“Pistachio buds were still reasonably closed at the start of the week’s storm. We did apply a fungicide where we had a decent terminal push and could see leaves and female buds opening. That was mostly in the Golden Hills variety. Kerman remains slightly closed and behind in development.
“We will continue to monitor the weather forecast. However, if it clears up, we will likely not apply another fungicide. But if at least a 40% chance of rain appears in the forecast, we will likely make another fungicide application in pistachios.
“Growers are starting to apply fertilizer as we approach full pollination in pistachios. The cold temperatures are aiding in the overlap between male and female buds being open.”
John Moore, PCA, Growers Crop Consulting, Bakersfield
“With all the rain we’ve been having, the amount of moisture in the ground could be a potential problem. We are above our average annual rainfall to date, and we have a ways to go before the end of the rainy season. Areas across Kern County measured two to three inches, and the ground is saturated and can’t take any more water.
“Growers in areas with histories of alternaria, rust or scab are on a regular spray program. However, we will see an increase in fungicide spraying this year, beyond those regular programs. With all this rain, growers will have to adjust the amount of acreage they typically spray.
“As soon as the ground dries out, growers will be back in the field spraying. After the storm we had this week, the forecast shows 70-degree weather into next week — ideal conditions for disease following a wet storm.
“While the main benefit of fungicides is from applying before a storm, some fungicides do have reach-back for certain diseases – for example, brown rot. From 50% to 60% of my growers applied a fungicide ahead of this storm. The remainder were at the tail end of their coverage from the last application, and they will spray after this storm.
“Hail developed in places earlier in the week, and we noticed some green nuts on the ground due to a combination of wind and hail. Small shoots also appeared cut off and on the ground. Historically, we have seen hail damage on grapes at this stage, but not as a significant threat to almonds.
“We occasionally spot leaffooted plant bugs. Mites are present on small leaves near the crotch of the tree, but we are mostly spotting signs of old mite activity. Thrips are common and they seem to be working to control mites.
“We are monitoring for navel orangeworm moths in pistachios and almonds. We do not see large numbers, just 2 to 4 moths per trap over the past few weeks. We set a biofix of March 18. Counts remain low compared to a few years ago.
“Pistachios are leafing out. Most pistachio growth is half an inch to one inch, nothing more than a couple of inches in certain areas. Growers sprayed a fungicide ahead of this storm for the threat of botryosphaeria.
“In walnuts, we are seeing blooms in early varieties such as Ivanhoe. Serrs are barely into the flower stage. Now would be the ideal time for copper coverage. With the walnut market not looking positive, growers may be opting out of critical applications.”
Franz Niederholzer, UC Farm Advisor, Colusa, Sutter and Yuba Counties
“The almond crop continues to look strong as nuts size up.
“Rain over last weekend totaled a half-inch to one inch, depending on locations across the Sacramento Valley. This week, temperatures warmed into the 60s, and next week we’re expecting springtime conditions, with highs in the mid-70s to low 80s, although in the 10-day forecast, we might see another cooldown.
“Most growers applied fungicides on walnuts and almonds ahead of last weekend’s storm, although we didn’t receive as much rain as other parts of the state.
“We are keeping a close eye on insect pressure as we head into warmer temperatures. The cooler temperatures during the last rain kept a handle on insect populations. Peach twig borer levels remain low.