Thursday, February 16, 2017

Growers Abuzz About Upcoming Almond Season

There’s a definitely buzz around the Valley.

One by one, large white boxes are starting to show up around the borders of almond orchards around the Valley.Yes, the pollination season is around the corner.

Field scout Jenna Mayfield says buds are developing nicely on the trees and bloom should be starting soon.

“The trees are changing. There is a lot of bud swell,” Jenna says. “Beekeepers are coming in and out of the orchards. Growers want them in place by bloom.”

Bee boxes placed around orchards last year.
Growers are hoping the wet winter weather will let up enough to provide sunny days to let the bees do their job. Almond bloom usually lasts about a month.

One concern is the health of honeybees. Beekeepers are reporting bee losses across the country, according to California State Beekeepers Association President Steve Godlin. He says beekeepers cite a number of factors for the loss, including the drought, pest and disease problems and the absence of natural forage.

Another worry is beehive theft. A couple of north Sacramento Valley growers reported more than 700 hives being stolen. One grower put the loss of bees at more than $250,000.

To prevent these thefts, beekeepers are urged to locate bees out of sight and off the road. The hives, lids and frames should be marked with identification. At the same time, growers can protect themselves by verifying the colonies in the orchard match the contract they have with the beekeeper.

Growers need to ensure bee health
Some 1.8 million bees needed to pollinate almonds.
Jenna reminds growers to be mindful of spraying their nearby fields during the pollination period. We need to keep bees healthy.Growers should refrain from treating their trees in the morning hours as bees prepare to go to work in the orchard. It’s best to spray in the late afternoon after bees return to the hive.

Anyone who keeps bees in California must register with the local County Agricultural Commissioner annually. This information will help beekeepers deal with neighbors and be notified about local pesticide and herbicide applications. 

We certainly want to keep the bees healthy.
FIELD DAY: Growers can start the season learning the latest information on new state rules governing pesticide use and safety and potential issues with pests. Almond, alfalfa and cotton growers are invited to attend a field day covering these topics during a Wednesday, February 22 field day at the Firebaugh Mendota United Methodist Church, 1660 O Street, Firebaugh. Sponsored by the San Joaquin Sustainable Farming Project, the free event runs from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and offers continuing education credits. Speakers are: Gilbert Urquizu of the Fresno County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office, who will talk about new pesticide regulations and safety rules; Dr. Pete Goodell of UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management, who will cover the impact of the weather on pest insects in almonds, cotton and alfalfa for the coming season; and Chris Linneman of the Westside San Joaquin Valley Watershed Coalition, who will talk about the uses of pesticides and their impact on local water quality. More information is available from SJSFP Director Marcia Gibbs at (530) 370-5325 or

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