Monday, February 11, 2013

Now is the Time for Almond Growers to be a Good Neighbor

There’s nothing like a good neighbor.

Around farm country, nothing beats a neighbor willing to lend a hand when your trusty tractor breaks down, offer advice about managing pesky pests or ensures the last mummy nuts are knocked off wintering almond trees.

Mummy nuts? Yes, being a good neighbor means getting rid of those stray mummy nuts and shredding them – even if you grow hard shell almond varieties that are less susceptible to threatening pests such as the navel orangeworm (NOW). Remember your neighbor may be growing soft shell varieties, including the popular nonpareils, which are threatened by NOW.

It's important for almond growers to remove mummy nuts.
Our friend, retired entomologist and UC IPM emeritus Walt Bentley, constantly preaches a zero tolerance policy on mummy nuts. UC IPM guidelines say trees should get down to two or fewer mummy nuts. We can’t forget that NOW gives the almond industry the shakes.

As we said in the past, the navel orangeworm is considered one of the most serious pests in almonds because of the potential 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.

“We need to take care of our neighbors,” says San Joaquin Sustainable Farming Project almond field scout Jenna Horine.  Indeed, one local San Joaquin Valley almond grower ran into a NOW problem in the past because a neighboring farmer with hard shell nuts was lax about orchard sanitation and left mummy nuts in his trees.

When these pests have a hard time boring into the hard shell nuts they will move on and find food elsewhere – like a neighboring orchard with softer shells to bore into. Violà – the neighbor with a sanitized orchard now has NOW troubles.

So remember orchard sanitation can be more than a BMP (best management practice). It also can be GNP, or “good neighbor practice.”

Brian Leahy, DPR Director
FIELD DAY ALERT: Please join us at a free forum about pest and crop management and water issues impacting almond, alfalfa and cotton on Wednesday, February 27, from 2:30 to 4 p.m. at the Firebaugh Community Center, 1655 13th St. in Firebaugh. The speakers are: Brian Leahy, director of the Department of Pesticide Regulation; UC Cooperative Extension Merced pomology farm advisor David Doll (almonds); UC Davis/UCCE entomologist Larry Godfrey and alfalfa specialist Dan Putman; UCCE Kern County entomologist David Haviland; and Westside SJR Watershed Coalition engineer Chris Linneman. See you there.

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