Here is this week's issue of AgFax Tree Crops.
Our thanks to BASF’s California team for once again sponsoring our coverage of tree crops in the Central Valley.
Owen Taylor, Editor
More storms were expected over the weekend (3/18-19) and into the new week, which has prompted at least some push to apply fungicides in almonds. Bacterial blast -- for which there are no treatment options -- remains the biggest issue in parts of our coverage area, especially on sandier soils.
Jacket split has become more obvious in places.
Fertilizer has been going out on a wider basis.
In pistachios, bud swelling is apparent in more areas.
A tailgate meeting covering navel orangeworm monitoring and mating disruption has been set for Wednesday, March 22, near Escalon. The 2-hour session starts at 8:30 a.m. Connect to more info in our Links section.
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Chris Morgner, PCA, Agri-Valley Consulting, Merced:
“With all this rain we’ve also had plenty of weeds to spray. I was writing herbicide recommendations a couple of weeks ago, but it was so wet that growers were only able to start last week in places.
“It’s supposed to rain on Tuesday (3/21), with showery conditions on Wednesday and Thursday. Then another storm is expected next Friday, so we’ve been trying to get ahead of all that with fungicides in almonds where needed. We assessed risks in different locations in terms of disease history and decided where we needed to treat.
“Where we had scab problems in the past or have Carmels – which are more susceptible – we decided to make applications. And some growers wanted to treat, anyway. Others decided not to do anything. I’ve seen sprayers running today (3/17).
“It’s been warm. Fresno got into the mid 80s on Wednesday, and trees have been growing quite a bit with this weather. A week ago I could only find a shedding jacket here and there. But by yesterday you could see plenty of jacket splitting and nuts sticking out all over the place. There’s a crop out there, but it’s still a little early to say how much. We’re probably a week behind last year on jacket shed and nut growth, but we also had some really nice weather in 2016.
“Fertilizer is being delivered. It seems like I was behind a fertilizer truck everywhere I went late in the week.
“Some bacterial blast is around. I’ve found a bit of it in our clients’ trees but nothing widespread like people are reporting in the sandier areas of Merced County. In spots where we did find it, the flowers started dying and then the shoots died.
“I am seeing some leaf spotting from pseudomonas. Until you look closely it might be mistaken for shot hole. There’s no real control treatment. You just have to live with it. Where I’ve seen it, 5% to 10% of the leaves have spots, with scattered places at 25% spotting. But those higher percentages are where leaves went through hail 2 weeks ago, which damaged tissue enough to let pseudomonas in. On either side of where it hailed you will find much less spotting.
“With our walnuts, I’ve written some recs for walnut bacterial blight treatments. I don’t think we’re far enough along to spray yet, but I wanted the recs in place if necessary. The weather is still making wide swings, and we went from cold to hot really fast, but it’s supposed to be fairly cool again next week. As far as these walnut treatments go, I’m leaving it up to the grower whether to spray.
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“In pistachios, the first males are swelling, and I’m figuring that they’ll be blooming in 10 to 14 days. I’ve already written pistachio bloom recs for one ranch, but that’s a case where they want to line up everything early for best timing.
“We’ve been spraying alfalfa for weevils. Tomato planting started at the beginning of last week.
Franz Niederholzer, UC Farm Advisor, Sutter/Yuba Counties:
“We’ve had a nice, warm week, with highs in the 70s after temperatures last weekend actually flirted with the low 80s in places. But we’re back now (3/17) to a chance of showers.
“A lot of sprayers are running in almonds, putting out fungicides. Whether people are treating right now mostly depends, I think, on whether they sprayed last week and would still have protection in place. A bunch of people did, in fact, make those applications last week. We’re still on a rollercoaster ride with the weather – rain, then warmer and drier conditions and now more rain in the forecast.
“Some guys already have put out fertilizer. Others are getting ready to do it. Insect traps are starting to go out in almonds, too. Prunes started blooming this week. With this warm weather they’re pretty much into bloom now.”
David A. Doll, Pomology Farm Advisor, Merced County:
“If the forecast holds, we’ve got a big week of rain coming – a real spring storm with multiple days of rain. With that potentially coming, a lot of people are making fungicide applications in almonds. Their last spraying was about 2 weeks ago in front of another storm, and those applications have worn off. Also, the leaves and nuts have expanded, so all that new area isn’t protected. People are spraying and rightfully so. Otherwise, we could get into a lot of jacket and green fruit rot, right along with shot hole and other things.
“Some growers have already irrigated, which I think is too soon. Based on our work in the past, when you have intermittent spring rains you may be able to avoid irrigation through the month of March. If soils are too wet in the spring that decreases the amount of deep root development trees do, which can trigger stress in the summer when water runs short.
