Almonds – The Heat Is On, 2019’s Rollercoaster Ride Continues – AgFax Tree Crops

    Here is this week’s issue of AgFax Tree Crops. Our thanks to BASF and its California team for sponsoring this coverage. – Owen Taylor, Editor


    Extremely hot weather seems likely as the week begins. Forecasts call for triple-digit highs – upwards of 103 to 107 in the second half of the week, depending on the area.

    More fungicide applications have been made or are on the books. Heavy rains have triggered concerns about disease pressure. The expected heat could be a factor, too.

    Pest pressure is mostly minimal. However, it remains to be seen how spider mites will react to the expected heat.

    From our sponsor



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

    “Any issues right now in almonds are limited. Rust is showing up in the almonds and we’re spraying for it. Except for maybe some foliar zinc, the fungicide is the only thing in the tank.

    “We’re not spraying all the blocks yet but we’ve decided that this is a year to be extra cautious about rust because it could become more widespread. Since the rain stopped, we’re seeing a little more rust every week.

    “With the majority of our almonds, we generally have rust and include a fungicide with our hull split spray in the Nonpareils in July. This year, that could line up around July 4-10, about like last year. Our goal is to keep rust from becoming an issue at harvest. When you shake the tree and 30% to 40% of the leaves end up on the ground, all that keeps the nuts from drying quickly.

    “The rains have prompted an extra spray to stay somewhat ahead of rust. We don’t want to wait for 4 weeks for the hull split spray to apply a fungicide on these trees. We started these rust sprays about 10 days ago (from 6/7) and more are on the books. Growers haven’t gotten to all those blocks yet or they’re working around irrigation schedules.

    “The wind has been crazy, so that’s delayed treatments at times. It was blowing like crazy yesterday and the temperature hit 100.

    “Some ant bait has gone out in limited areas where populations tend to build. We’ll come back later with a second bait application in those orchards. Otherwise, most of our bait goes out in July. I haven’t seen a spider mite yet. Brown almond mites and a few silver mites are out there but nothing at treatment levels.

    “In pistachios, we found enough bug damage and bugs to warrant treatments in a couple of places. These were mostly small bugs – lygus, for lack of a better term.

    “In walnuts, we’re treating for scale in a few blocks that weren’t sprayed earlier. We’re not finding any big codling moth counts in our walnuts and the 1B flight didn’t happen for us. The 2A is coming up in about 2 weeks. We’ve decided not to treat unless a need develops.

    “In pistachios, we probably sprayed half of our blocks for botryosphaeria prevention before or between the rains. We also sprayed the majority of our bearing walnut blocks 3 or 4 weeks ago for botryosphaeria. That was during the rainy period. With all that rain, we didn’t want to risk not spraying. It’s a disease that’s very subtle and runs under the radar, and you can’t just go out and control it once it appears.

    “In almonds, we also made a proactive treatment for scab back in April and I hope that did some good through the rain. Nothing has popped up and once you see scab, it’s too late. It’s one of those latent infections, much like botryosphaeria and you have to get in front of it.

    From our sponsor…


    “Cotton is moving along. On one ranch, it’s at 8 to 11 nodes and squaring, with really good retention. On another ranch, we found lygus and felt like we had to go after it or at least line up a treatment because the ditches were down. So, we’re applying mepiquat chloride and including a lygus material.

    “We’re not dealing with mites yet in cotton. Across everyone in our group, I’ve only seen one miticide rec and that was as a preventive in corn because they could go by ground right now.

    “In tomatoes, we came across our first armyworm eggs and hatches this week. They were hard to find and probably don’t amount to more than a drop of water in a gallon jug. Alfalfa is quiet, just an occasional armyworm.”

    Kris E. Tollerup, IPM Cooperative Extension Advisor, Kearney AREC, Parlier:

    “We’re still not detecting much NOW activity where I’m monitoring.

    “Ant control should be on the radar now. Start monitoring by putting hot dogs or corn chips in 15 or 20 places around the orchard and then see which species turn up. Southern fire ants and pavement ants are our two main problem species, of course.

     “In terms of baits, we’re now into June, so it’s a little late for baits based on insect growth regulators, and we’ll have to go with one of the baits that carry stomach toxins. Something like Clinch is an option right now but it’s still a little early in this area for Altrevin. If you put on an IGR bait earlier, like in the middle of last month, you could come back with Clinch about now. Check our IPM guidelines for more information on scouting.”

    John Moore, PCA, Growers Crop Consulting, Bakersfield:

    “Spider mites are laying low but they are present and getting ready to jump, I suspect. I’ve written several recommendations with the expectation that they will blow up in hot spots.

    “With all this rain, you would think they would have washed but they are still in the trees. Over the past couple of days (from 6/7), we’ve been seeing both eggs and immatures and already were noticing slight webbing on leaves on those small shoots in the crotches of trees.

    “As mites move up the trunk, those leaves are generally the first they reach. As pressure increases, mites begin moving to the tree’s outside canopy. Once they’ve transitioned to the outside canopy – and that can happen fast – you’ve missed the opportunity to spray. All it will take now is a couple of 100-degree days to put all that into motion.

    “The trees look absolutely fabulous. The rain, I think, came at times when they weren’t stressed, and this appears to be a huge crop. Pistachios are growing well.”

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

    “I’m dealing with all the complications caused by hail damage on May 19. I think I’ll lose about 450 acres of cotton and tomatoes but another 3,000 acres suffered some degree of damage from minimum to significant. It wiped out thousands of acres altogether. I don’t think anyone has ever seen hail damage to this extent.

