California Almonds: Bloom Is In “Preview” Mode – AgFax

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  • Here is this week’s issue of AgFax Tree Crops.
  • Our thanks to BASF and its California team for sponsoring this coverage.
  • Got questions or comments? Let us know.
Owen Taylor, Editor
Jenny Holtermann, Contributing Editor

OVERVIEW

A few blooms already have opened in odd places, based on reports from our contacts and postings on social media. But this is just a preview, you might say, with the main start of bloom still a couple of weeks away.

Warmer temperatures over the past week provided ideal pre-bloom conditions, putting much of the crop on track for mid-February timing. The coming week’s forecast calls for cooler temperatures, which should help keep bloom progress steady.

Growers and PCAs are mulling over fungicide plans ahead of bloom.

In parts of the San Joaquin Valley, PCAs are monitoring for stink bugs after dormant sprays went out.

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CROP REPORTS

Franz Neiderholzer, UC Farm Advisor Colusa, Sutter & Yuba Counties

“This afternoon (Thursday, 1/30) it is 66 degrees and sunny. The forecast next week does call for lows in the 40s and highs in the mid-50s with no rain in the next ten days.

“This week has been perfect weather for putting bloom on track. I even saw a handful of Sonora flowers on the top of a few trees. The initial blooms indicate that bloom is starting soon. The slightly cooler temperatures next week could ensure that timing remains steady. Bloom will probably remain on schedule for mid-February.

“We received about 0.16 of an inch of rain at the Nickels Soil Lab and about an inch over in Chico last weekend. The ground is just starting to dry out enough for equipment to move into the orchards again.”

Dan Prentice PCA, Prentice Ag Consulting, Bakersfield

“Almond buds are swelling, but we are still a couple of weeks away from seeing bloom activity. I expect that we are on track for mid-February bloom.  

“Growers have been applying dormant sprays over the last two months, and those have mostly wrapped up now. We have been able to incorporate herbicides when there was a rain to follow up and set the application. 

“Behind dormant sprays, we are monitoring for stink bugs, which the treatment appears to have taken out. Stink bugs used to be a background pest for us but are now more of a frontline insect to monitor. Lack of dormant spraying in the past had been allowing stink bugs to gain a foothold.

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“We are limited in terms of treatment timing, with only two periods each year when we can address stink bugs – either now or mid-April. During the growing season, we try to minimize pyrethroid use, so it’s better to get ahead of the pest now.”

Aaron Heinrich PCA, AgriWest, Escalon

“Growers are putting together fungicide programs for the year. Deciding where, when and what we will be applying depends on the weather. I have recommended a five-application program. However, maybe only two of those will be necessary, depending on rain and temperatures.

“The first application will go out at pink bud, then at full bloom, petal fall, post petal fall and then two to five weeks after petal fall. Again, how many of those treatments we make depends on how weather conditions are developing.

“Growers are currently fertilizing with ammonium sulfate. After that, we will make a couple more applications of nitrogen just after bloom and leaf-out as needed. We want everything on before June in order to help prevent hull rot possibilities.

“Growers are still pruning walnuts in places. We have been monitoring scale, and 30% to 35% of our growers have had or will have to treat orchards for scale.”

Nathan Stewart PCA, AgVantage Consulting, Visalia

“Bloom looks to be a week ahead of last year. Exposure of pink tips is beginning and showing signs of bloom. We have had more foggy mornings this year compared to this time last year. Our chill hours have put us in a sweet spot. Stonefruit in our area is ahead of schedule by over a week and is an indicator of almond bloom timing.

“Beekeepers are moving in bees. Growers and PCA’s are more cognizant of applications now that bees are being positioned in orchards.  A few last-minute pre-emergent herbicide sprays are going on in areas where bud swell hasn’t started.

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“In pistachios pre-emergent applications are going out. Growers are on track with chill hours per the different varieties and time of year. Pistachio growers with saltier soil and good water availability have been leaching salts.

“We are finishing up scale sprays in walnuts and assessing for effectiveness. Walnut growers have towers in their fields for pruning, and shredding is also underway.”

 

UPCOMING EVENTS

Colusa Farm Show, February 4-6 Colusa Fairgrounds

UCCE Sacramento-Solano- Yolo Almond Meeting, February 5 in Woodland

UCCE Tehama Walnut Meeting, February 7 in Red Bluff

World Ag Expo, February 11-13 Tulare International Agri Center

Sponsored By

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AgFax Tree Crops is published by:

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

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

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