California – Almonds – Trees Still Carrying Huge Crop Going Into June – AgFax

Almond orchard. ©Sara Savary, AgFax Media

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  • Here is this week’s issue of AgFax Tree Crops.
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Owen Taylor, Editor
Jenny Holtermann, Contributing Editor

OVERVIEW

Branches are drooping and weeping as they struggle to hold up a heavy and very promising crop. That is the case through a wide part of our coverage area. Growers are finishing fertilizer applications, taking into account nutrient needs to take advantage of all that potential.

Tissue diseases are becoming more of a factor. Severity and the type of disease varies by location.  Rust and alternaria are the main players in the southern SJV.

Pest pressure remains moderate. People in the field are monitoring a range of species as almonds progress towards, hull split which is roughly a month away.

In young pistachios, treatments have been doing out for chinch bugs. Left unattended, chinch bugs can quickly take out those vulnerable trees.

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CROP REPORTS

Aaron Beene, PCA, Simplot Grower Solutions, Merced

“In almonds, we’re finishing nitrogen, making the last fertilizer applications for the year. Growers will do tissue sampling in June to gain an overall feel for the tree’s nutrient status. The majority of growers are maintaining fertility at average to above-average levels, taking into account that this could be a substantial crop.

“Navel orangeworm and peach twig borer levels are dropping, based on trap counts.  Growers will put out ant bait as we move into June. Closer to harvest, we will make a second application in areas with potentially higher any populations. That includes orchards on sandier soils or those with micro/drip irrigation systems. We’re watching for mites. This heat can increase mite pressure, especially in young trees.

“Irrigation continues in the almonds, and strip herbicide sprays are going out to clean up tough weeds.

“We’re watching for summer leaf diseases, such as rust and scab. We encouraged a few growers to apply a preventive miticide and fungicide where they had a history of rust or scab plus mites. Isolated spots of anthracnose are evident in some orchards with sprinkler irrigation.

“Walnut growers made a codling moth spray for the 1B flight, and we included a botryosphaeria material, as well. Based on past years, we can expect the next flight mid to late June.

“The walnut crop looks to be coming along well. The first round of nitrogen went out three weeks ago. Husk fly traps go up by mid-June. However, we have heard reports of growers already catching a few.

“Pistachio growers are keeping up with fertility and watching for plant bug activity. We’ve seen minimal mealybug populations. Growers did treat with a foliar nutrient and an insecticide a few weeks ago.

“Depending on how much it might rain over the weekend, growers could end up applying a botryosphaeria spray.”

 

Nick Groenenberg, Independent PCA, Hanford

“Yesterday (5/27), Hanford hit 105 degrees, which broke the record high set in 1974. With temperatures that high all week, the trees kind of shut down.

“We are not finding any leaffooted plant bug. If you look hard enough, you can find a damaged nut, but the pressure remains low. Overall, trees look healthy.

“It has been 30 days since the last miticide application, and we haven’t found any mites lately. Just because we haven’t seen them doesn’t mean they aren’t there, based on our experience in this area. Mites are there and we need to prevent them from getting out of control. We will start with another miticide application Friday (5/29) to stay ahead of the game.

“Then, our next spray will likely be for hull split towards the end of June. We are lining up treatment programs and will begin making decisions about when to begin. Growers are finishing fertilizer applications in almonds and irrigating as trees need it.

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“Naval orangeworm mummy sprays went out a month ago. Mating disruption pheromone puffers are out in all orchards. We rely on them to take care of NOW until hull split when we make a NOW spray and also include a miticide.

“Almond limbs are getting very heavy and drooping. Growers hope those limbs stay strong and don’t break. Nuts still are beginning to fill in and still have gel inside.

“Pistachio growers finished mealy bug sprays and, hopefully, also gained protection against frosted scale and plant bug. A foliar nutrient also went on with the spray. Towards the middle to end of June, we start finding alternaria and botryosphaeria.

“Fertilizer is also going on in pistachios. Towards the end of June, we will apply another dose of nitrogen to aid with nut fill.

“The tomato crop is coming along well, and it’s just over a month until harvest starts. I’m guessing harvest will start about July 6, just a touch earlier than usual. We haven’t sprayed for worms yet. However, we are beginning to catch a few cabbage loopers. Growers treated for thrips and tomato spotted wilt virus, and we are dusting sulfur on tomatoes as a preventative for powdery mildew.

“Cotton is trending a week later than average. The oldest plants have 8 to 9 nodes and look healthy. Thrips and mites are present on the upland varieties. Growers planted fewer acres or didn’t plant this year at all due to the 15% water allocation for the area.

“Corn growers are spraying for mite and irrigating. Growers finished fertilizing.”

 

Tony Touma, PCA, Bio Ag Consulting, Bakersfield

“We have seen just about every insect this year among the different crops in the area. We have found stink bug and leaffooted bug in more locations, although in smaller numbers in those areas.

“I scouted a few young almond orchards and saw low spider mite pressure. We will treat because the mites are so widespread across the fields. When the temperatures reach 100-plus degrees for an extended period, mites always blow up. They are mostly hard to find, but we still have a long way to go until harvest, and things can change. Thrips and predatory mites are around, but in our area they never can fully contain mite populations.

