WCN0621 Archives - West Coast Nut

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What Growers Have Learned About Growing Self-Fertile Almonds

Self-fertile almond varieties are not going to overtake the gold standard Nonpareil in planted acreage anytime soon, but growers who have planted the trees are gaining experience and learning how to maximize their production. Zaiger Genetics’ Independence is the leading self-fertile almond variety in California and acreage-wise now ranks in the top five almond varieties planted. This variety is licensed to Dave Wilson Nursery in Hickman and has been on the market for 15 years. The USDA’s 2020 almond acreage report lists Independence at 59,650 total acres behind Butte, Carmel, Monterey and Nonpareil. The second-most-planted self-fertile is Burchell Nursery’s Shasta...

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Almond Facilities Wrestle with Harvest Overload

Kevin Long is getting close to overload at Superior Almond Hulling. As general manager for the Fresno County operation, Long knows the pressure of inbound trucks waiting in line at the scale during harvest. He’s continually challenged to get empty trailers back out again as fast as possible. He’s watched storage space for almond stockpiles grow tighter every year. And, since 2019, he’s dealt with a plant that’s reached full processing capacity. That’s forced Superior Almond Hulling to turn away new growers hoping to deliver their almond crops for hulling and shelling. “We have more than doubled our volume in...

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Varietal Research Leads to Latest Almond Variety

The Almond Board of California (ABC) started supporting Regional Variety Trials (RVTs) in the 1970s to create a method to test the performance of new almond varieties across the growing region and extend that information to growers. Previous and current RVTs have been designed to evaluate new varieties or selections in a semi-commercial (20 to 40 trees per variety) manner and compare them to standard varieties such as Nonpareil, Mission and currently accepted pollinizer varieties. Due to the contribution of these RVTs, the industry has been equipped to adopt a wide range of varieties that offer a versatile supply of...

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Nut Harvest Safety: Where are Employees Getting Hurt?

Before we know it, it will be harvest season in almond orchards. You will be timing your last pre-harvest irrigation and determining your harvest date to minimize naval orangeworm and ant damage, all while operating powerful equipment and, more importantly, keeping your employees safe in the process. As we approach the season, it’s important to think safety and understand where are employees getting hurt in the orchard? The most common injuries can be grouped into four categories: operation of equipment, ground crew hazards, moving equipment on the road and maintenance work. Operation of Equipment In general, the equipment...

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Time Orchard Mowing Right to Reduce Dust and Potential Disease

Reducing dust in almond orchards for mite control has been a common practice. Roads are watered, graveled or chemically treated to reduce dust. Decreasing vehicle speed is also recommended to minimize orchard dust. But mowing may be another culprit to kicking up dust in orchards, and at certain times of the year, may contribute to increased disease.   Mites and Dust Control Mowing, or any type of cultural activity requiring equipment within the orchard, will generate dust, according to Wes Asai, an almond grower and owner of Wes Asai Pomology Consulting in Turlock, Calif. “It’s that repetitive, heavy dust...

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Answers Emerging on BMSB Threat to Almonds

Five years after the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) first inflicted significant damage on a California crop, researchers still don’t know a lot about the bug’s threat to almonds. But after three-plus years of studying the pest, answers are beginning to emerge. For one, researchers know that if present, the bug can damage almonds throughout a growing season. They know that early season damage can lead to significant nut drop. And they know the pest is particularly damaging to edge rows. “We know that it is a border-driven pest,” said UCCE IPM Advisor for North San Joaquin Valley Jhalendra Rijal....

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Preparing for a Food-Safety Audit

With preparation, growers should be able to meet standards called for in food-safety certification audits, according to a GLOBALG.A.P. licensed farm assurer. But they will need to pay attention to detail, document everything, and follow through on their plans. Mallory Lucas, a GLOBALG.A.P. licensed farm assurer with Wilbur-Ellis in Oregon, who counts a California walnut grower and a hazelnut processor among her list of clients, outlined several steps growers can take to prepare for an audit. First off, Lucas said, growers should start preparations well in advance of a scheduled visit. “For your first year, you are expected to have...

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Drought and Tree Crops

In a dry year, all water resources for tree nut crops, including stored soil moisture, rainfall, groundwater and surface water, must be managed efficiently to prevent significant yield loss and ensure tree survival. A smaller-than-normal Sierra snowpack, depleted reservoir storage and below-normal rainfall going into the summer have caused concerns about adequate irrigation this year for permanent crops. An almond drought management update from David Doll, The Almond Doctor, reported that while almond trees are relatively tolerant to drought, yields could take a hit when water is reduced. Not just the current year crop, but next year’s crop if the...

