Fungicide decisions are a point of focus. Disease concerns have heightened a bit now that wet conditions continue and warmer temperatures are seeping into almond country.
Insect pressure remains relatively light to nonexistent. As temperatures more consistently move into the 70s and 80s, that could change.
The crop looks good, based on this week’s comments.
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Tony Touma, PCA, Bio Ag Consulting, Bakersfield:
“Five weeks ago everything was doom and gloom as far as the crop went. But the last time I made a report, I did say that even during springs with bad bee hours and rain, we still made good crops. That seems to be holding up. Based on what I’m seeing, this could be the best crop in maybe the last five years.
“The nuts are hanging on the trees. In the last two years, we didn’t have very good crops – they were on the light side. So, the tree should have a lot of energy this year and it’s setting a good crop. I’m hearing and reading more positive comments now, so it sounds like things look better overall.
“In almonds, we’re starting to apply fungicides for alternaria where it has been a problem. Treatments are going out as we speak. Supposedly, it might rain again tomorrow (4/5) and more is in the forecast next week. We’ll probably apply a fungicide for rust very soon on pretty much everything if rains continue.
“Last year was the lightest mite year I’ve seen in 39 years. We went all year without spraying some orchards, which surprised everyone. This year is starting out differently. Mites are showing up everywhere, although not in high numbers – but, they are easy to find.
“In almonds, we will treat a couple of areas for leaffooted bugs. Both locations have a history of them, and the insects came out of citrus. They’ll be sprayed in the next two to three days. I haven’t seen any big movement yet, but the leaffooted bug is a tough one to control.
“Pistachios started to leaf out this week.
“Most people have moved into their first cutting of hay. A little blue alfalfa aphid is showing up in alfalfa. People are cutting ahead of it, and we might be lucky and avoid treating.
“A very few people started planting cotton two or three days ago. It’s been too wet and too cold to make a big push, and cotton is definitely on the late side, especially the Pima. We like to have it in the ground by March 10, but some growers haven’t even started yet. That can make a lot of difference with the Pima. A two-week delay is a long time.”
Mark W.F. Carter, PCA, Agri-Consultants, Los Banos:
“We did our last bloom spray about 10 days ago because a series of rains were coming through. We haven’t had much rain since then, so that probably will be our last fungicide application until May when we could include something for rust.
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“My next spray will be for stink bugs in late April or early May. We’ll have to decide whether to include a fungicide in that application, instead, but that will depend on how much rain we get as the month progresses.
“We’ve already applied about 100 units of nitrogen and will put on another 50 units by the end of the week. We try to apply 200 units by the end of April, then finish up the last 100 units by the end of May. That way, trees can consume all the nitrogen before harvest. Sometimes I see trees that are too green at harvest, which we try to avoid because it caused too many nuts to stick.
“We’re cleaning up weeds in centers, which has been more involved due to the wet weather. Otherwise, we’re in kind of a lull. I’m not seeing any disease pressure except a sandy area at Chowchilla where some bacterial blast developed.
“It’s surprising that disease has been light so far. But I always go with a preventive fungicide approach to knock diseases out of the orchard. That way, we can avoid any kind of heavy pressure if a big surge develops.”
Nick Groenenberg, Independent PCA, Hanford:
“Almonds are looking pretty good and I’m not seeing any disease problems. Some of the small nuts that didn’t fill out are falling, and it’s a bit worse in certain varieties than others.
“We’re not spraying anything right now. Around April 20 we’ll make a mummy spray and probably put on a miticide and maybe include some foliar nutrients.
“Pistachios are pushing. The Kermans started 5 or 6 days ago and the Golden Hills began 10 to 14 days ago (from 4/4).
“Growers have been moving into cotton planting, starting over this last weekend. Where they can, guys will keep going until they finish. In places, it did rain earlier in the week and some ranches received a half-inch. But other locations are dry. This time of the year, though, a half-inch dries up pretty fast.
“Tomatoes are growing well and still look healthy. The majority are in. Where fields haven’t been planted yet, processors are stretching it out to fit their capacity.
“Considering all the rain, alfalfa looks surprisingly good. One grower just said he would start cutting Saturday and another farmer plans to begin on Monday. Just driving around, I’m seeing some fields already baled and hay trucks carrying new hay. I kept monitoring for weevils but they never really developed. I can’t even find weevil damage now.”
