WCN0520 Archives - West Coast Nut

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Economic Benefits of Using Improved Walnut Rootstocks

Walnut production is a long-term commitment of resources in land, labor and management. Because of the lag time from field preparation and planting to first harvest, walnut production is a fiscally demanding endeavor. During production operations, orchard management is a critical factor for improving yield; this includes tree protection from soil-borne maladies. Soil-borne plant diseases include plant-parasitic nematodes (root lesion nematode, Pratylenchus vulnus, root-knot nematodes, Meloidogyne spp.), crown gall (Agrobacterium tumefaciens), and Phytophthora root and crown rots (Phytophthora spp.). Among the biotic stresses there is also the so-called “replant problem”, where the walnut...

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In Search of Chandler 2.0

It’s been more than 40 years since the University of California’s Walnut Improvement Program released a variety as successful as Chandler, which today comprises more than a third of California’s walnut acreage and is the standard to which all others are compared. That’s not for lack of effort. As Chuck Leslie, who has worked for the program for 35 years, said: “Chandler is a tough competitor.” Because of its good yields, premium quality and desirable growth characteristics, even today, California growers continue to plant Chandler in high numbers. In 2017, for example, there were more than 16,000 acres of nonbearing...

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Maximizing Biological Control Agents in Standard Nut Orchard Systems

There are limited numbers of pesticides coming down the pike, so preventing resistance and stretching the pesticides currently in the toolbox is critically important. Biological control can be a good solution, particularly if it reduces the number of sprays in a given season. Emily Symmes, UCCE Sacramento Valley Area IPM Advisor, said there are several things growers should know when working with beneficials in their orchards: (more…)

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The Dirt on Soil

As farmers, every time we attend another seminar on soils, we get the rundown on the soils chart: Sand v. Loam v. Clay. Thirty percent of “this” gives you “that.” Percolation models, clay lenses that perch water, sand streaks and grandpa’s “bitch” alkali flats are important to note. Eighty-five percent Whitney Mollic Hyploxeralfs of fan remnants from a back slope is great for my rock geek buddies that work for Geosyntech or Exxon Mobile, but without geoengineering, they are just pieces of information to most of us. What’s truly important to farmers is how quickly water and nutrients move through...

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Your Federal Marketing Order at Work: Building Demand for U.S. Pecans

It has been a year and a half since the American Pecan Council (APC) has hired a permanent executive director with full time staff. In that time, we have undergone a thorough Strategic Planning process and have implemented numerous programs that benefit the pecan industry as a whole. Industry’s unified labor is coming to fruition. The encouraging metrics and results seen from these programs thus far have shown how the federal marketing order (FMO) is succeeding.   First Three Years The first 18 months following the inception of the APC were a time of laying the groundwork of the...

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Farm Advisor Profile: David Haviland

Sometimes, a boyhood fascination with bugs starts by being surrounded by flowers. With a father who managed a large rose production nursery, David Haviland, UCCE Entomology Advisor for Kern County, often found himself working in the nursery and the packinghouse, and thus became quite familiar with the production of ornamentals. Growing up in a small town just north of Salinas, Calif., also meant that most of Haviland’s closest friends were from families also heavily involved in agriculture, particularly vegetable production. Agriculture just simply became a part of him. As kids often are, Haviland was captivated by insects from a very...

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The Impending Impact of CalSavers

For many years, both the state legislature and California’s governor have expressed concern over the long-term future of our workforce. Across industries, many employees do not have access to company-sponsored retirement programs. While opening personal individual retirement investment accounts is an option, in the eyes of our elected officials, without an employer serving as the impetus for that action, it just wouldn’t happen. This train of thought led to the creation of CalSavers, a California-sponsored individual retirement program, which continues to move forward throughout this COVID-19 pandemic. It is essential that agricultural employers understand the program, their role in it...

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Healthy Soil Practices Bring Economic and Environmental Benefits to Almond Growers

If almond growers are wondering about the economic and environmental benefits of healthy soils farming practices, new evidence shows investment in healthy soil practices has definitely been worthwhile for two almond farms in California’s San Joaquin Valley.  American Farmland Trust (AFT) released eight “Accelerating Soil Health” case studies recently, which document the benefits of soil health growing practices on farm incomes and the environment.  For almond production, healthy soils practices include cover cropping, nutrient management (leaf sampling, fertigation and targeted fertilizer applications), mulching the prunings, and compost application. The participating growers for the two California case studies were Ralf Sauter...

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Controlling Pest Birds in Pistachios and Almonds

Hearing that loud ‘caw caw caw’ sound in your pistachio orchard can be a signal that one of the most destructive bird pests has invaded. Scare tactics including rotating distress calls, cannons and gunfire have been standard procedure to convince crows to feed elsewhere. Now, new drone technology may offer improved crop protection. There are several bird species that can cause substantial crop damage by feeding on developing nuts in almond and pistachio orchards, but crows have nested as the primary bird pest due to their size and habits. In almond orchards, crows will start feeding in the early summer...

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Regional Board Rules Put Walnut Hullers Under the Microscope

Over the past year, the agricultural industry has observed as the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Board) make sweeping changes to discharging regulations specific to agricultural regions and specific processing facilities.  With the passage of SB 200 – Safe Drinking Water Fund (Monning), as well as the passage of the Central Valley Salinity Alternatives for Long-Term Sustainability Program (CV-SALTS) by the Regional Board, water quality and discharges from agricultural operations are now even further under the microscope.  Late last year, a notice was sent to interested stakeholders that the Regional Board would be taking up a vote...

