Monday, March 6, 2017

Blossoming Almond Trees Make for iPhone Moment

They used to call it a Kodak moment during the age of film-loaded cameras.

In today’s digital age, you might call it the iPhone or Android moment – when the picture perfect photo opportunity arises.

Almond trees are ablaze with blossoms across the Valley.
Once again the perfect photo op has arrived in the Valley.

 Drive along Interstate 5 through region, especially around the Los Banos area, and look east to gather in breathtaking views of acres and acres of almond trees in full bloom. It resembles a white canopy of snow glistening on the tree tops.

“It’s so beautiful. Everything is blossoming,” says almond field scout Jenna Mayfield.  She couldn’t resist the moment and snapped lots of breathtaking photos of blossoming almond orchards.

Here’s another incredible sight, reports Jenna. It’s the Eastside Bypass, which is full of water flowing down the mountains from this year’s major storms. “I haven’t seen the bypass so full in close to 10 years. The water goes as far as you can see.”

Of course, all that water comes from our very wet weather, which is both good news and bad news for almond growers. No one is complaining about the rains after experiencing five years of drought, which left many trees stressed and prompted some growers to ripe out orchards because of the lack of water availability.

On the flip side, the wet stuff could trigger fungus and tree diseases. With the recent spate of sunny weather, growers have been moving quickly to apply fungicides, especially in the older trees, which are more susceptible to diseases than younger ones, Jenna says. You don’t want diseases harming the crop.

In the meantime, bees are out in full force pollinating the orchards. Jenna reminds growers to be mindful of bee health.

The blossoms are attracting lots of bees.
Studies have shown a reduction of bees foraging on almond blossoms shortly after fungicide applications and bee toxicity in some cases.

What can growers do? One tip is making sure the tank sprayer is clean and free of insecticide residue. If possible, it’s best to apply fungicides at the end of blossom.

Jenna points out that the weather is warming up as we head toward spring. That means growers need to be very vigilant because the orchard environment can change suddenly.

“Insects can flare up. Fungus and tree diseases can spread like wild fire,” Jenna said.

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