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
Temperatures dropped to at least 32 late in the week in parts of our coverage area. Frost was apparent in places, too. But none of our contacts were aware of cases where temperatures dipped into what might be considered a danger zone.
A drier weather pattern appears to be in the making through much of the Central Valley in the new week. Rain had been in the forecast, but predictions over the weekend minimized the chances for rain in parts of our coverage area.
Fungicides are still going out. In places, growers have just been able to make the first application, while others are into the second spray.
How much have bees been able to work? The answer varies by location, but all the rain, wind and cold weather have cut into the amount of blooms they could cover.
NOW: A tailgate meeting covering navel orangeworm monitoring and mating disruption will be held in Kern County on Tuesday, February 28, starting at 8:30 a.m. The location: 31000 Kimberlina Road (3.3 miles west of Hwy 99), southeast of Wasco. The almond orchard for the event is on the south side of Kimberlina Road. Topics will include monitoring and management techniques, with an emphasis on mating disruption. Presentations will be made by Extension workers and industry personnel. For more info call 661 868-6200.
PRUNES: The 2017 UCCE South Sacramento Valley Prune Meeting is set for Friday, March 3, at the Veterans Memorial Hall, 1425 Veterans Memorial Circle in Yuba City. Registration starts at 7:45 a.m. and the meeting runs until noon, with a hosted lunch following. Connect to more info in our Links section.
From Our Sponsor
Sara Savary, PCA, Crop Care Associates, Fresno:
" The weather is supposed to be drier for about 10 days, so hopefully we’ll get caught up. Some guys are just now able to apply their first fungicide, even though we’re at full bloom. It remained too wet for too long. That’s been the case on maybe a third of my acres, and there wasn’t much we could do about it.
“Where growers have drier ground and could treat earlier, they’re into the second application by ground. With one marshy block near Visalia we had to go by helicopter. We’ve also had 100 acres surrounded by residential areas at Firebaugh where it’s too wet to go by ground. But with all the housing around that acreage, we couldn’t spray by air, so we’ll have to wait for drier conditions.”
Gary Gliddon, PCA, Treevine Consulting, Modesto:
“We were being drenched, then it turned cold and windy, with some pretty low temperatures last night (2/23). It didn’t drop quite low enough to cause damage, although in some locations it probably got close.
“We’re past full bloom on some varieties. The late varieties are just coming into full bloom, so it will all be over next week. This hasn’t been a good bloom period. Bees work hard but not when it’s windy and cold.
“Growers with sandy ground were able to squeeze in their first fungicide sprays. In places we had to fly on materials. The pilots did pretty good, and everything got covered as far as I know. That’s not to say things went perfectly. Sometimes it rained before we could get everything covered at the right time.
“It’s too early to see any disease, and it will take some time before any diseases become apparent. That goes for the crop, too. We’ll have to wait and see how much pollination took place and what portion will fall off. But it will be sometime down the line before we can make any estimates.
“Based on this weather at bloom, I don’t expect a great crop, certainly nothing of bumper proportions.
From Our Sponsor
“The weather also delayed some preemergence herbicide applications, and those weeds are growing like mad. But we can’t do anything right now because it’s too wet, and the weather has been keeping us from doing pretty much anything else in the orchards. Another front is supposed to come through on Saturday (2/25), although the latest projections show that it might miss us. After that we’ll be into a stretch of sunshine, so we should have time for the ground to dry out.
“My growers who were hit the hardest have mostly been in the southern parts of Merced County. One grower said it was so wet that they couldn’t even walk out there. If he doesn’t get rain from this storm he should be okay. But most of my growers are on sand, so their soils should dry out pretty quickly.
“I’ve got a 5-month-old farm magazine laying around, and the articles are talking about how bad the drought is and how we need to save water. It’s kind of unreal how things are now. That magazine seems like it’s from another age, like something from eons ago.”
Dale Deshane, PCA, Supervised Control, Bakersfield:
“The weather has continued to be crazy. A big area over the last week has averaged 1.0 to 1.5 inches of rain, although isolated locations probably received 2 to 3 inches.
“It’s been a fiasco at times trying to get things sprayed. We’d just started applications when the weather really hit, and people have been scrambling ever since. Ground rigs virtually stopped and we’re just now seeing a few of them running again.
“Nearly everything we’ve applied has been by air. The applicators have been solidly booked, and it’s taking a week to get almonds sprayed. With some crops the timeline is more like 2 weeks. So far, we’ve sprayed everything once and have probably covered 25% of the crop twice. Rain was predicted for this coming Sunday (2/26) and into Monday, but the latest forecast indicates we may not be hit.
“I’m not seeing any disease starting yet. I’ve been looking, mainly for jacket rot or early shot hole. A lot of orchards are in pretty good petal fall. In a few weeks we’ll know how much of this will stick. The really bad weather developed right at the beginning of full bloom. In 6 days we had one really good day for bee pollination. So the prospects for this crop are up in the air, and I can’t predict right now what will happen.
