 as an area orchard systems advisor for San Joaquin County. Nouri, who received his Master’s degree in microbiology and plant pathology from Tunis University in Tunisia and completed his doctoral research at the Kearney Ag Research Center in Parlier, has been directly involved in agriculture since childhood. “I became interested in agriculture at a very young age. I’m not only a farm advisor now; I’m also a farmer,” Nouri said. “I grew up growing olives, almonds and pistachios with my father and grandfather. So, it’s not only an experience; it was something I...

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New Opportunities on Much Needed Water Infrastructure

The Biden-Harris Administration has stated that one of its key goals is to address our country’s failing infrastructure. As Californians who have dealt with water issues for decades, we are all keenly aware that infrastructure is much more than roads and bridges; it is also the aging water infrastructure that is necessary to provide fresh water to all Californians, farms, cities, rural communities, and the environment. Recognizing the opportunity at hand, a group of more than 200 agricultural organizations and urban and rural water districts have reached out not only to the new Administration but to Congressional leadership as well,...

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Options for Diversifying Nut Growing Operations

Diversification in agriculture improves economic stability by reducing financial risk and stabilizing farm income. Many California nut growers have diversified their operation with different nut crops, but another niche permanent crop to consider is table olives. Commercial table olive production began in the early 1900s in California, but its Achilles heel has been labor. Everything from pruning to harvesting required hand labor. But that is changing. The 21st-century table olive orchard is mechanically pruned and harvested. This is a game changer for the industry, and it offers a unique diversification opportunity to nut growers. “Diversification is, I think, really important in today’s...

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