Monday, April 15, 2013

Heads Up: Nuts Rain Down Amid Windy Valley Weather

Winds caused almonds to drop to the ground.

 There was a whole lot of shakin’ going on in Valley last week.

If you didn’t look at the calendar you’d bet it was summertime because of all those nuts blanketing the ground. Who needs a tree shaker when you have Mother Nature bellowing out wind gusts that topped out at 39 miles an hour in some parts around here.

Take a look at the photo (above) taken by our almond field scout Jenna Horine. You can see almonds, almonds and more almonds everywhere between the rows of trees. Nut-laden branches, wiped by the wind, were banging into each other and causing nuts to fall to the ground. The National Weather Service wind gusts reached 32 mph on Sunday, April 7 and 39 mph the following day.

Older trees and those with tall canopies seemed to experience the most nut drop, Jenna reports.

While the sight of all these nuts on the ground might be cause of alarm, growers tell us they aren’t too worried. Trees always lose a percentage of nuts during the season. Last week’s drop wasn’t considered significant – i.e. – not enough to cut into yields and future revenue.

Indeed, it’s normal for nuts that stop growing to drop before reaching full size in April and May, according to the University of California Almond Production Manual. This drop is “considered a natural thinning process due to competition from many nuts.” Let’s hope the winds don’t do a lot more thinning in the future.

A small percentage of growers still do flood irrigation.
Meanwhile, some farmers are doing flood irrigation to get water deep into the ground.  Yes, there are still some growers flooding their orchards. Most almond growers, however, have converted to micro-sprinklers or drip irrigation. Recent surveys indicate 80 percent of Central Valley almond growers used drip because of its efficiency – watering and fertilizer applications are more precise.
A peach twig borer trap nabs lots of pests.

While the wind made field scouting tough last week, we can say the mites and peach twig borer appear under control in almonds. Some PTB counts were a little high in some orchards, but it isn’t enough to be worrisome.

Around the cotton fields, plantings are in full swing. After this week, most growers should have finished planting this year’s crop. Soon, we’ll be starting the countdown to harvest.

Alfalfa growers are wrapping up their first cutting of the season. The pest counts are low right now. That’s a good sign.

Alfalfa growers are wrapping up the first cut of the season.
Well, it’s safe to say things are starting to heat up for farmers – and Mother Nature, too. Yes, forecasters predict we’ll see our first 90-dgree temperatures of the year by early next week. Pack
the sunscreen, hat and bottles of water.

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