Monday, June 30, 2014

The To-Do List for Almond Growers: Weeding Orchards and Watering Roads

Weeds are the bane for any farmer. And weeding is the necessary evil – not to mention labor intensive and costly.

Tall weeds invade an almond orchard.          -  UC IPM photo
For almond growers, weeds and other orchard debris can lead to lower financial returns from processors this fall. That’s why there’s a flurry of activity in almond orchards, says field scout Jenna Horine.

With harvest around the corner, growers are clearing the orchard floor to prepare for shakers to knock the nuts off the tree and onto the ground for drying.
Here’s some tips to help clean the orchard floor before harvest:
Growers are mowing weeds to prepare for the harvest.

  •        Keep the floor as level as possible. Some growers will till and drag the floor to level high spots and fill holes. Remember loose soil needs time to firm up.
  •     A level surface lets you adjust the height of sweepers to operate more efficiently and reduces the amount of debris collected in the bins.  
  •        Blank nuts fall before the good almonds do. So consider tilling again to fill depressions.
  •      Try to avoid conditions that can lead to leaves falling early before harvest. Potassium-deficient orchards, water stress and aphid infestation can lead to early leaf fall.
  •   Check with your pest control advisor about applying a pre-harvest herbicide in the row middles.

Watering the roads can keep mites in check.
In the meantime, Jenna says most growers have applied their hull split sprays to control pests such as navel orangeworm. On the other hand, more mites are starting to show up in orchards. Growers are trying to control the mite problem by watering dirt roads despite tight water supplies. They don’t have a choice because it’s important to keep the dust down to keep from stirring up mite activity.

“Trucks are watering the roads all the time,” Jenna says. Keeping the dust down, though, will be a challenge this week: Temperatures are expected to stay in the sizzling mid-100s all this week.

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