Monday, October 13, 2014

Oh Nuts – Time to Get Cracking on Almond Samples



Crack…Crack… Crack… 

There’s no need to adjust your volume.
 
Crack…Crack…Crack...

That’s the rhythmic sound you hear emanating from the home of almond field scout Jenna Horine.
Crack…Crack…Crack…

That’s the staccato rhythm of almond after almond after almond being cracked by Jenna. It’s a laborious, yet important job she does every fall.
Jenna is busy cracking thousands of nut samples.

“Cracking the nuts and inspecting each one helps confirm what I saw in the orchards during scouting this season,” Jenna says. 

For Jenna, this is crack-out season – a time when you crack the nut, shell the kernel and look for signs of pest damage that occurred in every orchard that she scouted during the spring and summer.

So far, Jenna’s gone through about a quarter of the more than 5,000 almonds she collected from more than two dozen orchards throughout the San Joaquin Valley.

Hullers will provide a grade on the quality of a grower's crop.
During the harvest, you could find Jenna wading around carpets of nuts just shaken off trees, collecting samples in a brown paper lunch bag. Jenna picked up nuts from three different areas of an orchard where she had placed pest traps. In each orchard, she collected 200 of each variety of almonds. For example, if a grower had nonpareil, Buttes and Carmel varieties in an orchard, Jenna would gather a total of 600 nuts.
 
Nut sampling is extremely helpful practice advocated by UC almond experts. Unlike the familiar stock market caveat – you know the “past performance does not predict future returns” warning – nut sampling is a good way to identity past pest damage and predict potential future damage. Moreover, experts say crackout prevents growers from making the wrong assumptions about pests.

Jenna records her findings from each orchard and sends the information to each grower. The results are a kind of progress report about the grower’s integrated pest management program. Her findings also provide information to compare with the grade sheet received from the huller.



An example of Navel orangeworm damage . ( UC IPM photo)

To date, Jenna reports no significant problems from peach twig borer (PTB). She has found some evidence of ant damage. She isn’t surprised about the samples with naval orangeworm damage. The damaged nuts are usually found in orchards that plagued by NOW problems during the year.

Samples from farmers who followed best management practices are relatively free from NOW damage. Kudos to these growers. Keep up the good work.

Crack …crack…crack… We’ll keep you updated about Jenna gets cracking on more almond samples in the coming weeks.




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