Gary Gliddon, PCA, Treevine Consulting, Modesto:
“I’m pretty amazed about how things are shaping up. We’ve gone through all this wet weather and cold temperatures during the spring and I didn’t have particularly high expectations. But with a few exceptions, most of the almonds I work have more crop than you’d expect – to the point that limbs are breaking.
“Growers are saying they don’t know where all these almonds came from. I’m telling them that the Almond Fairy has been skimming over their orchards and tapping the trees with her magic wand. That’s about the only explanation I can come up with. I’m like them – I don’t know where those nuts came from, either.
“We also have zero disease. I can’t find any shot hole or brown rot. By now, you’d expect them to show up. All the leaves are green, with no marks unless it’s from a little herbicide drift. Trees also are putting on plenty of new growth. All that is happening, despite one of the toughest springs anyone can remember.
“The only sign of a problem has been that earlier bacterial blast on certain trees, but with most orchards it’s very minimal. Where it hit some of the younger trees, they won’t do anything this year but they’re still growing. One grower said that he guesses those trees will make a big crop next year.
“This is the most rain we’ve had in May and another storm is in the forecast for Sunday (5/26), plus warm weather will follow. That should lead toward disease outbreaks, in theory, but my trees are clean. We do have to worry about rust, scab and anthracnose, and these conditions are perfect for anthracnose, in particular. If scab were around, I think we would have found it earlier.
“But nothing is out there, no issues or symptoms. If rust shows up, we can spray for it, but most of the other PCAs in this area aren’t finding it either.
“Anthracnose hasn’t been a problem for us for years. It did show up last year in one client’s organic almonds and then we found it in another guy’s block. But I decided that we wouldn’t do any wide-area spray for something that 95% of my growers don’t have in their orchards.
“In fact, it’s been so long since we’ve detected anthracnose in this area that some of our younger guys have never even seen it.
“We’ll ride this out with the exception of spraying in those two cases where it did appear. That said, Monterey seems more susceptible to anthracnose. I told growers with Montereys to spray if they were at all worried and include some nutrients. But they decided to ride it out.
“Some guys got 1.25 to 2 inches of rain in Merced and Stanislaus Counties after that last big storm and a little more rain fell on Tuesday. The next storm is supposed to come in tomorrow night (5/25).
“I wouldn’t expect much insect activity with these conditions, and NOW trap numbers were down anyway, so that flight probably peaked. Mites are pretty much nonexistent.”
Dan Prentice, Prentice Ag Consulting, Bakersfield:
“It rained again last night (5/23) and areas in the south end of the valley got another inch or so.
“In almonds, we’re trying to line up a lot of fungicide applications. With this rain, we’re worried about rust and alternaria blowing up, so we’re trying to get everything covered. Plus, we’re shortening spray intervals from 3 or 4 weeks to 2 weeks.
“We don’t get these late May rains often, maybe every 10 to 12 years – maybe even not that often. This weather has really been something. One guy the other day remembered a year like this. It was 1978, and I was 3 years old at the time.
“We still have 2 blocks where mites were increasing before this rain started. While the rain knocked them down, they’ll still require a treatment when we get in the field again. Otherwise, mites are in the background – to the point that they’re hard to find if at all. Stink bugs are still on the radar but they’re mostly cleaned up. I’m seeing minimal activity in places but not enough to treat.
“These storms came through in just little cells. One area has maybe got a quarter-inch but 10 miles away it rained 1.5 inches. Several of those moved through, and it seems like it’s happened more in the extreme southern valley than around Bakersfield. But it’s rained often enough that everyone has probably gotten some.