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
The year’s first major heat wave began taking shape over the weekend. Temperatures above 100 are on tap through much of the new week, with highs at 107 to 115 expected by mid-week.
The heat will likely fire up a full range of pests in both permanent crops and field crops, our contacts this week said. The immediate concern in almonds is spider mites, which have been all but dormant in most areas this season. That could change quickly.
Whether this heat speeds up progression to hull split remains to be seen. In recent weeks our contacts have said they expected hull split to begin on a fairly normal schedule, not the early splitting everyone saw during recent drought years.
Merced County Assistant Agl Commissioner Yvette Pellman will update farmers about nonfumigant volatile organic compounds, chlorpyrifos and worker safety standards during a field day in Dos Palos on Tuesday, June 20. Connect to more info in our Links section.
The northern location for the Regional Almond Variety Trial project will host a field day on June 22 at the site, Chico State University’s University Farm. The event begins at 9 a.m. Connect in our Links section to more info.
Dean Striebich, ASI Consulting, Fresno
“We’re looking at a really big heat wave starting on Sunday (6/18). It’s turning into summer in the San Joaquin Valley. It’s been relatively cool, then temperatures shifted into a warming trend and now it’s supposed to be hot, up to 110 at one point and highs at 105 or more every day for most of the week.
“In almonds, we’re floating the middles to prep for harvest and we’ll be pounding the orchards with water over the next couple of weeks. We got a little behind on water when we started working the middles but we will be making sure trees have enough.
“I can’t say what the heat will do to almonds or otherwise affect timing. Before the forecast started calling for these intense temperatures, it looked like hull split would start on about a normal schedule compared to early starts in 2015 and 2016 when we were coping with the drought.
“This year we at least have plenty of water and we’re still looking at good things from this crop. We will start checking for hull splits in the week after next.
“How much the heat might affect other crops also could vary. Cotton hasn’t flowered yet, so we don’t have to worry about plants shedding small bolls.
“Our tomatoes were past the time that they would carry blooms that could make it to red fruit. This round of heat next week will blast any of those blooms that we don’t actually have a reason to protect.
“We don’t have any late-planted tomatoes that would still be vulnerable. Processors have had plenty of carryover product in the last few years, so there was no push here for later plantings. The canneries want to close early.
“Whether the heat affects tomatoes past that isn’t something you could predict. In 3 of the last 30 years I’ve seen high temperatures trigger tomato vine collapse in places, and it comes on quickly like you’d thrown a switch. It’s different from early vine decline. Again, it’s not something you could predict. We’ve had plenty of other years with intense heat – 110 or above – and the vines held up well.”
Sara Savary, PCA, Crop Care Associates, Fresno
“In my non-bearing almonds we’re making PTB sprays and including something for mites just because the trees are small and in a dusty area. Some zinc deficiency is present, so they also need a foliar nutrient material.
“I’m still not finding mites in the bearing trees, and we’re waiting for hull split before spraying. I think it will be 7 to 10 days (from 6/16) before I see any splits. Last year the first hull split was evident earlier. I thought I’d find some this week but never came across any. I saw the first hull splits in Independence last year on June 20.
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“Like the almonds, development in our grapes seems to be running 7 to 10 days behind where it was in 2016.
“None of our cotton is blooming yet. Our most advanced cotton is at 13 nodes, and all of mine this year is Pima. I just made a lygus spray on part of the cotton. Cantaloupes are in that area, too, and I decided to address the lygus before melons began blooming and bees started moving. Alfalfa is still clean as far as alfalfa pests go. Lygus are in the alfalfa, so we’re strip cutting to keep them from moving into cotton.
“In tomatoes, the only thing of note lately has been alfalfa mosaic virus. We’re not seeing a lot of thrips. When it was cool and raining, we skipped one thrips spray but we might have had some aphids coming in that brought the mosaic. When the weather began warming, thrips were moving again. We re-started thrips treatments at that point and those tomatoes look a lot better, disease-wise.”
Gary Gliddon, PCA, Treevine Consulting, Modesto
“I’ve finally found a couple of almond orchards with a spot of rust, just one leaf. I picked the leaf in one case and joked with the grower that I had eliminated his rust problem. I’m sure rust is still in there but that was the only bit of it I was able to find.
“Mites are pretty much nonexistent. But we are due for 100-plus temperatures in our area for 5 or 6 days, so that might change the dynamics with mites and maybe some other things.
“That many days with triple digit temperatures don’t happen often here. We might hit 2 days in a row like that, then it cools off again. How the temperatures go here often depends on how much fog comes in from the coast. At times, forecasts called for a string of 100-plus highs but then fog developed and those highs didn’t last as long as predicted.
“Nuts are filled in. I’m thinking that we’ll see our first hull split around July 4.
“In walnuts, my orchards this year are mostly Chandlers, with one small Vina block and a couple of young Howard blocks. So, most of my varieties aren’t highly susceptible to codling moths and blight.
