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Serving California producers and their professional advisors, covering almonds, pistachios, walnuts and other tree crops. Sponsored by the California field staff of BASF.


Owen Taylor, Editor



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Traps are turning up NOW and PTB moths in places. See John Moore’s comments about his annual mummy emergence sampling in Kern County.


Leaffooted plant bugs are being found on a minimal basis in the upper SJV in places where they would normally be expected on the front end of the season. See comments by Chris Morgner.


More confirmation of a big drop in parts of our coverage area. Indications continue to point towards insufficient pollination and/or fertilization due to the fast, short duration of the bloom, especially in the Nonpareils.


The San Joaquin Sustainable Farming Project will hold a pesticide and pest management meeting covering almonds, alfalfa and cotton. The event is set for 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m on March 30 at the Firebaugh-Mendota United Methodist Church at 1660 O Street, Firebaugh. Connect to more details in our Links section.


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Chris Morgner, PCA, Agri-Valley Consulting, Merced: “The almond trees look really nice. I’ve spent 4 hours today (3/24) walking different orchards on several ranches and came away with no problems. I did find a single leaffooted bug today. We have a little contest in our group to see who finds the first one, although a grower actually found one yesterday, and one of my colleagues found one today, too.


“I don’t know what to make of the fact that we’re finding them right now. They turned up in the areas where we normally expect to see them first, like on the edges of residential developments where the insect likely overwinters in ornamental plants. It really hasn't been hard to find them this winter around landscaping, oranges or palm trees. I came across one when I was cleaning out the gutters on my home and in plants in my yard a week or two ago.


“Of course, we don’t know to what extent, or when, leaffooted bugs will start migrating into the crop or how many it takes to cause economic damage. We saw a little flurry of activity last year and alerts went out. We started looking intensively but by April had not really found any. Whatever pressure did finally develop was spotty. We sprayed maybe 5% to 10% of our acreage for leaffooted bugs across the whole season.


“Nuts are sizing well. Soils are fairly wet and nobody is irrigating, and I don’t think they should be unless it’s a short-duration application to put on fertilizer. The soil still has a lot of moisture. Rainfall at my office has totaled over 4.5 inches in March and the total for the season has gone over 14 inches. But at one place where I have a gauge 24 miles south of my office, the numbers are always less.


“It rained all day in Merced last Sunday (3/20) and we had some dews later that kept things wet. We applied a fungicide on most blocks in February in that pink bud to early bloom stage. After that the forecast called for a strong chance of rain going into March, and on February 26 I wrote up every orchard for another treatment. That was a good forecast. So far, I haven’t seen any sign of disease.


“Any fungicide treatments now will be on an orchard-by-orchard basis. Unless the forecast calls for some big weather episode, we won’t do any more blanket sprays. Whatever we apply now will mainly be based on a history of scab. We’ll fit that into the window at 5 weeks after petal fall, which puts us into the second week of April.


“We’re catching NOW like crazy, with a lot of moths in pheromone traps and also eggs on our egg traps. We found some PTB the other day – not many, but they are starting to fly. We’ll begin considering treatments where we had issues in the past or where mummies weren’t sufficiently cleaned up or in blocks where egg traps are showing more numbers. At this point it would take some motivation to prompt us to treat.


“In pistachios, the males are pushing pretty hard with their bloom structures. They’re probably not throwing pollen yet. Females are just in elongation. Walnuts are pushing out. We’re getting ready to plant some processed tomatoes and we’ve done a little weed control work in fresh market tomatoes.”


Nick Groenenberg, Independent PCA, Hanford: “Our almonds look pretty good. We’ve applied a fungicide 3 times on some blocks and twice on others. I’m not seeing any mite yet but will probably be lining up mite applications on the almonds by mid April.


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“Where we’ve had drop it looked like those were blossoms that didn’t pollinate. We’re seeing that to some degree in every orchard, although it’s hard to say if it’s an unusual amount. The load on the trees does look pretty decent. We’re doing a little herbicide work this week.


“In pistachios, the males have been out for a while in the Golden Hills. However, the females are just now putting out flowers, so the overlap may not be as good as it should be in that part of the crop. Right now (3/24) I can hardly find female blooms and the males are about half finished with pollen production.


