Here is this week's issue of AgFax Tree Crops.
Our thanks to BASF’s California team for once again sponsoring our coverage of tree crops in the Central Valley.
Owen Taylor, Editor
A few more blooms are apparent, although the real bloom period in many areas won’t fully crank up until sometime next week.
The forecast calls for more storms starting in the second half of the new week. That could closely coincide with the beginning of bloom in places.
Pink bud sprays are on the books for early in the week in parts of our coverage area. Some growers will begin treatments on the early side, fearing more rain delays and/or applicator backlogs..
Muddy fields have delayed hive placements in certain locations.
Flooded orchards? DPR has granted an emergency exemption for aerial applications of certain fungicides on orchards that have standing water. So far, the exemption applies to these counties: Butte, Colusa, Glenn, Sutter, Tehama, and Yuba. Standing water in these situations cannot be pumped offsite or flow offsite due to run-off where treatments were made. Other restrictions apply. Connect to more info in our Links section.
A meeting on managing nitrogen more effectively in the San Joaquin Valley has been set for February 24 in Hanford. The event will be held in the Kings County Cooperative Extension Multi-Purpose Room, 680 W. Campus Dr., Ste. F. Registration starts at 8 a.m. Seating is limited. Connect to more info in our Links section.
National Almond Day is coming up on Thursday, February 16.
BLOOMS - SEEING ANY?
Almond blooms began turning up a bit more in the last week. Here's a shot from Nathan Stewart, PCA with, AgVantage Consulting, Inc., in Visalia. To share your own shots, please email them to email@example.com.
Click image to enlarge. Photo: Nathan Stewart, PCA, AgVantage Consulting, Inc., Visalia.
From Our Sponsor
Nick Groenenberg, Independent PCA, Hanford:
“We’re lining up the first sprays in almonds for brown rot blossom blight. We’re in a rainy spell, and when we can get in there we will spray everything. If we can’t go by ground we’ll treat by air.
“We’re real close to pink bud. I’ve heard reports here and there about blossoms, although I haven’t seen any myself. Maybe by next week they’ll be apparent. That’s when I want to spray, considering all the rains we’ve already had and those that are predicted. Some fields definitely are too wet to go by ground right now. On our lighter soils we should be able to get in there in a day or two if enough wind and sunshine follow the rain.
“Last night (2/9) it probably rained close to a half-inch in places, plus they’re talking about another rain next Thursday.
“Pistachios, I think, are short on chill in most areas. We simply didn’t get enough cold weather, so we’ll have to wait and see how pistachios leaf out and bloom. That situation is kind of scary for me right not, but there’s nothing we can do about it. I think the almonds got enough chill. Nobody seems to think that will be a problem.”
Franz Niederholzer, UC Farm Advisor, Sutter/Yuba Counties:
“No blooms yet, but we’re finding plenty of swollen buds – enough that you can see them when driving along county highways.
“A storm came through yesterday (2/9), then it cleared off today and we’re supposed to have nice weather through mid week before the next predicted storm comes in. The temperatures should move into the mid 60s, and it’s 63 right now, so things should move pretty fast.
“Most guys are planning a fungicide application in the early to middle part of the week. A number of varieties are coming on very close together, so this could be a tight pattern. That might make spray decisions and timing a little easier compared to years when things are more stretched out.
“A lot of applications will go out by helicopter, and those applicators have been trying to line up their schedules. Some growers will likely start a little earlier than normal because they have a lot of ground to cover. How much gets done by ground remains to be seen. It’s pretty wet, especially down in the valley floor. I’m seeing a few flowers on those odd plants in the ditches and in some of the really old plantings in Yuba City, so a lot of blooms should pop in farmers' fields between now and the middle of next week.”
David A. Doll, Pomology Farm Advisor, Merced County:
“A few random flowers are popping here and there in almonds, which isn’t uncommon at this point, especially on the early varieties. I expect to see a lot of pink bud sprays starting early next week. By the end of the week I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re not looking at bloom.
“The flip side of this is that another big rainstorm is coming in next week and will stretch from Thursday to Sunday, with quite a bit of rain, based on the last forecast I saw. That may impose some changes on how bloom progresses and also could impact fruit set.
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“This is the kind of year when you hope you have strong hives and it’s not too windy for the bees to operate. With these conditions we’ll likely make multiple fungicide applications.
"Hives have either been placed in many of the orchards or they soon will be. It’s good to get hives in place a week or so before bloom so bees can stabilize and bounce back from stress caused by relocation.
“I posted an item on the blog that included information on adding surfactants to fungicide sprays. Unless a product label specifically requires a surfactant, UC is suggesting that you don’t include one. We have some great guidelines on our BeeSafe website, with guidance on using different materials, including fungicides.
