California Almonds: 7 Points of Focus Ahead of Hull Split and Harvest

    Going into June, here are 7 points of focus as this crop moves towards hull split and harvest.

    #1. Closely control irrigation.

    Taper off water in orchards as kernel fill wraps up. This helps with Rhizopus hull rot management and also promotes a shorter, cleaner shake,. Deep, heavy soil with micro-sprinkler or solid set irrigation hold more soil water, so they respond more slowly to reduced irrigation compared to lighter soils with drip irrigation.

    Here are recommendations for irrigation scheduling between hull split and harvest.

    #2. Keep spider mites on your watch list.

    Treat when spider mites populations reach thresholds. If waiting into June to use abamectin, use a 1% to 2% narrow range 415 oil and spray at night to move the most material into the leaves, which helps you gain the best control possible.

    #3. Focus on navel oranageworms.

    Continue monitoring NOW and prepping for hull split.

    #4. Line up your hull-rot plan.

    Take an integrated approach to hull-rot management. Several steps go into this. Reduce irrigation between kernel fill and the end of early hull split. Moderate leaf N levels (no more than 2.6% N in summer leaf samples). Consider one or two fungicides in June or early July.

    Two types of hull rot can hit almonds:

    • Monilinia hull rot turns up as a tan lesion on the outside of the hull. For best control, spray in early June. Remember: hull-split timing does not effectively control this hull rot pathogen.
    • Rhizopus hull rot: This turns up as black spores. For orchards with a history of rhizopus hull rot, spray a fungicide at early hull split.

    Connect to more information here on timings and materials.

    #5. Stay on top of P and K.

    • Nitrogen: Finish N application in early June, if not completed in May.
    • Potassium: Continue K application(s) if needed.

    #6. Don’t overlook ants.

    Monitor for protein-feeding ants. If found, work with your PCA on a treatment plan. Depending on the material, applications can start as early as 10 weeks ahead of planned harvest.

    Use bait materials promptly after buying them. For best results, apply the materials on dry ground — at least one day after irrigation and two days before the next irrigation.

    #7. Be prepared.

    Ahead of hull split and harvest, check your sprayers and harvest equipment. Equipment dealers offer pre-harvest service packages.

    Harvest breakdowns can cost extra time and money, especially in big crop years.

    Also, check sweeper and harvester head settings to minimize harvest dust.

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