AgFax Tree Crops – Almond Nut-Fill Continues, Heavy “Monsoon” Rains Fall In Places

Fill underway in Nonpareil nut in Chowchilla Photo: Chris Morgner

Owen Taylor, Editor


Heavy rains fell late in the week through portions of our coverage area. On one hand, that may prompt additional fungicide applications. On the other hand, it probably washed off spider mites that were approaching treatment levels in some blocks.

Nut fill in almonds continues.

Insect treatments have been going out,
including May or mummy sprays. Localized treatments also have been made for some
mix of bugs.

Another record almond crop seems to be in the cards, based on USDA’s just-released subjective survey report. Connect to more info in our Also Of Note section.

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Chris Morgner, PCA, Agri-Valley Consulting, Merced:

“Pest-wise, things are pretty quiet in almonds. We’ve sprayed some orchards for leaffooted bugs but I think that’s mostly behind us. One block is being sprayed today (5/10). I was called in by a grower who hasn’t been a client and he asked me to take a look at damage he found. It was all over the place and I also found leaffooted bugs.

“NOW are still laying eggs on our traps and flying around. We really haven’t embarked on this mummy spray approach, although I suspect that thousands of acres around here were treated this past week. Some of my growers did want to make the treatment but that was their choice. However, we didn’t promote the idea.

“I feel like our money and efforts are better put to use during that July/August period around hull split and as the crop is maturing. We’re probably destined for 2 hull split sprays on a lot of blocks this year.

“We do have a few more blocks of the mating disruption system in place this year. Also, we’re considering this recently introduced sprayable pheromone mating disruption product.

“Nut fill is progressing every week in almonds, so it’s a pretty important time to pay attention to irrigation and nutrition. Those little nuts are putting a big demand on resources. We’re finding very minor amounts of rust

“In pistachios, we look at the botryosphaeria wetness model but we haven’t gotten any rain (as of early afternoon, 5/10).

“In tomatoes, we’re into the weed battle. Some sprays have gone out for thrips in fresh market tomatoes. No pests in cotton, just weed control work. We’re finding a few worms in alfalfa but it’s pretty quiet, overall.”

Franz Niederholzer, UC Farm Advisor, Sutter/Yuba Counties:

“It’s warm right now, at least into the upper 80s if not the low 90s (afternoon, 5/10). Irrigation and fertilizer are going out and some guys are talking about May sprays.

“A chance of measurable rainfall entered the forecast for next week, which has me a little nervous about leaf rust. They’re predicting rain 5 or 6 days out, and growers need to keep that in mind. There’s nothing going on with spider mites.

“Walnuts are coming along. There’s still an ongoing discussion about this winter kill and lack of leaves on a lot of trees. That’s likely having a major impact on the east side but maybe not so much on the west side. Everyone is still trying to piece together what happened.

“The walnut crop was kind of atrocious for many growers last year but prospects generally look better this year. I started hearing just a little about nutlet drop but don’t have much information on that yet.”

Brian Gogue, PCA, Helena Agri-Enterprises, LLC, Hanford:

“We wrapped up May sprays 7 to 10 days ago (from 5/10) in almonds, and every orchard basically got an insecticide. Fungicides were included on a couple of orchards with a history of problems. I’ll be trying out some of that new sprayable mating disruption material on a few orchards.

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“We started finding leaffooted plant bugs this week and are treating 3 orchards. Otherwise, it’s been difficult to find damage or the bugs. Nothing is happening as far as twospotted mites go, but we are dealing with some brown almond mites around Hanford. They’re causing problems to the point that we’ll treat in a couple of cases.

“Normally, it’s not considered a significant pest in almonds but it’s given me problems in some orchards over the last 2 or 3 years. The damage starts with stippling and then the leaves begin yellowing. Once leaves turn yellow, you can’t bring them out of it.

“We’re going full bore on fertilizer, pushing nitrogen really hard and potassium, as well. We started seeing the first signs of fill about 10 days ago and the Nonpareils are now about 80% filled. Most other varieties aren’t far behind – with the exception of Wood Colony, and that’s expected.

“In pistachios, we’re monitoring for true bugs but aren’t seeing many. In a couple of orchards with a history of them, we’re spraying. Otherwise, we’re not treating bugs in the crop right now. Nitrogen is in full swing.

“Not much is happening in walnuts. Codling moths have been quiet. On a couple of orchards, we’ll make a botryosphaeria spray in the next 2 weeks. Growers, though, don’t want to spend much on walnuts right now. The crop is light. The Chandlers look okay, the Tulares are off some but this is the lightest Sur crop I’ve ever seen. Prices are depressed, too.

“Cotton looks mostly good and ranges from 2 to 5 nodes, and we’re in the middle of herbicide treatments. Tomatoes still look really good and pests have been quite minimal. We’re treating just a few fields for thrips where pressure has come up a bit. That will take care of any leafhopper issues, although we are running systemics through drip.

“I’ve only found a couple of fields with a little curly top. That was near Lemoore.

“We had a pretty significant rain this morning. Depending on the location, it ranged from light showers to 1.5 inches, based on several reports. It rained enough that I saw water standing in the furrows in cotton fields near the naval air base at Lemoore.

“We’re definitely concerned where tomato fields got that much rain, especially early fields with large canopies. So, we might have some fungicide applications coming up. Overall, tomatoes look good. Alfalfa is quiet.”

