WCN0721 Archives - West Coast Nut

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Emerging Pests in Pistachios

When it comes to emerging pests in pistachios, a scale and a moth loom large outside of the U.S. Then there is the brown marmorated stink bug: It is present in California and causing damage to almonds, but has yet to be reported in pistachios. And any discussion of emerging pests in pistachios has to include Gill’s mealybug, not so much because the pest is new to North America, but because problems with it are accelerating. As UCCE Entomology Farm Advisor for Kern County David Haviland reported in West Coast Nut last spring, insecticide programs that formerly controlled Gill’s mealybug...

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Storing and Managing Harvested Nuts for Maximum Quality

Larger almond harvests mean many huller-sheller facilities will need to build stockpiles until nuts can be processed. Storing harvested nuts in stockpiles until they can be hulled and processed requires careful management on the part of growers and processors to preserve nut quality and avoid food safety issues. Tim Birmingham, director of quality assurance and industry services for Almond Board of California, said increasing harvest volumes mean processing can take months after the last loads of nuts are delivered. “Early in the harvest season, they can keep up with incoming nuts, but stockpiling is more common, and they could be...

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Pest, Nutrition and Irrigation Considerations in a Lean Year

Low almond prices may encourage almond growers to reduce or alter management inputs for pests, nutrition and irrigation in their orchards. But experts say growers need to consider when it is safe for the crop and the tree to cut costs and resources without damaging the tree or future yields, and decisions should be made on an orchard-by-orchard, case-by-case basis. Nutrition Management The decision to cut back on nutrient inputs will depend on the orchard. More often than pest management, there will be instances where cutting an input will not be feasible. One question to ask is: What nutrients...

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Gemperle Farms Uses Regenerative Practices to Improve Soil Health

American Farmland Trust (AFT) recently released a Soil Health Farmer Profile of Rich Gemperle, who successfully adopted regenerative farming practices to improve soil health on his orchard. His family grows almonds and owns a large-scale egg business in Stanislaus County. The farmer profile describes the changes Gemperle made to his 67-acre orchard, originally planted in 2008. Gemperle had been applying compost annually, but in 2016, he started planting cover crops and practicing nutrient management. He reports improved soil tilth, water infiltration and increased organic matter content since adopting the practices. The grower also experienced gains in net income through reduced...

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The End of Ag Burning in the San Joaquin Valley

The end to agricultural burning is now in clear sight for the San Joaquin Valley. Beginning Jan. 1, 2025, nothing but diseased trees, and possibly some attrition, will be allowed to be burned after that date. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) set forth this mandate when they mandated amendments to the proposed partial phaseout from the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. CARB was pressured by environmental activists leveraging major smoke impacts from this past year’s devastating wildfires that lasted for months. The activists jumped all over the opportunity, which coincided with the Valley Air District’s required five...

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Weed Management in Young Nut Orchards

Sunlight and water are major drivers of young tree nut growth, but they also contribute to problematic weed populations that can steal nutrients and water from vulnerable young trees. Fewer effective herbicide options for growers and increasing herbicide resistance in some formulations can be roadblocks to effective weed control in orchards, making it important for growers to up their game. Identifying weeds in their early stages of growth, knowing if they are perennial or annual and timing herbicide applications when they will be most effective are strategies recommended by weed control experts. Drew Wolter, Almond Board of California’s new senior...

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Marketing Dollars at Work: Mid-Year Campaign Recap

In the first two quarters of the 2021 fiscal year, the American Pecan Council saw the strongest campaign performance in brand history! Consumer reach was at 447 million, exceeding the original goal set. During the six-month period, snack and holiday recipes reached over 500,000 views, which is an indicator for purchase intent.   First Quarter Campaign Activations & Results The “Super Safe Pecan Debate” was a hardworking campaign garnering the best yet media results, going viral. This campaign helped American Pecans rank #1 on Share of Voice amongst other leading nut commodities during the first quarter. The “debate” around pecan...

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Stay Out of the Heat

As we start our summer months and temperatures continue to rise, it is important to understand not only the precautions to take to keep employees safe while working in the heat, but also the elements of compliance. According to the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA), their most frequently cited violations in agriculture under the Heat Illness Prevention Standard are failure to have a heat illness prevention plan in the field, a lack of heat illness prevention training and a failure to provide adequate shade and water. If that’s the case, it begs the question: What exactly does the...

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Five Things You Want to See in your Walnut Orchard in July

A mature walnut orchard in July can be a pretty quiet and hopeful place. Healthy trees are soaking up sunlight, water and nutrients to produce a quality crop of nuts. Anticipating a good harvest in the weeks ahead, growers are paying attention to pest and disease levels in their orchards, aware that their stewardship this month can have an effect on the quality of their crop. While there are important horticultural considerations in their crop in the month of July, walnut growers are also experiencing ongoing economic challenges. Pairing crop considerations with economic concerns requires some tough decisions and trade-offs....

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Hazelnut Grower Feature: Wayne and Joann Chambers

Hazelnuts are a family industry—a community of close-knit growers who help each other no matter how expansive the industry becomes. And much like any other family, hazelnut growers look to those members who paved the way before them for wisdom. In Oregon, everyone bends an ear to listen when Wayne Chambers shares his hazelnut wisdom. The Chambers family, Wayne’s grandparents, moved to Oregon from Minnesota in 1905 and settled near the town of Albany in the fertile Willamette Valley. Throughout the decades, the family farm would grow, and they raised nearly a dozen crops and livestock species in that time....

