Owen Taylor, Editor


Winds during the week blew over or damaged trees in parts of our coverage area. The wind also knocked off nuts to varying degrees (see photo in this week's Also Of Note section). To what extent viable nuts were lost is mostly an open question. Our contacts this week generally said that much of what they’re finding on the ground were nuts that eventually might have fallen off anyway as the season progressed. Several days of windy weather simply hastened the drop.

Fungicides are going out or are on the books for alternaria, anthracnose or scab, depending on the area and a given orchard’s disease history.

Leaffooted bug sprays are still going out, although the insect remains mostly in the background. Spider mites are hard to find. Moth and/or egg counts are increasing in some traps. With warmer weather ahead, everyone expects moth movement to ratchet up.

Some irrigation has started or will crank up soon. Windy conditions dried up soils in places, plus temperatures are trending higher and demand for moisture will increase.

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Chris Morgner, PCA, Agri-Valley Consulting, Merced

“We had plenty of wind on Tuesday and Wednesday and it’s windy today (4/12) but not as bad as it was over the three previous days. Some trees blew down and limbs broke.

“With the younger trees growing aggressively, they put on a lot of weight, so they’re susceptible to blowing over and splitting, even though they’re tied with rope. The wind knocked off some crop, although I don’t know how significant that might have been. We see some drop every year, and it’s always more dramatic with these wind incidences.

“Nuts are sizing well and fertilizer is going out with fertigation. Most people aren’t really irrigating, just moving fertilizer. However, all the wind this week really sucked out the moisture. In my email summary to our clients late this week I said they can start irrigating next week. We’ve had more clouds than rain, plus temperatures have either moved into the 80s or will hit that range, so the trees’ demand for water is increasing.

“Bacterial blast did significant damage early in the season in a number of orchards, but it’s now more obvious how the crop looks, and it’s really nice in a majority of our orchards.

“We’ve been primed and ready to do more weed-control work but the wind held us back. We are applying fungicides for scab in orchards where we’ve had past issues.

“We are finding a few leaffooted plant bugs but are seeing more damage than actual bugs. Nothing really motivated us to treat until we began spotting them pretty easily in one orchard yesterday. We wrote that one up to spray and then we found another orchard today with enough that we will probably treat next week.

“Still, though, this doesn’t look like a big leaffooted year.

“In pistachios, some sporadic pushing started last week, but this is the week when they are really pushing hard. Male blooms are releasing pollen and the female flowers are growing and are receptive.

“We wrote up fungicide recommendations in pistachios for producing orchards. In a couple of cases, growers had previous problems with botrytis, plus rain was in the forecast, although it really only sprinkled, if at all. Some growers decided to spray anyway, and this was the week to do it.

“All my walnuts are Chandlers, which are a later variety. In one block with 5-year-old trees the catkins and leaves are pushing, so next week they should be pollinating.

“Growers are still planting processing tomatoes, although we hit a 7- to 10-day stretch when it was too wet to get into many fields, so they’re catching up now. Cotton planting started last weekend (4/6-7). In alfalfa, people are cutting a lot of hay. We sprayed pretty much all of our alfalfa earlier for weevils and aphids, and control has been good. Where we didn’t treat, the blue alfalfa aphid counts came up a little, so those fields are being sprayed now.”

Brian Gogue, PCA, Helena Agri-Enterprises, LLC, Hanford

“We had a lot of wind this week and it continues to be quite windy today (4/12). Initially, the forecast said the high winds would last for a couple of days but we’re now out to the fourth day with it.

“Full-sized nuts are on the ground in every block, although none of this is too bad. A couple of blocks stood out as the worst but even those weren’t bad enough to be a concern. This drop seems to primarily be the case in every block of Nonpareils. Work will have to be done to clean up some damage but, again, it’s nothing terrible.

“I’m watching a little mite activity on a couple of blocks but in most blocks, I’m not finding them, and no new disease issues to speak of in almonds. We’re still pushing nitrogen pretty hard and began pushing potash in the last couple of weeks.

