Owen Taylor, Editor


Hotter weather is settling into almond country. Highs in the 90s have either been registered or are expected over the Easter weekend.

Insect activity is clearly picking up as temperatures climb. May sprays are being lined up. Leaffooted plant bugs remain mostly in the background. The same goes for spider mites.

See Dale Deshane’s comments about painted lady butterfly larvae. The painted lady is an insect we rarely write about but it’s making a big showing in Kern County.

In walnuts, Aaron Heinrich reports significant frost damage in some walnuts in his area.

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Franz Niederholzer, UC Farm Advisor, Sutter/Yuba Counties

“It feels like something close to summer. It will be in the mid-80s today (4/18) and tomorrow and we’ll have warmer temperatures like that for a while. With hotter weather, everything is happening in a hurry. Trees are using water ahead of the average rate and fertilizer is going on.

“Insects are starting to show up in traps. It’s nothing dramatic yet. I think we’ll make a PTB biofix here at the Nickels Soil Lab and we have detected a NOW male spike in traps. In a week, we’ll probably see NOW eggs in traps.

“Everyone has been shut out of getting into the orchards due to all the wet weather but they’re jumping into field work now. Plenty of planting is underway where growers wanted to put in new orchards but were held back by rain and saturated soils.

“Walnuts are starting to bloom. With this nice, dry weather, not much spraying has been going on in walnuts. Some blight applications were going out. We did have a little rain around the valley early in the week but amounts were less than predicted.

“Overall, conditions have gone through a big change. For the first time in a while, dust is in the air.”


Dale Deshane, PCA, Supervised Control, Bakersfield

“Mite pressure has still been really light in almonds and we haven’t sprayed anything just for mites. This is very similar to mite trends in the last couple of years.

“A few growers had a little leaffooted plant bug activity and we’re going with an abamectin product to hold them back. No big numbers are turning up anywhere. If anything, they’ve been a little scarce, but we’re finding some gumming here and there. That’s next to houses, so we can’t spray by air. We’ll include a material for them when we put on a fungicide.

“So far, we’ve made one fungicide spray for alternaria in problem blocks and will come back with a second spray in 7 to 10 days. More rust is showing up this week, which is another reason to move in with a fungicide. We have not found any alternaria or scab yet. In certain seasons, alternaria had already became apparent in March, so we’re doing pretty good with it this year, considering it’s already April 18.

“We’ll start some mummy sprays next week in almonds, our first worm treatment in almonds this year. I’m thinking that April 4 was about the biofix for NOW in our area and I’m basing timing off that. We’ve detected little spikes in the egg traps.

“I’m seeing some overwintering PTB strikes. If we spray for them, it’s typically going to be in that May spray, which we’ll do at about 300 degree days. We were at 130 to 140 early in the week, so we’re a ways from treating, and the PTB applications will be in the second-leaf trees. Usually, we don’t spray PTB in older trees.

“In pistachios, some areas seem to be a little behind for whatever reason. We have trees still in bloom and others that are past bloom, with everything in between. Little nutlets have been set. As of today, we still have not seen any disease in pistachios – no botrytis or botryosphaeria and it’s still too early for alternaria.

“We’ll start monitoring next week for plant bugs in pistachios. In cotton, a lot of our fields are up to a good stand. No issues yet.

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“With these warmer days, I’m expecting to see chinch bugs and other things coming out of the weeds as they dry down. The caterpillar for the painted lady butterfly is obvious and is causing some problems. It’s migrating out of its main host, malva.

“We had to spray some in alfalfa and also in pistachios where they were eating the leaves, plus we’ve had to deal with them a bit in carrots and tomatoes. I think we’ll have more problems with it, too.

“They usually don’t like alfalfa, and that’s the first time I’ve sprayed them in it. They’re not in every field but we can find them on certain edges. Where I treated, they came out of the open desert and crossed a road to get into the alfalfa.

“The painted lady butterfly migrates from Mexico and I can tell you for sure that they’ve been on the move. Two weeks ago, I was skiing with my grandson and we were on a chair lift at about 10,500 feet. Suddenly, I saw several painted lady butterflies in front of us.

“Looper eggs are all over the place, and we’re spraying them in a lot of potatoes and watermelons and just began treating some peppers. They’re also laying eggs all over the tomatoes and I imagine they’ll be laying eggs on cotton as soon as it puts out any leaves.”


Sara Savary, PCA, Crop Care Associates, Fresno

“Where needed, we’re spraying for leaffooted bugs, mostly in scattered almond orchards on the east side of Fresno and Tulare Counties. On the west side of Fresno County, we had to treat a few blocks for stink bugs.

“In orchards where we have a lot of mummy nuts, we included something for them. Where we’ve had alternaria or rust issues in the past, we applied a fungicide and included a material for leaffooted bugs with some of that.

