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Shaking has started on a wider basis in the lower San Joaquin Valley and more will get underway on or before August 1.


Spider mites remain mostly quiet. After big outbreaks last year ahead of harvest, no one has ruled out potential for blowups this year. But at the moment, mites are mostly in the background.


Second hull split sprays are being made on a wider scale.



This is our last issue of the season. It’s been a pleasure once again to cover California’s almond, pistachio and walnut crops. This newsletter started 10 years ago, and no one is more surprised than me at how warmly it has been accepted by the dynamic community that it serves.


Our thanks to BASF’s California field staff for sponsoring our coverage for the fourth straight year.


And our undying gratitude for the PCAs, agronomists and Extension personnel who provide the information that goes into each issue. We thank them for their time, their patience and their guidance. A number of them have been on our call lists since 1991 when we first began covering California crops, starting with our cotton newsletter. These folks have been gracious beyond compare.


  -- Owen Taylor, Editor




Nick Groenenberg, Independent PCA, Hanford:

“Almonds are moving along. Initially, they looked like they would open real fast but then slowed down for some reason, although it seems like they always do that.


“We’re making sure we have our miticides on. We put on our second NOW spray and we’re spraying some edges again for mites. Harvest probably will start in the week of August 5 as things look right now.


“In pistachios, we put on our 2,200-degree-day spray or are still in the process of doing that (as of 7/27). Fungicides went on earlier where we’ve had alternaria.


“Cotton looks good. We continue treating relatively low levels of lygus and are treating aphids, as well. Spider mites are coming into some of the upland varieties. Cotton seems to be holding a good load and we’re applying plant growth regulators where needed.


“I’m hearing early reports of whitefly and my field scout saw some, although I haven’t found any yet. But it does sound like some will be around pretty soon.


“Tomato harvest is underway and both yields and quality look good so far. Some cannaries are getting a little behind, but that’s mostly because yields are so good. Some of the later midseason fields seem to be getting ripe or overripe before harvesters can reach them. Overall, we’ve had low pest pressure in tomatoes this year.


“I’ve yet to treat any alfalfa for worms this year and haven’t had to spray for weevils or aphids, either. A few worms are around and we may have to treat them later. I’ll see places where beet armyworms hatched out and we’ll initially find big counts. But then later we’ll sweep again and find almost no worms. Evidently, the parasites are working overtime and doing a great job.”


Tony Touma, PCA, Bio Ag Consulting, Bakersfield:

“Shaking started in almonds as early as last Friday (7/20) on a very limited basis and I think by next Monday (7/30) a lot of growers will have shakers in the field. The crop is progressing nicely and everyone is trying to keep the trees hydrated.


“We’ve had triple-digit highs for 2 weeks and it looks like that will continue for another 10 days. Over the next 3 days (from 7/27) it will range up to 108. Where people started shaking, it looks like nuts are coming down very nicely.


“Spider mites finally showed up in the young trees, which was the same scenario last year in first- and second-leaf trees. With the heat, those young trees really stress easily.


“It’s hard to believe that we don’t have any mite blowouts in older orchards so far, considering the heat. Even in a lot of orchards and ranches, we don’t have a single tree webbed over. In some cases, we still haven’t sprayed some trees for mites this year.


“I think the frost at bloom time killed the mites or at least reduced populations. The ground temperature fell below 25 degrees, I think, and that froze the overwintering mites in the ground. The trees I didn’t spray this year for mites were probably in the coldest spot in Kern County when that frost developed.



“That was like some kind of mite hell last year in 2-leaf trees. They webbed over and we sprayed 2 and 3 times. This year, though, those trees are now at the third leaf and had zero mites across 1,200 acres, not just 5 or 10 acres here and there.


“With older blocks, we included a miticide with hull split sprays. The only mites I’m finding in any of those blocks now are on edges. Usually, I’m very pessimistic, but if mites haven’t blown up yet – especially with all this heat – I can’t believe we’ll see much happen with them later.


“In pistachios, we’re getting ready for our 2,700-degree-day spray. That will start in about 10 days from now. Otherwise, nothing is happening in pistachios.


“In cotton, lygus are behind us but plenty of whitefly and aphids are starting to show up. By the end of next week, we’ll probably treat a lot of fields for whitefly. They are awfully early and I sense that they could be bad. People are trying to keep up with water and avoid stressing the crop.


“Alfalfa continues to be quiet. I’ve written recs for 2 fields so far this year – one for worms and another that the grower will treat Monday for aphids.”


Mark W.F. Carter, PCA, Agri-Consultants, Los Banos:

“We’ve finished our second hull split spray and I think we’re 7 to 10 days off (as of 7/27) from shaking the first trees. Spider mites don’t seem to be as bad as they were in 2017. Last year, they developed right at shaking.


“We’ve had 22 days in a row of highs over 100, so there’s still potential. We included a miticide with the first hull split spray and oil with the second one, so we’ll see how that works out.


