Monday, January 22, 2018

Valley Almond Growers Are Busy as Bees This Winter

Things are buzzing in almond orchards. And that’s before bees start flying, doing their pollinating thing in the trees.

Yes, before pollination starts there remains lots of winter work for growers and their field hands. They certainly have the work cut out for them.
Almond growers produced a record yield in 2017.

Why you might ask?

Well, growers will be pressed to surpass last season’s record year. The USDA is predicting a new high yield of 2.25 billion pounds from the 1 million acres of almonds across California. Almonds rank as the No. 3 farm commodity behind grapes and dairy.

To help growers start working toward another record year, field scout Jenna Mayfield offers her to-do list of winter chores:

  • Survey the trees to make sure there are no more than two mummy nuts per tree by February 1. Jenna points out University of California researchers have found ignoring winter mummy nut sanitation leads to higher populations of overwintering navel orangeworm and greater kernel damage at harvest time.
  •   Inspect drip irrigation lines and sprinkler heads and make the necessary repairs. Growers don’t want to wait until they start irrigating next season and discover their drip lines are damaged.
  • Fix the potholes on access roads. Growers can scrap the dirt and level to smooth the roadway.
  • Remove loose or broken bark caused by shakers. These nooks could become winter havens for pests.
  • Survey the orchard floor for weeds and identify those that were not controlled by a fall pre-emergent treatment. Record the findings. UC Integrated Pest Management says growers should consider applying a post-emergent treatment in January.

 Here are other chores identified by the University of California Integrated Pest Management program:
Signs of rust on almond leaves. (UC IPM photo)
  • Take one more dormant spur sample this month for scale and mite eggs and compare results from earlier samples. Treat if necessary.
  •  Check trees for hiding places for peach twig borer. If treatment is needed, use a more environmentally friendly material or put off treatment until bloom.
  • Monitor for rust in orchards with almond varieties that keep their leaves during the winter. Treatment would come in the spring.
  •   Watch for gophers and mound-building activity.
  Growers can go to the UC IPM website to learn more about the year-round IPM program for almonds.

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