Welcome to our Ag Blog. Our field scouts will offer a unique ground-level perspective from the field to you as an independent field scout with the San Joaquin Sustainable Farming Project. Our mission is to promote sustainable farming systems throughout the Central Valley and provide you with the latest information about cotton, almond and alfalfa crops. From time to time, you'll also find guest posts from our project team and other contributors. This Blog is produced by Gilbert Mohtes-Chan.
Monday, March 19, 2018
Protecting Almond Orchards, Honey Bees at the Same Time
As we welcome the arrival
of spring on Tuesday, many Valley farmers are certainly ready to close the
chapter on another weird winter.
Almond growers, for certain,
can’t wait for more predictable weather. In recent weeks, the wet weather this
month has forced them to scramble to protect their crop. It also has created a
few headaches for beekeepers.
Almond growers applying herbicides to combat rainy weather.
“We really needed it
to rain from November to February. We got it in March,” almond field scout Jenna
Mayfield says. Obviously, she adds, “we have no control over it.”
Indeed, growers have
been busy applying fungicides in the almond orchards to prevent post bloom and
petal fall diseases, including brown rot.“There have been a lot of applications,” Jenna says.
applications provide 10 to 14 days of protection, depending on the weather,
according to UC extension advisers.If
more rain arrives after that period, growers may have to spray again. Jenna
notes growers need to notify the county agricultural commissioner’s office in
advance of applications and alert beekeepers as well.
A few beekeepers have
told Jenna that they didn’t get a chance to safeguard their bees. “There have
been a number of bee losses,” she says. It’s unclear if these issues stem from
a communications breakdown.
Some beekeepers are reporting a loss of honey bees..
Farm advisors point
out communication is important during the pollination period. “All parties
should be kept informed so that beekeepers are aware of impending applications
and applicators are aware of the requirements related to notification,
materials, timing, location and method of applications,” Emily J. Symmes, a
UCCE Sacramento Valley IPM advisor, wrote in an Almond Doctor column last year.
Research by Texas
A&M University’s Department of Entomology found that the fungicide iprodion
reduces the survival rate of honeybees.“Given that these fungicides may be applied when honey bees are present
in almond orchards, our findings suggest that the bees may face significant
danger from chemical applications even when responsibly applied,” wrote Juliana
Rangel, Texas A&M assistant professor of apiculture and co-author of the
officials note that growers have been adapting their practices to avoid using
fungicides when bees and pollen are present in the orchards. They also point
out UC IPM recommends against using iprodion during almond bloom.
FIELD DAY: Almond growers can get
off to a good start this season by attending a field day that will focus on
disease, fungicide, pest and nutrient management on Wednesday from 10 a.m. to
12:30 p.m. at the Rushing Ranch, 11599 W. Shaw, Fresno. Speakers are David
Doll, a Merced County University of California Cooperative Extension
pomologist, and Mae Culumber, UCCE nut crop specialist,
in Fresno County. Doll will review bloomtime diseases and chemical choices,
including reduced risk choices and proper selection of fungicides. He also will
discuss irrigation management in a dry year. Culumber will offer tips about
nutrient management to minimize disease and pest outbreaks. For more
information, contact San Joaquin Sustainable Farming Project Director Marcia
Gibbs at (530) 370-5325 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.