Monday, September 16, 2013

Almond Growers Should Get Cracking on Collecting Nut Samples from the Orchard

 With fall around the corner, almond growers are on the home stretch of this year’s harvest.
Shakers are making their rounds and shaking the last of the nuts off the trees in the San Joaquin Valley.
Entomologist Walt Bentley

Retired entomologist and University of California Integrated Pest Management specialist Walt Bentley sent us a note last week reminding us to tell growers that this is the time to collect nut samples off the ground. Here’s his advice:

“Take 200 to 500 nuts from each orchard to examine them for damage. They can be stored in a freezer until time permits for examining them. Farmers need to crack these out themselves. This will give valuable information for next year’s approach to pest management. I found that the crackouts really identify the damage incurred and keeps a farmer from making wrong assumption about pests.”

Collect samples from the ground.
Our almond field scout Jenna Horine has spent recent weeks collecting nut samples for growers participating in the San Joaquin Sustainable Farming Project. Jenna has been taking nuts from areas that have pest traps. She’ll be cracking them and recording her findings for growers in the coming weeks. We’ll let you know the results later this fall.

Here's a close-up of San Jose scale. - UC IPM photo  
Walt points out that growers won’t be kicking back after the nuts are hauled away. Autumn is an ideal time to prepare for next season. He offers a few more tips for the fall: “Look for dead or dying branches in trees. Then examine the wood for San Jose scale. This helps in the determination of dormant oil needs.  Dormant oil is the best approach in the winter for San Jose scale control. It also is the least disruptive.”

Thanks for the advice Walt.

Meanwhile, cotton field scout Carlos Silva reports  growers are getting closer to defoliation. He finds plants in many fields are in the range of three to five nodes above cracked boll (NACB). UC IPM says growers can schedule defoliation at:

  •         Four NACB is the target for the first harvest aid in acala 
  •        Three NACB is the target for defoliant timing in pima

Carlos says the white fly counts are up, but generally not at the threshold for treatment. However, a couple growers have been plagued with white flies this season and have treated their fields a number of times.  Our experts haven’t figured out the reason for the persistent problem. Remember that white flies can lead to sticky cotton.
Cotton defoliation is around the corner in the Valley.

In alfalfa, spotted alfalfa and pea aphids are showing up in greater numbers. Carlos says the numbers are still below the treatment threshold and suggests growers continue to monitoring their fields as they prepare for the last cutting for the season. Some alfalfa growers are hoping to get an additional cutting – if the weather cooperates. Forecasters predict cooler weather ahead by the end of the week with temperatures dropping into the 80s. Historically, the early fall brings welcome relief from the scorching summer heat.

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