Harvest has started in the Southern San Joaquin Valley, and will be starting in the Northern San Joaquin Valley in the coming week. Here are some points to consider for the upcoming harvest:
Keep in mind that earlier harvested nuts may have to dry on the ground for 1-2 weeks, while nuts partially dried on the tree will require less time. Nuts that remain in the tree will have a longer period of susceptibility to NOW, while almonds on the ground are susceptible to ants, mold (due to increased humidity), and rain events. A quick orchard walk through looking for fire ants and pavement ants should provide the information needed for this decision.
As soon as the almonds are picked-up, irrigate the trees. Adding a little nitrogen at this point is also advised. It may be possible to water the trees earlier dependent upon the irrigation system. Drip users may be able to irrigate as soon as the trees are shaken, while some micro-sprinklers may have small enough pattern that does not wet wind-rowed nuts.
If stockpiling in the field, cover the almonds with a white tarp – or better yet, a two tarp system that includes a black under layer and a white tarp on top. The white tarp or b/w combo has been shown to reduce stockpile temperature and condensation, helping to reduce the environmental conditions favorable for aflatoxin production. Uncover the piles when possible to prevent the accumulation of moisture underneath the plastic. Fumigation of the stockpiles may be necessary.
If rain is imminent, keeping the almonds in the tree will increase the dry time of the almonds after the harvest.
Hope this helps!