WCN0421 Archives - West Coast Nut

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Are ‘May Sprays’ a Low-Hanging Fruit to Cut Almond Costs in 2021?

For almond growers looking to cut costs in 2021, ‘May sprays’ present an opportunity that may be hard to pass up. May sprays, which are typically applied in either April or May, can have many purposes related to the management of peach twig borer (PTB), navel orangeworm (NOW), leaffooted bug and spider mites. However, problems with PTB these days are minimal compared to what they used to be, insecticide sprays for NOW are more effective at hullsplit, the need to treat for leaffooted bug is the exception and not the rule, and recent advances in biocontrol have made the need...

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Managing Hull Rot is No Easy Matter

With proper fungicide applications, regulated deficit irrigation and adherence to a nitrogen management plan, a grower should be able to manage hull rot in almonds. But even then, it is no sure bet. And the consequences of letting this disease get away can be severe. Left to its own devices, hull rot can inflict long- and short-term damage on almond orchards. It can reduce the bearing surface of trees by killing infected spurs and attached shoots and provide an overwintering host for navel orangeworm through infected sticktights that are not removed after harvest. For years, researchers focused their efforts to...

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Top 5 Things an Almond Grower Wants to See in April

Warmer and longer days this month means orchard activity is picking up. Nut crops are developing and trees are growing. Water use by trees is increasing and tree roots are actively seeking nutrients. Insect pests and beneficial insects are reproducing. With all of these activities in mind, when you walk out into your orchard, what are five things you want to find?   1. A Functional Irrigation System Ready to be Put to Use Early maintenance of your irrigation system, before it will be put to use, provides confidence in uniform distribution and efficient use of water. No one wants...

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Building Demand for California Walnuts

Through strategic diversification of sectors such as retail, industrial food manufacturing and foodservice, the California Walnut Board (CWB) and California Walnut Commission’s (CWC) domestic marketing activities are designed to expand California walnut use and consumption. The work of the Board and Commission is focused on educating consumers on the versatility and health benefits of walnuts by reaching them in a variety of ways, from news articles, print advertising, social media, e-newsletters, partnerships and more. In fact, this approach saw year-over-year consumer U.S. media coverage increase by 53%, with walnut messaging seen more than 12 billion times, or 37 times per person. This article highlights some of the recent domestic marketing...

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Implementing Best Management Practices for Nitrogen Fertilization in Almonds

With growing season upon us, an understanding of the seasonal uptake of nitrogen is essential to time fertilizer applications. Nitrogen fertilizers are the most important chemical input in modern agriculture. Among all essential nutrients for higher plants, N is required in the largest quantity. It is estimated that over 100 million tons of N fertilizers are applied globally. However, this number could be much lower if our farming systems used N more efficiently. Typically, less than half of the applied N is utilized by the crops while the rest is lost to air and water by run-off, leaching, denitrification and...

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Nitrogen BMP Guide Helps Summarize, Simplify Key Research

Nitrogen management has major impacts on the productivity of almond orchards, the profitability of growers throughout the Central Valley and the effect of nitrogen on the environment. With the implementation of the Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program (ILRP), every grower is required to implement a management plan that allows for the efficient use of nitrogen fertilizer and reduces nitrogen leaching into groundwater. To support growers in both their formation of nitrogen management plans as well as their broader understanding of nitrogen management, the Almond Board of California (ABC) developed the Nitrogen Best Management Practices. These practices provide almond growers with an...

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New Research on Whole-Orchard Recycling in Walnuts

Whole-orchard recycling (WOR) is the on-site grinding or chipping of whole trees during orchard removal, then the chips are incorporated into the soil prior to replanting. This technique is currently being used in almond and now, Luke Milliron, UCCE orchard systems advisor for Butte, Glenn and Tehama counties, has started research in the Sacramento Valley for WOR in walnuts. “We’re a long way behind the almonds, where Brent Holtz (UCCE farm advisor, San Joaquin County) had the original trial at the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center,” Milliron said, and since then, almond growers started trying WOR on their own. “One...

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Here We Go Again – State Proposes to Increase Tax on Pesticides

As we roll into 2021, attempting to come out of an economically devastating pandemic, the State of California is proposing to increase taxes, this time specifically on pesticides. In the proposed budget, the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) is requesting $16.75 million ($8.25 million General Fund and $8.5 million DPR Fund) and 44 positions in 2021-22, and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is requesting $11.75 million General Fund in 2021-22, as part of a comprehensive proposal to support the state’s transition to safer, sustainable pest management.   Risk-based Mill Assessment Additionally, DPR proposes to replace the current...

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Insecticides and Maximum Residue Limits for Gill’s Mealybug in Pistachio

Over the past two decades, Gill’s mealybug has become entrenched within pistachio orchards in California. Each year, new orchards become infested as the distribution of mealybugs in infested orchards becomes ubiquitous. Unfortunately, insecticide programs that used to be highly effective against the Gill’s mealybug are becoming less and less effective, and growers have been exploring new and creative ways to try to achieve control. In some cases, this has led to the rejection of fruit in export markets due to pesticide residues. Most notable in 2020 were rejections in the European Union for fruit that exceeded the 0.05 ppm tolerance...

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Soil Microbiome Benefits for Tree Nuts

Without a doubt, West Coast growers are exceptional at producing a wide variety of nuts, including almonds, walnuts and pistachios, that are enjoyed across the globe. Furthermore, progress in advancing best practices in nut crop production, plant breeding programs, nutrient and pest management, and using the latest in agricultural technologies are widely recognized. The next frontier for tree nut growers and their crop advisor partners is to promote new practices that encourage the long-term sustainability of farms for future generations. Two important components of on-farm sustainability programs are soil health and soil quality. Soil health refers to the biological integrity...

