Monday, July 14, 2014

Growers Deal with Heat, Fast-Developing Almonds

Mother Nature certainly is putting the heat on almond growers.

First, growers are facing another week of oppressive triple-digit temperatures while trying to protect against heat illness.

Second: Growers are dealing with a crop that is developing faster than normal because of the dry and unprecedented warm winter weather.

As a result, growers are moving quickly to prepare for the upcoming harvest: clearing the orchard floor of debris and wrapping up hull split treatments.

Growers are finishing up their hull split treatments right now.
“Growers are getting the orchard floods clean for shaking. They are making sure any ants are treated,” field scout Jenna Horine reports.

The drought conditions and super hot weather is triggering some worries about mite problems. Jenna says mite problems are usually concentrated in certain parts of the orchard – often near dusty roads where workers are driving fast and kicking up dust or in water-stressed blocks.

Growers need to find a balance in irrigation schedules.
Right now, growers working to find a good balance with their irrigation schedules. This can be tricky because watering too much can trigger tree diseases, increase the chances of shaker damage and even push back shaking. On the other hand, under irrigating increases mites and decreases kernel weight.

Almond expert David Doll of UC Cooperative Extension in Merced County advises growers to maintain the irrigation frequency, but make adjustments on the amount of watering time. He offers a helpful irrigation strategy covering the period from hull split to after the harvest in a 2012 Almond Doctor blog.

In the fields, field scout Carlos Silva says some growers will start their fourth alfalfa cutting this week. A number are telling us that they should have enough water for a fifth harvest. That’s good news considering many thought earlier this spring they would have only enough water for two or maybe three cuttings this entire season.

With lots of lygus in the alfalfa, it’s important growers to strip cut their fields to keep the pests from traveling into nearby cotton fields.

Currently lygus counts are low in the cotton fields, with the plants averaging 15 mainstem nodes. Square retention remains good.

Field Day Alert: Check out this Wednesday’s Cotton Field Day from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the Crivelli Farm, 13985 S. Palm, Dos Palos. UC Integrated Pest Management advisor Dr. Pete Goodell, Fresno County UC Cooperative Extension cotton specialist Dan Munk and Bob Hutmacher, cooperative extension specialist with the Westside Research and Extension Center, will offer valuable tips and insights about this year’s crop. They will cover issues such as crop-damaging pests, deficit irrigation, Race 4 Fusarium disease, early pima defoliation and fertilizer and irrigation management in a drought year. Directions are available in the events section of the Sustainable Cotton Project’s website –  Continuing education credits, including hours for nutrient, IPM and water management, will be available.  See everyone there.

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