“Pistachios are pushing green tip, with a quarter to a half an inch out. Males are very swollen and close to bloom, looking a little early. Rains during bloom could increase the chance of botrytis.
“Growers are monitoring for frosted scale and mealybug crawlers. However, what we’ve seen has been minimal.
“Growers are applying preventive sprays for blight in tomatoes and also for bacterial speck. Downy mildew and botrytis are concerns in onions, and rust treatments are underway in garlic.
“In alfalfa, growers are finishing up Egyptian alfalfa weevil treatments. Pyrethroids are controlling a fair amount of stink bugs in alfalfa. When it comes time to cut the alfalfa, we could see stink bugs migrate into the orchards. We are finding more stink bug in alfalfa than usual, and that’s due to the dry, mild weather we’ve had up until now.
“Farmers are working cotton and corn beds ahead of plantings, which should start at the beginning of next month.”
Franz Niederholzer, UC Farm Advisor, Colusa, Sutter and Yuba Counties
“A few growers around the Sutter Buttes ran sprinklers for frost protection this morning (3/19). Reports were that low temperatures got a few degrees away from real damage potential, running from 31 to 35 degrees in areas of western Sutter and Colusa Counties. I have not heard about any areas where dangerous temperatures were measured, which I hope means we dodged any problems.
“We have been in a cooldown since last Friday (3/13) in this part of the state. We went from a high last week of 83 to yesterday’s high temperature of 51 degrees. We are back to the low 60s today (3/20).
“Scattered rain occurred most of the week, with another storm starting Monday. Even better, the mountains have been getting snow.
“From a disease standpoint, it has been wet and cold for extended periods. A majority of growers have or will put on a fungicide ahead of the rain that’s predicted to start next Monday (3/23). Fungicide sprays are generally effective for 10 to 14 days unless there is a heavy rain – for example, over two inches. Length of tissue wetness is key to infection. Even in cool weather, extended wetness can trigger infection.
“Insect traps are out, and we found navel orangeworm eggs last week at Nickels Soil Lab. The eggs were probably laid last Friday night during the last warm weather.
“We also caught a fair number of males during the warm weather earlier last week, but the egg laying really signaled the start of NOW activity. Other PCAs told me about finding eggs at the end of last week.
“A biofix for March 13 or March 14 is a week earlier than the earliest we’ve seen in decades, which will be important for timing spring sprays and hull split. It’s certainly critical to get a handle on insect populations in a year like this.”
Brian Gogue, PCA, Helena Agri-Enterprises, LLC, Hanford
“Our area received a half to three-quarters of an inch during the last storm on Monday. It was just starting to dry out when a smaller rainstorm landed Tuesday night. Today (3/19), we received a quarter to a third of an inch, with scattered showers on and off in Hanford. The forecast is predicting four-tenths to half an inch for Monday through Wednesday of next week.
“All of our growers except one applied a fungicide at the end of last week and into the weekend. Timely fungicide applications are essential.
“In a few orchards, we’re already finding good nut sizing. With the recent rains and wind, trees did lose some leaves and viable nuts that were developing. In the worst fields, maybe 2% to 3% of the viable nuts are on the ground.
“We have seen very minimal insect populations in our area. As soon as traps were out, the weather cooled down.
“Almond growers are between fertilizer applications. Growers are mainly applying phosphate, nitrogen and zinc. The next round of fertilizers should be applied in the next week or two.
“Golden Hills pistachios are starting to push green growth. Kerman and Lost Hills are currently at budswell.
“In walnuts, the Serrs are pushing noticeable catkins and leaf growth. Nutlets also are showing on trees along the edges of the orchards. ReTain will be applied in the coming week for pistil flower abscission. ReTain can aid as an ethylene gas blocker to prevent nuts from falling off the trees. Serrs are more sensitive to excess pollen than other varieties.
“Early grape varieties are starting to push buds and leaves. Fungicide applications are being lined up for earlier blocks. Last-minute herbicide applications are finishing up.
“Transplanting tomatoes shut down due to rain. Hopefully by the middle of next week that can start again, weather permitting. Bacterial speck is a concern with showers during this timing, especially after the pressure we had last year. Bacterial speck can hinder the leaves and growth of young plants.
“Cotton planting is on hold due to weather and lack of access into fields.”
Luke Milliron, Area Sustainable Orchard Research Advisor, Butte, Glenn and Tehama Counties
“Rain is in the forecast in parts of the northern Sacramento Valley for Monday through Wednesday next week.
“Growers were busy spraying fungicides before the last storm. Many growers also were spraying fungicides on prunes ahead of the previous storm. Many prunes in the area were at the critical full bloom stage ahead of the storm, and people had concerns about brown rot and russet scab.
“Walnuts look to be progressing early this year, with concerns about blight in early varieties that are pushing catkins and are into the prayer stage. A few growers even see a low percentage of prayer stage in Chandlers. Growers with a history of blight are more aggressive with early control.
“In almonds, several Monterey growers on Krymsk 86 are reporting issues with leafout, similar to a bud failure appearance. In minor cases, growers are seeing leafout delays and in severe cases there are no viable vegetative buds, only nuts.
“The reports are mainly in mature orchards, but I’ve seen symptoms in blocks as young as third leaf. Some growers with orchards that should be in their prime or approaching prime yield, have experienced the issue multiple years and report declining Monterey yields.
“Fertilizer applications were well underway before the last storm occurred.”
Rodney Ratzlaff, PCA/CCA, Nutrien, Merced
“With the rain last weekend, most growers have applied their second fungicide spray for the year. We received anywhere from one inch to almost two inches in certain areas. Spotty showers fell in the northern Merced area all week, with some areas receiving small amounts of hail.
“More rain is expected for next Monday through Wednesday, prompting the growers that haven’t applied the second fungicide to do so quickly.