    “In almonds, we wrapped up the final nitrogen applications last week. Things look really good, overall. We had brown mites in a couple of fields but got those cleaned up. No twospotted spider mites have appeared yet.

    “With all the rain, I figured we would find more rust. But it’s only developed on one ranch, and we treated those trees the week before last. Otherwise, disease in almonds is pretty much in check. I think we’re 4 to 5 weeks out from hull split. That’s close to last year’s timing and close to what is considered normal.

    In pistachios, we’ve cleaned up a few more bugs here and there over the last 3 weeks. We’ve included a foliar with the applications. Also, we’ve treated a couple of problem blocks for mealybugs. In general, pistachios look pretty good, aside from one block pounded by hail – and it happened to be my best looking block this year.

    “A few guys are putting sunblock on walnuts ahead of the heat in next week’s forecast. We’re planning the next spray in walnuts, and it will fall around the middle of the month. It’s the timing for the 2A codling moth flight but they aren’t much of an issue for us, so we’ll go with a miticide and a fungicide for botryosphaeria.

    “Most guys will do one fungicide spray on walnuts this year with just a few making a second. It’s a light crop and prices haven’t come up much, so most will minimize that input.

    “Much of my cotton was right in the heart of the hail damage. I lost some cotton – it’s dead, dead, dead – and we’re making decisions on some of the other acres. Lygus are coming into every acre I’ve got and I’m hearing that from everyone else. I’m writing recs on any cotton that’s still surviving.

    From our sponsor…


    “Cotton looked great before the hail. We did have a 10- to 14-day period when it didn’t grow much due to cooler temperatures, rain and the hail. But in the last week it’s definitely improved. Still, though, we’re up in the air about what to do with some of it.

    “Tomatoes were very much affected by the hail, too, but we still have fields that look really good. We’ve been very aggressive with fungicides due to the rain and hail. We’ve made 3 to 4 applications in the last 3 weeks. Bacterial speck has developed, and this is the first time I’ve seen it in 5 or 6 years. I’ve also never seen it this widespread. It’s pretty significant in places, too. I can remember one other year when it was as intense as what I’ve found in places this year. With that last time, it was only bad in a couple of fields. This year, I’m finding it like that in a handful of fields.”

    Franz Niederholzer, UC Farm Advisor, Colusa, Sutter and Yuba Counties:

    “Summer seems to be here, although it cooled off nicely today (6/7), with a high of 78. But we’re headed for the upper 90s this weekend and into the low 100s by Monday.

    “No word of any disease from all the wet weather in the second half of May. Almond kernel fill is just about complete.

    “Based on the UC timing predictor for hull split, it should be around July 10, That’s late but not too late. That’s working off the Williams CIMIS data and a February 24 full bloom for Nonpareil. Usually, it falls around July 4, so it will probably run a little later this year.

    “I’m not hearing about anything disease-wise in walnuts after the rain.”

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

    “The whacky weather continues. Last Sunday (6/2) we had rain and even thunderstorms. Areas out in Buttonwillow got 9 tenths of an inch. I was told that 1.5 inches fell west of Wasco in an hour. It created a mess for growers in that area. Water was standing in the field the next day and farmers had to pump it out of the orchards.

    “It hit 103 on Wednesday (6/5) but today (6/7), I had to wear a sweatshirt in the morning. The forecast calls for it to move back over 100 by Sunday (6/9) and 107 by mid-week. How’s that for whacky? We’re on a real rollercoaster.

    “Over the past week, we’ve noticed an increase in disease in almonds, particularly alternaria. I’m finding it in orchards where I’ve never seen it before, locations with no history of disease at all. I’m not saying it will get out of control but it seems to be on an upward trend.

    “I’m also finding rust. All the PCAs expected rust to blow up but that hasn’t happened yet. We’ll see how things unfold with this extended heat. I’ll keep monitoring where water stood to see if rust or any other disease turns up.

    “Spider mite populations remain very low. On the bulk of what we check, I think we can make it to hull split without applying a miticide. For us, hull split is usually around July 4 but it could be later due to the extended bloom. If it’s late, it probably won’t be by much. Despite cooler weather, nut fill was about on time.

    “In pistachios, we wrapped up mealybug sprays before the rain and included a fungicide. With the mealybug treatments, we included a material that provides protection against botryosphaeria. We don’t have a history of botryosphaeria, but with all this rain, some guys were getting nervous. That’s a little early to apply a fungicide for alternaria in pistachios but it’s close enough that we should gain some protection for that, too.

    “For guys with a history of alternaria, we’ll apply a fungicide in the next couple of weeks. For some, that will be their first alternaria spray this year. Where we included a material for botryosphaeria, it will be their second.

    “Cotton has really turned into an interesting situation. Lygus counts blew up this week, with the worst in the high teens and low 20s. Other PCAs report the same thing, so plenty of cotton is being sprayed. Applicators are backed up. Hopefully, we’ll get a good knockdown from this spray. One piece of concerning news is that one key lygus material may be in short supply. We’ll see what happens. Overall, cotton has been slow to square.”

    Upcoming meetings and roundtables in June and also info on UC Davis Weed Day in July.
    Symptoms are turning up on some trees.
    Sponsored By


    AgFax Tree Crops is published by:

    AgFax Media LLC, 142 Westlake Drive, Brandon, MS 39047-9020.   

    601-992-9488, Owen Taylor, Editor and Publisher.

    For subscription inquiries, please contact Laurie Courtney

    © 2019, AgFax Media LLC


    The Latest

    Send press releases to

    View All Events

    Send press releases to

    View All Events