Monday, February 2, 2015

How Dry We Were in January: An Early Year in the Offing for Almonds?

Déjà vu – again. Another dry January has come and gone in the Valley and across the Golden (soon-to-be brown) State.

That’s not a good sign for Valley growers. We’re sure to hear more on that in the weeks to come.
In the meantime, the rain-stingy January prompted almond growers to prepare for possible early season. Field scout Jenna Horine reports growers have been moving quickly to apply dormant sprays in the past week.

Growers have been applied dormant sprays in their orchards.
Many orchards are starting to give off a pink hue on the upper section of the tree. It won’t be long – especially if this dry weather continues – before we start seeing buds develop and then burst into colorful blossoms, creating acres and acres of breath-taking Kodak moments.
 “It looks like we’re going to have an early year,” Jenna says. That means it’s full speed ahead for almond growers.

 For almond growers, it’s a Catch-22. Everyone agrees we need the rain – we had a measly two-tenths of an inch last month – compared to average of 2-plus inches for January. It may be one of the driest Januarys on record for the region. It certainly was for many locales. In fact, San Francisco recorded no rain for the entire month.

The hitch is if we have late-winter or early spring rains, they can be troublesome for almond trees, which could cause problems with scale or other plant diseases. Ah yes, the irony and beauty of farming.

 Meanwhile, Jenna reminds growers that they should have taken care of remaining mummy nuts in their trees by Sunday. That’s the best safeguard against navel orangeworms (NOW), the scourge of the almond industry.
Mummy nuts can host overwintering navel orangeworms.
Remember, NOW overwinter in mummy nuts. Sprays shouldn’t be necessary in orchards where there are two or fewer mummies per tree and the trees were harvested early, according to UC Integrated Pest Management. Growers want to tackle the mummies to provide enough time to cut back on the NOW population.

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