Chris Morgner, PCA, Agri-Valley Consulting, Merced
“We have had warm, beautiful weather lately. On Wednesday, rain fell, measuring one-tenth to a third of an inch. There’s a good chance we could receive up to three-quarters of an inch or possibly more on Sunday and Monday. The forecast calls for thunderstorms, and they could bring a lot of rain – or we might miss it altogether.
“Cooler temperatures are projected in the weeks ahead. Hopefully, the weather pattern change won’t include frost.
“Most of our almond growers are feeling protected after they applied a fungicide at full bloom to early petal fall. The remaining growers are lining up fungicide applications for next week. There’s a degree of concern where orchards with historical scab presence or anthracnose.
“We found some black peach aphid on new shoot growth in a few blocks as well as obliquebanded leafroller in a few blocks. This leafroller overwinters as larvae that feed on developing bloom buds and nuts. We are including an insecticide with the fungicide in the few blocks that have a population.
“Bloom jackets are splitting, and we’re finding small nutlets the size of a little fingernail. The earlier varieties are more advanced. Buds that weren’t pollinated are starting to drop. That’s also the case where ovaries swelled but didn’t complete fertilization. Thirty percent is remaining on the trees, which is still plenty of nuts. Many orchards had great bloom, but it is too early to tell how the crop will set.
“Almond trees have pushed a good compliment of leaves and are looking very green. Weather has been favorable for growth.
“Irrigation in almonds is underway. Fertilizer and nutrient applications are starting to ramp up, too. The dry winter has encouraged growers to apply water once a week to ensure adequate soil moisture.
“Traps are out and we’re monitoring for navel orangeworm eggs and female and male moths. We’ve detected some navel orangeworm male flights, which you might expect with the dry weather.
“Pistachio bloom timing is running slightly ahead of normal. We are seeing a small amount of budswell with a bit of green pushing out
“In walnuts, some catkins are starting to push out in the Tulares.
“In alfalfa, applications are going out for Egyptian alfalfa weevil. Control has been good, but some weevil activity is still evident. We’re also irrigating winter wheat and alfalfa fields.”
Franz Niederholzer, UC Farm Advisor, Colusa, Sutter and Yuba Counties
“The weather for much of this week has been beautiful. It was 80 degrees yesterday (3/12) across the southern Sacramento Valley. However, we are seeing a change today, with the forecast calling for highs in the low 70s. This weekend the forecast calls for rain and highs in the 50s.
“The rainfall forecast depends on location. The National Weather Service calls for a half-inch to an inch of rain in the Sacramento Valley on Saturday through Monday. The forecast has been getting more definite about rain chances as we head into the weekend.
“We applied a fungicide 8 to 9 days ago at the Nickels Soil Lab. The application was ahead of the last storm that ended up with no rain on the west side and only traces in Yuba City. Growers who didn’t spray previously are working ahead of this storm to finish any fungicide applications.
“With all the warm weather this winter, it would be a good idea to monitor early and carefully for navel orangeworm and peach twig borer. Get your traps up soon and check them twice a week. The rolling weather patterns, with warm and then cold, can make it harder to pinpoint which date to set for a biofix since insect activity rises and falls with temperatures.
“In 2015, a year with winter temperatures similar to this year, Dr. Frank Zalom and his UC Davis lab tracked navel orangeworm egg laying in the Manteca area. They found eggs on March 23 and then not again until April 10.