California – Almonds – First Hull Splits Just Around The Corner – AgFax

California almond tree with mountains in the background. ©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

Hull split is fast approaching. In certain areas, the first splitting in viable nuts is a couple of weeks out. With the rest of the crop, our contacts expect splitting in three to five weeks. As always, the timing depends on the variety, the weather, soil types, how much growers irrigated and other factors.

Spider mites have built enough to trigger applications in places. Ideally, everyone wants to delay mite treatments so that a miticide can ride along in hull split sprays. But in certain orchards, one or more applications have been necessary.

Alternaria applications continue in parts of the lower San Joaquin Valley.

Chinch bugs continue to be an issue across multiple crops. Increased weed growth, high heat and dusty environments are mentioned as factors for this upsurge in numbers.

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CROP REPORTS

Dale Deshane, PCA, Supervised Control, Bakersfield

“Almonds are progressing and are doing reasonably well. We have seen a few mite flareups over the last couple of weeks, but only a minimal number of blocks required treatment. The areas needing miticides also were blocks where we treated for plant bugs earlier. So, unfortunately, beneficial populations were eliminated in the process.

“Alternaria has developed in quite a few fields, although it hasn’t advanced in many of them. We have made three applications in blocks with bad pressure. Where fields showed rust earlier in the year, we gained reasonable control with previous fungicide applications.

“Traces of scab started showing up over the last couple of weeks. Hull split is 2 to 3 weeks away, we will apply a fungicide when we spray then.

“Pistachio orchards have shown signs of early alternaria in the male trees. We usually don’t detect alternaria in pistachios until July. However, 25% of those fields need a treatment. We sprayed problem areas early in May, then applied a second application last week. We will treat a third time in the first week of July. That extensive rainstorm in April likely caused these flareups.

“Pistachio growers with mealybugs treated earlier in the month. We’re seeing no signs of flat mites after a treatment at the end of May that included sulfur in a nutrient spray.

“It’s a bad year for chinch bugs across multiple crops. We are treating pistachios as we see issues arise. The excessive weeds in high-heat areas have drawn chinch bugs out more this year.

“Cotton growers have had to treat lygus at least once this season. That last heat spell ten days ago drew out high lygus populations before the cotton started to square up. Fruiting in cotton is running about two weeks behind normal.

“Growers started picking bell peppers this week, and watermelon harvest will begin this weekend. Tomato harvest usually starts around July 4.”

 

Gary Gliddon, PCA, Treevine Consulting, Modesto

“Almond trees are looking good. Growers are done with fertilizer and are focusing on irrigation. They’ve also put out ant bait or are just starting into that. Regular herbicide spraying continues to keep up with the ever-growing weeds.

“Two almond blocks on the west side are showing signs of rust, and it seems to be more prevalent on the west side of the valley this year. Conditions varied, and I’m unsure what triggered this increased pressure. The grower will likely hold off on treatment and add a fungicide to his hull split spray.

“Almond orchards are 2 to 3 weeks away from a hull split spray. The last part of June or the beginning of July tends to be the typical timing for that first application in Nonpareil blocks.

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“Miticide treatments vary, depending on growers. Where we’re not finding mite pressure, those growers will include a miticide with their second hull split sprays, which will run 10 to 15 days after the first spray.

“In walnuts, codling moth counts ran high from the previous flight. The first flight is the worst, and we could see potential crop loss. We didn’t spray two organic Chandler blocks and, on average, lost 1.5 nuts per tree. We did spray another block for codling moth, and less than one nut per tree fell off due to damage.”

 

Sara Savary, PCA, Crop Care Associates, Fresno

“Almonds are primarily clean and look pretty good. We haven’t seen mite or disease flareups. Growers are keeping busy with weed control.

“Our first hull split sprays are 3 to 4 weeks out. Generally, they begin in the first week of July.

“Growers are preparing to spray first and second-year almond orchards for peach twig borer. Trees have shoot strikes from the May hatch and also need a foliar zinc spray.

“In walnuts, we’re gearing up for another codling moth hatch next week. Counts remain low, but we will need to at least spray this second hatch to prevent a buildup. Certain varieties like Tulare are more sensitive to codling moth and will require a spray. Growers tend to combine a codling moth and botryosphaeria spray.

California almond trees with mountains in the background. ©Sara Savary, AgFax Media

“We have not seen mites or husk fly in the walnut traps. We have had a bad problem in the past and are glad to things are minimal so far this year.

“Orange groves are experiencing minimal red scale, but it appears to be well controlled. If a treatment is warranted, we will likely make it on the third hatch. Where needed, we included a material for citricola scale with the post-bloom spray, and control has been very good. We will treat for cottony cushion scale soon where control is required. Vidalia beetles are present in some infestations, and we’ll allow them to control populations throughout the summer.