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Nut Yields Linked to Tree Carbohydrate Levels

The citizen science approach at UC Davis’ Carbohydrate Observatory is yielding valuable information for tree nut growers. Founded by UC Davis plant physiologist Maciej Zwieniecki, the Carbohydrate Observatory, part of the ‘Z Lab’, has received samples from about 600 almond, walnut and pistachio orchards across the state. The samples, sent throughout the year, are being used to track seasonal trends of non-structural carbohydrate levels over multiple years and gain deeper knowledge of the biological processes within trees. Funding for this research has come from Almond Board of California, California Pistachio Research Board and California Walnut Board. One of the most...

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Early Season Water Management in Walnut

When should growers start irrigating? “Short answer: wait for the tree to tell you when it needs water,” according to Ken Shackel, professor of irrigation in the UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences. There’s also the questions of how much to irrigate and how to know that it’s working.   Measuring Stem Water Potential One of the best ways to know when to irrigate in walnut orchards and other crops is to take a tree’s stem water potential (SWP) through the use of a pressure chamber, according to Kari Arnold, UCCE farm advisor in Stanislaus County. In a 2021 Virtual...

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Optimism and Call for Unity at Recent Walnut Industry Conference

Speakers at the California Walnut Board’s virtual industry conference expressed optimism despite the challenge of low prices, buoyed by a positive marketing outlook once trade and COVID disruptions normalize and the supply demand curve begins to stabalize. Over the last decade, walnut production has grown in California to a record this year of 784,000 tons—a 19% increase over the previous year’s production. New plantings mean an additional 54,000 tons will come into production over the next four years, bringing a projected California crop of 835,000 tons on 435,000 acres, said Michelle Connelly, CEO of the California Marketing Board and Commission....

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Don’t Underestimate Form I-9

As you begin to prepare for seasonal hires, initiate a new best practice this year and review your new hire check list and required employee forms. In your new hire packet, there is one form in particular that gives countless employers issues, and the fines for administrative errors can cost companies thousands of dollars. The Form I-9 on the surface does not look complicated to complete, however there are a number of common mistakes employers make on a regular basis. In this article we will review the essential elements of the Form I-9, the most common mistakes and best practices...

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Grower Insights: Don Cameron

President of the California State Board of Food and Agriculture, 2017 Agriculturist of the Year, Chairman for the California Cotton Alliance, Director and past chairman for the California Tomato Growers Association, director for Western Growers Association, Raisin City Water District, and the list goes on. Don Cameron has held so many distinctive positions within the agriculture community, it’s almost hard to believe he didn’t originally intend to become a farmer. “I had always wanted to work outdoors and originally wanted to go into wildlife management,” he said over the phone as he traveled from one commitment to another. “The story...

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A Non-Glyphosate System for Walnut Weed Management

With a good arsenal of herbicides on-hand, walnut growers should be able to control weeds in a non-glyphosate system, but, according to Brad Hanson, UCCE weed specialist at UC Davis, it will take better management and be more expensive. Speaking at the 2021 Walnut Conference, a virtual event sponsored by West Coast Nut magazine, Hanson said growers will face several challenges if they elect not to use glyphosate in their herbicide program. “The biggest challenges will be related to timing,” Hanson said. “Glyphosate is forgiving of weed size for the ones that it works on, [while] large weeds can be...

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Tracing Development of UC Wolfskill

UC Davis’ newly released walnut variety UC Wolfskill came about due to a slightly different crossing technique than is traditionally used. “The first step in breeding a new variety is to bag female flowers before they open and apply pollen from another selected variety with a syringe,” said Walnut Improvement Program Specialist Chuck Leslie, describing the process used to generate new walnut varieties. In the case of UC Wolfskill, the plant breeding team, under Gale McGranahan at the time, went to a young Chandler orchard in an isolated location, removed catkins and applied a mixture of pollen in the air...

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Fertilizer Strategies for a Low Price, High Input Cost Season

The perfect storm seems to be rolling into the agricultural mainland. Walnut and almond prices are down, inputs are going up with the petroleum and shipping debacles, water is off the charts (if you can get it) in many districts, and last year’s bumper crops will most likely lead to smaller yields this year. Farmers don’t back away from challenges. In most cases, we pull our hats down a little tighter and get ready for the ride ahead. Well, saddle up buckaroos, this ride is going to get wild! Many of my growers’ original concerns with me, specifically as a...

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Ganoderma Butt Rot: New Fungal Species Fells Young Trees

Until 2016, when UC Davis plant pathologists David Rizzo and Andrew “Bob” Johnson identified a species of the Ganoderma fungus previously unreported in the state, butt rot in almonds was considered a problem of older orchards. Since then, the newcomer, Ganoderma adspersum, has been found infecting orchards as young as four years old and has been responsible for a number of growers removing younger orchards because of extensive tree loss. So far, G. adspersum infections have been confirmed in almond orchards from Madera County south to Kern County. Reports also are limited to trees planted on Nemaguard rootstock. More recently,...

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California’s Ag and Food Industry has Borne the Brunt of the Trade War

California tree nut producers were among the biggest losers of the trade war that began under the Trump Administration, a UC study has found. In fact, California’s farmers and food processors were hit harder than their counterparts in any other state. And, despite compensation from USDA’s Market Facilitation Program, most California farmers were not made whole by the aid, said lead author Colin A. Carter, a Distinguished Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics at UC-Davis. “California’s losses from the trade war far exceeded the government compensation payments,” Carter noted. The study, “2018 Trade War, Mitigation Payments, and California Agriculture,” was...

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