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New Water Blueprint Looks at Impacts of Water Supply Shortages

A new effort is underway to help solve some of California’s most difficult water supply challenges. The Water Blueprint for the San Joaquin Valley (Blueprint) evolved out of discussions among water users in the San Joaquin Valley to address surface water reductions, groundwater overdraft, subsidence, and meeting the requirements of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). The Blueprint is supported by a broad coalition of water users that are continuing to seek input from all stakeholders including local governments, public water agencies, agriculture industry representatives, disadvantaged communities, environmental organizations, academia, and others. The Blueprint group recently commissioned UC Berkeley researchers...

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Benefits of Cover Crops in Nut Orchards Depend on Site and Region

Integrating cover crops into tree nut orchards can promote soil health and dust reduction benefits, but achieving the desired results may take a reality check. The grower should consider their goals with a cover crop and how it fits into their management system, sources said. They should understand that cover crop goals are not achieved in one season and benefits from this practice may not be realized until the system has been in place for several years. As soil organic matter increases over time, cover crop viability also increases.   Choosing the Right Seed Mix Pistachio and almond growers in...

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Know Your Nurseryman

In the mid-1980s, a new disease threatened to wipe out the entire U.S. hazelnut industry. Eastern filbert blight (EFB) made its way from the East Coast to Oregon, and the trees of the Willamette Valley were not resistant. After years of research and collaboration, the Oregon hazelnut industry pulled through with new varieties resistant to the blight. Integral to winning this battle were the responsible hazelnut nurserymen and propagators. These gatekeepers of the industry are responsible for supplying a growing orchard landscape and take their role very seriously. Trees arriving in the Willamette Valley from unapproved sources may not be...

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Self-Fertile Almonds Gain in Popularity

Self-fertile almond varieties that don’t require a pollinizer, need fewer or even no beehives to set a crop and allow one-pass harvests are gaining market share as growers look to maximize profit per acre. Although there will still be a place for varieties, such as Nonpareil, that have unique kernel characteristics but require a pollinizer, industry leaders say self-fertile varieties are here to stay. Independence, a self-fertile variety developed by Zaiger Genetics and licensed to Hickman-based Dave Wilson Nursery, entered the market about 15 years ago. Since then, acreage has continued to increase and now accounts for about 2 percent...

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Resurgence of Perennial Phytophthora Canker Disease of Almonds

Many species of Phytophthora continue to cause serious losses in California almond orchards. Collectively, these pathogens affect almond trees of all ages, causing decline and death in young orchards in their first few years of development as well as in bearing and fully mature orchards in their prime. We tend to name diseases caused by Phytophthora with reference to the tree parts most obviously affected, for example, Phytophthora species cause “root rot,” “crown rot,” “trunk and scaffold cankers,” and “pruning wound cankers.” At least 10 different species of Phytophthora are known to infect almonds, varying in tree parts they attack...

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A Day in the Life of a Grower, Handler

This February, the Almond Board of California (ABC) hosted more than 20 influential supply chain stakeholders at its first-ever Almond Sustainability Tour. These stakeholders represent food companies from across the globe, including General Mills, Campbell Soup Company, Coca Cola and Seeberger, and hold various roles within their company’s sustainability programs, from leaders of entire sustainability programs to directors of supply chain and sourcing to heads of global procurement. Led by ABC’s Trade Stewardship and Sustainability teams, the tour was aimed at providing key decision makers in the supply chain with a first-hand look at the California almond industry’s responsible growing...

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The Next Generation of Walnut Rootstock Aims at Resistance to Soil-Borne Pathogens

A multi-disciplinary collaboration is underway to develop and deploy walnut rootstocks with resistance to the major soil-borne pathogens, specifically crown gall (Agrobacterium tumefaciens), Phytophthora root/crown rot (Phytophthora spp.), and lesion nematodes (Pratylenchus vulnus). According to Dr. Ali McClean with the USDA’s Crop Pathology and Genetics Research Unit at UC Davis, a significant proportion of the walnut industry uses either seedling or clonal ‘Paradox’ rootstocks, which is susceptible to disease caused by several soil-borne pathogens. McClean said since there are limited preplant and post-plant management strategies for these stresses, rootstocks with elevated levels of genetic resistance/tolerance to these pathogens offer the...

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Take Advantage of Fertigation Opportunities

Tree nut growers using pressurized irrigation systems in their orchards have the opportunity to fertigate, but may not be maximizing the opportunities it offers. Fertigation—injecting crop nutrients through the irrigation system—enables a more precise fertilizer application, flexibility in timing applications, saves labor, and can reduce production costs. Advantages of using fertigation are lost if growers or farm managers choose the “one size fits all” approach of standard fertilizer rates and irrigation timing. Water and nutrients are delivered to the trees, but growers won’t achieve maximum nutrient use efficiency.  The four Rs of nutrition still apply in fertigation: right rate, right source,...

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Finding Practical Alternatives to Agricultural PPE During the Current Shortage

In March, a national emergency was declared for the novel Coronavirus and the Defense Production Act invoked to ensure that ventilators and PPE are distributed to healthcare workers in response to the pandemic. This act empowers the Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEMA, to work from the top of the supply chain and directly with manufacturers of PPE, such as 3M and Dupont, to prioritize supplies of N95 respirators, protective clothing, and other PPE for medical staff, ensuring that they receive the supplies necessary to address the pandemic. Before the pandemic, 10 percent of N95 respirators from 3M went to...

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