What did I learn at the Almond Board’s annual conference?

The Almond Board of California’s annual conference is a chance to connect with others in the almond industry, listen to world class researchers talk about their work, and check out a huge almond-focused trade show all at one event. The 2012 meeting was last week (Dec 11-13).  Here is a quick review of some of the things I picked up from researchers and informed industry members at that meeting…

Joel Siegel, USDA ARS entomology researcher, discussed  results from his work into navel orangeworm (NOW) control in almonds.  He again stressed the “numbers game” reality of controlling this pest.  High levels of overwintering NOW mean the season starts with a higher population that can build rapidly once hull split begins and new crop nuts are targeted by female NOW laying eggs.  Warm years are especially difficult for NOW control as more heat units drive the pest life cycle faster per calendar day.  The earlier in the season the new crop reaches hull split, the sooner the NOW population shifts to new crop and grows faster.  As a reminder of the importance of winter sanitation, Dr. Siegel reported that in mummy nuts surveyed in the winter 2011-12, there were up to 30% NOW infestation in almond and almost 100% NOW infestation in pistachio.  On the plus side, Dr. Siegel’s research has found that softer pesticides that target NOW eggs and larvae without flaring mites are somewhat effective on adults as well.  He found that spraying Altacor or Delegate directly on adult NOW resulted in 65% and 95% mortality, respectively, after 72 hours.  Dr. Siegel reported that some operators tell him they have shifted to night application of hull split sprays so they are spraying when the adults are flying.

Brad Hanson, UC Cooperative Extension Specialist for Weed Science, reported that Rely will be largely, if not completely, unavailable in California tree crops for 2013 and, perhaps, 2014.  What options does this leave growers and PCAs for control of the growing list of glyphosate resistant weeds?  Dr. Hanson suggested pre-emergent herbicides and a handful of post-emergent materials like Treevix, Venue, and Gramoxone, among a very few others.  He did caution that several of the post-emergent herbicides offered as Rely replacements are only effective on certain weeds, not a broad spectrum of grasses and broadleaves.  To best match the treatment to the problem, Dr. Hanson stressed the importance of scouting orchards to know firsthand what weeds are present and tailoring your herbicide program to control those specific weeds. See Brad’s charts on herbicide registrations by crop (updated this month) at: http://www.plantsciences.ucdavis.edu/plantsciences_faculty/hanson/main/2012%20T&V%20registration%20chart%20with%20MOA%20info.pdf .  Brad also has a very interesting blog on weed control in perennial crops at:  http://ucanr.org/blogs/UCDWeedScience/index.cfm.

Jim Adaskaveg, UC Riverside Professor of Plant Pathology, reported that Manzate Pro-Stick fungicide received a supplemental label in almond last March.  That’s good news.  Since Manex was lost, it is nice to have, again, an effective fungicide class once again registered in almond.  He also reviewed his research into scab and alternaria control, especially the dorment/delayed dormant use of oil + chlorothanil (Bravo, etc.) to suppress sporulation of over wintering scab lesions.  He stressed that this isn’t a stand-alone program, but it compliments in-season spraying programs very well.   Dr. Adaskaveg also talked about his work with chemical control of hull rot, and the possibility that the Monilinia component of the disease may infect hulls in the late spring, not immediately in front of harvest.  This may change spray programs intended to control hull rot.  More research is planned.  For more details on almond disease management, see Fungicide Efficiacy and Timing in Deciduous Fruit Trees and Strawberries, updated annually, at: http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PDF/PMG/fungicideefficacytiming.pdf. Dr. Adaskaveg is one of the authors.

Finally, in a trade-show floor conversation with an experienced nursery sales rep, I was interested to learn that growers in the Sacramento Valley, after two years (2010 and 2011) of late, wet harvests for Monterey and Fritz varieties are shifting at least some interest away from those pollinators towards early to middle pollinators such as Aldrich, Carmel, and Wood Colony.

The Almond Board of California’s annual meeting is my favorite almond meeting of the year.  The 2012 program, shifted north to Sacramento this year, did not disappoint.  Happy Holidays to all, and best wishes for a safe and prosperous 2013.

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3 thoughts on “What did I learn at the Almond Board’s annual conference?

  1. Hi franz, I am a new grower in sutter county looking to plant 50 acres of almonds.

    In your opinion what are two exceptional varieties to go along with non-peril?

    I’m leaning towards wood colony & carmel or butte & carmel. I wanted to get your opinion on what is better in terms of yield, price, and pollinating non-peril. My only worry with butte is that it blooms 5 days later than non-peril. Is that a problem?


    1. Hey Bob,
      Sorry for the delay in responding. I hit a few snags in traveling during the holidays. The question you have is a very difficult one to answer on this forum. I would encourage you to call Franz at the Colusa County Office: 530.458.0570.

      A quick thought – generally we do not recommend planting butte with nonpareil due to the time in between bloom. In Merced, I have seen that five days to be more like 7 to 10 days depending upon the year. When pitching ideas to Franz, keep in mind the constraints you have in harvesting, bloom spray, etc.

      Hope that helps. Again, sorry for the delay.
      David


  2. Dear Bob: My apologies for the slow reply and thank you for your comment on my post.

    First, I agree w/ David, Butte is too late to be a consistent pollinizer for NP. Add to that fact the poor relative price for that nut and it falls out of consideration for yiur planting.

    Carmel is an excellent nut (good value) and pollinizer for NP. The big issue w/ Carmel is bud failure (crazy top). I would ask a nursery sales rep to show me their Carmel tree in a range of young or orchards in the area to see how their Carmel selections stack up against others. I suggest micro irrigation (drip or sprinkler) and careful irrigation to delay the appearance of bud failure. I dont think you can expect a planting to be free of this problem, but the later it appears in your orchard, the less the impact.

    Wood Colony is a good pollinizer for NP, but a small tree. Rootstock/spacing options will need to be carefully managed to maintain good yield/acre.

    Aldrich is a good NP pollinizer, but tall and prone to blow overs and poor scaffold attachment if poorly pruned early in life of the orchard.

    I have little experience w/ proprietary varieties, so can’t give good input.

    There are no perfect varieties, but if you know the flaws of each, they can be managed (or avoided).

    Thanks again for the post. I’d be happy to meet with you to discussthis further. My cell no is (530) 218-2359. I’m out of town thru Jan 2, but back after that.

    Happy New Year.

    Franz


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