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
Plenty of wind moved through our coverage area in the last week, although we’re only hearing limited reports of damaged or blown over trees. Winds did knock varying amounts of almonds off trees, although it’s debatable how many of those nuts would have made it to harvest anyway. Instead of a prolonged normal drop, a good deal of it likely happened in a short time, making the effect more dramatic. That’s not to say some good nuts weren’t lost, too, in extreme situations. Gusts of 40 mph were reported in places.
Temperatures are shifting into a hotter period, with highs into the upper 80s or low 90s. That will likely speed up pest cycles, not to mention dry down outlying vegetation and push more bugs into crops. Spider mite activity could pick up, as well.
May sprays have either started or are being planned over the next couple of weeks.
Click image to enlarge.
Leaffooted plant bug on an almond. Photo: Andrew Moore, Growers Crop Consulting, Bakersfield.
Plant bugs and stink bugs continue turning up in almonds. At this point, treatments are mostly being piggybacked with other applications or PCAs are recommending spot sprays.
Bug sprays have started in pistachios. Fruiting gaps are evident in some trees.
Codling moth applications in walnuts continue in places during the 1A flight, although a number of our contacts said they are holding off and will likely spray in the 1B flight.
The 2017 Nickels Soil Lab Field Day is set for Wednesday, May 10, and will cover a wide range of walnut and almond topics. The lab is located on Green Bay Road at Arbuckle. Connect to more info in our Links section.
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Aaron Heinrich, Independent Crop Advisor, Agronomic Systems, Escalon:
“We’re smack in the middle of our almond May sprays. Combinations vary and might include fungicides, something for worms, maybe miticides and also foliar nutrients. We’re also finishing up with tissue sampling in almonds. Fertilizer is still going out.
“The forecast calls for us transitioning into the warmest temperatures of the year, into the 90s. Things will really start moving along with hot weather.
“Up until now I’ve been holding people off on irrigation, but now is the time to start. We’ll be in full swing this week with irrigation, and some fertilizer will go out with the water, too.
“In walnuts we’re right in the middle of the 1A codling moth flight. I do have some blocks with worm damage and dropped nuts, and we’ll be treating in some of those locations, based on trap counts and history. We plan to treat some other blocks on the 1B flight, which will start in a couple of weeks.
“We’ve been scouting for blight in the walnuts. I’ve also been checking closely for leafrollers and have found just a few. It’s a pest you don’t hear much about in walnuts, but I don’t want it to slip up on us. Thresholds are kind of in a gray area. The university has never really set one, so I’ve kind of come up with my own, but nothing has approached what I’d consider a treatment level. The last time I treated any leafrollers was maybe 2 years ago.”
Dan Prentice, Prentice Ag Consulting, Bakersfield:
“We’re spraying a lot of almond blocks this week, mostly with fungicides for rust. We’ve also found a tiny bit of alternaria. In places where we’re seeing mites we’re also including a miticide. Mites remain very light, let me add, and these are isolated situations where we are spraying. Something is going in the spray for plant bugs if we’re finding activity, but it’s been a while since we’ve sprayed any trees just for plant bugs.
“I’ve seen a tiny bit of stink bug activity this week. Again, it’s nothing real bad, but we’ll include something for them with the fungicide if they’re turning up.
“In pistachios, growers are getting ready to make a nutrient spray, and we’ll include something for plant bugs in those applications. I haven’t spotted any large bugs in pistachios yet, but we usually can find some phytocoris and a handful of lygus.
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“The weather has been really nice this week, with temperatures in the upper 70s. Next week, though, it’s supposed to move into the mid 90s and maybe into the upper 90s for a couple of days. After that, the forecast says temperatures will fall into the 80s again. That jump in temperatures probably will start drying up weeds and push more bugs into fields.”
Franz Niederholzer, UC Farm Advisor, Sutter/Yuba Counties:
“The wind has been blowing hard today (4/28), with sustained winds and gusts at probably 40 mph. It’s been dry and temperatures are warming up fast. We need to remember that, even with cloudy weather and a little rain, the ‘water clock’ isn’t rolling backwards in almonds. We’re now into a phase where the trees need water, and more people are into irrigation this week on a regular basis. The ground has gotten pretty dry in spots.
