WCN0920 Archives - West Coast Nut

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Field Evaluation of Almond Varieties

University of California personnel have been involved with evaluating new fruit and nut crop varieties from public and private breeders for over 100 years. These evaluations have always been done in partnership with commercial and public operators and we want to extend a heartfelt thank you to our cooperators for hosting these trials. We also thank the Almond Board of California for funding important research into varieties for many years.) The most recent regional evaluations, sponsored by the Almond Board of California, were planted at three sites down the Central Valley in winter 2014. The three locations were CSU Chico...

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Getting Started with Cover Crops in Almond Systems

Almond orchard middles are first and foremost considered working surfaces in the orchard. It’s obvious from the language we use to talk about them: the orchard floor, the drive row, etc. But years of keeping middles free of any vegetation can lead to the development of problems in orchard soils, and sacrifices the many benefits that can be gained by having winter vegetation in orchard alleyways. Winter cover crops hold promise to help growers address multiple production challenges associated with poor soil health and uncertainties in water resources while fostering bee health and sustainability. Despite its potential, this practice is...

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New Tool for Predicting Nitrogen Needs in Walnuts

With the recent rollout of an early-season walnut leaf sampling program and nitrogen prediction model, walnut growers now have a tool to help make in-season nitrogen adjustments that will affect the current season’s crop. Laboratory results of leaf samples pulled following proper protocols in May can predict with high accuracy how much nitrogen leaves will contain in July, said Katherine Jarvis-Shean, a UCCE orchard systems advisor for Sacramento, Solano and Yolo counties. In most cases, the predictive results confirm growers are on the right path as far as nitrogen fertility. Should they show a predicted deficiency or oversupply, growers still...

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A Streamlined NEPA Process

In July, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) announced long-needed modernizations to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). On September 14, those changes will go into effect, making critical infrastructure projects one step closer to reality. NEPA, signed into law in 1970, requires Federal agencies to consider environmental impacts before issuing permits for Federal projects. Farmers, whose livelihoods disappear if we fail to protect the environment, deeply understand the importance of this process. However, the NEPA rules governing that process have not been updated since 1978, which was around the time the first personal computer was invented. You...

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Hazelnut Harvest Could Set New Yield Standard

Hazelnut harvest is here. This month, hundreds of farmers throughout the Willamette Valley will take to the orchard to harvest millions of pounds of Oregon’s state nuts. This year could mark a new yield standard for the U.S. hazelnut industry, but to achieve this herculean task, proper harvest preparation and maintenance must come first. These nine steps will help keep harvest going smoothly; some of them may sound basic but are still often neglected and can lead to downtime in the field or a trip to the shop.   Dirt is the enemy Dirt, in all its forms, is the...

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Postharvest Nutrition in Tree Nut Crops

We “West Coast Nut” growers (see what I did there?) invest, work, pray, work, hope and work some more for three to seven years before we even get our first crops to harvest. And now it’s upon us, the “fruit” of our labor. Especially in California, where the ground shakes almost as much as our orchard harvesting equipment, we rattle our babies until they let loose of our most prized farming possessions—our nuts. As much as that’s a necessity to make farming profitable, harvesting takes its toll on our trees. This year seems to be playing out a little differently...

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Soilborne Pests in Tree Nut Crops

Preserving tree health in the face of soilborne diseases and pests requires both careful management and choosing appropriate rootstock genetics for a given orchard site. In a West Coast Nut MyAgLife webinar on soilborne pests and diseases in nut crops, several experts in soilborne diseases and rootstock development shared their knowledge and experience on a number of common soilborne pathogens in walnuts and almonds, as well as breeding efforts to find solutions through resistant rootstock.   Diseases in Almonds Mohammad Yaghmour, orchard systems advisor in Kern County, said there has been a resurgence in recent years in Phytophthora, one of...

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Effectively Managing Your Grower and Farm Labor Contractor Relationship

As harvest gets underway for some and is in full swing for others, the issue around having sufficient labor persists. The challenge drives many growers to use a farm labor contractor (FLC) as a means for ensuring there are enough people to get the job done. Often times, though, growers use FLCs believing that in doing so, there is a firewall of protection between them and the liability of having workers. Nothing could be further from the truth in California. The current COVID-19 pandemic adds layers of complexity to their already-complicated relationship, as growers and FLCs alike work diligently to...

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Overview of Biostimulants in Permanent Crops

One of the few things people can agree on about biostimulants is that they are difficult to define. The Biological Products Industry Alliance (BPIA) suggests: “Plant biostimulants contain substance(s) and/or micro-organisms whose function when applied to plants or the rhizosphere is to stimulate natural processes to enhance/benefit nutrient uptake, nutrient efficiency, tolerance to abiotic stress and crop quality.”   What is a Biostimulant? Biostimulants are hard to define as there are many different substances and microorganismal inoculants used in their production. It is also difficult to quantify the mechanisms for how biostimulants work and ultimately provide benefits to crop health...

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Research Examines Biochar Potential

Google the word biochar and the first words you see are “environmental solution” and “benefits are amazing.” There is no shortage of hype surrounding biochar as a soil amendment, but most articles about this pyrolysis product still use the word ‘potential’ in the description. Given the numerous variables in both biochar production and agronomic systems, research continues to determine the value of this product to field and orchard fertility and to the environment. Gabriele Ludwig, Almond Board of California’s director for sustainability and environmental affairs, said the almond board has funded biochar research to learn its potential as an outlet...

