wcn0420 Archives - West Coast Nut

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Integrated NOW Approach: Don’t Let Last Year’s Low NOW Numbers Lead to Complacency

It’s no secret that many almond and pistachio nut growers in California found much lower navel orangeworm (NOW) damage in their crops in 2019, but no one is guaranteeing that 2020 will bring a repeat of that good fortune. Navel orangeworm populations in California’s pistachio and almond orchards can “turn on a dime” according to Joel Siegel, USDA-ARS research entomologist, without continuous attention to good control programs. Navel orangeworm damage in previous ‘bad’ years contributed not only to lower marketable yields, but also affected export opportunities.

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Pistachio Growers Finding A Lot to Like in Golden Hills Cultivar

It isn’t so much the good yields, the high quality and good pack out that is drawing California pistachio growers to the cultivar Golden Hills. According to Zack Raven, farm manager of Keenan Farms in Kettleman City, Calif., the big draw for Golden Hills is its early harvest. “The number one reason why it is such a great variety is because it comes off significantly earlier than Kerman,” Raven said. The earlier harvest, typically 10 days before the industry standard Kerman, leads to reduced susceptibility to navel orangeworm and spreads out the harvest season, Raven said. “It works for both...

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Winter Chill Wrap Up 2020

A few warm spells and a record-breaking dry February with little-to-no fog have a lot of people in the tree crop industry wondering about chill accumulation this past winter, and it would impact bloom in the spring. As I write this article in late February, almonds and a few early stone fruit are the only trees to have bloomed. But, despite some warm conditions, the chill accumulation numbers indicate that we should have enough chill for a decent bloom in our later blooming crops. You can be the judge, reading this in April, as to whether those accumulation numbers match...

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The Ins and Outs of Tissue Testing

As this year’s spectacular bloom is now replaced with delicate green leaves, it’s time to start the foliar testing process.  Of course, the UC has created and implemented the Early Sampling Protocol (UCD-ESP) to better assess our nitrogen needs long before we notice a real problem. Last year we witnessed a crazy March filled with turbulent storms charged with an abundance of lightning strikes.  The atmospheric nitrogen that was transformed through those charges may have been a great contributor to higher than normal nitrogen numbers many of my growers experienced.  The good news is, much of it went into the...

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Almond Bloom Intensity

Factors influencing a current year’s almond bloom intensity may have been initiated 9 months prior to bloom.  In almond, bud development generally occurs in late spring (Figure 1, see below). During the initial phase of bud development, vegetative and flower buds are all morphologically similar.  In late summer, however, a portion of the buds will differentiate to form flower buds.  Consequently, the physiological and pathological stresses exerted on almond trees the prior year may influence bloom and subsequent yield in the current year. (more…)

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The Missing Link in Orchard Tech: Centralizing Field Data for Growers and Agronomists

Have you ventured into the world of ag tech for your orchard, hoping to gain efficiency in your operations, and found that you only lost valuable time and money in the process? Have you decided not to renew a farm software license because it simply did not fit how you work? If so, please know that you are not alone. The digital ag revolution is here, but difficulties in managing the data can make it feel like a losing battle. "Digital agriculture" is a broad term used to describe an approach to farming that leverages digital tools to improve the...

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Training Young Walnut Trees

Young walnut trees, like young children, need to be trained, and if not trained correctly, the outcome could be much less than desirable. One of the goals of walnut tree training, according to Janine Hasey, UCCE farm advisor emeritus, is to create a final tree structure that is capable of bearing heavy yields and maintaining productive fruitwood. In addition, early cropping, reduced breakage, allowing ease of moving equipment through orchards and filling the space allotted to the grower are among the desired outcomes. In a presentation on walnut tree training using the no pruning/no heading approach, Hasey said growers have...

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Farming is the Family Tradition at Heinrich Farms

Agriculture runs deep in the Heinrich family. You could even say it is in their blood. Gordon Heinrich, the patriarch, is a fifth-generation farmer and farming with three of his sons, Eric, Phil and Jerad. All nine of the Heinrich offspring have ties back to agriculture, whether it be an equipment engineer, irrigation specialist, pest control advisor, or nutritionist. Farming is the family tradition. In the mid-60s, Gordon’s father started farming almonds after selling his dairy. He grew up understanding hard work and had a desire to build his own farming legacy. Gordon is grateful for the opportunities that presented...

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New Tools Aid in Monitoring for Beneficial’s in the Orchard

Decision support and management tools for insect pests in walnuts and almonds continue to be refined by University of California Cooperative Extension Integrated Pest Management (IPM) specialists and farm advisors. In research projects over the last few years, UCCE Area IPM Advisor Emily Symmes and UCCE Kern County Entomology Advisor David Haviland have demonstrated effectiveness of using yellow sticky cards in almond and walnut orchards to determine presence and population levels of sixspotted thrips, an important predator of spider mites. Spider mites are a production concern in walnuts and almonds as very high numbers can cause early defoliation of the...