“In some blocks we’re seeing yellowing of small leaves and related leaf drop, particularly inside the canopy. Those trees are a bit water stressed. Don’t panic. In the spring we often see this, and it can indicate that growers waited a little longer to start irrigating. This yellowing might even appear after the grower has started watering trees.
“With less soil moisture to move nutrients, the tree is simply retrieving nutrients from those leaves, which are not particularly important to overall yields. I’m seeing it for certain in some lighter ground.
“Things dried up pretty quickly. One guy kind of joked that 10 days ago he still had to wear boots in the field but now he’s throwing dust in the air when he drives through it. The forecast predicts highs pushing to 90 by mid week, certainly into the upper 80s, so we’re into a tremendous weather swing.
“A PCA said today (4/28) that he’s seeing a lot of leaffooted bugs in certain areas, although nothing general. But he was finding enough in places that he had no trouble taking pictures of them. He was treating in those cases.
“Another PCA said he’s seeing a big spike in NOW with these warmer conditions. Adult males are turning up in pheromone traps, which often happen about a week ahead of finding eggs. We haven’t seen any eggs yet at the Nickels Soil Lab but expect them sometime next week. Compared to last year, that’s a week or two later.
“PTB continue to trickle into almonds but they are still fairly light, which probably has been influenced by cool weather. We haven’t had many days with nighttime temperatures above 55, which suppressed activity.
“People report seeing small numbers of mites, but it hasn’t been warm enough yet to drive them. I’m also hearing spotty reports about leafrollers. That’s not a major pest for us, but in a year with wet conditions, things develop that usually aren’t factors in drier years, and leafrollers could be one of them.
“No sign of endosperm in nuts yet. We’re generally in the middle of the application period for the second round of nitrogen.
“I’m hearing varying reports about codling moth catches in walnuts. Depending on where you are on the west side, you might be finding more, based on reports this week.”
David A. Doll, Pomology Farm Advisor, Merced County:
“Sustained winds today (4/28) have easily been in the 20s (mph), with gusts in the mid 30s and maybe into the 40s. It’s windy enough that people are hesitant about irrigating almonds for fear of getting soils wet enough that trees might blow over.
“It certainly is time to irrigate, otherwise. In our test plots earlier this week everything indicated that the trees needed a drink. I think most people have started watering by now, although some may have put that on hold until conditions calm down again. This is one of the windier days we’ve had this spring.
“Due to the wind, everyone is holding off on spraying. A range of products are going out with these upcoming May sprays. I think most people hope they can wait 7 to 10 days before they begin those applications.
“Plant bugs seem to be hit or miss. But more will likely start moving into orchards once other hosts dry down. Maybe by that time we’ll have enough shell hardening that plant bugs won’t be a big issue. On a big part of the crop we’re about a third of the way through kernel fill, and shells already have started firming up.
“In pistachios, trees pushed out unevenly in places and we have gaps. Whether that was due to oiling or other factors, it’s hard to say. I am seeing these blank spots in the tops of some trees. I’ve heard scattered reports of these blank zones in almonds, as well. I might call this bud failure, but it’s not infectious bud failure. It’s something that’s more physiological than genetic. Winter conditions maybe influenced this.
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“I continue to be amazed at how bad gopher density is this season and the fact that populations and related damage are getting worse every year. They can kill trees, both big and small ones. I’m noticing gopher mounds every time I walk into an orchard. Admittedly, there’s nothing simple about gopher control. All the options require time and manpower, and you’ve got to start early to take out the females and young to break the upward population trend.
“You may not think much about damage right now since there are no symptoms. But as temperatures increase, we’ll see trees stress due to root damage and loss of capacity to move water and nutrients into the trees.”
Nathan Stewart, PCA, AgVantage Consulting, Inc., Visalia:
“We’ve had a lot of wind, and this has been going on to some extent since that last big rain storm a couple of weeks ago. It’s really set us back on spraying in the almonds, and we’re seeing a little drop among the mature nuts.
“We had to go back and spot-treat plant bugs in certain places where we treated earlier. They weren’t too heavy, but we could find enough activity to justify spraying. Also, we’ve had to spot spray some areas for the first time this season.