“Some blocks were plastered by the wind, and more damage probably developed south of Bakersfield than north of it. However, a grower in the Delano area lost 600 trees in a 160-acre block. Just driving around the area you’ll see a lot of orchards with trees blown over, although it’s hard to tell how much damage occurred deeper in the field.
“We’re already running out of some materials or they’re in short supply. I’ve gotten word about that with 5 or 6 products. Early on, we were able to pretty much make fungicide applications on almonds before things turned wild, but we’ve really fought to make that second treatment. But by the end of the week we probably will have 90% of the recommended applications wrapped up. Mostly now we’re waiting to see what the weather does.
“I’ve seen a few earwigs in younger almond and pistachio trees.
“This morning I had ice on my windshield, which I haven’t seen in a long time. The truck thermometer hit 32 in spots. I haven’t heard about anything in the 20s, although that may have been the case in some low spots. But nobody has described a situation where it was cold enough to hurt the crop. It has snowed this week at the base of the Grapevine.
“We’re pushing to get protection on other crops, too. We’re trying to treat potatoes now for blight, spray carrots for blight and mildew and make downy mildew sprays in onions. We’ve also been spraying weevils in hay where we can get someone to do it.”
Franz Niederholzer, UC Farm Advisor, Sutter/Yuba Counties:
“We’ve had a beautiful week up this way. We have had frost concerns over the last couple of nights, but I haven’t seen anything that would be considered bad news. Still, though, we sure need to pay attention to the forecasts and advisories.
“We unexpectedly received a ton of rain last Friday (2/17). Even though the west side tends to be pretty dry, it rained 2 to 3 inches across parts of that area and up to 4 inches in spots. All this depends on the location, but at the Nickels Soil Lab we’ve recorded 23 inches this season. Those are big numbers.
“How quickly anybody has been able to get in the field again has mostly depended on the soil. Nickels is in the foothills, and soils at the lab have a lot of gravel and don’t hold rain very well. On soils like that people could spray by ground by the middle of this week, but helicopters also have been busy.
From Our Sponsor
“The bloom has been moving through all this weather. Some blooms hadn't opened before the rain, so we didn’t need to protect them at that point, but then they opened as the rain lingered. So, people were scrambling to apply fungicides when they could and include materials that can reach back.
“Rain has been in the forecast for the latter part of this week, but the latest prediction indicates that it may not amount to much. Once we get through this weekend things should clear up for a while. Bee activity has varied widely. We’ve had some bee hours at Nickels today, but yesterday (2/23) we had none and the day before that it worked out to 2.5 hours. On Tuesday bees had about 8 hours to work.”
(Click image to enlarge.)
Todd Fukuda, Weinberger and Associates, Hanford:
“We were able to get fungicides out. We did have to go by air on a lot of it. We’re fortunate to have aerial applicators who will work with us in a situation like this.
“We’ve been pushing this week to get the next treatment out because the forecast had been calling for a pretty strong chance of rain on Sunday, although the percentages have now faded away. In a perfect situation we would want everything to go out by ground, but we at least have protection in place if any rain develops in the next 7 to 10 days.
“So far, we’ve only sprayed twice. A lot of ground is still too wet for a tractor. Some guys assume they’ll have to spray 3 or 4 times.
“The bloom looks fairly good. In certain areas it seemed to take longer to transition from pink buds to blooms, while in other locations it happened faster. I’d hate to be forecasting how this crop might look before nutlets form. The main question has centered on how much bee activity we’ve had. It’s mostly been cloudy and chilly, but we have flowers out now and better conditions. How much pollination can be accomplished now will mostly depend on how long before the next storm develops and to what extent petal fall will progress.”
Aaron Heinrich, Independent Crop Advisor, Agronomic Systems, Escalon:
“We’re at about full bloom or very close to it. The warm weather yesterday (2/24) and today will push things along.
“Bees have had a few days when they could work at least some. They were able to be active yesterday and today, plus tomorrow looks favorable. As far as fungicides go, I’ve heard cases where people have been unable to spray any so far. A number of my clients have made one full spray and are in the process of starting on the second.
“The last forecast indicates that the next rain is about 7 days out. We sure need drier conditions right now. The heavier ground has been saturated, and the aerial applicators have been backed up. We would certainly like to go by ground on this next round of treatments on heavier soils.”
California Almonds: Frost Risk In Forecast – What To Remember 2-26
California Prunes: Annual S. Sacramento Valley Meeting Set For March 3 2-25
California Citrus: UC Riverside Gets $5.1Mln to Fight Citrus Tree Killer 2-22
California: Looking for Weed Control Options Beyond Herbicides 2-22
California Sorghum: Sugarcane Aphid Update Meeting, Parlier, Feb. 28 2-22
California Almonds: 5 Reasons All This Rain Is Bad for Pollination Season 2-21
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