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Here is our first issue of AgFax Tree Crops for 2018. This marks the start of our 28th year of covering California crops (going back to our initial cotton newsletter) and the tenth season for this report.


Our thanks to the California field staff of BASF for once again sponsoring our coverage.



Bees are being pre-positioned through much of our coverage area. Some hives might have made it into orchards by now, but our contacts this week said that any hives they’ve seen are still on the sideline.


Bud swelling is obvious and a few white tips are around. Bud development dragged out during colder weather this month. Warmer weather is expected as the week gets underway. A few blooms might open in the lower San Joaquin Valley after next weekend.



The 2018 North San Joaquin Valley Almond Day in Modesto on February 7 at the Modesto Centre Plaza.


The Winter Almond Meeting for Colusa, Sutter and Yuba Counties is set for February 7 in Colusa. Connect to more information in our Links section.



Almond Board Ballot – Voted Yet? Voting began on January 26 to select Almond Board of California board directors. The ballot covers two independent grower members and alternate positions plus two independent handler members and alternate positions. Those elected will begin serving on March 1. For more information – or for contact info if you did not receive a ballot – connect to an announcement in our Links section.


Sustainable Group Seeks New Grower Participants. A program that promotes sustainable farming heads into its fifth year looking to expand its reach in the Lower San Joaquin Valley River Watershed. Connect to more information in our Links section.


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Franz Niederholzer, UC Farm Advisor, Sutter/Yuba Counties: “Bees are being delivered everywhere. We’re kind of curious to see what happens next week with the buds. It’s been cold the last few days. It might break 50 today (1/26), but it’s supposed to move into the 60s next week, which should prompt buds to push pretty hard.


“Conditions made a big swing earlier. December was relatively warm, which started the buds moving. But then the weather turned cold as January started, so any progress after that was negligible. All the forecasters say that warm temperatures are coming, so it looks like the last week of January will also be the warmest of the month.


“No rain is in the forecast for a couple of weeks, which means things could move along pretty quickly, and a lot will change with this warm stretch. Otherwise, the orchards are pretty quiet. It’s too late for any dormant applications and too early for any bloom sprays.”


Gary Gliddon, PCA, Treevine Consulting, Modesto: “The earlier varieties are swelling and I’m seeing white tips on them now. Of course, we’re still a ways from bloom. I think it probably will be early, although not by much.


“Shakers are going where people are trying to get mummy nuts out of trees. Most of my guys do that anyway, but I suspect that more shaking has been underway than usual in our area. In places, some growers probably took more damage last year than normal. It costs money to shake, but worms can cost you more.”


Sara Savary, PCA, Crop Care Associates, Fresno: "In a few spots with light soils we might be able to find a little green tip. Overall, this has been a really delayed dormant period. Next week with warmer weather we may see some green a bit more commonly, although I would be surprised to find any pink tips yet.


“It was 30 this morning (1/26) and it’s supposed to be 37 tonight, so nothing is moving until temperatures rise a bit. The forecast calls for highs in the low 60s and into the mid 40s for lows. Some fog may develop, but we don’t have enough moisture to generate any long-term fog.


“Right now, we’re taking care of all the mummy nuts. That’s where I’m telling my growers to spend money and time on right now. My farmers are saying that at least some of their neighbors are making dormant sprays, but my clients don’t have worm problems or scale, so that’s why we’re putting our resources into eliminating mummies.”


Dale Deshane, PCA, Supervised Control, Bakersfield: “Some people are saying we’re ahead on bud development. I’ve been out of town but some buds were already pushing pretty well before I left. I’m thinking that some of the very earliest stuff will start blooming between February 5 and February 8. Usually, we begin seeing that around February 10-12 or something in that range.


“This week a lot of the bee guys were positioning hives in the desert. I haven’t seen any in the orchards yet, although I expect that will start soon. The weather forecast says high pressure is coming in again and temperatures will warm up. If that’s the case, I would expect that hives will be moving into orchards by the end of this coming week.


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“Getting leaves off trees has been a challenge. I think all the heat last year caused them to hang on. We had 68 days with highs over 100, and the brunt of the heat didn’t break here until into November. It just never seemed to go away.


“With so much foliage still on the trees, we had to hold back on preemergent herbicide applications. We kept waiting and waiting for the rest of the leaves to drop so we could spray berms without any leaf cover to block. Some guys were running berm blasters to blow leaves away. We finally blew enough leaves off in places and made applications, although nobody really wanted to do it because there was no sign of rain for herbicides.


“In some orchards we finally applied zinc sulfate on a lot of trees to help get leaves off. Those growers normally don’t go with zinc sulfate, but we had to do something. It was nearly mid-December before the leaves were all down on a lot of orchards. Plus, we have first-year trees from last year that still haven’t lost all their foliage.


“We also needed the leaves off where growers wanted to make dormant sprays. A lot of people also still go with the idea that leaves harbor diseases from the previous year, and we need to get leaves on the ground so they can begin breaking down. Most people like to apply herbicides before they even think about bringing in bees, so that was a factor, too.


“Insects were terrible in almonds before last season finally ended. They were really bad in pistachios, too. I’ve heard of cases in which damage ran 30% to 50%. Our growers who usually average below 1% had 2% to 3% damage in their almonds. When you’re used to a half-percent and suddenly see 3%, that’s a shock.


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“We’re scratching our heads about this. We’ve been doing a lot of different types of spraying. Along with putting in puffers in pistachios, some people even included them in their programs in almonds to try to break these cycles.


“We still averaged a little less than 1% where our two biggest pistachio growers put in puffers for mating disruption and went with a spray program, too. That sounds okay, but we had problem loads that ran 5% to 6%. Overall, those growers came out okay for the whole ranch, but nobody wants to see any loads with those kinds of damage levels.


“Some small growers with 40- or 80-acre blocks included puffers in their plan but their neighbors didn’t go with any mating disruption, so my guys sustained damage on edges from migrating moths. They did everything right but still took a higher percentage of damage than they wanted.”



Almond Board Ballots Delivered – Voted Yet?   1-28


California Pistachios: Making A Case For Mating Disruption 1-28


California Almonds: Winter Meeting For Colusa, Sutter And Yuba Counties, Feb. 7   1-27


California Almonds: 2018 N. SJV Almond Day Approaches 1-26


California Almonds: How Late Can You Shake Trees for Winter Sanitation? 1-24


 Sustainable Farming Project Seeking New Farmer Participants In SJ Valley Watershed 1-24



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