Monday, November 19, 2012

BMPs Pay Off in the Long Run for Valley Almond Growers

This Thanksgiving Valley growers will certainly be thankful for a bountiful harvest in 2012. That definitely is the case with almond growers who are poised to challenge the record 2.03 billion pounds of almonds harvested last year. They cannot achieve those eye-popping harvest numbers without growers embracing sustainable farming practices. Kudos to these growers.

Retired entomologist Walt Bentley
Before we wrap up this almond season, we again asked retired UC IPM entomologist and almond expert Walt Bentley to give us another recap of the 2012 season:

I would say that the miticides used to control mites worked quite well and brought populations down quickly. There were some scattered mite problems which developed during harvest, with growers  not
having enough time to apply a miticide due to pre-harvest intervals.  This
issue needs to be discussed in our winter meetings.

We are still applying more worm sprays on hardshell almond varieties than needed. But the
Removing mummy nuts is the key to orchard sanitation.
cultural and chemical controls were good.  I was particularly impressed with the sanitation on winter mummies. It was much better than 2011.  I cannot emphasize enough the importance of walking through your orchard – just taking some time each week to look at the trees.  Some farmers are great at that while others abdicate that duty to their pest control advisors.

Remember that fall is here. Growers need to put on their post-harvest irrigation. That is extremely important on sandy soils in central and southern San Joaquin.

Adding cover crops can help improve water infiltration.
                               - University of California photo
Also, take time to review your fertilization program. Get the analysis and plan your approach for next spring.
Try to get a handle on areas where water infiltration was bad, particularly due to compaction. Growers should plan on remedying that either mechanically or with cover crops.

We had no problems with stickbugs or leaffooted bugs this year. Keep up the best management practices. A little work now will pay nice dividends at harvest time.

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