Monday, July 29, 2013

Monitor for Ants Before It's Time to Shake Almond Trees

With August around the corner and almonds are at hull split, it’s time for growers to start planning to do a little shake and bake in their orchards.
All almond varieties are at hull split in the Valley.

That’s shake as in shakin’ those nuts off trees. And that’s bake as in letting the fierce San Joaquin Valley sun dry those almonds on the ground.

To protect your crop on the ground, now is the final time to make sure those pesky ants scurrying about on the orchard floor are under control. A University of California study estimates a quick knock down of  the first ant infestation early on can save 140 pounds of nuts, based on an average yield of 2,000 pounds per acre.

Southern fire ants are known for their aggressive behavior.

The pavement ant and Southern fire ant will damage almonds drying on the ground by gnawing away at the kernel. UC almond experts point out ant populations may larger in orchards with drip and micro-sprinkler irrigation. Picking up the nuts off the ground as soon as possible after shaking can cut down on ant damage.
UC IPM says ant bait is the most effective. But it can take several weeks to take care of the whole colony. If a conventional spray is used, the application should be made two weeks before harvest. Read more about almond pest management guidelines for ants at UC IPM online.
Pavement ants are more laid back.
In addition to ants, our almond field scout Jenna Horine reminds growers to continue monitoring for navel orangeworm and peachtwig borer as well.
Meanwhile, field scout Carlos Silva reports alfalfa growers have completed their fourth cutting of the season. One even finished his fifth harvest. There isn’t a lot of bug activity in alfalfa after the cuttings.
In cotton, the plants are lush and full. We’re seeing up to 20 mainstem nodes. Many growers are irrigating their fields so it has been a little tough for Carlos to get into the fields with his sweep net. So far, the bad bugs seem to be under control.

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