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With Innovation at the Forefront, the California Walnut Industry Continues to Grow

In today’s world where brand and retailer pressures are high, time is short and customer choice is plentiful, the California Walnut Board (CWB) and the California Walnut Commission (CWC) aim to cultivate industry prosperity by increasing worldwide demand for California Walnuts. The ultimate goal? Make California Walnuts the worldwide nut of choice. The CWB/CWC provide value by working together with growers and handlers to advance the California Walnut industry. The key areas that the Board and Commission focus on are building market demand domestically and internationally, providing industry resources to growers and handlers, and being a champion of the industry....

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Orchard Spacing Considerations in a Tree Nut Orchard

Capturing the maximum sunlight in a tree nut orchard increases potential for improved yields. UC Davis Pomology Specialist Bruce Lampinen’s research has shown that light interception by trees is related to yield potential. With that in mind, orchard trials spanning two decades are confirming advantages of closer tree spacing in almond orchards. Almonds and walnuts are the two predominant tree nut species where spacing strategies are being studied. No formal research on pistachio tree spacing has been conducted as orchard designs are limited by harvest equipment and current cultivar/rootstock combinations. Super-high-density plantings of almonds are in a different category. “Even...

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What We Learned from the Last Drought and What We Can Do to Mitigate Future Water Shortages

California is once again heading into a dry year with memories of the last drought all too fresh. During the 2015 drought, more than 540,000 acres of California farmland were idled at an economic cost of $2.7 billion. This year, California farmers have already seen their water supply cut as much as 95%. Some farmers are anticipating it will be cut to zero. And, as difficult as this year is, farmers are also keeping an eye on the future. Even though California agriculture has cut its water use by double-digits since 1980, we’re not done yet. The passage of SGMA...

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Plant Nutrition Benefits Growers with Pest Management Plans

The integration of nutrient management is essential to an integrated pest management (IPM) plan. All my career, I have tried to highlight nutrient management as an environmentally sustainable and economically viable resource for agriculture. I truly believe in the potential for good nutrient management to aid us in the control of pests in our crops. With increasing regulatory and environmental challenges facing agriculture, we need to utilize good agronomic science in our consulting practices. Managing the inputs we depend on can go a long way in feeding an ever-increasing population.   Importance of Potassium We know that potassium (K)...

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Pruning: When Less is More

When it comes to pruning almond trees, Sid LaGrande and his brothers, who farm near Williams, Calif., have taken a more minimalistic approach compared to what they did even 15 years ago. “Practices change,” LaGrande said. They have learned that the old system of pruning every year actually reduced yields rather than enhance them. “That was the problem,” he said. “You were cutting off your fruiting wood. If you’re taking out your fruiting wood, then you’re going to reduce yield.” But change can be hard, especially when it’s been engrained in your mind from past generations. Roger Duncan, UCCE farm...

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Five Things a Pistachio Grower Wants to See in the Orchard this Summer

The heat of the summer has settled in and drought- and heat-tolerant pistachio trees are doing what they do best: using available water and nutrients to grow a crop. The summer months are a critical time for nut development, and they are also the time of year when water and nutrient demand by trees is high. Insect pest pressure mounts early in the summer. Insect feeding on the developing nuts causes damage and can lead to rejections at the processor if damage percentages are high. Paying attention to tree needs and pest levels in the summer can help with achieving...

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Pecan Nut Casebearer

Pecan nut casebearer (PNC), is a rampant pest in pecan orchard regions from New Mexico to Florida. In New Mexico alone, it is estimated that two-thirds of the state’s growing regions have established populations of the pest, with over 70% of western pecan-producing areas containing PNC. Although PNC is an ongoing issue for New Mexico pecan production, the New Mexico Department of Agriculture (NMDA) has surveyed and found that PNC do not seem to spread to counties where it is not established.   Life Stages PNC, Acrobasis nuxvorella Neunzig, have three life stages: egg, larva and adult moth. Adult PNC...

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Initial Look at State Legislation for 2021

Well, the legislative session for 2021 is now in full swing, and as usual in the land of Hollywood, California’s flair for the dramatic is shining through. As I write this article, the Secretary of State has just announced that there will be a recall election for Governor Newsom. And as usual, this will not be just any recall. Much in the same way that former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected in the recall election of former Governor Gray Davis, a former porn star and former Olympic gold medalist Caitlyn Jenner will headline the ticket to try and unseat Governor...

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2020 Autumn Freeze Damage in San Joaquin and Stanislaus County Walnuts

Over the last three years, we have received several calls from walnut growers in Sacramento and northern San Joaquin Valleys reporting widespread dieback observed in both young and mature orchards during the spring. In most cases, we suspected autumn freeze to be the major cause of those dieback symptoms. We usually try to differentiate between injury during the growing season, which is referred to as frost injury and the freeze damage that occurs in late fall or winter. The term frost injury is restricted to damage due to freezing temperatures during the growing season while the tree is not dormant, which...

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