WCN919 Archives - West Coast Nut

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Dixon Ridge Farms: A Case Study in Sustainability

Sustainability seems to be the new buzzword lately. From farms to retailers, and across many industries, everyone is talking about sustainability. But for some, like Winters-based Dixon Ridge Farms, a vertically integrated organic walnut grower, huller-dehydrator and processor, it has long been a way of doing business. Before sustainability became ‘cool’, Russ Lester, owner of Dixon Ridge Farms, was employing the whole systems approach to growing, harvesting and packing organic walnuts. This meant working with nature and being precise and selective with resource inputs; for example, allowing beneficial insect predators to thrive rather than use harsher chemicals, no or low...

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The Hardest Amendment to Make

Farmers are like athletes. However, your opponent is good ol’ Mother Nature. Like an athlete you have to prepare for the coming season, fight through pain and injury, while anticipating every move your opponent is going to make. Every athlete I know has always looked for that edge to get them to peak performance. Protein, energy drinks, recovery solutions, heat and cold therapy. When mother nature is on her game, she has the best curve ball in the business. But today, the astute farmer has a much better chance of hitting it. Solutions to Soil Amending There aren’t any simple...

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Taking Super-fy to Superweeks

As fall approaches, pecans are typically top of mind, particularly when it comes to pie and the holiday season. However, as the American Pecan Council works to raise demand for pecans nationwide, we know a critical piece of our efforts is finding creative, engaging, and research-driven ways to reach our target audience outside of harvest and the holidays. We have previously shared with you our overarching campaign to harness the year-round superfood power of American Pecans. The Super-fy marketing campaign leverages the idea that pecans’ powerful nutrition makes them the perfect addition to any snack or meal. From January through...

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Preparing Walnut Trees for Winter

Fully dormant mature walnut trees can tolerate temperatures into the low 20’s or below, so long as trees are in full dormancy, according to University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) farm advisor, emeritus, Wilbur Reil. While it’s tempting to push young tree growth as long as possible in the fall, it’s also risky. Freezing temperatures can cause die back in young trees, sometimes almost to the roots. Freeze events can also severely damage trees in mid-winter if the soil is dry. Fully dormant walnut trees can withstand temperatures well below freezing, but young trees are more susceptible to damage. It...

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What you Need to know About Trace Elements for Pecans

Pecan trees may look healthy, but still experience nutrient deficiency or toxicity when lacking in essential micronutrients. Josh Sherman, University of Arizona Cooperative Extension horticultural advisor, in a presentation on essential micronutrients in pecan production, noted that ‘hidden hunger’ phase is where yields and profits are lost. Micronutrients Micronutrients are considered essential to plant health when the plant cannot complete its life cycle if the element is deficient, when the element cannot be replaced by another element and when the element is directly involved in the nutrition of the plant. Micronutrients, except for boron, are mostly trace metals. They are...

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Grower Profile: Vanella Farms

In 1968, Bob Vanella bought ten acres in Chico, California. His son, Ryan Vanella recalls the story of when Bob came to look at the property with a house and a huller in the back. He had always wanted a huller. After he bought it, he went to tell his wife Sue, that he bought a huller with a little house in the front. She of course asked about the house. In which he replied “I don’t know, I didn’t look at the house. But there is a huller in the back”. Sue always knew Bob wanted to be a...

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Nitrogen in Walnuts—What, When, Where and how Much

To know how to correctly use nitrogen in walnut orchards, you first have to know some of the basic principals of nitrogen, according to Katherine Jarvis-Shean, University of California Cooperative Extension area orchard systems adviser for Sacramento, Solano, and Yolo counties. Jarvis-Shean shared this information during the Nickels Soil Lab Annual Field Day in her presentation—Nitrogen in Walnuts: What, When, Where and How Much? Nitrogen Principals Jarvis-Shean said growers have a few different forms of nitrogen as options of use in their agriculture systems. “Nitrogen is one part of soil organic matter, one part of urea, as in ammonium, and...

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More Efficiency with Less Labor: The Coming Age of Autonomous Equipment

The agriculture industry has been steadily adopting more and more digital advancements that have been made available since the coming of the new millennium. The implementation of technological breakthroughs appears to be coming at a more rapid pace as connectivity improvements and software innovations increasingly develop. One particular area of technological advancement that is projected to grow significantly in the coming years is the development and demand for autonomous farming equipment. Autonomous farm equipment can include tractors, harvesters, thinners, sprayers, as well as any other equipment that does not require a human operator to be onboard the machine to operate...

