Almonds: Growers Make Real Progress With Hull Split Sprays – AgFax Tree Crops

Photo: Almond Board of California

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Owen Taylor, Editor


Hull split sprays continue and growers in the lower San Joaquin Valley are cranking up their second round of applications.

Most first sprays have included a miticide, based on reports over the last two weeks. The exceptions tend to be where mite treatments went out recently or in blocks where mites were virtually nonexistent. In those cases, a miticide will likely be part of the package with the second spray.

A very limited amount of shaking could start in Kern County before the end of July. But our contacts generally say that any shaking in their areas won’t kick into gear until sometime in August. Compared to recent years, this won’t be a harvest season with a big head start.

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Aaron Heinrich, Independent Crop Advisor, AgriWest, Inc., Escalon:

“It seems like we’re spraying everything right now (7/12) – almonds, walnuts and corn. Our hull split sprays in the Nonpareils just started on Monday. This weekend we’re expecting highs at 100 again, which will move things along. With hull split sprays, other varieties will follow suit after that.

“Fungicides were included for hull rot in several blocks. Also, the first spider mites just started showing up in places and we’re adding a miticide for them.

“Shaking will maybe start around the end of August, which is pretty close to normal here.

“In walnuts, the 2B timing is this week in my area and we’re treating codling moths. We’re also catching walnut husk fly in certain places, so we’re including a treatment for them where they are active. I haven’t really seen spider mites in walnuts yet. However, we did treat a few blocks for European red mites, which seem to be a site-specific pest for whatever reason.

“In corn, we’re spraying mites and also addressing armyworms in areas where non-traited corn was planted.”

Dale Deshane, PCA, Supervised Control, Bakersfield:

“On Monday (7/15) we’ll fire up our second round of hull split sprays, and we’re checking around now to make more determinations. The first applications started on July 1 among 2 or 3 growers and then the pace really picked up after the Fourth of July.

“The treatments varied. With all the disease problems this season, fungicides were included in many of them. Miticides also were in a portion of the treatments. In several situations we couldn’t wait for hull split sprays to apply a miticide, so we sprayed those earlier. We didn’t put a miticide in with the first hull split spray in those blocks but will include it in the second round.

“A few sporadic instances of stink bugs developed lately. We treated a field 2 weeks ago and included something for stink bugs. But the grower called later to say he was seeing more damage, and he was right.

“It’s been odd because we didn’t see many stink bugs on the ground like you would expect after the treatment, certainly not enough for the amount of damage we found. We’ll treat one more time and that’s about all we can do.

 “I was in a block this morning (7/12) with Nonpareils and Independence and the Independence were running ahead of the Nonpareils. The grower said he would likely start shaking in 2 weeks. I imagine that shaking will crank up on a few of our blocks in that last week of July.

“Certain blocks are really popping open but others are struggling, not moving very fast. Differences, I’m sure, depend on the ground, how the grower timed irrigation and the location.

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“Overall, the crop down here looks excellent, with potential for pretty good yields. It’s looked that way all year and some orchards obviously are carrying a nice load of nuts. I know the statewide estimate is lower but we actually feel pretty positive about how things are shaping up around here.

“In pistachios, I haven’t seen a split yet, although it’s still pretty early to expect much of that. We’re not doing a NOW spray at the 1,700 degree-day point. Last year, we waited until 2,200 degree days and even held off a little longer than that until we saw splits. Then we treated. This year, we’ll probably make that application really late in July or early in August.

“I haven’t had any real bug issues in pistachios but we did make a couple of bug sprays through the season to keep things down. I’ve been watching for citrus flat mite but have only found a little damage. With mealybugs, treatments have held up really well and I haven’t seen any mealybugs, myself.

“In cotton, we’re still spraying lygus. They aren’t as bad as they were earlier. Most problems have been next to alfalfa that was being cut, and lygus boiled out of that. Immatures have been increasing pretty good in certain fields. Aphids already were coming in, so we applied Transform to control both.

“Twospotted spider mites are turning up in upland cotton fields and we’ll probably spray them on a couple of ranches. This week, I found my first whitefly in cotton for the year. We usually start seeing them by July 20. It’s mid-July, so this is about right. Worm activity has been hit or miss in our cotton.

