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
Hull split sprays have started on a wider basis through much of our coverage area.
At least some shaking will likely begin before the end of the month in the southern half of the San Joaquin Valley.
Pest pressure has increased since the June heat wave, particularly in field crops. But spider mites have ramped up in almonds in places and flat mites have required multiple applications in some pistachios.
Another round of extreme heat is underway and will continue into the new week.
Extension personnel will cover the latest developments in cotton in the San Joaquin Valley during a Tuesday, July 11, field day in Mendota. Connect to more details in our Links section.
Chris Morgner, PCA, Agri-Valley Consulting, Merced
“We’re into hull split in the Nonpareils. NOW are flying and we’re spraying. Some people started treatments in almonds last Sunday (7/2) and a couple of applications even went out before that. But most growers started this Monday.
“We’re really not seeing mites to amount to anything, and I’m hearing that from other PCAs in this part of the valley. We did include miticides in some hull split sprays. I didn’t do that last year on a couple of blocks and kind of got burned.
“I’ve come across a little rust and can find scab in the Carmels. I was at a monthly PCA meeting in Modesto today (7/7) and someone mentioned alternaria, but I haven’t seen any.
“Mites are starting to show up a little in young trees. It’s nothing horrible, just small flare ups. Right now we’re spraying some first-leaf trees for mites. Those trees don’t have a big root system to aid in cooling and they can’t shade themselves, so the trees kind of bake with all the radiant heat. Plus, they tend to be in a dustier environment where people are mowing and fooling around with orchard floors. I decided to go ahead and treat the mites to at least keep any extra stress off of them.
“We may start shaking a block or two before August 15, but I think quite a bit of our Nonpareils will go into early September, and that’s a more normal schedule here. To me, the crop looks pretty darn good.
“So far, I haven’t caught any husk flies in the walnuts. We do have a concern about codling moths on one ranch. I saw an increase in traps where we already had done a 2A application, so we might treat some of those walnuts again. We sprayed around June 20, and the numbers we’re finding now are bigger than before.
“In pistachios we can find just a hint of nut fill starting. We won’t spray at the 1,700 accumulation point but will spray NOW at more like 2,200.
“In tomatoes we found moderate to heavy armyworm pressure on a couple of ranches about 2 weeks ago and sprayed. We’re in a full moon, plus it’s getting hot again, which would seem to indicate a moth flight, but this week we’ve found few eggs. It’s been 10 days or so since we pulled the trigger on anything in the tomatoes, and we’ll see what happens next week. Tomatoes have a good set. I think all the heat had some effect on flowers, but tomatoes are still setting and look good.
“In cotton, lygus weren’t too bad when they started out. At Dos Palos we had more aphids than lygus and treated for both. Retention was better at Dos Palos compared to El Nido, which is south of Merced. In places, the bottom 5 retention there was down to 40% to 45%, but the top 5 was closer to 90%, although we also could find it in the 80s. We’ve sprayed there twice and it looks like that brought them under control.
“In places, I’m catching more ladybird beetles in the net than lygus. They’ve been working on aphids but results have been mixed. Aphids have been laying eggs and the ladybird beetles were working on them, but then aphids began laying eggs 3 rows over and new colonies started up. Usually the predators will take out aphids, but not so much this time. I waited as long as I could before treating. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of the aphids.
“In alfalfa we went through a big armyworm buildup in June and sprayed some.”
Brian Gogue, PCA, Helena Chemical Co., Hanford
“Hull split in almonds is moving along very well. My earliest hull split spray went out just over 10 days ago (from 7/7) and we only have a couple of third-leaf blocks left. We’ll spray those over the weekend or Monday at the latest. With the earliest block I treated, we’ll come back either tomorrow night or Monday with the second hull split spray.
“We included a miticide with the first treatment and will include a miticide with this second application. We’ve had nothing all year with mites but then things blew up quickly in places over the last 2 to 3 weeks, particularly this week and last week. It’s been surprising, in fact, how fast they developed. No mites were around one week but by the next week they had blown up.
“For most of my fields that miticide with the initial hull split spray was the first mite treatment all year. We’ll spray another couple of blocks this weekend and that will be their first miticide this year, as well. Mites aren’t a problem in those blocks and I probably would have included a miticide, regardless. But with the pressure I’ve seen over the last 2 weeks, there’s no question that a miticide is going in the tank. This mite situation has gotten me a little nervous.
“Where we made that first hull split spray, the grower could be shaking those trees in 2.5 to 3 weeks. That ranch is out on the west side. On average, though, we’re closer to 4 weeks for when harvest will get underway.
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“Our young almonds are doing well, although mites blew up quickly in some of those trees. On a couple of ranches the PTB pressure is significant in both small and large trees. They haven’t done a dormant spray in those blocks in a couple of years, so I guess the PTB are catching up.
“In pistachios we treated some orchards for NOW at the 1,700 timing, plus we sprayed a few orchards for flat mites. In places we saw flat mite pressure coming back, so we jumped on that. Where we have a history of flat mites, we included a miticide at the 1,700 timing. I did not treat all my blocks at that time but most were sprayed.
“Nut fill is coming on in pistachios. I cut into nuts in Golden Hills blocks and several were nearly 100% filled, which was surprising.
“In cotton, we’re still battling lygus in places. On certain ranches we’re in kind of a lull this week, but on other ranches the counts are pretty high. Over the last few weeks we’ve treated a lot.
“On one ranch we hit counts of 20 to 30 where lygus were coming out of alfalfa. It’s been unbelievable how many lygus the alfalfa is holding in our area. In one sweep in alfalfa I’ve picked up 30 to 40 adults and 20 to 30 immature lygus. A week ago a guy was cutting alfalfa and had immature lygus piled up on the top of the swather’s header. I’ve never seen anything like that in the past. You hear about it with aphids or worms but never with lygus piled up on the header.