“In walnuts, the early varieties are in full bloom and nuts are about a quarter-inch in diameter. The late varieties are just going into bloom. We’ve only done one walnut blight spray. It rained maybe 2 tenths of an inch on Monday and that dried up pretty quickly, so we haven’t gone in with another fungicide. We usually don’t deal with blight in Chandlers because they’re later and not as susceptible.

“My cotton is just emerging.”


Nathan Stewart, PCA, AgVantage Consulting, Inc., Visalia

“Nuts are starting to size up pretty good. We’re beginning to find some leaffooted bug strikes here and there, nothing prevalent. We’re treating on an as-needed basis.

“Quite a bit of drop was noticeable last week on the Montereys and we’re to the point now that what will stick for the season is on those trees now. Yield potential looks pretty good, generally speaking, with some light spots just here and there. With all the recent wind and rain, growers have been cleaning up debris and fallen trees.

“Now that temperatures are warmer, trees have jumped and look greener and healthier, and we’re trying to keep up with fertilizer. I’m talking with growers about May spray timing. We have slowly started spraying for alternaria and rust, based on the history of specific blocks. These are locations where we had rust in the past, although not necessarily last year. The same goes for alternaria.

“In pistachios, we’re significantly into bloom. From north to south, trees are pushing nicely and the bloom looks pretty good. Bloom seems to be syncing okay, although males are light in some areas.

“We made a few nutrient bloom sprays in bearing pistachios this week just to get ahead of things and we will start into more of that next week. Unless something drastic happens with the weather, we’ll leave fungicides out.

“In walnuts, irrigation is under way. We completed the ReTain spray in Tulares where we’ll do that. Chandlers are pushing nicely. Blight sprays are on a ‘here and there’ basis, depending on an orchard’s history and other factors.”


Jhalendra Rijal, Area IPM Advisor, Northern San Joaquin Valley

“We’re starting to detect NOW activity – eggs on egg traps and also females on mummy pistachio bait. Male moth activity started around March 20 in pheromone traps.

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“Where we’re monitoring in the Modesto area, we’re putting the biofix at April 9, based on egg laying. How biofixes are made, of course, depends on the location. With NOW, we saw consistent egg laying last week and this week. The first flight biofix dates for Oriental fruit moth is March 19, and for peach twig borer is April 9.

“I’ve had a few calls about leaffooted plant bug activity in the last couple of weeks. You always expect a handful of cases this time of the year but it’s still too early to say what the trend will be. More leaffooted bugs develop in some years but population trends also vary from orchard to orchard.

“With brown marmorated stink bugs, we’re just at the beginning or their activity and expect to catch more next week or the week after. In one orchard, we caught 6 brown marmorated stink bugs (BMSB) on Thursday (4/18). Also, one PCA reported of BMSB capture in a peach orchard in west Modesto this week as well. We have been using BMSB lures in both sticky panel traps and pyramid traps to monitor BMSB. The sticky cards are easier to use and we’re finding that they are just as effective as the pyramid traps for adult bugs.

“In walnuts, codling moths have been pretty slow this year, although a couple of people reported catching just 1 or 2 last week. In one of the 3 orchards we monitor, we caught codling moths this Tuesday, April 16 for the first time. Based on my conversations, folks set the biofix dates for codling moth either last week or early this week in the northern San Joaquin Valley region.

“Overall, things are moving along with insects as the weather warms up and I’m expecting more activity in the next couple of days.”


Aaron Heinrich, Independent Crop Advisor, AgriWest, Inc., Escalon

“We’re planning our almond May spray, which we normally start around May 1. This year, we’ll make the first applications on April 23. With the long-residual materials, we should reach out far enough to control NOW and PTB. We’ll probably add some oil and maybe something for mites. Foliar nutrients also could be included in some cases.

“The almonds are starting to size up. The weather is definitely changing and will reach into the 90s next week for the first time this year, based on the current forecast.

“In walnuts, we have a biofix for codling moths. If someone planned to spray the 1A generation, that would be around the first week of May. That’s only in blocks where we had past damage. Where there was no damage, we’ll wait until the 1B timing, which is around the end of May or 400 degree days after the 1A. If we had less than 3% damage last year, we don’t spray on the 1A timing.

“We’re finding some extensive frost damage in walnuts. In some blocks it’s quite devastating, with a good deal of dead wood. Some of those trees may not pull out of it. Just driving around, the damage is obvious in places.

“Everyone is trying to pin down when the damage occurred. We’re pretty sure it was triggered in November of last year. The greener tissue wasn’t quite dormant yet and trees were pretty well hydrated. If you were going to have the right conditions for frost damage, that was it.

“A lot of the wood is just starting to bud out and in a month we’ll really know how the trees look and how much of the wood will have to be removed.”

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