Tomatoes are going in. A little cotton has been planted but everyone has stopped right now and will be waiting for warmer weather. I saw some alfalfa going down today. The first cutting should be pretty decent. Rainfall has been minimal. We’ve barely gotten a trace out of the last couple of storms.”


Franz Niederholzer, UC Farm Advisor, Sutter/Yuba Counties: “We got just a little rain last week. Temperatures haven’t been too hot or too cold. The crop is growing. By mid week it will be time to take early almond leaf samples for the UC Davis sampling protocol. The timing for that is 42 days after full bloom in Nonpareils, plus or minus 6 days. The predictor we get out of that is for nitrogen.


“When we’ve had rain lately, it’s been somewhat warmish and ranged from a couple of tenths to something less than a half-inch, depending on the location. Some fungicides went on ahead of these most recent rains, and people were putting protection in place but also were probably including some reach-back activity after coming out of some of those bigger rains earlier.


“Not much is going on in walnuts. We did spray some of the early varieties at the Nickels Soil Lab ahead of the last rain.”


David A. Doll, Pomology Farm Advisor, Merced County: “People are beginning to irrigate and apply fertilizer in the almonds. I’ve received a few more calls about the bacterial spot we’ve been finding on leaves in places.


“The weather has been about what we’d expect, maybe a little on the cooler side for late March. Things are progressing well. A lot of the drop reported last week, I think, probably is tied more to poor pollenization and fertilization due to the fast bloom. I’ve noticed the crop density is higher near spots where the hives were placed. As you move away from the hives, it declines.


“The weather looks surprisingly clear (as of 3/24) for the next week. If anyone hasn’t made a fungicide application lately and has a history of scab, a treatment should be considered. We’re getting into that post-petal-fall window for that application.


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Temperatures are supposed to be in the 70s, so demand will start picking up for water, plus getting fertilizer out with it. Depending on how much rain has fallen in a given area, an irrigation might not be immediately needed, but it’s at least time to make sure pumps are ready for when the need arises.”


John Moore, PCA, Growers Crop Consulting, Bakersfield: “We’re mainly checking behind herbicide applications and looking for mite activity in almonds, which is minimal right now. I am finding a few adult NOW in traps. I’ve been seeing some PTB activity in younger trees. With PTB, trap numbers are running from zero to 1 to 2 where people did dormant sprays. Where they didn’t, counts are running 6 to 8 and up to 10. That’s a pretty normal pattern. When we look at counts from a large number of traps, it’s clear that dormant sprays reduce numbers. When we make dormant applications, there’s no risk of killing bees or predators.


“We’ve seen a fair amount of drop on the Nonpareils. My gut feeling is that these were non-pollinated nuts. With this year’s fast bloom, it would have been hard for bees to keep up, and I think that’s the reason that a fair number of small nuts did drop. That’s not surprising, considering the way the bloom went.


“In the mummies I’ve collected, I’m seeing emergence of NOW but not nearly as many as we’ve counted up to this point in recent years. The number is extremely small, in fact. Some folks expected a higher degree of mortality with this winter’s weather. I’ve heard mortality estimates of 50%, although my numbers might indicate more of them didn’t make it through. Fewer moths have emerged from my samples by this date (3/24) than last year or the year before.


“Vegetation is pushing in the pistachios and we’re finding a small number of flowers this week. In walnuts, we’ve picked up a codling moth in a trap in the Ashleys. We made a ReTain spray on Ashleys 2 days ago and will probably do the Surs tomorrow. In alfalfa we’ve sprayed one field for weevils. A couple of fields have been cut and one was green chopped.” 



California: Firebaugh Meeting, March 30, Will Cover Pest Issues In Key SJV Crops 3-24


California Walnuts: Orchard Management Reminders Through Early Summer 3-24


California Walnuts: The Latest On Managing Bot Canker And Blight 3-24


California: When To Start Walnut Irrigation 3-24


California Walnuts: Where The New Variety Durham Fits 3-24


Rice Industry: Accurate Rough Rice Price Reporting Is Critical 3-23


Rice: Federal Grading Standards Up for Review 3-22


California Tomatoes: Beet Leafhopper Treatments Ramping Up 3-22 


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