“One grower expressed some interest in making a third hull split spray. He says that if the harvest guy is later than the third week of August, he will do one. I am hearing discussions from other people about maybe going with a third shot, but I think our almonds at Los Banos will be shaken before anything there could get going.


“In cotton, the crop is set about halfway up the plant and retention is very good. Lygus have been really light, which helped, and retention is probably running 95%. With that much load, we’ve used less plant growth regulator than in the past, and plants are controlling themselves.


“It looks like a really good crop and we have a lot of Pima, which really likes this heat. At the least, the heat doesn’t seem to be affecting the Pima. We’re kind of at the northern end of Pima’s range and this sets us up to make good cotton. No mites right now and just 1 and 2 counts of lygus.


“In alfalfa, we’re just starting to spray fields in Los Banos for worms and we sprayed 8 fields in Merced. We’re just getting into a yellow striped armyworm hatch in the hay. That’s not surprising. Anytime you get into high nighttime temperatures, moth flights really get going.”


Dwaine Heinrich, PCA, Stanislaus Farm Supply, Modesto:

“Almonds are doing good. We sure have a lot of heat right now. Highs have been going over 100 for about a week and are supposed to stay in that pattern through the weekend. You would think that would finish out almonds pretty quickly, but I guess they’ll be ready when they’re ready.


“We’re kind of right in the middle of our hull split programs. Most of my guys are doing 2 applications, and we’re just at the start of that second round of spraying. Some growers are including a miticide and we’re still putting out ant bait and doing other last-minute things ahead of harvest. I think we’re 30 days out (as of 7/27) in this area from shaking.”


Jhalendra Rijal, Area IPM Advisor, Northern San Joaquin Valley:

“Spider mites haven’t done much, despite the high temperatures, but there’s still potential for populations to increase in August. Last year, mites were bad in August, so we could see that trend repeat itself.


“In terms of NOW, things are kind of static. Our trap counts last week – both for eggs and female moths – were a little lower, relatively speaking.”


Franz Niederholzer, UC Farm Advisor, Sutter/Yuba Counties:

“Splitting continues in the Nonpareils and we’re starting to see splitting in Winters and some other varieties. It’s hot and the forecast says it will remain that way for a while.


“We might be detecting the very beginning of the third-generation NOW egg laying. Some eggs were in a trap this morning, and that’s not particularly good news. We’re still a couple of weeks in this area from the first shaking.


“Nothing is happening with spider mites and I would wager that anyone who did a hull split spray put a miticide in the tank. Any potential problems with mites would seem to be later in the season as miticidal protection wears off. If you ignore spider mites from here on out, you could regret it.


“We don’t expect a major break in the southern Sacramento Valley. The heat will ease up a bit over this weekend (7/28-29), maybe even drop below 100, but then it will warm up again next week. It’s summer and this is mite weather. In walnuts, I haven’t found husk fly or mites except for mites in a water-stressed tree.”


David A. Doll, Pomology Farm Advisor, Merced County:

“It looks like some shaking will start next week as we ease into the first few days of August. There are general concerns about NOW but there’s not much you can do but protect the crop.



“Don’t forget to collect hull samples for boron analysis. And if you haven’t pulled leaf samples yet, this is the best time to do it. We suspect that one hull rot pathogen – Aspergillus niger – might be heavier this year. It tends to do better in hot weather, and there’s no shortage of that. This is different from what we term the ‘bread mold’ pathogen. We had a blog post on this last year that goes into detail about A. niger.”


Todd Fukuda, Weinberger and Associates, Hanford:

“We’re starting a second round of NOW sprays, hoping to hit almonds at 50% to 75% hull split. Shaking probably will start pretty soon, since we already have fields at 75%. One grower said they will begin shaking in the middle of next week.


“Mites began showing up right at the first hull split spray, and one field flared up pretty badly. Once we got the miticide on, it seemed like everything was under control. We’ll include a miticide in the second hull split spray in the field where mites did flare up. We’ll keep a close eye on mites but we also have some late-season beneficials that move in. Hopefully, they’ll keep mites at bay.


“In pistachios, we’re seeing web-spinning Pacific mites in some locations and have treated a few fields for that. They’re usually not a problem, maybe a couple of fields have to be treated every year. But I think we’ve already sprayed 6 or 7 fields for them this year.


“We’re gearing up for our NOW spray. In the Golden Hills variety, we started seeing much more of the early splits this week in the larger nuts. That gets me nervous and I want to protect them from the worms.


“On our last round of spraying, most growers included sulfur, but I am seeing a few citrus flat mites coming through where sulfur didn’t go out. With the NOW spray, we’ll include something for them. It’s been a pretty low year for mealy bugs in pistachios but we’re now treating a few fields where they’re coming back. About the only material we can use at this point is Assail, but it will have activity on adult NOW moths.”




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