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Owen Taylor, Editor


Rain and more rain – that weather pattern has prevailed across much of our coverage area since last week’s report. Temperatures have edged up in places. Rain amounts have varied widely.

Fungicide applications have been going out on a limited basis, mainly in early varieties. But with the start of this week, more treatments are on the books. With rain and saturated soils in places, aerial applicators will be busy.

High mummy numbers continue to be an underlying thread in this season’s discussions. For varying reasons, our contacts are saying that more mummies remain on trees than usual. The cost of fully sanitizing orchards has been a factor, as well.

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Kris E. Tollerup, IPM Cooperative Extension Advisor, Kearney AREC, Parlier:

"Mummy sanitation has probably not been optimal because it’s rained so much when people would have wanted to concentrate on that. I am seeing orchards where growers did a pretty good job. Overall, though, there are more mummies in some locations than anyone wants to see.

“Typically, we shouldn’t be applying anything for NOW at this time. You sure don’t want to do anything that would adversely affect the brood. Certainly, we want to avoid insecticides at bloom except for a Bt material.

“Based on what growers and PCs say, sanitation has become more difficult. There are lots of reasons why, I think. Climate variation may be a factor. We had a severe drought, which may cause mummies to stick because there’s not as much fog. They don’t get wet and so they stick a little tighter.

“On the other hand, it’s also been too wet at times to get in the field and do any sanitation. Costs enter into this, too. Between multiple rounds of shaking and then poling, it adds up. Growers tell me that once the cost of sanitation gets up to $400 an acre, they’re backing off and will spray their way out of it. That’s not what we recommend but that’s what they’ll do.

“I’m driving by an orchard right now (afternoon, 2/15) and I see quite a few mummies out there.

“Another factor – and this is anecdotal – may be that nuts stick a little tighter on certain varieties. People think they’re seeing this a bit more on Independence.”

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

"It’s been cold and wet but then the high reached 60 yesterday (2/14), which is in a range that favors brown rot. We really haven’t had temperatures in that range until the last couple of days.

“Overall, the crop has been developing slowly. Here we are on February 15 and are maybe into pink bud in Nonpareils. Last year we already were into full bloom on February 8. It’s been cool up to now but last year the cooler weather didn’t develop until after full bloom. Flowers are coming out but slowly.

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“Rain or showers are in the forecast through the weekend but then things will clear up on Monday through Wednesday. So, fungicides will be going out, with a lot of that by air because it’s so wet.

“At one point, we got 4 inches of rain in 36 hours and water is standing on the low end of some orchards. With all that rain, erosion has been noticeable in places. Lately, we seem to be receiving rain in more intensive events.

“It always pays to have good bees. But considering these conditions, this is the kind of year when it really pays. Any bee activity has been slow so far.”

Chris Morgner, PCA, Agri-Valley Consulting, Merced:

"This weather has been a mix of showers and rain with some varying intensities, but everyone has received at least some. There were reports of a funnel cloud and I also saw a photo of a friend’s backyard in Madera that was white with hail. And they’re releasing water from the lakes, and more of that will likely follow due to the snow.

“In the last couple of days, it’s gotten up to 63, which is the warmest day in maybe 2 weeks. It’s been rather cool for the last 10 or more days, which slowed the bloom. At one point, it was moving fast but then stalled to a degree.

“We mostly decided to hold off on fungicide applications. Where we have early varieties – like Avalon and a couple of blocks of Sonoras – we treated. But that also has depended on how far along trees were. You can’t always explain these differences. Development was actually further along north of Merced than east and south of Merced. On average, we’re at 25% bloom – some blocks more, others less.

“We knew this big storm was coming, so we made some applications on Monday and Tuesday (2/11-12). With everything else, we’ll let the weather pass through and then spray. Where we treated, it went out by air. Early in the week the skies were busy, but I haven’t seen any planes in the air in the last couple of days (from 2/15).

“Overall, we’ve probably applied fungicides on 20% of our clients’ blocks. Everything else is written up, so we’re ready to go when we can. We’re maybe timing more of our first fungicide applications toward full bloom this year. We usually start at 30% to 50% bloom but might wait for a somewhat higher bloom percentage to protect things a little longer.

“We have strategies for places with particular problems like almond scab, which maybe is a factor on 10% to 15% of our orchards. In those orchards we’ll probably do an extra spray and maybe include a material we haven’t relied on in the past.

“Most people did something in terms of sanitation. At least 70% to 75% of our trees were shaken. Not all those mummies have been swept or ground up but they’re at least off the trees.

“One of my peers did a ‘windshield survey’ in his area about 2 weeks ago and estimated that out of 450 orchards, 65% had not been sanitized. I was a little surprised at that number. The area he surveyed was a bit farther north of Merced.”

John Moore, PCA, Growers Crop Consulting, Bakersfield:

"A lot of my growers have mummies this year where they’re not supposed to be. We’re facing a huge dilemma with this, and it’s been an expensive proposition. If we don’t get all the mummies off with a single shake and then have to do a second shake and then have to pole, that can add up to $500 an acre.

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“A lot of people don’t want to do that. They have to live within their budgets.

“The result will likely be more spraying and less efficacy. Where growers don’t pole, that will hurt. The prevailing idea is that the best we can do in terms of chemical control is 50%, and I think that’s pretty much the case.

“Sanitation has got to be part of the program. If guys think that they can come through with less than 1% damage, that won’t happen if they’re only counting on spraying and mating disruption.

“Just driving around, I’m seeing mummy counts that probably are averaging 10 per tree. I’m beginning to think that these high counts have something to do with growing conditions during the summer. Also, the push for an early harvest on a wide basis may have pushed people to start shaking too soon. Where we have the Independence variety, those haven’t come off well.

“Probably half of my customers have put on a fungicide by now (2/16) – what I would call a pink bud spray. We’re at 5% to 10% bloom but the bulk of the trees are at pink bud.

“Things got kind of crowded in some orchards with pruning and chippers running, so fungicides haven’t necessarily gone out as soon as we wanted. It’s been a matter of logistics. Some treatments would have been made a week ago but are just going out now.

“It’s raining right now, but we’ve probably had more rain in the forecast than we’ve actually received. I don’t think we’re getting more than a tenth of an inch a day.”


Sutter-Yuba-Colusa Walnut Day

Veterans Memorial Hall, 1425 Veteran’s Memorial Circle, Yuba City. Thursday, February 28, 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Walnut Canopy Management

Nickels Soil Laboratory (NSL), Arbuckle, Walnut Training Systems (no pruning/no heading). Tuesday, March 5 (Backup date if rain occurs: March 7). Morning: Nickels; afternoon, Wheatland.

Australia's burgeoning almond industry appears to be running short on bees. Sound familiar? As noted in an article on the Australian Broadcast Commission’s (ABC) website, this will become “a major challenge” as more trees come into production.
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Iran’s production is forecast to plunge 173,000 tons to just 52,000. The Iranian Pistachio Association reported that a weather shock occurred during bud-break.
USDA has awarded the Almond Board of California $3,185,690 while Blue Diamond, the farmer-owned cooperative, will receive $3,715,000 through the Agricultural Trade Promotion Program.
Many researchers have been looking at the effect of different vegetative covers on parameters such as soil health, weed suppression, nematode suppression, NOW management, pollination, and orchard water dynamics in almond orchards.
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