“In alfalfa, we’re spraying the first field this year for yellowstriped armyworms and black cowpea aphids. We were right on the verge of treating earlier but then the grower cut that hay. Activity is obvious in several other fields, and with this heat we’ll probably have to treat them, too. It was almost like you turned a faucet on – suddenly, we found aphids.

“Tomato harvest is under way. Yields are running 10 to 15 tons per acre less than in 2018 but yields last year were really good. Growers plowed up a few fields because the crop was too bad to justify the cost of harvesting it.

“Heavy rains earlier, plus scattered hail, really beat up plants. All the rain kind of opened up the plants and a lot of that crop aborted. We knew all that weather would affect the crop but you don’t know how much until harvest starts. It was just one of those years.

“As of tonight (7/12), every one of our clients with tomatoes will be harvesting.

“Powdery mildew has been an issue in watermelons. Often, it comes in really late, like in August or early September, but this year it has already blown up in a number of fields. We’ve been spraying fungicides and applying a wash-type material. The mildew pressure is pretty much related to all the rain.”

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

“I think we’re mostly at the tail end of the first hull split spray in this area. Sprayers have been running this week, mostly at night. Egg laying seems to vary. I’ve talked to people who say they’re not finding much in terms of eggs or moths but a grower said that plenty of eggs are being laid where his PCA has been checking.

“These eggs are from the second NOW generation. As hull split progresses. the percentage of traps with egg should increase, and that’s already happening a bit. In the week of July 2, eggs were present on only one trap at the Nickels Soil Lab. But out of 10 traps this week, a significant number of eggs had been laid on 2 traps.

“As we move into that third generation, we will find eggs on most if not all of the traps. That generation usually begins at the end of July or in early August.

“In walnuts, we haven’t seen any husk fly yet in our traps but a colleague reported a few being caught in late June in places on the east side of the valley. That’s pretty early to catch husk fly but those were apparently hot spots.”

Chris Cucuk, Cucuk Consulting Inc., Bakersfield:

“Our first hull split sprays have been completed and our second sprays will start next week. Our first spray did not include a miticide because we just didn’t have mite pressure, but a miticide will go out with the second spray for sure. In some blocks, we included a fungicide for rust, alternaria and hull rot.

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“I don’t think we’ll shake anything until probably the first week in August, which is maybe 7 to 10 days behind when it started last year.

“In pistachios, some people in the area put out the first spray for NOW, but I’m waiting until the next spray window, which would be toward the end of July. Pistachios are just begining to fill. Where I’ve sampled, about 3 out of 50 were starting, so we can at least say we’re in the first week of nut fill.”

Jhalendra Rijal, Area IPM Advisor, Northern San Joaquin Valley:

“In almonds, NOW activity has been increasing this week. The weekly average is running about 25 moths per trap, with one of the orchard’s total number likely influenced by an insecticide spray last week.

“Egg and female moth counts have been up as well, averaging about 3 moths per night during the week. These numbers are averages of nine traps representing three orchards in the Modesto area.

“The updated hull split timing was July 7, based on 1,200 degree-days from the spring egg laying biofix (April 9). Of course, that is the general estimated timing based on degree days and NOW activity, but the best way to time for NOW during the hull-split spray is to closely monitor the stage of hull split and NOW egg laying activities.

“Based on my conversation with local pomology advisors, we are about to reach 1% hull split in a majority of the orchards. Every orchard, of course, is different, so you must treat accordingly. That’s the big caveat.

“It’s critical to protect the split nuts to prevent the larvae from entering into the nutmeat. Some growers with large acreage and/or with limited spraying capacity may need extra days or even more than a week to finish spraying, so they usually start earlier to ensure they cover everything on time.

“Spider mites are still not a huge deal in a majority of the almond orchards, based on feedback from local PCAs. Overall, mite pressure is on the low side in most of their orchards.

“In walnuts, codling moth activity has been moderate to low in the orchards that I monitor, and PCAs and growers are reporting the same thing.

“We are catching immature brown marmorated stink bugs (BMSB). That started last week and continues this week in addition to a few adults in a couple of almond and peach orchards.”

Successful hull rot control is based upon effective strategic deficit irrigation and nitrogen management. Here’s a quick overview.
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