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
Yo-yo weather continues – warm, cold and warm again, with variable amounts of rain. Rain is generally in the forecast going into the week.
Fungicides went out in places over the last week, especially where treatments weren’t made ahead of the April 6 storms.
More leaffooted plant bug treatments have been made in the San Joaquin Valley in places with a history of the insect. No widescale sightings are reported. More biofixes are being made, particularly for PTB and codling moths.
Any spider mite treatments in almonds appear to be on a preventive basis.
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Chris Morgner, PCA, Agri-Valley Consulting, Merced:
“Almonds look pretty good and we’re not finding any big problems. Leaffooted bugs did show up in the first couple of days this month, and we found them in places where they develop every year. So, we sprayed in those orchards.
“In some cases, we wanted to apply a fungicide before last Friday’s (4/6) rain, so we included a material for leaffooted bugs. So far, we’ve only sprayed a small percentage of our almonds for leaffooted bugs. We’re checking closely but aren’t finding them outside of locations where they’ve been an issue in the past.
“Otherwise, we applied fungicides last week for scab, shot hole and that type of thing. Rain last week varied from a half-inch to 1.5 inches in places, but it pretty much fell through the whole area where we work.
“Some irrigation is going, mainly to put out fertilizer. Soils are pretty moist and I don’t know of anyone running full bore with water. People are catching up with mowing and herbicides.
“We’re starting to see a little of the drop where nuts lagged behind on sizing. Whether you call this the June drop or the adjustment drop, it’s not going full speed but has at least started.
“Some orchards look very good, with emphasis on the word ‘very’. The majority of orchards fall into the good category. We do have places hit harder by the frost, kind of in outlying areas toward the foothills. It was colder, so more damage occurred and it’s more noticeable there.
“We’re taking leaf samples in almonds and are putting out NOW traps. Some NOW activity is evident but not enough to tell you anything about population trends.
“Most of my walnuts are Chandlers and they’re just pushing catkins and leaves. Tulares are a little further along. Some copper went out on the Tulares ahead of the rain.
“Our pistachios are coming on big time – bloom in both the males and females, plus good leaf growth. I don’t know of anyone around our area who sprayed pistachios before that rain last Friday. We’ve had one sprinkle earlier this week and have another chance for rain Sunday and Monday (4/15-16), so people have been spraying now, mainly for botrytis.
“In alfalfa, some harvest is going on. We’ve taken care of weevils and aphids. Most everything was sprayed once and is holding up well. Alfalfa looks pretty decent now after being hit by the frost in February.
“My fresh-market tomato growers continue with their weekly plantings. About all we’ve done is a herbicide application and a little copper for speck on some earlier plantings. Our process tomato planting started on April 2 and that’s been going like gang busters.”
John Moore, PCA, Growers Crop Consulting, Bakersfield:
“Almonds look pretty good. I’m not finding any live mites, just old mite signs and a lot of thrips. We’re picking up a little more PTB. I’ve set the PTB biofix for April 2 and also set the codling moth biofix for walnuts and apples at April 6.
“I’ve caught very few NOW in traps, which coincides with emergence from the mummies I’ve collected and monitor. Those numbers have been up and down for several weeks. So far, I haven’t seen any more than 8 emerge across 3 containers on a given morning.
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“When it gets cold, they go way deep in the nuts. As the weather warms, I expect emergence to increase to 20 or 30 in a morning, and that’s the point that I benchmark things and start my model.
“Pistachios are pushing a little with the female flowers. I’m seeing a small amount of NOW activity in those traps.”
Brian Gogue, PCA, Helena Chemical Co., Hanford:
“The weather continues to be variable. Today (4/13) is a darn nice day, with the next two days in the low 80s. But we had a cold wind yesterday. A good chance of rain is in the forecast for Monday, then maybe cooler or at least random weather for the rest of the week.
“In general, almonds look pretty good. We’re close to full nut size, and those nuts really stand out now in the sunshine. On average, 90% of our Nonpareils appear to be a bit on the light side, but I also was in some Independence today that look fantastic.
“One grower will start with abamectin this week or next week and also treat for NOW and rust on the same pass. All that’s on a preventive basis. With the majority of the other orchards, we’ll probably start NOW sprays in the next two weeks.
“I haven’t seen any leaffooted bugs or stink bugs. Mites are relatively nonexistent in almonds. We’re in full swing with fertilizer.
“Pistachios really kicked into gear this week but bloom varies, depending on the area. Some of our Golden Hills went from zero to as much as 70% bloom in 5 days, and some bloom sprays are going out on Golden Hills today and into the weekend.
“Kermans in the Huron area are up to 40% to 50% bloom in spots in the orchards, although in the Cantua area this morning they were at less than 5% bloom. But with warm temperatures this weekend, bloom should scoot along pretty good until we hit that next round of cooler weather.
“In walnuts, we’ve done a ReTain spray in the Sur variety and are dead center with that application in the Tulares.
“In alfalfa, we sprayed one ranch for weevils, and that’s the only alfalfa we’ve treated this year. Tomatoes look good and we’re almost 100% finished with transplanting. Darkling beetle issues have been minimal to date. Probably 80% of my cotton has been planted. It’s not in a big hurry to get out of the ground but looks pretty good so far.”
David A. Doll, Pomology Farm Advisor, Merced County:
“Almonds are moving right along. We had a little rain this past week and a little more is predicted on Monday. With this warm weather, trees are greening up, which is nice to see after leaf progress was held back by colder temperatures and rain.
“Outside of weak spots, I’m not hearing too many concerns. Generally, people are getting nitrogen out and deciding when to irrigate. A lot of growers irrigated before that storm a week ago (from 4/13). It rained 1.4 inches in places I checked. Spring can be unpredictable, so we need to closely monitor moisture status.
“If you want to apply nitrogen, I can understand running a little water but I’m not sure how much good anyone did if they started into full irrigation last week.
“We’re shifting into that period with spring diseases. If this rainy trend continues, I’m guessing that rust will flare up and scab will develop in the future. If you haven’t made an application for scab and have a history of it, we’re in that last time to spray for it.
“If you wait any longer to make a scab treatment, you won’t prevent any infections. It will be too late for that. With rust, that treatment timing is just beginning.
“NOW are lighting up traps, so we’re probably looking at making a biofix at some point last week. If you’re going with a spray at 100 degree days past the biofix, that puts it in another week or two, depending on how the heat trends.
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“Both pistachios and walnuts are pushing through bloom and are moving well. With rain in the forecast – and if it turns cold – we may need to line up botrytis treatments in pistachios.
“If it’s just a one-day rain event, you may not require a blight spray in walnuts, but it’s hard to know how that will play out. Where you sprayed last week, that may be sufficient. But if this next rain extends past one day, then maybe a spray can be justified. Whether to make a blight spray also depends, of course, on whether you have blight-sensitive varieties.”
Franz Niederholzer, UC Farm Advisor, Sutter/Yuba Counties:
“We’ve had a fairly decent week, although it’s been cool at times. We had a lot of rain last week and then a little came through in the middle of this week and temperatures dropped into the 40s at night. But now we’re into the 70s today (4/13) and some rain is in the forecast again.
“No NOW catches, at least in the traps I’m checking. We haven’t been able to make a PTB biofix yet. Certainly, things will warm up and action will pick up with insects, but the conditions lately haven’t been what it takes.
“Growers are catching up on fertilizer. If people sprayed fungicides last week – which a lot of guys did – it’s hard to say whether another application needs to be made right away. That may partly depend on how much it’s rained in a given orchard since that last spray.
“No signs of leaffooted plant bugs but we do need to be checking.”
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