“I’m still going on farm calls about bacterial blast and sending in samples to be cultured. One of the things that gets a bit confusing about bacterial blast is that cultured samples can turn up a range of other pathogens that have simply taken advantage of the opening given them by bacterial blast.
“People who’ve sent in their own samples are asking about whether to treat, since these other pathogens are turning up in the reports. But our own cultures – plus the symptomology – indicate that what we’re seeing is the effects of bacterial blast. I’m not saying that other diseases aren’t there, but those tend to be pathogens that can survive on dead tissue like flowers.
“They’re a secondary culprit, but the primary culprit has been bacterial blast. I’ll post more about this on the blog (connect to his report in our Links section).”
Rick Foell, Field Manager, Capay Farms, Hamilton City:
“We’ve finished the third round of fungicide sprays in almonds and are starting on a fourth treatment for our petal-fall application. You name a disease and it’s probably out there somewhere. It’s just one of those years.
“We’ve had plenty of rain, and the forecast says we’ll get more tomorrow night (3/18). Normally, we’ll do crop estimates in May, but this year they’ll be moved up a little into April to find out how bad it is or if it’s better than we might suspect. In some spots the crop looks as good as it did last year. But in other spots you have to really look to find a nut.
All of our varieties are either at jacket split or out of it. Of the diseases we're finding, bacterial blast is the most obvious. We can find brown rot in historic areas for it, although it’s not as bad as anticipated, considering all the storms so far. Shot hole has shown itself to varying degrees, although I haven’t seen anything that we’d lose crop over. No sign of alternaria or other major leaf diseases.
“We’re comfortable in our disease control program. We simply don’t know to what extent we have a crop. As much as anything, we’re trying to keep trees as healthy as possible for next year.
“Over the last 4 weeks we’ve had maybe an inch of rain – nothing significant, and the weather turned really nice for a couple of weeks, too. But this weekend’s storm starts what could be 5 days of varying moisture.
“None of the models seem to agree on how much it will rain. One model I follow says we could expect an inch, while another model says the Feather River Basin – not far from us – could see up to 8 inches from this next round of rains. But the forecasts keep changing.
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“Everything is dry right now. If it weren’t for a strong chance of rain, we would be moving towards some irrigation in drier areas. We have been applying fertilizer, trying to get it out ahead of the rain as best we can.”
Brian Gogue, PCA, Helena Chemical Co., Hanford:
“Everything is leafing out really well in the almonds and we’re starting to see shoot growth on the earlier varieties. Trees are holding the crop well. Very little has come off, which is kind of unusual. Things look very good so far.
“We’ve made 2 fungicide applications on everything and a third treatment is going on through this weekend and into next week. Rain is in the forecast for Tuesday. I’m seeing a tiny bit of shot hole just about everywhere. Beyond that, no disease issues in almonds.
“With the exception of one field that’s been irrigated, everything is going out by ground at this point. Nitrogen for drip acreage started about 2 weeks ago. Where almonds are flood irrigated, some of that was shanked in this week, and we’re hoping the rest of that will be done before the rain comes. That has included nitrogen, phosphorous and also zinc with a lot of it.
“I’m seeing a lot of tips pushing out in pistachios. A grower showed me a shot of a single bloom on a Golden Hills tree. In walnuts, the Surs started pushing this week. Depending on the variety, grapes are pushing. I was in a block today with up to 3-inch shoots, although it was inconsistent, from 3 inches to not broken yet.
“So far, 2 fields of cotton have been planted. Seeds have germinated and are pushing pretty good. Most guys, though, will wait for this weather system to move past us, so the bulk of our cotton hasn’t been planted yet. Tomatoes have already been planted in a couple of fields. No issues there.”
John Moore, PCA, Growers Crop Consulting, Bakersfield:
“In almonds we’re spraying weeds, applying fungicides and planting trees in new orchards. With fungicides, some growers are being aggressive. Others are sitting on it to see how the weather develops next week. A storm is in the forecast for Tuesday. Growers who will spray have probably already done so, I think.
“It’s a little early for alternaria, but we’re looking for scab, shot hole and such. If the rain is limited, we probably won’t see much. Brown rot is past us. Today (3/17) we started finding a little disease in newly planted trees, although we’re not sure yet what it is. This seems to be some kind of die-back issue.
“Traps have been put out in pistachios. We’ve hardly had any swell yet. Different ages of trees respond differently, and in this case I’m talking about young trees.”
California Almonds: Bacterial Canker, Not Unexpectedly, Materializes 3-18
California Almonds, Walnuts: NOW Event Set For March 22 Near Escalon 3-18
California Almonds: Leaffooted Bug Aggregations Have Begun to Disperse 3-13
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