“How quickly things happen now with bloom depends on this next storm. Storms this week have been very warm and dropped a lot of rain. Based on the forecasts, those storms next week will start warm but then turn cold. So, we might see the length of bloom extend if temperatures drop as bloom starts. That’s not necessarily a bad thing because it allows a wider pollination window. Considering the inclement weather patterns, that extra time could be beneficial. Nothing, of course, is guaranteed.
“Keep in mind that the frost risk increases as trees get farther from bloom, so be prepared if a cold snap follows one of these storms. Check irrigation systems and ensure they’re ready to go. You don’t want to wake up at 4 a.m. to start pumping water for frost mitigation, then find out something isn’t working.
“With this highly variable weather anything might happen. Our last widespread frost problems were in 2012, and bloom periods have been fairly warm since then. This is a year when that might change, so confirm that your systems are working.”
Mark W.F. Carter, PCA, Agri-Consultants, Los Banos:
“We’re at green tip in the almonds and buds are just starting to swell. We should see pink buds sometime early next week. As much as it’s rained I don’t know if we’ll be able to spray by ground and may have to use a helicopter on everything with this first round of fungicides.
“I’m aiming to use fungicides that are highly mobile and will move through the membrane. Going by air could mean less-than-ideal coverage, so we need something that can penetrate in that pink bud stage. The further complication is that there is never enough helicopter capacity. Plus, the forecast calls for more rain to start next Thursday, with chances of rain for maybe the next 8 days after that.
“Hopefully, that won’t materialize. But as things look, some trees could start blooming as the rain begins, and the bees won’t be working if it rains all day. One more challenge is simply getting the bees out on saturated ground. We had less than 2 days last week to move hives into place, and then it rained and got soils muddy again.
“One of my growers put bees in place, but the surrounding orchards still don’t have hives set up. Unless growers with those adjoining orchards can get their bees out soon, that will dilute the effect of my client's bees. Supposedly, we have 5 days of dry weather ahead of us, and maybe that will give everyone enough of an opening to finish hive placement.”
Tony Touma, PCA, Bio Ag Consulting, Bakersfield:
“It started raining last night (2/9) and hasn’t stopped yet. It still hasn’t rained as much in Kern County as it has up north. I’ve been in San Francisco 3 times in 3 weeks and some areas up there have received 20 inches or more in that period. Bakersfield is still plenty wet, though, and I’m writing fungicide recommendations for all the trees.
“We’ll go by air on 80% to 90% of the almonds because the ground is too saturated to spray by ground. Aerial applicators already know they’ll be backed up, maybe running 3 to 4 days behind, and it will be impossible to catch up. By Monday we will be very close to 5% bloom in the Nonpareils. By the middle of next week we’ll be at 5% to 10% bloom.
“How fast bloom progresses will be somewhat determined by the weather. The last 2 days have been pretty warm, plus we’ve had the rain. That’s bad news in terms of disease. If it were cool, that rain wouldn’t be a factor. The weather forecast indicates yet another storm towards the end of next week.
From Our Sponsor
“Even with all the rain and delays, everybody is happy. We need the water. But if the rain keeps pounding blooms, that could be serious. And if the rain continues, we’ll spray fungicides every 7 to 10 days, not every 2 weeks.”
Dwaine Heinrich, PCA, Stanislaus Farm Supply, Modesto:
“We’ve got a full bank of moisture in the soil profile. We’re seeing just a few blooms here and there in some early almond varieties, so bloom is just around the corner. Within another 7 days I expect us to definitely be in bloom stage.
“Plenty of trucks and hives are on the road, and crews are situating bees. Everyone is putting orders together for fungicides, and we’ve already started making deliveries. Commercial spray men are putting together their schedules. With all the rains we’ve had, I think we’ll see a lot of interest in getting fungicides on early.
“In these conditions the fungal spores are set to take off, and conditions have certainly been conducive to spreading. This will be a year when we’ll have to do as much as we can to protect those blossoms. Some aerial applications will be necessary, either by plane or helicopter. People will try to go by ground as much as they can, but it’s wet right now. Even though we should have clear weather for the next 3 to 4 days (from 2/11), more rain has been predicted for next Thursday or Friday.
“A good majority of my clients should be able to get on the ground, but it depends on the location and soil type. On heavier clay it will be a struggle. All we can do at this point is take it one day at a time, get ready and remain flexible.”
California: IPM Meeting Focus on Pest Rules, Wet Weather, Firebaugh, Feb. 22 2-8
California Orchards: Emergency Fungicide Applications Granted in Cases of Standing Water 2-11
California Almonds: Getting Ready for Bloom 2-9
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