Almonds – California – Hull Split Sprays Roaring Along In Front Of Prolonged Heat Wave – AgFax


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    Owen Taylor, Editor
    Jenny Holtermann, Contributing Editor


    Hull split sprays are underway across much of our coverage area. In places, growers already are into their second round.

    A heatwave has taken shape in the Central Valley, with triple-digit highs deep into July. Hotter conditions could influence how almonds progress toward maturity.

    Added heat will likely increase pest pressure as orchards head towards shaking.

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    Dale Deshane, PCA, Supervised Control, Bakersfield

    “Our earliest hull split sprays started on June 24, and those growers moved into their second round of sprays on Tuesday (7/7). Others will be finishing their first sprays within the next two to three days. More growers will start their second hull split application next week. That will put those applications 2 to 3 weeks after the first spray.

    “Only 5% of our growers make a single hull split application. Four to five growers are including Checkmate mating disruptor with their insecticide in the second hull split spray.

    “Mite populations were starting to take off when we began hull split spray, and a few growers had to treat for mites before hull split. Most will now add a miticide to the hull split spray.

    “We have been checking the early splits for worms and, so far, the nuts look clean. Disease pressure is holding. Growers who have had a history of hull rot problems will add a fungicide with their NOW sprays. Growers continue watching their input costs as the price of almonds continues to decline.

    “About 95% of our growers already put out an ant bait, while others are waiting until after hull split.

    “In pistachio blocks with a history of alternaria, we just finished a third alternaria treatment. Irrigation during really hot weather creates an environment in which alternaria can spread.

    “Traps are consistently catching moths, with counts at 30 to 50 moths per week.

    “Pistachios are just barely starting nut fill. Growers made a second nutrient application and included a pyrethroid for plant bugs. We’ll make a NOW spray around the 2200- to 2400-degree-day mark. We’ll time that towards the beginning of August or maybe the end of July, depending on how the expected heat develops.

    “Mealybug outbreaks can come on with heat in July and August, and populations are starting to increase in blocks that didn’t receive an earlier mealybug treatment.

    “Cotton is setting squares well, and lygus populations settled down after the initial spray. Immature lygus are starting to show up now. As growers apply Pix, they’ll add a material to knock down those immatures. We sprayed a couple of fields for cabbage loopers last week where worms came in behind the lygus treatments.

    “Mite populations are building in upland cotton, and growers are treating this week and into next week. Whitefly is also starting to pop up and growers will likely treat for them and include a miticide. Whitefly began turning up 10 to 12 days ahead of when they appeared last year.

    “Corn harvest will begin in 2 to 3 weeks. Mites are starting to show up, and growers will treat the later corn varieties as needed. They are monitoring for leafhopper, which growers will need to address as populations build.

    “Tomato harvest started this week and will continue for several weeks. Watermelon harvest began just as the price hit a sweet spot for growers. Pepper harvest continues, while potato harvest is mostly done. Alfalfa has been clean this year, and we have yet to treat for aphids or worms.”


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

    “Hull split is coming along well. All Nonpareil orchards have been sprayed, and one last grower will finish tonight (7/9) with his first hull split spray. The first grower started two weeks ago and will be returning for his second spray on Nonpareil tomorrow night. About 75% of my growers will come back with a hull split spray for pollinators. About 25% of my orchards received a mating disruption material, and we won’t spray those.

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    “Independence is starting to split and is catching up with Nonpareil timing. Growers will begin spraying tonight (7/9) for blocks with Independence. Monterey and later pollinator varieties are 3 to 4 weeks out on the earliest blocks.

    “We don’t see many eggs on hull splits as compared to years past. I started our sprays slightly before the NOW flight timing, based on hull splitting.

    “All Nonpareil orchards received a miticide along with their NOW spray. The only exceptions were a couple of blocks that we treated mites a few weeks ago.

    “Growers are starting herbicide sprays to clean up orchard floors. Ant bait is still going out, and that will continue into next week. Growers also have started deficit irrigation in almonds.

    “Pistachios hit the 1700-degree-day mark for NOW between July 1 and 6, and 20% of my growers sprayed then. The 2200-degree-day timing will hit in the next 10 to 14 days, and most growers will spray then.

    “Based on cutting, pistachios are at 70% to 90% nut fill, which is behind last year by about five days. The most mature variety, Golden Hills, has a few nuts that are almost completely filled.

    “The first signs of citrus flat mite are showing on pistachios. We will treat a majority of the orchards with the NOW spray. We did find a few mealybugs last week and again this week. Populations may warrant treatment where needed at this same timing.

