WCN1020 Archives - West Coast Nut

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Why California Agriculture Needs to Rally Against Prop. 15

For tree nut farmers, hullers and processors, the November election may be one of the most important elections in decades. And I’m not talking about the Presidential election. For Californians, Proposition 15 is on the ballot and, if passed, would create $12.5 billion in new taxes, the largest tax hike in our state’s history. It would do so by eliminating the 1% cap on property taxes for businesses throughout the state, including agricultural processing facilities such as tree nut hullers and processors. In addition, it would trigger annual reassessments for agricultural fixtures such as irrigation systems, solar installations on farms...

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Nematode Infestations in Walnuts

The time frame for planning a new walnut orchard can span months, if not years. From ordering trees to site preparation, growers understand the importance of preplant planning to ensure optimal orchard growth. It is important to know the site history and soil types when planning a new orchard. If the orchard is to follow an old walnut orchard, particular attention needs to be given to the tree removal process. For successful walnut production, it is the level of damaging nematode species found in the soil that must be addressed prior to setting trees in the ground.   Fumigation and...

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Almond Postharvest To-Do List

As harvest winds down, it’s time to focus on the postharvest to-do list. This includes everything from irrigation to nutrient applications to taking nut samples.   Get Water to Harvested Trees UCCE Farm Advisor Franz Niederholzer, in Sutter, Yuba and Colusa counties, stressed, first and foremost, irrigation. “Simply get your water back on as quickly as you can without damaging any nuts that are on the ground,” Niederholzer said, adding adequate, not excessive, moisture is needed. Almond growers are aggressively working their orchards as soon as the nuts hit the ground in the Sacramento Valley at harvest time, and those...

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Variety and Rootstock Decisions in a Newly Planted Orchard

Rootstocks are life. Varieties pay the bills. Of all the decisions tree nut growers make when planting a new orchard, rootstock choice has to be the most important one, said nurserymen who develop and provide the young trees for new orchard plantings. Variety choices are driven with payback in mind and are somewhat easier to make. “Absolutely, rootstocks are the most important consideration for a new orchard. If you get it wrong, the variety doesn’t matter,” said Agromillora’s Cliff Beumel. According to UC Davis Fruit and Nut Research and Information, rootstocks are bred to grow in different soil types and...

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Current and Future Applications of Unmanned Aircraft Systems in Precision Agriculture

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) are increasingly being utilized in farming applications throughout California’s Central Valley. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) anticipates that the adoption of UAS technology will continue to dramatically increase over the next several years. In 2019, there were 900,000 registered UAS drones in the United States, with about 17% being utilized for agriculture, meaning there are more than 153,000 drones currently in use for farming applications. As California farms produce roughly 13% of US farm dollars in the United States, it can be estimated that there are about 20,000 agriculture drones in California today. Additionally, the 2017...

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Pistachio Mummy Grinder Targets Overwintering NOW

Overwintering NOW in pistachios are reliably difficult to deal with in comparison to almonds. But growers are looking at novel ways to destroy those downed mummies. By the fall of 2021, California pistachio growers may be able to custom-order a mummy grinder that could dramatically improve winter sanitation. The grinder is the brainchild of two farmers and a metal fabricator who have gone outside the box to develop a solution to a problem that has plagued pistachio growers for decades: namely, how to destroy mummies, a major food source for the navel orangeworm (NOW). After two years of testing, the...

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Winter Sanitation in Pistachios

One benefit that pistachio growers are reaping from an increased adoption of double shaking is improved winter sanitation. But viewing an extra shake as a replacement for winter sanitation is a mistake, according to navel orangeworm experts. The second shake, now widely employed in California pistachio production, can do wonders for removing navel orangeworm (NOW), but additional sanitation is needed, according to Joel Siegel, an ARS entomologist based in Parlier, Calif. And, Siegel said, the best thing a grower can do to minimize NOW populations during the dormant season is get nuts on the ground.   Let Nature Work for...

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Advancing Crop Nutrition

As the 2020 season draws to a close, hopefully you and your agronomist have a chance to review the season and plan for 2021. It has certainly been a challenging season with a wet and cool Spring, COVID-19 disruptions and late, intense heat waves. Although it would be nice to put a difficult season behind us and start fresh, we must remember that for the crop, next year's start is dependent on how this season ends. This is definitely true of crop nutrition as both nutrients and carbohydrates will be stored for utilization next spring. Early- and mid-season tissue samples...

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Are You Prepared for a Cal/OSHA COVID Inspection?

Earlier this summer, Cal/OSHA began conducting enforcement inspections in earnest specifically focused on COVID-19. On Sept. 4, the agency announced the first group of agricultural employers to be cited and the proposed penalties, ranging from $2,025 to $51,190. Cal/OSHA considers agriculture a priority for their strategic enforcement. According to Cal/OSHA Chief Doug Park, “these are industries where workers have been disproportionately affected, and these citations are the first of many to be issued in the coming weeks and months.” It is critical that agricultural employers understand and are prepared for what can transpire during a Cal/OSHA COVID inspection.   Elements...