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New Research Includes Focus on NOW and Tree Physiology in Pistachio

The California Pistachio Research Board’s 2020 $1,946,070 research grant funding reflects the major problems currently facing the California pistachio industry.  The 30 funded projects prioritize, in this order, controlling navel orangeworm (Amyelois transitella) (NOW), improving understanding of pistachio physiology including characterizing tree carbohydrate status, dormancy, salinity and drought management, pistachio rootstock improvement, and emerging soil borne fungal diseases and other insect pests.  This article will discuss the projects focused on NOW and pistachio physiology. (more…)

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Managing Ants in Almonds Through Harvest

Protein feeding ants can accomplish a task few other insect pests even attempt. Given an opening in an almond shell, they can, in very small bites, eat an entire kernel, leaving an empty peel behind. Ant feeding, reports Blue Diamond’s Director of Grower Relations Mel Machado, can steal a good portion of an orchard’s crop yield in a short time – before a grower is aware of the problem. His advice to growers is to “look down.” “Growers tend to look up, at the trees, but they need to look at the orchard floors and see if they have an...

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Almond Flower, Foliar, and Fruit Diseases and Their Management

In the fight against flower, foliar and fruit diseases in almonds, there are key components growers need to be aware of as they decide what strategy fits best in the battle to protect their investment. First growers must know what disease they are up against, Dr. James E. Adaskaveg, professor and plant pathologist at UC Riverside told a group of growers at the North Valley Nut Conference. Spring and summer foliar, flower and fruit diseases include brown rot blossom blight, scab, rust, green fruit rot/jacket rot, shot hole, anthracnose, bacterial spot, bacterial blast, alternaria leaf spot, hull rot, or phytopthora...

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For Better Yields, Get Personal with Your Trees

Managing orchards is a bit like marriage: It’s a long-term relationship. A mistake today could stay with you for a while, but care and attention to detail can pay benefits year after year. This analogy demonstrates a vital truth that Sebastian Saa, senior manager for Agricultural Research at the Almond Board of California (ABC), stresses upon growers each year: Attaining optimal yields requires taking the time to get to know your trees – it’s a marathon, not a sprint. “Everybody wants to experience good yields, and that’s important,” Saa said. “But understanding how to read the tree, how to interact...

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Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Emerging as Significant Pest in Almonds

The good news for California tree nut producers is the brown marmorated stink bug is not widespread in commercial production areas. The bad news is, where it has shown up, crop damage can be severe. In one instance, in responding to a call from a grower in Stanislaus County, UCCE Farm Advisor Jhalendra Rijal said he was shocked to see the damage. “It looked like somebody came through with a shaker and shook these trees on the borders,” Rijal said. “All these almonds were on the ground like a blanket.” Later on, at harvest, Rijal said the orchard suffered losses...

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Spotted Lantern Fly

The spotted lantern fly is joining the list of invasive insects that have the potential to impact California agricultural crops. This pest insect from China has not yet become established in California, but it has been known to arrive here as a hitchhiker on aircraft. Spotted lantern fly has become established in several east coast areas and has been proven a threat to apples, cherry and grape crops as well as hardwood trees. There is evidence in South Korea that it can attack walnut crops.  University of California Riverside researcher Dr. Mark Hoddle said there is reason to believe SLF...

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American Pistachio Growers Eye New Markets to Move Record Crops

The American Pistachio Growers is working to expand international markets to keep pace with record crops on the horizon as nonbearing acreage comes into production in the next few years. A panel of experts at the American Pistachio Growers Annual Conference in Monterey, Calif., said there is tremendous untapped potential in India for California pistachios among a consuming public that is culturally adapted to snacking on nuts, appreciates and pays for premium quality, identifies with the California brand, and is growing in economic buying power. More than 65 percent of California pistachio production goes to export markets, with Europe and...

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Food Safety Modernization Act

While much of the attention of late has been focused on the Produce Safety Rule for farms and hullers, and the Preventive Controls Rule for Human Food for processors, there is another rule that tree nut processors must be gearing up for and implementing.  Why?  Because inspections were slated to start happening in March 2020.  The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) final rule for Intentional Adulteration (IA) is aimed at preventing intentional adulteration from acts intended to cause wide-scale harm to public health, including acts of terrorism targeting the food supply. Such acts, while not likely to occur, could...

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Study Shows Sharp Jump in Input Costs for Almonds

A review of almond cost studies over the last two decades reveals that costs to establish and maintain an orchard have increased significantly in the last three years. While costs had remained steady between 1998 and 2016, the overall costs for establishing and producing an acre of almonds in California went up significantly between 2016 and 2019. UC Davis Economist Brittney Goodrich also noted significant shifts in operating costs for almond growers in recent years in six major categories: irrigation, pollination, pesticides, labor, fertilizer and harvest. Goodrich analyzed annual cost studies by the UC’s Agriculture Issues Center for the Northern...

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