Jhalendra Rijal, Area IPM Advisor, Northern San Joaquin Valley:
“Not much is going on yet with insects. We checked NOW traps Tuesday (4/2) and counts were low. The rain and cooler temperatures have continued to limit insect activity.
“I’m not finding anything in the codling moth traps in walnuts. Last year we made that biofix on April 1 but nothing has turned up yet.
“Temperatures are supposed to move into the 70s this weekend and into next week, so activity will probably pick up. Nothing has turned up in our brown marmorated stink bug traps, either.”
Franz Niederholzer, UC Farm Advisor, Sutter/Yuba Counties:
“This somewhat goofy weather continues. It’s supposed to rain tonight (4/4) and tomorrow. The National Weather Service is talking about a weak atmospheric river event, but the predicted amounts seem to be dwindling. How much we get will probably depend on which side of the valley you check the gauge. Potentially, though, it still could be a quarter- to a half-inch.
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“The ground is still pretty wet. I’ve had a number of calls and conversations with PCAs and growers who’re making decisions about nitrogen applications. Should they fly it on? That’s the big question. At least one PCA said he was going to try that for the very first time. Some people are putting it on with very short water runs , maybe an hour or two, just to get some N something in the ground.
“At the Nickels Soil Lab, we’re applying some ammonium sulfate by ground where it’s firm enough to hold up the equipment. The idea is to get it on ahead of the next rain. If it doesn’t rain, we’ll run a short irrigation to incorporate.
“Orchards do look good -- and there’s a lot of green. But we’re in the first week of April and it’s very difficult to get nitrogen on, and that’s not an ideal situation.
“Very little is showing up in insect traps at Nickels. We found two male NOW adults, one each in two different traps. By now, we’d normally expect to count some pretty good numbers. Still looking for NOW egg catch biofix to start accumulating degree days for NOW. Historically, the NOW biofix on egg traps is sometime between the last week of March and the middle of April. There is also leafroller feeding on nuts in some orchards in the area.
“PCAs are noting the leaf symptoms of bacterial blast and there seems to be quite a bit in some areas where I work. It doesn’t necessarily mean any damage to production. Not many leaves appear to be affected. It certainly affected things earlier with flowers but the symptoms we’re seeing now on leaves don’t appear to be economically worrisome.
“But as people look for other things, this might be mistaken for something fungal. The cooler weather conditions, though, would favor something bacterial rather than a fungal issue other than jacket rot. Plus, people have been paying attention to fungicides.”
Dwaine Heinrich, PCA, Stanislaus Farm Supply, Modesto:
“It’s still raining. We received a quarter-inch in one recent rain. Next week, temperatures are supposed to move into the upper 70s, maybe up to 80. Our season-to-date total is 12.3 inches compared to a norm of 11.27, so we’re not that far ahead. Last year at this point, though, we had 5 inches, so we’re running more than double 2018.
“It’s raining right now (morning, 4/5) and thunderstorms are in the forecast for later, plus spotty showers are predicted for Monday afternoon. By Monday, they say it could reach 77 degrees. With that temperature and rain, it’s not a good situation as far as disease goes.
“We’re at 162% of normal for our snowpack and they’re releasing a little water down the rivers to make room for melting. Irrigation season hasn’t started yet but all the canals are full of water. Any watering now would probably be to put nitrogen in the ground.
“A number of growers have made three fungicide applications and are contemplating a fourth. We’re just around the corner from a spray in late April or early May for PTB. A lot of times we’ll include a fungicide for rust and scab and sometimes a miticide will be in the tank, too.
“We may see some growers spray ahead of that, or they’re at least discussing that idea, considering all the rain and warmer temperatures. If we do one now, we could end up with five sprays in places, and that’s an enormous amount. But, again, if the trend moves to warmer and wetter weather, that opens the door for more fungal disease.
“So far, it does look like people are doing a good job of protecting the trees. I’m hardly seeing any shot hole. I can remember some years when we had so much shot hole that it caused defoliation, although that’s not the norm.
“All of our NOW traps are up and we’ve got the codling moth traps in place in walnuts. No biofix has been made in walnuts. We’re putting on blight sprays on walnuts. They’re saying this could be a bad year for NOW. A good number of mummies are out there where people couldn’t do winter sanitation because it was too wet to shake.”
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