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Biological Pesticides in Nut Crops

Some of the biological products used in conventionally or organically produced nut crops include those based on bacteria (abamectin, Bacillus amyloliquefaciens, Bacillus mycoides, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt,) Burkholderia rinojensis, Chromobacterium subtsugae and spinosad,) fungi (Isaria fumosorosea, Paecilomyces lilacinus,) virus (Cydia pomonella granulovirus) and botanicals (azadirachtin, neem oil, pyrethrins, and some essential oils.)  Except for B. amyloliquefaciens and B. mycoides for disease control and P. lilacinus for nematode control, the rest of the products are used for controlling insect and mite pests. While bacteria and the virus are primarily used against lepidopterous pests, others are used for insect and/or mite pests. Research...

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Organic Pistachio Production at Nichols Farms

Pest control and nutrition are two of the biggest challenges to organic pistachio production, but the Nichols family of Hanford, Calif., has found a way to thrive in the organic market. By selecting a location where their organically farmed pistachio trees would have minimal disease pressure and an optimal environment for production, Nichols Farms aimed to put themselves in a position to produce quality pistachios in an organic system. The Nichols family began planting tree nuts in the 1980s, transitioning from row crops. Their orchards are in Tulare, Kings and Fresno counties. James Nichols, the third generation of the family...

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Creating Habitat for Beneficials to Control Aphids in Pecans

This article discusses planting and managing a cover crop mix in pecan orchards to attract beneficials, which provide some control of two species of pecan aphids. Controlling aphids in pecans with chemicals generally requires two to three spray applications over the season. To date, the grower has saved 1-2 sprays, and learned that alternate row mowing of the cover crop can extend the flowering and, therefore, the availability of nectar and pollen for supporting a wide variety of beneficial insects which suppress aphid populations. California Wildlife Conservation Board has funded a collaboration between the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and the...

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Farm Advisor Profile: Elizabeth Fichtner

An avid member of 4H club when she was a kid, UCCE farm advisor Elizabeth Fichtner was exposed early to the elements of agriculture and extension. She also had the unique experience of observing how urbanization can affect agricultural lands. Originally from Long Island, N.Y., Fichtner watched an area that was rural in her father’s generation— and still relatively rural early in her own— transform into the densely populated area that it is today. Seeing that transition sparked an interest that led her to Cornell University, where she earned her undergraduate degree in horticulture. After working summers at University of...

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A Look at Newer Hazelnut Varieties

There’s a lot to consider before choosing the hazelnut variety, or varieties, to plant in a new orchard. Besides yield expectations, there’s also kernel versus inshell, harvest times, tree growth habits and a variety’s susceptibility to disease—especially to eastern filbert blight (EFB). EFB was first discovered in the 1970s in western Washington. It moved into the Willamette Valley in the 1980s and has proven to be one of the most devastating diseases to hazelnuts. Since then, Oregon State University (OSU) has worked diligently to breed resistant hazelnuts in cooperation with Rutgers University in New Jersey, the University of Nebraska at...

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Can Trunk Paint Mitigate Herbicide Damage in Young Almond Trees?

In order to prevent herbicide damage in young trees, especially from postemergence herbicide, standard pomological practice has been to apply white latex paint to the bottom 2 to 3 feet of trunk of newly planted trees, before applying herbicides 1-5. While this may provide some level of protection 4-8, research to support this practice is lacking. In order to assess the efficacy of white latex paint in mitigating herbicide damage, a field experiment was conducted in Arbuckle, Calif., to evaluate the impacts of latex paint on herbicide injury in young almond trees.   Methods To conduct this experiment, second-leaf almond...

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Collaborative Bee+ Scholarship Supports Growers Who Plant Pollinator Cover Crops

This past June, the Almond Board of California (ABC) launched its Bee+ Scholarship for almond growers. This scholarship supports growers seeking to plant cover crops in and/or around their orchards, an effort that is not only shown to promote pollinator health but which also provides multiple in-orchard benefits, as well.   Support for Growers There are two key elements of the scholarship. The first is that ABC will cover the cost for growers to register for Pollinator Partnership’s Bee Friendly Farming (BFF)1 program, which was recently aligned with ABC’s California Almond Sustainability Program (CASP).2 The CASP and BFF program alignment...

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Program Updates : Adapting to the Times and Preparing for the Future

The American Pecan Council in 2019 implemented its first course of action based on findings in its Strategic Plan.  The result: We were able to repurpose upwards of $2 million into other marketing initiatives that have doubled our reach. That is double the number of consumers that have seen the American Pecan story year over year. Last fall, APC took a multi-dimensional approach to its marketing efforts collaborating with several agencies and partners to expand our overall target audience engagement and exposure. Due to the increase of marketing activities, we eclipsed the total amount of eyes on our ads last...

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New Incentives Help Tree Nut Industry Comply With Truck Air Quality Rules

The trials and tribulations of doing business in California. Just about the time you think you’ve seen every possible regulation there could ever be, the State of California raises the bar one notch higher. Recently, California Air Resources Board (CARB) approved the next generation “Truck Rule” when they adopted the Advanced Clean Truck (ACT) Regulation. This is a far-reaching, first-of-its-kind regulation for new trucks anywhere in the country. It would require truck manufacturers to sell an increasing amount of zero-emission trucks (electric) from 2024 to 2035. By 2035, zero-emission truck/chassis sales would need to be 55% of Class 2b –...

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