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Owen Taylor, Editor


Effects from cold and wet conditions continue to ripple through the crop.

More assessments about bacterial blast are filtering into the reports. In places, it clearly took a toll.

Leaffooted bugs are turning up a bit more. Generally, they are appearing later than usual.

More rain is in the forecast as April gets underway.

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

“It looks like leaffooted bugs are on the move and this is starting a little later than what we normally expect. In particular, I’m finding a lot of them in citrus.

“Growers and PCAs will have to be diligent. Start monitoring, especially near pomegranates, on edges with citrus orchards and along riparian edges. Every year it’s smart to check, in particular, where you’ve detected pressure or damage in the past.

“Pyrethroids are the only compound that controls it and has any residual. But really monitor closely before triggering a treatment. You can cause other problems with that application, like flaring mites, so avoid spraying unless it’s actually justified.”


Franz Niederholzer, UC Farm Advisor, Sutter/Yuba Counties

“It’s a beautiful day right now (afternoon, 3/29). But as with the weather so far this season, that’s subject to change. At the moment, skies are clear with just a few fluffy clouds and the forecast calls for temperatures to move into the lower to mid-70s this weekend.

“But we’re also supposed to swing into a wetter pattern starting on Monday, with rain running through the forecast for a good deal of the week.

“Some nuts are out of their jackets, although a portion of the crop isn’t to that point yet. It’s still too early to say how this crop will trend. At the least, I’m not hearing any bad stories. I’m still holding to the old-timer’s outlook – we’ll know more in May.

“Prune bloom is underway, and that’s a good two weeks behind normal. Who knows when the walnuts will come out?

“It’s an interesting year up this way – the kind of season that can throw you off, especially if you operate on a calendar basis. Everything is running behind and you’ll have to be careful with nitrogen, for example.

“Nobody is irrigating, so you’ll either have to put on nitrogen dry or go ahead and inject it. As much rain as we’ve had, doing any irrigation at this point is a bit like pouring water on a drowning man. People will have to decide whether to go ahead with that or hold off and hope to catch up with nitrogen later.

“It’s also wet enough in places that you still can’t get into certain blocks to apply fungicides. Do you call in a chopper or cross your fingers that things won’t be bad?”


Gary Gliddon, PCA, Treevine Consulting, Modesto

“Almond trees are leafing out and nuts are growing. Blast has been obvious in places, mainly on smaller and younger trees, from about two years old to six. On some trees, there’s essentially no crop left, it was wiped out. But I’m also seeing orchards with nice crops. Except for blossom blast, I’m not detecting any disease issues.

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“People are talking back and forth about what could have been done to prevent blast, but the consensus seems to be that nothing would have helped. Some guys did make certain sprays and they think that helped. Others didn’t make those treatments and the problem never developed.

“Quite simply, we had perfect conditions for blast – wet weather and cold temperatures at the wrong time.

“Overall, we’ve probably sprayed fungicides two and three times, which is more than normal. At this point, everything is clean and I told one grower today that I wouldn’t recommend another fungicide unless a prolonged tropical storm came into the picture.

“We’re starting to put on fertilizer.”


Dan Prentice, Prentice Ag Consulting, Bakersfield

“Jackets are mostly off now. We’re ramping up to do our spray at five weeks after petal fall. It will predominately be a fungicide spray.

“I’ve seen a little rust showing up in the last couple of days. That’s maybe a little early. But with the weather we’ve had, that’s also not surprising, and it’s a concern. The treatments will start in the next week or so.

“We may include a miticide in places. Mites are all over the board. Mostly, we’re either seeing no mites or just traces. In a few cases, though, they’re easy to find – a good number of mites and eggs. We’re also finding a few sixspotted thrips in places, so they could be helpful.

“In the last 5 or 6 days I’ve found some leaffooted bugs. But in the usual hot spots where I see them every year, they’re not in the numbers I would expect. In certain locations where I would usually find them by now, they haven’t turned up yet. That’s not to say they won’t develop later. Where we’re finding them when we make that next spray, we’ll include an insecticide with that application.

“In pistachios, buds are just starting to push a little. My first tomato field was planted on Tuesday (3/26).”


Aaron Beene, PCA, Simplot Grower Solutions, Merced

“The weather right now (late afternoon, 3/29) is clear, sunny and nice, and we’ve had breezy conditions today. It does look like temperatures will finally move into the low 70s over the next few days.

“After a cold winter, those cold conditions continued into the spring. Plus, we’ve had on-and-off rain all March. A rain came through every week. All of it didn’t fall at once but enough developed to keep things wetter than usual.

“Nuts are starting to size in the early varieties. We’re actually seeing a crop now, and that always raises the level of optimism.

“We do have some issues, though. Like other people have been reporting, we were hit in places by a lot of bacterial blast. It developed last year, too, but the cold, wet weather in 2018 mostly came right at bud swell. It was more of a frost-damage situation with early blast on buds. So, we weren’t as affected in terms of blast on blooms.

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“This year, though, it developed early in the bloom period in the early varieties. It annihilated things in places. In the worst blocks, bacterial blast took out 90% to 100% of blooms on a lot of trees.

“This is the first time in my career to see it this severe. On a couple of mornings, I found ice and icicles on trees that had started blooming. It was a recipe for disaster. Dormant spraying has become sort of a dirty term in the almond industry, but some guys are starting to rethink that idea.

“Because bacterial blast is associated with cold conditions, it’s been worse in low-lying areas, especially in younger blocks that are setting lower on the trees. The Independence variety seemed to be hit harder, too.

“While the conditions favored bacterial blast, the cold weather held back fungus, and I haven’t seen much shot hole or brown rot pressure. We had enough rain to trigger them but not the warmer temperatures.

“That said, guys are still spraying. Some of my farmers have already started a third spray and fungicides are being delivered for more blocks next week. These treatments fall into that period 2 to 5 weeks after petal fall. Leaves are tender and susceptible, which makes them vulnerable for shot hole, scab and the beginning of rust. If we get into 80-degree weather with wet conditions, we could be in trouble if protection isn’t in place.

“We’ll begin our second nitrogen application in almonds in the next week or so.

“Starting in the middle of last week, we began catching some NOW, so those biofixes were probably 7 to 10 days ago. Like a lot of things, NOW movement seemed delayed by cold weather. When the weather is warmer earlier, we can start seeing them in early March, but they’re just kind of slowly coming in now. As soon as it does warm up, that activity will increase.

“In walnuts, I’ve lined up my first copper spray for the early varieties where we have had really bad walnut blight issues. Catkins are pushing now on the early varieties. If it warms up next week, I’m sure that the later varieties – the Chandlers and Tulares – will start to push.”


Todd Fukuda, Weinberger and Associates, Hanford

“The forecast still calls for weak storms to come through next week. We’re discussing how serious they might be and whether we need to apply a fungicide. I’m kind of holding off because these do appear to be weak systems.

“We’re about 10 days out from the last fungicide application on almonds. A couple of my guys are very aggressive and have already said to make an application. With the rest, we’ll reevaluate the forecast on Monday and make decisions then. Fortunately, we work with a couple of aerial applicators who can react quickly if we do need to treat.

“Almonds are sizing pretty fast.

“In pistachios, we’re seeing some bud movement in the Golden Hills variety and terminal buds are opening a little. On a wet year, we’ll collect samples of fruiting buds and send them to a lab for the BUDMON analysis to get an idea about potential for botryosphaeria.

“Timing for our boron bud-swell spray is coming up soon. Whether we make those applications in a given block is based on parts-per-million results from our leaf sampling last August.”

Where did March go? Time to make the full push into spring.
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