Monday, April 4, 2016

Winter Rains Lead to Spring Chores for Almond Growers

The winter rains certainly have been welcomed by Valley almond growers, especially after four years of drought.

Growers have been busy applying fungicides this past month.
But the wet stuff also has posed some challenges in almonds, as well. In recent weeks, growers have been busy applying fungicides to the orchards after a stormy March.

“The big concern is fungal diseases,” said field scout Jenna Mayfield. The worrisome diseases include brown rot, shot hole and anthracnose.

UC Cooperative Extension almond expert David Doll says the threat of brown rot depends on the stage of bloom and petal fall during storms. Growers applying fungicides during bloom should have provided enough protection. Brown rot can kill the flower, fruiting spurts and shoots.
Spots from shot hole. - UC IPM photo

Shot hole is a consistent threat. The diseasecan lead to spots on leaves, fruit, twigs and flowers. Heavy infections can cause fruit to drop or gumming to occur on the fruit. 

Warm rainy weather created ideal conditions for anthracnose, whose symptoms include blossom blight and fruit infections. These symptoms may show up about three weeks after petal fall. Ultimately, the diseased fruit will turn into mummies and shoots or branches with infected nuts often die.

Leaf-footed plant bugs are a threat to almonds right now..
On the pest front, almond growers are keeping an eye out for leaf-footed plant bugs, which can lead to nut drop or cause gumming inside the nut. UC IPM says growers should monitor their orchard visually once a week by using a long pole to knock branches on the upper canopy. This will cause the bugs to fly away.

In the fields around the valley, field scout Carlos Silva reports the first alfalfa cutting of the season. Look for more alfalfa fields to be harvested as the weather heats up this week.

We can expect cotton growers to start planting their crop over the next couple of weeks, Carlos says.
This season, cotton acreage is predicted to increase for the first time in six years, according to a survey released last week by the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Association.
The CCGGA’s estimate: 145,000 acres of Pima and 61,000 acres of upland/acala. That would represent a 19 percent increase in Pima and 24 percent in acala over 2015. We can thank El NiƱo for generating some good news for the state’s cotton industry.

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