Monday, December 17, 2012

Now is the Time for Almond Growers to Tackle NOW

  It's time to get rid of the
mummy nuts in the trees.
            - UC IPM photo 
The message never gets old for Walt Bentley, the well-known entomologist and almond specialist in the Valley. Time after time, especially during the winter months, Bentley stresses the importance of orchard sanitation.

No, that doesn’t mean bringing out the mops and Spic’n Span cleaner. The UC Integrated Pest Management emeritus advisor means cleaning up those mummy nuts from the almond trees. This is really important to growers with soft shell varieties, particularly the popular nonpareils.

Ideally, Walt takes a no tolerance approach: Knock off and get rid of every mummy nut in each tree. UC IPM guidelines say trees should get down to two or fewer mummy nuts.

Navel orangeworm are threat to the almond crop.
Winter, just a few days away, is good time to take a tour of the orchard and see what those mummy loads are. “That’s where navel orangeworm (NOW) gets it foothold. You need to get those down before spring to eliminate that pest from the orchard,” he says.

To the $2 billion almond industry, NOW is considered one of the most serious pests in almonds. The bugs can cause serious economic damage and risk to human health. The worms bore into the nut and gobble up most of the nutmeat. It also can lead to aflatoxin contamination.

Aflatoxin is produced by Aspergillus mold, which are known carcinogens and mutagens. The Almond Board of California points out that major export markets are imposing increasingly strict maximum limits for aflatoxin contamination.

That’s why Walt never tires of spreading the word about orchard sanitation and managing NOW in the orchard as the first line of defense against aflatoxin contamination. Now is the time to get out there.

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