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LFB in Control for Almonds and Pistachios

When you see adult leaffooted bugs (LFB) in your almond or pistachio orchards, it is time to take action. There is no established threshold for economic damage caused by this piercing-sucking pest, said Kris Tollerup, UC Cooperative Extension area Integrated Pest Management advisor. Traps and lures for LFB are still being evaluated. Visual observation of LFB in an orchard should prompt treatment, advisors said. LFB This large insect pest is a native of California, and has been found in the San Joaquin Valley from Butte to Kern counties. While LFB may be found in most valley locations, there are specific...

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How Much Pruning is Necessary in Mature Almonds?

After the final windrows of the season are swept and picked up, many almond growers consider whether they should prune their bearing almond trees. The answer depends on what the goals might be. Limbs that are broken, diseased, are in the way of cultural practices or present safety concerns should be periodically removed. If the goal is to increase or prolong yield of the orchard, the answer is probably no. Past and current University of California (UC) trials suggest that growers are not getting a return on their pruning investment if their goal is to improve yield. In fact, the...

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Pistachio Prices Hinge on Export Expectations

Off and on. That rhythm is the cadence for pistachio yields. On and on is what exports need to be. Last year two-thirds of U.S. pistachios crossed borders or sailed oceans. California producers have planted pistachio trees at a faster rate than any other tree nut variety over the last decade. Watching production grow, the RaboResearch team developed a supply-and-demand analytical tool to help growers anticipate prices levels for the next five years. Supply Growth is Set to Continue Pistachio bearing acreage grew more than twofold over the last decade, making pistachios California’s fastest-growing tree nut in terms of acreage....

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Kester, a Productive Late Bloom Almond Variety from University of California Davis

The variety Kester was developed as a pollenizer for Nonpareil that combines good kernel quality and productivity with a later flowering time for reducing vulnerability to flower diseases and frost damage. Kester’s high productivity and later flowering time also make it a promising alternative to the variety Padre in Padre/Butte plantings. Kernels are similar to Nonpareil in shape and size, though the seedcoat tends to be darker and slightly rougher. The seed parent of Kester was Tardy-Nonpareil, a bud-sport mutation of Nonpareil that retains Nonpareil’s good kernel qualities and disease resistance but flowers 10 days after Nonpareil. The Kester tree...

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Mycorrhizal Fungi Have Benefits in Agriculture

Researchers who are exploring this relationship are finding that mycorrhizal fungi are a vital part of ecosystem health around the world—not only in less intensively managed ecosystems but in agricultural landscapes as well. Mycorrhizal Fungi Mycorrhizal fungi colonize the root system of a host plant to form a symbiotic relationship and assist with water and nutrient acquisition. In return, the plant provides the fungus with energy in the form of carbohydrates, or sugars. In addition, these microscopic fungi may also play an important role in minimizing the impacts of stress and disease on plant hosts. Mycorrhizae exist as microscopic threads...

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38 Year UCCE Farm Advisor Janine Hasey Retires

One of Janine Hasey’s first duties as a University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) intern was to lead a meeting for walnut growers and explain what was causing blackline disease in their orchards. “There was a great turnout of about 100 people,” Hasey recalled. “My mentor and great pomologist, Dave Chaney, let me run the meeting. This was going to be the first local meeting on what caused the disease.” Blackline disease, she told growers at the meeting, is caused by cherry leafroll virus and spread from tree to tree with infected pollen. That meeting not only launched a 38-year...

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Emergency Wildfire Smoke Regulation Adopted

We are all aware that California has been ravaged by wildfires in recent years.  The loss of life and property has been historical and has meaningfully changed how some in our agricultural community operate.  Politically, a variety of issues exist surrounding how to take both preventative and corrective measures in all aspects of wildfire management.  One of those areas on consternation that has been a point of discussion for nearly a year is the impact of wildfire smoke on employees. In December 2018, the California Labor Federation, Worksafe and the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation filed Petition No. 573, “requesting...

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Wildfire Response Legislation Passes—What Does it Mean?

Wildfire Response Legislation Passes—What Does it Mean? In response to the catastrophic wildfires California has experienced over the past two years related to power lines, this past month the State Legislature passed AB 1054 (Holden) and it was subsequently signed a few days later by Governor Gavin Newsome. So what does it mean to ratepayers, in particular farms, hullers and processors of tree nuts throughout California? First, let me state that it is not everything that should have happened. Rather, it is probably the best we could ask for given the makeup of this state and the state legislature. To...

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Fertilizing Important Points to Consider when Fertilization Hazelnuts

Telly Wirth, of Tangent, in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, has this take on fertilizing hazelnuts: With each grower, each orchard, each season and each year, the needs will vary. Moving to Hazelnut Production The Wirth family’s operation was originally a grass seed and grain farm, with some acreage planted in legumes and vegetable seed. With the bans on traditional field burning to kill pests, and disease spores, came the need for more chemical use—along with greater expense—to protect the grass seed. So, Telly began searching for a more profitable crop. About 10 years ago, hazelnuts entered the picture for the Wirth...

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