    “Pistachio growers continue to push nitrogen, potassium and irrigation. The AF36 applications on berms have almost all been completed, and growers will irrigate after those applications.

    “Grapes continue to show more mildew than average, and growers are spraying to knock down the pressure. The late rains and cooler weather cycling in and out this spring probably helped mildew build. The earliest varieties are moving into veraison and are around a month and a half from harvest.

    “The first fields of tomatoes will be harvesting early next week. Growers have been keeping on top of mildew sprays and sunblock treatments.

    “Cotton looks good, and growers are pleased with how the growth pattern and fruit set have occurred. Growers have treated fields up to three times for lygus, and we applied Pix to a couple of fields or parts of fields to help control growth.”


    Luke Milliron, UCCE Orchards Advisor, Butte, Glenn and Tehama Counties

    “Nonpareil hull split has commenced in only parts of the Northern Sacramento Valley. I am hearing reports on the west side about a few growers already on a second hull split spray. In the middle of the valley, I saw split just beginning at the tops of canopies in Tehama County, which perhaps amounted to a little less than 1% split on Thursday (7/9).

    “On the east side, people report splits on edge trees. However, timing is significantly behind the west side. 

    “After the delayed leafing failure in Monterey, some growers say those canopies look better. Some significant new growth is obvious in orchards I’m monitoring in Tehama County in unaffected parts of the canopy. However, affected parts of the canopy have not recovered and shoot tips are dying back. I’m also seeing varying levels of anthracnose in these three orchards.

    “In walnuts, I’m hearing reports of high pest counts, and some applications were going out. Certain fields are on a one-spray program for codling moth, while others are on a two-spray program. Some codling moth sprays went out last week, and high counts have been a hallmark of this season.

    “Mite counts are picking up, too. PCAs are trying to carefully select materials and hold off on applications until needed, hoping they can suppress populations through harvest. I’m also picking up reports of high walnut husk fly counts, and some applications went out.

    “I’m finding some leaf tip necrosis in young walnut leaves, which most commonly is a symptom of over-watering.”


    Rodney Ratzlaff, PCA/CCA, Nutrien, Merced

    “All of my growers with soft shell almond varieties began their hull split sprays over this last weekend (7/4-5), or in the first part of this week.

    “Blanks became noticeable as they began to split late last week in most spots among Independence and Nonpareil.

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    “The majority of my first sprays did not include a miticide. Mites are present, but I think we can get by another couple of weeks until the next spray, and then we’ll go with a substantial miticide option. At that point, growers may pick up longer residual ahead of harvest and avoid possible retreatments.

    “The weather forecast for the next 10 days calls for triple-digit highs, and that will move things along very quickly. We will possibly be treating some hard-shell varieties as early as the middle of next week.

    “We have been prepping orchard floors for harvest for the last couple of weeks. Growers are trying to avoid additional passes with a mower. They don’t want to put more dust in the air or knock nuts off low-hanging limbs.

    “Orchards have received an ant treatment by now, and we will follow up with another application before shaking begins. We pulled samples before the first hull split spray so we could correct any micronutrient deficiencies during the foliar application. July and August are also a good time to pull soil samples for developing our post-harvest fertility plans.”


    Sara Savary, PCA, Crop Care Associates, Fresno

    “Hull split started popping this week and went faster than expected, and growers decided to move up spray timing. Some have finished their first spray while others will begin Friday (7/10). Blanks are beginning to split and sutures are forming on Nonpareil and Independence.

    “We do not see much flight activity, although egg numbers are increasing in traps near Firebaugh. Spray timing is slightly earlier than last year.

    “In places, mite colonies are starting to form with minimal webbing, and growers will include a preventive miticide with that first NOW spray. Three weeks after the first spray, 70% of my growers will apply a second hull split spray, mostly on blocks with later varieties.

    “Growers started floor weed spraying and are beginning harvest preparation. Those with flood irrigation systems will still flood the fields to settle the dirt and also pack down light sandy soil. One client with hull rot issues adds a fungicide into the irrigation system. Growers are starting into deficit irrigation this week.

    “In walnuts, mite pressure has been minimal this year. We have not seen husk fly activity or trap catches this week. The next codling moth spray will include a miticide, and that will go out in the next couple of weeks. We’ll apply a fungicide for botryosphaeria in mid-July.

    “Growers who rely on river water will flood fields to utilize the last of their available water.

    “Cotton has fared well against lygus this year. Growers sprayed once, and we haven’t seen more coming into cotton since then. Tomato growers are sulfur-dusting for mildew, and we’ll continue monitoring for worms into late July.”

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