“Codling moth flights in my walnuts have been very low but other people tell me they’re seeing them quite a bit. I’ve been looking for nuts that fell from trees due to worms from that first flight but I can hardly find any. We’ll put up our husk fly traps in a week or two and see what happens with it.
“Walnut aphids for some reason did come into one small Chandler orchard. I’m figuring that codling moth timing is next week, so we’ll spray for codling moths and aphids. In the other blocks I haven’t had that problem.”
Dale Deshane, PCA, Supervised Control, Bakersfield
“It’s about to get hot, really hot. The forecast says the high will reach 107 early in the week and then climb to 110 to maybe even 115 by mid-week. So, we’re moving towards our typical July weather in Kern County, except we’re still in June.
“No major mite blowups in our almonds. Some scab problems turned up in hard shells. We decided to go ahead and treat where we’re seeing the problem and include a miticide since this hot weather is about to happen. Again, it has only turned up in some hard shells. We had scab last year in places and made dormant sprays. It’s not bad now but we don’t want it to become a big issue.
“With some exceptions, rust is at a minimum level, just kind of increasing little by little in places – but it’s nothing horrible yet. However, rust is getting worse where growers decided not to go with a fungicide earlier.
“We’ll start hull split sprays the week after next among our larger growers who need more time to get across everything. Chinch bugs really built in some of our first-year trees and we’ve been fighting those. We’ve kind of beaten them back in the Delano and McFarland areas. I don’t know what will happen next week with all the heat.
“In some cotton we’re going into our third spray for lygus and we will be treating a lot of acres this weekend (6/17-18). Nothing has been completely stripped but in a lot of fields we’re finding poor square retention. Certain fields already have very high numbers of immature lygus and I’m surprised to see that happen this early.
“Stink bugs are moving like crazy into some cotton, as well, and we’re picking up 6 to 8 per 50 sweeps. Aphids also have started popping out in cotton. A couple of other people mentioned that to me earlier but at that point I’d only seen some black cowpea aphids around. But this week I’ve found aphids in 3 or 4 of my growers’ cotton.
“We’ve only got a limited number of materials that would give control. California can’t seem to obtain a Section 18 for Transform, which would control aphids and lygus. Sivanto is available but it’s effective only on aphids, so we would have to include something for lygus. That would be a pricey application, too.
“We’ve already treated a lot of cotton with Belay and are starting into our Carbine now since we are finding so many immatures. All this has become more complicated because bloom has started south of Bakersfield. Once it’s blooming, certain products are off the table due to bee restrictions.
“We haven’t had early aphids in cotton for a number of years. Partly, using Carbine for lygus kept them down, I think. We’re already running into problems and aren’t even into July yet.
“Some fruit worms turned up a couple of weeks ago in our early tomatoes. Mildew hasn’t blown up in tomatoes yet and late blight hasn’t flared anywhere. Onions and garlic are drying down, so we might see thrips moving into tomatoes with this hotter weather. Until now, they’ve been holding but may get heavy soon.
“We’ve been finding just a few loopers and armyworms in tomatoes but – again – that could change fast with a string of 100-plus days. A few cowpea aphids turned up in alfalfa but nothing close to treating. Worms also might pick up in alfalfa with the heat.”
Franz Niederholzer, UC Farm Advisor, Sutter/Yuba Counties
“We’re just getting into a heat wave (6/16) and the high is flirting with 100 right now. It’s supposed to reach 107 by Sunday and we won’t see much relief next week.
“The 2 immediate issues that this heat presents in almonds are the chance of spider mites quickly building and also an increased demand for water from the trees. Growers should be done or close to finishing nitrogen fertilizer applications in almonds – unless they had hull rot issues last year, in which case they should have wrapped up nitrogen a month ago.
“Our first hull split sprays are maybe 3 weeks away. Start looking now for the first splitting blanks as an indicator about when hull split will start. Most growers have probably applied abamectin by now, so mites shouldn’t be a problem in most blocks for a month or maybe more.
“In walnuts, this heat raises concerns about sunburn, and I’m seeing growers apply sunburn preventive materials. Not to mention, you want to ensure that trees are well irrigated so you don’t suddenly have to play catchup. Husk fly traps are up in the walnuts or should be by now in shady spots in the upper canopy. Mites could become a factor, too, in walnuts.”
California Walnuts: Production Check List Through This Summer 6-18
California Walnuts: More Heat Will Change Pest Dynamics – Be Alert 6-18
Pima Cotton: Less Acres Planted Due to Cool, Wet Conditions 6-16
Ag Task Force: Perdue Talks About Future Plans, Limited Details – DTN 6-17
California Almonds: Variety Trial Review Set For June 22, Chico State 6-3
California: Alfalfa Field Day, Dos Palos, June 20 6-9
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