“We’re preparing for May sprays and will start the first of those within 2 weeks. At that point, we’ll be aggressive with NOW. Some counts in the male pheromone traps are quite high for this time of the year. In egg traps, we’re finding next to nothing and really just started detecting minimal activity this week. We’ll experiment with some of the new flowable mating disruption products with this next spray.

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“In walnuts, we finished our plant growth regulator spray in the Surs and then began those applications in the Tulares on Thursday.

“In pistachios, we started bloom sprays yesterday on some earlier Golden Hills and will continue with that into the first or middle part of next week. Sometime in the middle or latter part of next week we will start those sprays in the Kermans. We’ll also begin our fertilizer program in pistachios in the near future.

“In cotton, the last of the Pima went in the ground today and a grower is planting upland cotton in Hanford over the next couple of days. That will wrap up our cotton planting. With our earliest planted Pima out west, I could row it out today and it’s looking good so far. We’ve had some pretty warm soil temperatures and things are moving quickly.

“Probably 80% to 85% of our tomatoes are in the ground, and everything looks really good. Beetles haven’t been an issue for me. The earliest plantings progressed a little slowly but everything looks fine now. Alfalfa has been very quiet. Two guys cut last week and I think more will be cutting next week.”

Rick Foell, Field Manager, Capay Farms, Hamilton City

“We’re seeing an increase in anthracnose and will actually do another treatment in the next week. We’ll be using an older class of chemistry that’s rated for anthracnose, so it will be an inexpensive spray but add yet one more pass through the orchard.

“Last year, we made 5 fungicide sprays. This will be our fourth fungicide spray for 2019. It’s not that we wouldn’t have sprayed more this year but the rain kept us out of the fields.

“I just got a photo of one of our NOW egg traps with 45 eggs on it. That’s a little surprising in terms of the number of eggs but it’s also the overwintering population from mummies. This is a little frustrating because it’s an indicator or what we have out in that field.

“Over the last few days we had winds this week that reached speeds in the high teens (mph) and low 20s. We didn’t have a lot of tree loss, not nearly what we would expect. But we had some drying conditions before the wind, which probably helped minimize the number of trees blowing over. The wind dried out the soil enough that we’ll have to irrigate newly planted trees.

“In walnuts, our first copper blight sprays went out this week.”

John Moore, PCA, Growers Crop Consulting, Bakersfield

“We got some wind this week and it was bad. I fought it all day Monday but didn’t immediately see real damage and didn’t notice a lot of nuts on the ground. But today (4/12) in the Delano area I saw where the wind took down a big number of trees.

“I also saw at least some good-sized nuts on the ground that would definitely be considered crop, although I did not see a lot of those overall. The nuts are actually sticking pretty good. Where a moderate level of nuts were on the ground, it was predominately what we’d expect with the June drop, so they were going to come off anyway. Again, I expected more, considering the amount of wind.

“The real damage was the wind-fall trees. The ground was being irrigated where most of the damage occurred, but whole roots didn’t come up. With a number of those trees I examined, it looked like it busted off as if disease had been a factor.

“I’ve written a bunch of recommendations for leaffooted bugs. These are mainly for growers who are a little cautious and may have to cover a lot of ground, so they’ll get started. Leaffooted bug activity has been minor. I’ve found a few strikes and saw one adult – and that was last week.

“Where growers will treat for leaffooted bugs, they’ll go with an abamectin material since it does a good job of suppressing the insect. That seems like the safest approach right now, along with it being a miticide. So far, mites have been nearly at zero. I saw one mite all day today.

“In certain locations, we do have brown almond mites. That population isn’t increasing but could build quickly as it gets warmer. Most growers don’t consider that mite an economic threat and it does taper off when temperatures get extremely high. But in this transitional period between cooler spring weather and our typical summer, they can build and turn a tree as yellow as a school bus if given the chance.

