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At least some shaking started in almonds in the lower San Joaquin Valley on Monday, July 24. The 2017 harvest has started.


Spider mite treatments continue in parts of our coverage area. As our contacts in the lower half of the SJV tell us, mite pressure hasn’t come close to what they dealt with ahead of harvest in 2016.



This is our last regularly scheduled issue for 2017.


In two weeks, we’ll make a final round of calls for updates on harvest progress, spider mites and anything else going on in almonds, pistachios and walnuts.


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Nick Groenenberg, Independent PCA, Hanford

“Our first shaking in almonds probably will start in about 10 days (from 7/27). Almonds have kept us busy, and a lot of that has to do with spider mites.


“We made our second hull split application and included a miticide with both the first and second hull split sprays. Several fields have problems to the extent that we’re coming back with a third miticide application in some blocks before we shake them. Miticides seem to be working pretty well but pressure has built enough in places that we need to go back one more time.


“We’re not dealing with this mite pressure everywhere. Some fields are really clean and we’ve been able to keep them that way. Where heavy populations developed, it’s mostly been along dusty roads and downwind from fields with mite issues. Mites were absolutely horrible last year and we’re not dealing with that kind of situation this year –thankfully.


“In pistachios, we’re finishing our sprays at the 2,200-degree-day timing. We already made applications on part of the crop and we’re finishing up this weekend and early next week on the rest. We have pistachio blocks that are 20 to 30 miles from each other, which meant enough difference in degree days that we couldn’t treat everything at once. A lot of nut fill is underway and we’ve got quite a few nuts on the trees.


Cotton is doing really well. Lygus put up a big fight early and we went after them really hard, then the counts dropped off. However, the numbers appear to be up again today in certain fields. That may be due to surrounding crops. Aphids have been a real problem, with heavy pressure in places. The materials we use are working pretty well but not to the extent we thought they would.


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“In alfalfa, we had to spray really hard for worms. Huge numbers built. We were able to control them okay and the cuttings looked good. It was some mix of western yellowstriped and beet armyworms and alfalfa caterpillars. Tomato harvest is moving along, and it should be a decent crop, at least average. We are continuing with fungicide and worm sprays in tomatoes.


“It’s 100 today and the high is supposed to reach 103, with maybe a bit more heat starting this weekend.”


Tony Touma, PCA, Bio Ag Consulting, Bakersfield

“People started shaking almonds on Monday (7/24) and quite a few growers moved into harvest as the week progressed. By next Monday plenty of shaking will be in progress. I expect to see shakers running at Shafter early in the week. The first blocks that were shaken this week are close to the Grapevine, and it tends to get warmer there.


“We had 28 days with highs over 100, then maybe a couple of days around 99 and now it’s running over 100 again, and highs of 104 to 106 are in the forecast. With this much heat, nobody is surprised that spider mites finally showed up in almonds. We looked and looked for them all year and found just minimal numbers.


“Right now, we have hot spots but nothing is out of control. It’s certainly nothing like last year with all the webbing in trees. We had to wait for growers to finish harvesting so we could come back and spray again.


“In pistachios, we’re gearing up to do our 2,700 degree-day NOW spray, which coincides with when pistachios start to split. We’re finding a lot of early splits this year – those small nuts that don’t fully mature. The early splits end up hosting NOW, which gives them a way to get into the good nuts.


“Right now, we’re between the 2,200 and 2,700 timings and have been looking for eggs in those early splits. So far, though, we’ve found very few eggs. If they do pick up, we might spray on the early side of 2,700. The 2,700 timing is probably 2.5 weeks away.


“We’ve found mealybugs in a few blocks and may add a material for them when we do spray for NOW.


“In cotton, aphids are hitting us pretty hard. We’re spraying a lot for both aphids and lygus. I haven’t seen any whitefly yet. In some fields, we’re on the fifth lygus spray. That’s in the Main Drain area. At Buttonwillow, we’ve sprayed 3 or 4 times, depending on the field.


“My cotton around Buttonwillow doesn’t look as bad as expected. It’s all Pima, which likes the heat. We lost a lot of early positions to lygus but the middle and top crops look really nice, especially where growers paid close attention to irrigation. Water has been cheap and the Pima market has been relatively good, so we should come out okay.


“In alfalfa, the worms are back. We’re spraying every cutting and with some fields we’ve had to spray twice in the same cutting. We’re dealing with western yellow striped and beet armyworms, plus alfalfa caterpillars, and they haven’t been in sync. We might spray alfalfa caterpillars and then find an armyworm hatch 10 days later.”


Franz Niederholzer, UC Farm Advisor, Sutter/Yuba Counties

“We had a break from the heat but temperatures are supposed to go above normal by 5 to 10 degrees over the weekend and into next week. I haven’t heard much change in predictions about when almond harvest will start. In this area, it still looks like the middle of August before any real shaking begins.”


David A. Doll, Pomology Farm Advisor, Merced County

“Most almond varieties are well into hull split. A few reports have filtered in about hull rot. Some miticide sprays have been going out.


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“One rumor has it that some Independence somewhere to our south have been shaken. I can’t confirm that, but Independence tend to come off a week earlier than Nonpareils. I still think (as of 7/27) that the first shaking in Nonpareils in the county will begin in a range of August 8-12. By the end of next week, we’ll at least be close to harvest starting.


“I’m seeing some walnut blocks that obviously were under-irrigated. With walnuts, it’s important to check and probe soil. If you see yellowing and what appears to be sunburn, check soil moisture. Sometimes over-irrigating early in the season leaves you with a shallow root system, which makes it hard for trees to reach deep moisture later. I’ll also admit that figuring out how much to irrigate has been a challenge, considering all the heat.”


Dwaine Heinrich, PCA, Stanislaus Farm Supply, Modesto

“This area has broken all kinds of records for the most consecutive days of triple-digit heat. At this point (7/28), we’re trying to prep almonds for harvest. People are cleaning up orchard floors and some ant bait is still going out.


“We’ve been monitoring for spider mites but really aren’t seeing any. A miticide was included with the hull split spray, and that seems to be holding. People are making their last irrigation before harvest. I don’t think any shaking will start in my immediate area next week, although I expect some could start next week not too far from here.”


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