A smoke-like cloud of dust billows skyward, rising from deep inside a stand of almond trees.
No, it’s not some unusual mid-summer twister emerging from the orchard. Rather it’s the sign of analmond tree shaker at work.
|The first almond tree shaking is taking place in the Westside.|
From now until early fall, growers will be busy harvesting nuts. Starting off the harvest are the soft shell varieties such as nonpareil. The hard shell varieties such as padre and mission are shaken off the trees toward the later part of the season.
“We see shaking into October,” Jenna says. The harvest lasts into the fall for a couple reasons. First, growers plant different almond varieties in each orchard, meaning they will come back a couple times to knock off the nuts. Second, an area’s climate will impact the timing of harvest – usually the areas further east are a bit cooler and almond hull split occurs later than in the hotter locales.
|It's important to pick up the almonds as soon as they dry.|
For growers still waiting to start shaking their trees, there are a lot of harvest preparations still ahead. University of California extension advisors advise growers to make a final check for ants on the orchard floor. Tackling ant infestations early can save 140 pounds of nuts, based on an average yield of 2,000 pounds per acre, according to a UC study.
|Growers will irrigate their orchards between shaking.|
Meanwhile in the fields, our field scout Carlos Silva says growers are starting to harvest their alfalfa again. The pest on his watch list is the spotted alfalfa aphid, which can be more troublesome that the pea aphid. Counts are up for the spotted alfalfa aphid, but still short of the treatment threshold.
|Spotted alfalfa aphid can be trouble.|
The cotton plants are continuing to develop nicely. “The plants are at 12 fruiting nodes. Retention is still good,” Carlos adds.