Monday, August 28, 2017

Almonds Get Swept Up in the Two-Step Harvest

Shake. Sweep. Shake. Sweep.

No we’re not describing the Texas two step on the ballroom floor. Instead, we’re talking about the two steps Valley growers take to harvest their almonds.

Tree shaking is in full swing around the Central Valley.
Shake the nuts off the tree. Sweep up the fallen almonds and load them into a hauler. Shake. Sweep. Shake. Sweep.
We’ll see this harvest time two step go on into the fall, says field scout Jenna Mayfield.

“The nonpareils are being harvested now. The hulls on the hard shell varieties are still green. Those won’t be harvested until later,” Jenna says.

Soft shell varieties such as the nonpareil are the first to mature and be shaken off the tree. Considered one of the most versatile almonds, the nonpareil can be used anywhere. The smooth kernel allows for blemish-free processing.

But soft shell almonds are vulnerable to pest damage at this time. Jenna points out nonpareils don’t get a lot of time drying on the ground – maybe three to four days. The longer on the ground, the greater risk of damage from pests.

A sweeper collects almonds drying on the ground.
Jenna saysalmond growers continue to grapple with mites, whose populations can explode because of the hot summer we have experienced.

But as we approach the end of August, treating for mites won’t be necessary next month, according to University of California Integrated Pest Management. “Mites begin to migrate off trees to prepare for overwintering,” UC IPM says.
Whitefly can cause sticky cotton.
Meanwhile, field scout Damien Jelen says alfalfa is nearing the end of the season. Some growers anticipate getting one or even two more cuttings. Pests aren’t a worry since the season is winding down and the quality of the crop is lower this time of year.In cotton, some growers are considering irrigation because the hot weather is drying up the ground faster than anticipated.
“Cotton bolls are starting to open up,” Damien says. That means growers will be extra vigilant for a whitefly infestation, which can leave a sticky residue on the fiber.
“Growers are really keeping an eye out for sticky cotton,” Damien says.

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