“Pistachios are leafing out a bit and I’m seeing little female flowers, just a few. In alfalfa, we’re finding a little weevil and blue alfalfa aphids but nothing that we’d treat.”

Franz Niederholzer, UC Farm Advisor, Sutter/Yuba Counties

“It’s been windy here this week, which is commonplace for this area. It wasn’t howling but blowing enough to notice. Otherwise, we’re into nice spring weather and things are starting to grow.

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“Bugs are pretty quiet. Some leaf rollers are apparent but NOW and PTB are quiet. I’m not seeing any NOW eggs yet, which is what I base my biofix on. I haven’t come across any PTB moths yet. In fact, a veteran PCA asked me if I had seen any. I think he was a bit surprised at not finding any, himself, and needed some confirmation that he wasn’t missing anything.

“At an IPM meeting this morning there wasn’t much to talk about in terms of pests. However, that will change with this warmer weather trend. They’re talking about 80 for a high sometime next week.

“Things are drying out and people are going into the field again. No water is moving except to inject nitrogen. We do have a chance for showers on Monday, which is a little concerning.

“In walnuts, many growers are making walnut blight sprays. One grower said he already was making his second blight spray in Tulares, which come out a little sooner, and was into his first blight spray in Chandlers. The chances for rain next week seem to be increasing as we move into the weekend but it’s unclear how much rain to expect.

“It’s hard to say whether to treat mature almonds with a fungicide at this point but the walnuts haven’t had much protection. In prunes, we’re about 2 weeks past full bloom, so we still don’t have a good idea about how the crop looks.”

Jack Gonzales, PCA/CCA, Supervised Control Service, LLC, Bakersfield

“We had some wind this week, primarily on Tuesday afternoon, and it did knock off some of the crop. We definitely had nuts on the ground and nobody ever likes to see that, but it’s always kind of uncertain how much that will really affect yields. In the long run, I don’t think it will make any difference. This is still a really good-looking crop across the board.

“We started our traditional alternaria sprays in the first week of April where growers have a history of it. Those are still going on (as of 4/13) and will wrap up early next week. We haven’t seen any alternaria yet. A few guys report finding a touch of rust in some orchards. So far, I haven’t come across any.

“Mite pressure has been extremely light, which seems very consistent right now with what we’ve experienced in the last 3 years. The trend has been to find a few mites during the early leafout period but end up with occasional showers and thrips. With that, the mites went away and didn’t become a problem until hull split or later. We’ll see if that pattern holds this year.

“We’ve been able to find leaffooted bugs but populations aren’t as aggressive as in the last couple of years. Even where we’ve found them, we’re not detecting damage like in recent years. So far, we’ve only sprayed a handful of blocks for them. Also, we initially found them in some blocks but have not seen them since then.

“In pistachios, we’re about 25% into bloom, I think, with good overlapping between Peters and Kermans, which is important for pollination. After last year’s crop, we know this will be an off year in terms of alternate bearing, but the crop still seems to have decent potential.

“Some stink bugs turned up in a few blocks this week, so we’ll definitely keep a close eye on them. Otherwise, I’m not seeing anything concerning in pistachios right now.

“None of my cotton is up yet but I did see some other fields where it had emerged. My guys continue planting. In alfalfa, things are quiet. Any weevils that are left seem to be cycling through and aphid pressure is extremely minimal. We have not sprayed any of it since the first cutting.”

ABC recently approved funding of $1 mln dollars for the Navel Orangeworm Sterile Insect Technique research project. This is the single largest production research project ever funded by the board.
It comes from multiple sources and has been gaining resistance to at least one treatment option.
Recharge methods now in use or under serious consideration in California involve flooding fields or orchards during the winter or creating year-round recharge ponds. “The key question is where does the water go? If you’re going to flood a farmer’s field, you should be sure it’s going to work.”
Nut fall from high winds during the week. Photo by Sara Savary, PCA, Crop Care Associates, Fresno
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