John Moore, PCA, Growers Crop Consulting, Bakersfield:

“I’m walking around (afternoon, 5/10) in rubber boots after we got a boatload of rain this morning. I don’t know how much fell exactly, and amounts varied. I worked in the Wasco area today and my son was in the Delano area, and it sounds like they didn’t get nearly as much rain around Delano as we did in Wasco.

“May storms generally don’t generate a lot of water, but I was on Highway 99 about 7:30 this morning and the rain was heavy. It reminded me how those heavy monsoonal rains would fall in Thailand when I was there in the Air Force.

“All week, we’ve been watching mites and came pretty close to treating. I had already called one grower and said that if the weather warmed up, mites could be a problem, and those trees already had had one mite spray.

“If we were treating right away, we still might have needed another miticide before hull split. But all this rain should have washed off a lot of mites. I assume they’ll build back but the storm maybe bought us enough time that we’ll only need one more miticide spray before hull split, not two.

“NOW trap counts were at zero today but I also changed the lures today, so we’ll see if those numbers go up.

“In all of our checking this week, we found one leaffooted bug. Most of those growers applied abamectin, mainly for leaffooted bugs, and that may be the reason we’re not finding any now.

“In pistachios, we’ll probably do a botryosphaeria spray in the next week or so where we might have problems.”

Rick Foell, Field Manager, Capay Farms, Hamilton City:

“Almonds are filling and shifting from jelly to opaque. We’re about halfway through with our potassium applications and also are about half done with May sprays, so things look positive.

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“With the May sprays, we ran abamectin for mites and a fungicide for foliar disease – anthracnose and such. A chance of rain is in the forecast next week, so it seemed prudent to go ahead and include a fungicide. The application also included some zinc, iron and manganese to green up the leaves so they could put more energy into the nuts.

“With walnuts, we made two every-other-row blight sprays and are lining up now for a full blight spray. We’re finding dew in the mornings, plus rain is in the forecast. They’re only predicting one or two tenths but that might be enough to fire up blight, especially with warm temperatures.

“We’ll also include something for codling moths. The nuts will be at near-nickel diameter, which is the timing that has given me consistent results. That full spray will go out in the early part of next week. By then, we will have wrapped up the spraying in almonds.

“We’re starting some full-orchard floor sprays for weeds, especially where we have drip orchards to make sure trees get all the water that we’re pumping.”

Jack Gonzales, PCA/CCA, Supervised Control Service, LLC, Bakersfield:

“We’ve had quite the day (5/10) with rain. Amounts have varied, from one to two tenths up to 1.5 inches in places, but the more common amount seems to be about three-quarters of an inch.

“This morning when I got up, there was 3 tenths in my gauge from the night before. But then it came a downpour and we got a half-inch in 30 minutes. Water was standing in the intersections in my neighborhood when I left for the field.

“The weather has somewhat cleared up and it’s in the high 70s this afternoon. Skies are still cloudy with blue patches and the wind is blowing some. I’m checking almonds and the leaves are dry.

“We started our second alternaria spray early in the month for blocks with a history of bad alternaria. Those applications are continuing and others will be made as soon as things dry out. Also, some growers want to get protection on for rust after this rain.

“High temperatures are supposed to move into the upper 80s in the next couple of days, so we’re certainly mindful of disease. We’re seeing a little rust around and a touch of alternaria but nothing is taking off.

“We had to spray some mites over the past week. They picked up in certain areas but this is still a very light mite situation, overall. I can find them but there’s also a strong presence of six spotted thrips, so beneficials are in the mix.

“We’re treating mites where needed but this isn’t a panic scenario, plus the rain washed off leaves and took mites with it.

“In places, we continue dealing with some stink bugs and leaffooted bugs. A good portion of the acres I work had bifenthrin applied for stink bugs and leaffooted bugs. On one ranch where we had stink bug problems, I’m now finding 40-plus dead stink bugs under single trees where we sprayed (see photo in Also Of Note section). That’s a surprisingly high number after a treatment.

“It’s an elusive insect and these are large, older trees, 30-plus feet tall. For whatever reason, that bug likes to move up the tree where it’s mostly out of sight. You can find gummed nuts on the ground or on the tree, but not necessarily see the insect.

“In pistachios, all my growers just finished their first foliar nutrition spray. Luckily, the areas where I consult didn’t get enough rain to be concerned about botryosphaeria. Some guys, I’m sure, will spray next week based on the rain. But except for eastern Kern County, I don’t see much activity with botryosphaeria, so I don’t push for applications just because it’s rained.

“With foliar nutrition sprays, we included a pyrethroid after finding lygus, stink bugs and leaffooted bugs on beating trays.

“This is an off year in pistachios after a record crop last year, but in the blocks I’m in, this crop looks pretty good – maybe above average for an off year. In some off years, we have a tremendous drop but haven’t seen that yet this year.

“My cotton is generally at the third to fourth node and looks good. Nothing has required an insect treatment. We’ll start talking about miticide applications ahead of the first water. In alfalfa, we haven’t sprayed anything since treating weevils before the first cutting.”

Up 8.69% from 2018’s crop, if the forecast holds.
almond-nut-fill-USE-ONCE-chris-morgner-20190511.jpgNut fill. Chris Morgner, PCA with Agri-Valley Consulting in Merced sent us this photo showing fill underway in Nonpareil nut in Chowchilla. Nut fill, as he noted, “varies a bit right now, depending on variety and location in the valley.”
That’s heavy. Jack Gonzales, PCA/CCA with, Supervised Control Service, LLC in Bakersfield, sent us this photo of heavy stink bug population in an orchard that was sprayed with bifenthrin. “All those dead stink bugs were collected under one tree,” he reported.

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