“Aphids continue to be a major issue in cotton. None of our regular treatments were working. At one point we were told they were sugarcane aphids, but then we were told the aphids were misidentified and these were cotton aphid that are resistant to neonicotinoids. Sivanto has been the only material providing adequate control.
“But beyond control issues, these aphids are acting differently than we expect with our regular cotton aphids. They are building very fast, from hardly anything to heavy pressure a week later. In almost every season, cotton aphids become an issue for us late in the season, but this year the aphids came extremely early.
“Leaves are crinkling up and look pretty nasty. We see some of that with cowpea-type aphids but not to this degree. Also, these aphids strike me as being smaller than our cotton aphids and they are colonizing terminals, which isn’t what we expect with cotton aphids. This has really been perplexing and we’ve still got plenty of season left to go.
“Tomatoes are moving along quite well. The maturity has slowed over the last couple of weeks. They look good but appear to be a little later at this point than in the last 4 or 5 years. We treated a few worms. Nothing was blowing up but we needed to clean up what was there. We’re just treating here and there for mildew. We’ve had a challenge from fusarium in a few fields. Some armyworms started showing up this week in alfalfa.”
Aaron Beene, PCA, Simplot, Merced
“Our hull split sprays in almonds are going out. We’re including an insecticide for NOW and PTB and are going with a miticide, too, in most places. No big mite populations have developed yet. But the forecast calls for an extended period of high temperatures, plus growers will start pulling back on water for hull rot prevention. You combine those two factors and it’s a recipe for a mite disaster.
“Where we’ve had hull rot issues, a fungicide is going out, too. I’m finishing my early ant bait applications – the ones that are 4 to 6 weeks ahead of harvest. We’ll put out another round – an insecticide or bait – a couple of weeks ahead of harvest where we detect any resurgence.
“Our whole-orchard herbicide sprays are going out to clean up floors and we’re doing tissue sampling to see where things are now with nutrients.
“In younger trees we’re monitoring mites. Around the Fourth of July mites usually start to blow up in younger trees, and those are starting to web up here and there. With the heat coming, we’re applying a miticide to put protection in place.
“Right now (late afternoon 7/7) my truck thermometer shows 105. At least until the middle of next week the highs are supposed to be above 100 but then drop for a short time. After that we’re up to 104 to 105 again. Overall, the forecast calls for intense heat for about the next 10 days.
“In walnuts we’ve finished the last nitrogen. We’re monitoring for the next codling moth flight, which should move through in the next week or two. We applied a sun protectant about a week after the last big heat spell. We’re monitoring closely for husk fly, too, but haven’t found any yet. They usually start appearing around July 1 when temperature go up.”
David A. Doll, Pomology Farm Advisor, Merced County
“In almonds we’re kind of in the beginning stages of hulls splitting. I’ve heard some reports of Independence starting to split. A lot of sprays have gone out. Where an insect growth regulator was used, those applications went out just after the Fourth of July. Moth traps have been a little off, probably because everything is starting to split. That’s typically the pattern we see.”
Franz Niederholzer, UC Farm Advisor, Sutter/Yuba Counties
“We hit cooler weather but then it turned hot again and I have been seeing 104 to 107 on my truck’s thermometer. In almonds, a lot of guys have been putting out hull split sprays over this past week and will continue with that this weekend. Some are adding a fungicide for hull rot. Depending on the fungicide, that could help with alternaria, too.
“So few NOW are being trapped that people are wondering if they are out there or if they’re missing something. The trap is only a single point-source for gathering data – meaning the number of moths caught. But as splitting starts and almonds become attractive to moths, that overrides the trap’s scent. A PCA in the southern Sacramento Valley said late in the week that he’s catching very few NOW moths. He told me he’s basing spray timing on crop phenology and when he sees hulls splitting.
“We’re into a more normal Sacramento Valley year with wetter, cooler weather than during the drought years. More grass cover developed on orchard floors, which helps decay mummies, and that may have reduced moth numbers.
“I’m seeing a few mites here and there where a miticide program hasn’t started up yet.
“That same PCA in the southern valley said he was catching plenty of codling moths in walnuts and had picked up a couple of husk flies this week. We’re still not finding husk flies at the Nickels Soil Lab.”
John Moore, PCA, Growers Crop Consulting, Bakersfield
“Almonds are splitting – not all of them, but on sandier ground some orchards appear to be 100% split. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it hit that point this early. The hot weather is not letting up. The highest I’ve seen lately was around 109. All next week the highs are supposed to be over 100 – from 102 to 107.
“I think we’ll see a good bit of shaking start before the end of the month. If that’s the case and depending on the materials used, we’ll have to start our second hull split spray at some point next week on certain blocks. We’ll need that to build in the required 14 days for the pre-harvest interval. One grower with sandier ground said he may start his first shaking on July 21.
“In pistachios, nuts are starting to fill out. Nothing is near complete fill but the expansion is obvious. Plenty of people talked about skipping the 1,700 treatment timing, more so than I’ve heard in the past. Only a couple of my growers made that application. We’ve had some localized water issues that have played into these decisions, and people are closely watching budgets.
“In walnuts, we’re trapping for husk fly but haven’t come up with anything yet. Codling moths don’t appear to be a problem. Very, very few moths have turned up in my traps.”
California Almonds: 2017 Crop Projected to Increase 5.1% Over Last Year 7-7
California Cotton: Mid-Season Update Session Set For Mendota, July 11 7-9
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