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Pressure Chamber Gauges Tree Water Stress, Helping Fine-tune Orchard Irrigation

UC Davis Plant Sciences Professor Ken Shackel, who has spent much of his career working with the pressure chamber, thinks of the device as measuring the “blood pressure” of plants. Unlike blood pressure, which is taken when a person is resting, pressure chamber readings are taken during midday when the tree is most active in pulling moisture through the xylem into its leaves. Although Shackel has been a staunch promoter of the device since the early 1990s, he said the industry has been slow to catch on. A recent survey by the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Fertilizer Research...

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The Role of Irrigation Technology in Your Future Orchard

With the sting of California’s latest drought still in memory and the state beginning to clamp down on groundwater use, maximizing every “crop per drop” of water has never been more important. This reality, in fact, helped propel the almond industry to announce its Almond Orchard 2025 Goals – one of which is to reduce the amount of water needed to grow a pound of almonds by an additional 20%. To achieve that goal and continue improving water use efficiency for years to come, industry members throughout the state will increasingly look to advanced irrigation technology to help adequately address...

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No “One Size Fits All” for Soil Nutrition

One of the greatest marketing tag lines of all time is “One size fits all!” That sure makes it easy to shop. Unfortunately, when you’re a mountain of a man like me at 5’7” and 160 pounds, a typical trucker’s hat is going to have to be cinched up like a 10-year-old wearing grandpa’s belt to keep it from falling over my ears. Farmers keep looking for the silver bullet of one-size-fits-all as well. One of my favorite questions from my clients this time of year is, “What do you do post-harvest?” Once a detailed prescription is calculated, the diagnosis...

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Diamond of California Taps into the Underdeveloped Market for Snack Walnuts

Diamond of California is paving the way to help energize the ready-to-eat (RTE) snack nuts category in walnuts with its latest product: Diamond of California Snack Walnuts. The product’s tagline, “walnuts made for snacking,” sounds simple and familiar, but no major national snack or nut brand has solely featured the superfood nut, let alone debuted with eight flavors and distribution on a national scale.   Targeting Snack and Wellness Trends The 108-year-old Diamond of California is uniquely poised to help grow this underdeveloped market due to the company’s strong agricultural foundations, rich culinary history and brand expertise. As a century-old company...

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Farm Advisor Profile

Growing up in Sonoma County, Kurt Hembree, M.S., weed management farm advisor with UCCE Fresno County, was surrounded by berries, apples, plums and other stone fruit. Though his father had grown up on a farm in Illinois, he moved out to California to leave the farm life and pursue a career in civil engineering, which had him dealing with large wells and developed systems in both rural and urban settings. But Hembree grew up to be interested in tree farming. “We didn’t have any annual crops. Just all trees, and not even vines at the time,” said Hembree. Though his...

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“Plan Before You Plant” to Maintain Safe Spaces Between Power Lines and Trees

As a nut grower, every tree you plant is an act of faith and a considerable investment in your future. You toil endlessly in your orchard, arm yourself with the latest information and carefully plan to protect your crop and secure your livelihood. Before you plant new trees, you’ll eliminate the risk of tree removal by a utility crew and probably rest easier at night, too, by planning before you plant to avoid conflicts with high voltage power lines. PG&E works with growers to prevent hazards that lead to property loss and perhaps loss of life. As a utility provider,...

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A New Look at Drying Harvested Almonds and Walnuts

When considering off-ground harvest, how to remove moisture from almonds becomes a major challenge, and an expense, for growers and processor. While this evolving method of harvest may help the industry meet dust reduction goals, it could also add the need for energy to dry the nuts. Almond Board of California and USDA Agriculture Research Service are both addressing the mechanical drying issue and have considered options including use of infrared drying technology. Guangwei Huang, associate director of food research and technology research and innovation at the Almond Board, said off-ground harvesting is one of the alternatives to reduce dust...

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Efficacy and Adoption of AF36

Reducing navel orangeworm damage in almond and pistachio orchards is one way of preventing aflatoxin contamination in the harvested crops. Another component that is widely used in pistachio orchards and is gaining traction in the almond industry is the use of AF36, a sterilized sorghum product that carries spores of an atoxigenic strain of the fungus Aspergillus flavus. This fungus species occurs naturally in orchard soils and has both toxigenic and atoxigenic strains. The atoxigenic AF36, spread on orchard floors, displaces the toxigenic strains that can cause formation of aflatoxin when the nuts are damaged by navel orangeworm. Since use...

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Building a Robust Soil Ecosystem

Mention “soil health” to a grower and they may recognize its value but may not understand exactly what it is or how to get there. Mention soil health to a soil scientist and you’ll likely get an hour lecture on how it needs to be done. Soil health, or regenerative agriculture, is a growing priority, and its central tenet is a soil that is robust, resilient and capable of performing desired ecosystem functions such as nutrient cycling and sustaining plant health. The components of a healthy soil include biota, organic matter, porosity and aeration, and a balanced chemistry. Soil 101...

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