Serving California producers and their professional advisors, covering almonds, pistachios, walnuts and other tree crops.


Owen Taylor, Editor



Rainfall amounts over the last week continued to vary, although the southern San Joaquin Valley was mostly on the low end of the range again.


Leaf out has started on a wider basis as petal fall winds down.


Additional fungicide sprays went out ahead of a late-week system, mostly on hard shells that still were in bloom. Rain was in the forecast for Sunday and Monday (3/9-10), and whether or how much it rains will likely decide some late treatments.


In alfalfa, aphids have subsided. Beneficial insects and fungal activity are suppressing numbers on a wider basis. Where treatments have been made lately, they're evidently been for weevils.


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Nick Groenenberg, Independent PCA, Hanford:Almonds are doing very well. We were able to get the sprays on with good timing before the rains, which were predicted well in advance. We haven’t had much adverse weather since then. I think everything should be in fairly good shape.


“Bloom is pretty much over. Trees are leafing out well now.


“On some blocks we may have to come in with a mite spray in the first part of April, but the rest of it will likely be treated around the end of April or with our May sprays. I think mites will be a little early this year, and I’m hearing some other reports to that effect, so we want to stay ahead of them.


“In pistachios, we’re getting herbicides out where they haven’t been applied already.


“In alfalfa, we sprayed everything for weevils and in some cases for aphids and weevils. Alfalfa is growing very nicely. Some may get an early green-chop cutting, but it would be tough to do any hay in this area. The weather isn’t right and it wouldn’t dry fast enough, plus we could get more rain, so I don’t think anybody wants to risk that right now.


Tomatoes are going in the ground, and it looks like we’ll have a fair amount of them this year. We’ve got some yellow sticky cards up to see if we can find leafhoppers. None have turned up lately, but we did find some about 6 weeks ago. The curly top program will be extra vigilant this year, they say, so hopefully control will be better and we won’t have problems like we did last year.”


David A. Doll, Pomology Farm Advisor, Merced County: “We’ve had a couple of days of intermittent rain, with more on Thursday (3/6) and a chance of rain on Monday before things clear up and we get into a sunny pattern.


“A lot of people, I think, got back in the almond orchards when they could to make another spray ahead of the rain on Thursday. Some stretched out that first application before making a second one. How much you can get by with that depends on the variety, conditions at bloom and some other factors.


Management Tip
from Chemtura AgroSolutions



How to Use Degree Days in Insect Control

The term “degree days” is often mentioned with regard to crop development. But degree days also play an important role in insect development—and therefore, insect control.


That’s because degree days can be used to predict when susceptible pest stages occur so you can maximize pest control strategies.


To learn more about calculating and using degree days for pest management, check out this helpful video from the University of California Integrated Pest Management program.








“It is awfully warm with all this rain. One question floating around is whether bacterial spot will flare up in almonds. That’s the new disease we picked up last year. It’s hard to say whether you should put on a treatment and, for that matter, what to use. Copper has activity on bacterial pathogens, but almonds are very sensitive to it. Manzate is registered for almonds and does have some activity. But whether the disease will actually develop is something we can’t say.


“A couple of products – Regalia and K-Phite may provide control, but how much they will likely help depends on how much disease pressure is present. You have to make those applications before you get into an epidemic. Since this disease was only identified last year and we’re just in our first year of closely studying it, I don’t have a lot of firm information about what to do. By next year, we can maybe be more definite.


“We know copper and Manzate are options because they work in walnuts. Walnuts aren’t as sensitive to copper, but that really ties our hands in almonds because they are so sensitive.


“In walnuts, the pathogen that causes walnut blight is very similar to the one that triggers bacterial spot in almonds. If a product controls walnut blight and it’s labeled for almonds, it should be an option for bacterial spot in almonds. With these warm, in-season rains, bacterial spot could develop in places.


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“With all this rain, we’ve gotten a lot of water, so let’s make sure soils are drained before applying more. I know these trees are progressing fast, and most orchards are well into petal fall and into jacket split, depending on the variety and location. But we’re still about a week away from a lot of trees really starting to pull up water once they get past this fruit-set period.


“We’re getting a few reports about Monterey almonds with weird blooming patterns – scattered and low, for example – and some vegetative bud failure like we saw last year. It looks like crazy top symptoms that we see in Carmels, but we don’t think it’s the same thing.”


Franz Niederholzer, UC Farm Advisor, Sutter/Yuba Counties:Almonds are growing nicely and a lot are just past petal fall. We’re due for some more rain on Sunday (3/9). It’s been 10 days since a lot of spraying, and I suspect that people are either putting on another treatment now or will be this weekend.


“We’ve definitely had a wet February, although the water situation remains dismal, overall. February typically isn’t the heart of our rainy season compared to December and January when we expect more rain. We’ve been making trunk-to-trunk herbicide sprays at the Nickels Soil Lab in an area where we don’t have a pump, with the idea that we need to take out that vegetation and preserve the soil moisture that’s there. Unless something drastically changes, that will be a rain-fed situation. This is a site-by-site call. Where we have a well, we’re not doing a trunk-to-trunk spray.”


Tony Touma, PCA, Bio Ag Consulting, Bakersfield: “Bloom has finished almonds, even in the hard shells. We didn’t get much rain from this last storm. About 50% of my growers sprayed the trees and a bunch sprayed the hard shells. By that point, the soft shells were past needing it, so those didn’t get a treatment. Nobody was sure about the weather – if it would rain or how much.


“Tomorrow (3/8) it’s suppose to be 74 degrees, so things are getting warmer. Trees are looking good, so far.


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“In alfalfa, we’ve sprayed most fields for aphids. Lannate cleaned up aphids pretty good, plus we’ve got a lot of predators and fungal activity, so aphids are probably behind us. Weevils haven’t been a big problem yet. In my book, this has been a light weevil year. They didn’t come on with any force and maybe the Lannate helped take out some adults earlier. But even where we didn’t spray for aphids, weevil numbers are not extremely high.


“Several growers started cutting alfalfa. That’s early but the weather is nice. Some have started cutting for hay, not just for green chop.”


Mark W.F. Carter, PCA, Agri-Consultants, Los Banos: “Our almonds mostly range from petal fall to early leaf out. We got about 2 inches of rain over the last two weeks. That’s all. We’ve made two fungicide applications, so far. We’re suppose to have a slight chance of rain on Monday (3/10). If it doesn’t rain much, we’ll probably just end up with those two fungicide applications.


“In alfalfa, we actually had a lot of aphids two to three weeks ago, but since that first warm weekend two weeks ago the aphids declined pretty rapidly. We treated a few fields before that for aphids and were putting in Dimethoate and a pyrethroid in those early sprays. But aphid numbers have dropped off with all the ladybugs, parasites and fungal activity.


“Now we’re just going with malathion for weevils. Where we sprayed three weeks ago, it was too early to catch weevils, so some of those fields had to be treated a second time.”



A reminder to people involved with wine grapes: the WiVi Central Coast 2014 will be held March 19-20 in Paso Robles. Here’s more information.



California Almonds: Some Seasonal Perspective On Nitrogen Uptake 3-8


AgFax Almond Review: Rains a Welcome Relief Despite Cutting Off Bloom Early 3-4


California: Almond Trees Leafing Out as Bloom Finishes – US-DA 3-3


Western Drought Creates Possible Opportunities in Southeast Agriculture 3-7


Cotton: U.S., China Governments Unveil New Policies Ahead of Planting  3-5


California Egg Law Could Hatch Other Farm Legislation – DTN  3-6


AgFax Tree Crops, formerly AgFax Almonds, is published weekly during the crop production season.


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