“Rust is present in 75% of the fields in our area. Of those diseased areas, 10% have rust in an advanced stage. That week-long storm last month delivered the conditions that favor heavy rust development in Kern County. We have a history of rust, but it generally isn’t a problem until the end of the season. This year, rust is more advanced.

“The majority of growers in our area have applied a fungicide for alternaria and rust, and some have sprayed three or more times.

“Irrigation continues to play an essential role in orchard management.

“This year, growers will learn how to manage hybrid rootstock. These rootstocks are very vigorous and require intense pruning and tying methods. In the first 3 to 4 years, hybrid rootstocks grow quickly. Plus, they produce a heavy crop concentrated on the top portion of the tree. Growers who prune the branches and top the tree can force more robust growth. Branches fall and start to weep when tying isn’t done high enough to support the large crop.

“Growers will have to deal with this in a high number of orchards as this crop progresses. If orchards with these hybrid rootstocks are improperly managed, we can expect damage. It could take up to five years to rebuild those trees.

“In pistachios, chinch bug numbers have been building, especially in weedy areas. Chinch bugs can move into young pistachio trees and kill the tree within 48 hours. You can’t let them get out of control.

“In the last ten days, growers have been treating for mealybug on a wide basis. They also included an insecticide for plant bugs. Small populations of frosted scale are present, nothing at treatment level.

“Cotton is running behind. Plants are in the fourth to fifth node range.”

 

Doug Elrich, PCA, Big Valley Ag, Gridley

“We’ve been watching for mites as temperatures rose to 100 degrees for most of the week. The forecast calls for a swing down to mid-70s for Saturday (5/30), which will help the predatory mites hold spider mites at bay.

“Growers are finishing nitrogen and potassium applications. Weed spraying continues. Irrigation and rain have sprouted a lot of field bindweed and johnsongrass.

“Fungicides have been going out all month on an on-and-off basis. Most growers applied a fungicide two weeks ago during the last storm, which brought a couple of inches of rain. As the temperatures swing lower this weekend, another chance of rain is in the forecast.

“The almond crop looks good. However, it’s a heavy crop, and it’s breaking limbs and weeping branches, especially in younger orchards. Growers want to maximize growth and yield, but it’s also essential to build strong branches to support large crops. Harvest is quickly approaching and looks slightly earlier than usual, and we plan to start hull-split sprays towards the end of June or the beginning of July.

“In walnuts, the 1B codling moth sprays went out a week or two ago. Trap counts are low now. Based on the biofix, the second flight most likely will take shape in mid to late June. We will be monitoring mite pressure. Most likely, we will include a miticide with that spray. With more rain this weekend’s forecast, we will be watching closely for blight and botryosphaeria pressure. Most growers sprayed a fungicide before the last storm.

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“Nitrogen and potassium applications are underway in walnuts now. Most varieties look strong this year, so fertilizer is essential.

“This week, we are hanging husk fly traps and will begin monitoring for when they emerge.”

 

Franz Niederholzer, UC Farm Advisor, Colusa, Sutter and Yuba Counties

“It’s been very hot in the Sacramento Valley, with highs in the upper 90s to low 100s much of the past week. However, a pretty good chance of strong showers is in the forecast around the valley starting Friday (5/29) and running through Saturday night.

“Rainfall totals will vary, based on the forecast, but the NWS says a quarter to a half an inch could fall at Chico on Saturday. That much rain could be enough to trigger botryosphaeria infections, based on the pistachio and walnut model developed by UC’s Dr. Themis Michailides. Showers also could produce or spread rust, scab and anthracnose infections in almonds. At the Nickels Soil Lab, fungicides are going out Friday on almonds and walnuts to put protection in place.

“Nothing alarming has turned up with insects or mites. We are continuing to monitor navel orangeworm and peach twig borer as well as checking for sixspotted thrips. This hot weather is accelerating pest development. We saw a significant spike in PTB moth counts with the warm weather this week, but we did not see that same trend in our NOW traps.

“Almond kernel fill is about finished in many orchards in Colusa County. Irrigation sets are really stretching to deliver enough water during these hot days. Nitrogen fertilizer applications for 2020 are wrapping up in almonds. It seems hard to believe, but hull split is just around the corner, about a month away. We’ll see what June weather brings.”

 

Kris E. Tollerup, IPM Cooperative Extension Advisor, Kearney AREC, Parlier

“This is an ideal time to monitor for ant activity and for timing the IGR (insect growth regulator) ant baits. Follow label guidelines and make sure irrigation has been off for 24 hours before starting applications. Identify which species are present and go with the most effective treatments for control. Don’t act spontaneously. Think through and plan your ant-management program.

“Stink bugs are a problem in certain areas, although damage isn’t out of line with what we’ve found in previous years.

“UC Extension offices are starting to reopen in stages and with fewer restrictions. Certain advisors can now return to their offices, and they will slowly start up more meetings again.”

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