“In cotton, we saw an increase in lygus populations and square loss. Mainly, this is occurring near areas where alfalfa was recently cut. The next cutting of alfalfa will be strip-cut, which could minimize lygus movement.

“Tomato fields with excessive thrips pressure have received a treatment. We are monitoring worms, which tend to spike in July.”

“Tomato fields that showed thrips pressure have completed sprays for treatment. We are monitoring for worms, which generally appear late in July.”

 

Brian Gogue, PCA, Helena Agri-Enterprises, LLC, Hanford

“Almond hull split will likely start at about the same as last year or a few days later. We are expecting it towards the middle to the end of the first week of July. In our orchards, nut fill ran behind last year by five days.

“Almond orchards in our area have minimal to no mite pressure area. We did end up treating one field this week where mites flared.

“An orchard with a history of alternaria will be treated again this year. Overall, though, I have seen almost no disease. Traces of rust developed on a ranch on the westside, but it nearly went away on its own.

“Quite a few growers will make mating disruption applications two weeks before their anticipated hull split. The first true hull split sprays will not include a mating disruptor. In our first two timings, we will include a material to help combat hull rot. Then growers will come back with their second hull split spray and include a mating disruption material then.

“Pistachio orchards are relatively clean. The shells are hardened off enough that I’m barely able to cut them with a knife. We treated for true bugs on a quarter to a third of our pistachio fields.

“Pistachio nut fill is about two weeks out, towards the end of the month. Nitrogen and potassium will be essential as nut fill begins.

“Chinch bugs are showing up in most crops. However, I haven’t seen a flareup in pistachios yet. We will hit the 1,700-degree day mark for navel orangeworms in the first week of July, and orchards with significant NOW pressure will be treated.

“In walnuts, chinch bugs built in a couple of first-leaf orchards. In one field, chinch bugs started to climb up the young trees, and we found damage on low branches. A couple of individual trees were almost wiped out.

“The grower applied a pyrethroid and imidacloprid immediately and was able to knock them down a bit. However, a custom applicator had to come back with acephate to clean up the outbreak. Another block had high populations down the middles in the weeds, and we controlled those bugs before they traveled up the trees.

“In walnuts, growers will spray for mites this weekend and into next week in mature orchards and also include materials for worms and botryosphaeria. The second and final application of nitrogen is going out in flood-irrigated orchards.

“The walnut crop looks good, but the price is low, so growers are leery about making many applications. If temperatures continue to rise, growers will consider a sunblock material for certain walnut varieties that are more susceptible.

“Grape growers are finding powdery mildew in their vineyards. The more susceptible varieties will warrant spraying under tight intervals for control. We continue to monitor for mealybug. 

“In cotton, lygus populations built over the last 10 to 14 days. Growers treated, and the cotton is squaring up well now with very minimal loss. Fertilizer applications and the first furrow irrigation are underway. The second application of Roundup has been going out for morningglory.

“Tomatoes continue growing well, with minimal pest pressure. Growers are cleaning up thrips populations in an occasional field and treating powdery mildew with sulfur dust or liquid fungicides. Fertility remains important in most fields. Mature blocks are approaching the tail end of nitrogen applications. My earliest fields are 4 to 5 weeks away from harvest, and we are starting to find red tomatoes.”

 

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

“This weekend could be our last dip on this spring’s weather rollercoaster. Temperatures will run 10 to 15 degrees below normal for Friday and Saturday, but the weather is supposed to move into the 90s by Monday. The forecast includes a chance of isolated showers on Friday evening and Saturday, with possibly a tenth of an inch each day for the Chico area.

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“We should see signs of a new navel orangeworm flight in our egg traps in at least some locations by next weekend (6/20-21). That should be ahead of hull split. However, some blanks on edges might be splitting by then.

“Mites seems to be quiet so far. Irrigation and hull split spray preparations are central topics now.”

 

Rodney Ratzlaff, PCA/CCA, Nutrien, Merced

“We are gearing up for the first hull split spray that’s coming in the next several weeks. I am keeping a close eye on several blocks for building mite populations. We want to determine if we can wait to apply a miticide in the hull split spray like we traditionally do. I had to pull the trigger for mites on two blocks that needed to be sprayed rather than wait. Beneficials are doing a good job in the majority of the other blocks where we have lower mite populations.

“Rust is starting to show up in the Atwater and Livingstons areas, with heavy pressure in some blocks.

“Nitrogen is all but cut off now. However, I encourage growers to spoon-feed potassium and any micronutrients that are showing low levels from recent tissue samples. That will go out through irrigation. We’ve made the second shot of Velum One on blocks with high known counts of nematodes in the soil.

“Irrigation and soil moisture monitoring remain essential during these wide temperatures swings. Highs have ranged from the low 100s to expected highs this weekend in the upper 70s.

“Soft-shell varieties have solidified and developed a shell layer. In the later hard-shell varieties, limbs are beginning to bend under pressure from the heavy-weighted crop.”

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