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Pistachio Growers Make Significant Investments in Organics

Organic pistachios, long an afterthought, today are experiencing unusually high interest among growers. The estimated acreage in organic pistachios increased approximately 60% last year, going from what many believe was a long-time state average of between 1,500 and 1,800 acres to 3,000 acres. And growers are expecting more acres to come on board this summer, including from Touchstone Pistachio Company, whose chief operating officer said the company is “poised to become a significant organic grower in the industry this coming harvest.” “We see interest all over the globe for organic pistachios,” Touchstone COO Mark Sherrell said. “This demand, coupled with...

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Irrigation Management Considerations for Summer

The health experts recommend 6 to 10 cups of water per day for the average human depending on your activity level. Wouldn’t it be great if you could get up in the morning, decide how much work you were going to do that day and, after careful calculations, suck down that much water at breakfast and be good for the day? It doesn’t work that way. We need water throughout the day. Unfortunately, due to logistics and timeframes, that’s how we irrigate our crops. Load them up for a day or two and then let them fend for themselves for...

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Grower Insights: Matt Billings

Ask almond grower Matt Billings what matters most to him, and he’ll tell you, “Integrity and family.” As he worked to develop a new almond product, those are the things he had on his mind. Billings grew up in the Central California town of Delano, but with both of his parents coming from multi-generational farming families, he spent much of his childhood on the family farms. “It was great. I remember as a little kid getting in cotton trailers and stomping down cotton. I remember going out, sleeping in pick-ups with flashlights all night long when we were harvesting wine...

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Research Uncovers New Developments in Band Canker in Almonds

Band canker was first reported in the late 1960s as a minor problem in California almonds. However, over the years, its occurrence had been very sporadic in the northern San Joaquin and Sacramento valleys. In the last decade, UCCE farm advisors, as well as PCAs and growers from various counties, have reported and/or submitted numerous trunk samples from young almond trees with presumed band canker symptoms. Over the last few years, surveys and diagnoses have revealed that this disease is prevalent in several major almond-growing counties, including Stanislaus, San Joaquin, Sacramento, Yolo, Solano, Yuba/Sutter, Colusa, Glenn, Butte, Tehama, Madera, Merced,...

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What Will the Next 70 Years of Walnut Breeding Bring?

Before the UC Davis Walnut Improvement Program was founded in 1948 by Gene Serr and Harold Forde, there was no Chandler, Howard or Tulare. Popular cultivars at that time were terminal bearing, including Franquette, which was introduced from France in the 1870s, and Hartley, which won a blue ribbon at the 1915 World Fair. Serr and Forde worked together to combine the late leafing and blight avoidance found in Franquette with the lateral bearing and precocity from Payne, a fence-row seedling from California, and 23 cultivars later, the rest is history.   Combining Genetics Today, we can use DNA technology...

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Congestion at West Coast Ports Strains Tree Nut Shipments

In more than 20 years of exporting tree nuts from California, Jim Zion of Meridian Growers has experienced port strikes and other shipping problems. Such headaches come with the business of selling almonds, pistachios, pecans and walnuts to Meridian Growers’ 60 worldwide customers. “But it’s never been this bad,” said Zion, managing partner at the Madera-based company. “And we’re not the only ones. Everybody is in the same boat.” Zion is referring to the crisis that California, Oregon and Washington agricultural exporters have been confronting at West Coast ports since last fall. At issue are inadequate access to shipping containers,...

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Pistachio Production Grows in Northern California

Even though one of the first pistachio trees planted in California put down roots in the northern Sacramento Valley town of Chico, the majority of the state’s expanding pistachio production is in the central to southern half of the San Joaquin Valley. It stands to reason: pistachio trees are native to a country with a hot, dry climate and were thought to be best suited for the counties of Kern, Tulare, Kings and Fresno where summers are hot and dry. In the last decade, there has been a shift in that thinking, UCCE farm advisors and nurseries agreed, noting that...

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Potential Effects of Drought and Climate Change on Insect Pests Including Navel Orangeworm

Climate change is the long-term statistically significant change in climate parameters due to increases in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the earth’s atmosphere, including carbon dioxide (CO2). Increased temperatures, increased intensity and frequency of extreme events such as drought and flood as well as increased precipitation variability are examples of climate change. These parameters can have significant impacts on agricultural production and pest management, among other broader implications. Since temperature is most strongly related to insect pests, we will discuss the effect of increased temperature on insect pests and then present a navel orangeworm case study in a later part...

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Artificial Intelligence Drives Defect Sorting Decisions

Admitted innovators, the family members behind Travaille and Phippen Inc. embrace technology to improve their production efficiency and bottom line and manage a dwindling labor pool. So, when Scott Phippen, one of the partners in the Manteca-based almond grower and processor, stopped by a World Ag Expo booth that featured robotic corn seed sorting several years ago, his interests were piqued. “’What do you think about robotics for sorting almonds?’” Scott Phippen said, recalling a question posed by Eric Pflueger of Bratney Cos. “I said, ‘I think that’s real interesting. Can you do it?’ They were wanting to try it,...

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