“Kernels have pretty much sized up. They need to harden up from the gel stage, and we’re staying on top of irrigation scheduling so we don’t short them on water at this point. Nutrients are going on, too. That last nutrient application will go on at the end of May or first of June, especially on the Nonpareils.
“My growers’ May sprays should start next week. NOW counts spiked, so we’ll probably include a NOW material, along with a fungicide and maybe a miticide. At this time we’re really not finding any mite pressure, so we may hold on a miticide and then come back later so we can extend miticide activity toward the end.
“In our small almond trees we’re picking up a lot of PTB and will be checking for potential PTB shoot strikes later. We haven’t made any treatments for anything in them yet.
“The pistachio crop looks decent this year after a pretty good crop last year, too. I’m fertilizing accordingly. We finished all of our small plant bug sprays and did include fungicides where we thought botryosphaeria pressure might develop. We’ve seen leaffooted bugs in spots in pistachios and are keeping an eye on that.
“In the young trees we’re also checking for chinch bugs. Although it’s probably still a little early for them, I don’t want any surprises. I expect that we will do a foliar on those trees in the next couple of weeks.
“In walnuts, the codling moth counts have mostly been really low. Our biofix will fall into maybe an April 7-9 period. We’ll spray in the 1B flight and include propiconazole where we’ve seen a lot of botryosphaeria dieback in the past.
“I’m kind of disappointed with our Sur crop. It looks really light. The majority of my citrus is in Tulare District 2, and they’ve declared petal fall. As soon as we can on Monday we’ll start thrips sprays there, especially on the earlier varieties.”
Todd Fukuda, Weinberger and Associates, Hanford:
“We’re making our almond May sprays. Leaffooted bugs have shown up in places and we’re seeing damage. About half the applications will include something for leaffooted bugs. With the other half of the acreage we’re holding off until we find damage or actual bugs.
“We’re somewhat clear of heavy rains and don’t expect to apply a fungicide right now. We’ve had a lot of wind but not much damage, either blown over trees or loss of good crops. If anything, all this wind made it evident which nuts should drop off anyway. Instead of an extended drop, a good deal of it occurred in a short time. You can walk through the orchards and hear them drop.
“In pistachios we’re midway through our zinc-copper sprays. Insect damage is picking up, and it appears that a little lygus have been filtering through – enough that we’ve been including a pyrethroid in the tank to knock them down.”
Aaron Beene, PCA, Simplot, Merced:
“The last 3 days have been really windy, with speeds at 20 and up to 30 mph yesterday (4/28) and Thursday. The winds have started to die down and now the temperatures are going up dramatically, into the 90s at times over the next 7 days. That will shut down vegetative growth in almonds for a bit, but we already have good growth.
“After petal fall and jacket split our trees had adequate moisture and perfect temperatures, and the nuts have sized up nicely. Each week this crop looks better and better.
“It’s been cool enough that insect activity slowed down. But with temperatures set to rise, we’ll probably have about a typical May spray schedule – around May 12-15 or so. I’m finding very little mite activity. Leaffooted bugs have been spotty this year, a lot less than I thought, at least in my area.
“As far as diseases go, trees look pretty clean for now, but we’ll have to wait and see what rust and scab infections do as conditions warm up over the next month. Typically, they don’t develop until we move into warmer weather, even though the infections maybe occurred 3 weeks ago. We’re at about the 50% mark in applying nitrogen, and we’re probably just about done with potassium applications. We’ll do a little more this week for nut fill.
“Also, we’re about to start monitoring for ants and lining up applications in the next 2 to 3 weeks. Ant populations were really bad here in 2016, and this year I’m already noticing an increase. It’s been mild, and they’ve had plenty of time to forage and increase numbers. Once it gets hot, they’ll hunker down in the soil. I’m already seeing mounds and activity, which isn’t a good thing in April, especially after heavy pressure last year.
“In walnuts the codling moth trap counts started increasing in the last week or two. The 1A flight is underway about now or next week, and we’re probably looking at an application on the 1B. They won’t lay eggs on nuts that are less than 3/8ths of an inch. With this cool weather our nuts aren’t big enough to line up with this current flight. This week we started applying some nitrogen on walnuts.”
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Leaffooted plant bug on an almond.
Photo: Andrew Moore,
Growers Crop Consulting, Bakersfield.
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