Written by Bob Johnson – Almond Board UCCE Farm Advisor Intern
As I drove down a county road near Arbuckle in the south Sacramento Valley, I noticed a significant number of mummies in the “wild” almonds growing in the ditch. With winter sanitation becoming much of the focus in NOW control, I wondered how many worms were overwintering in that patch of roadside almonds with commercial almond orchards on both sides of the road. I pulled over and checked. Of the trees that contained mummies, if it had a soft shell it was packed full of NOW. Dave Doll’s blog post in November stressed the importance of winter sanitation and presented recent data from Brad Higbee (Paramount Farms) and Joel Siegel (USDA-ARS). Their data provides suggested sanitation standards of no more than 2.0 mummies per tree in low pressure areas and less than 0.7 mummies per tree in higher pressure areas, to keep NOW damage below the 2% industry standard. What about one tree that contains hundreds of mummy nuts and is just on the other side of the fence?
If sanitation is your goal, a quick drive around to identify trees with significant mummies along the roadsides near your orchard might be worth the time. Not every “wild” almond presents a problem, as some are hardshells and most contain no mummies, but you might consider removing those that do.