Shanked fertilizer neutralizes soil in band to reduce pH Pistachios thrive in calcareous soils. But those same soils make it difficult to deliver many of the nutrients that pistachios need.

Along with the standard nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, pistachios require a diet heavy in micronutrients. Zinc, copper, and boron are needed, as are iron and magnesium, says Craig Kallsen, Kern County University of California Cooperative Extension farm advisor.

But iron, zinc, and magnesium are notorious for tying up in the highly buffered, high-pH conditions that define calcareous soils. "When your soil pH is above 7.0," says Kallsen, "you start to run into problems. And our soils can go as high as 8.5 or 9.0." Copper and boron also are less available as pH and alkalinity increase, he notes.

In 1999, Doug Picanso, a crop consultant with Helena Chemical, devised a system to get micronutrients into a client's trees. Along with iron sulfate and zinc sulfate, he shanked an acid fertilizer into the soil in a band. The acid fertilizer neutralized the soil in the band and brought the pH down long enough for the tree's roots to take in the iron and zinc.

"Without the acid," explains Picanso, "that iron and zinc would have gotten tied up."

Picanso borrowed the idea from fruit growers. Pear growers in Ukiah, apple and cherry growers in Washington, and grape growers up and down the West Coast all have been able to reduce or eliminate chlorosis in their crops by acidifying small bands in their crop's root zones, explains Steve Spangler, sales representative for Prodica.

In some cases, the acid fertilizer alone has done the trick, he says. "There was adequate iron, zinc, and magnesium in the soil, but it was tied up. Simply lowering the pH in that zone freed up those nutrients and allowed the roots to take them up."

In other cases, supplemental iron, zinc, and/or magnesium had to be applied. That was the case in Kern County.

"There's not a lot of available zinc and copper in our soils," reports Kallsen. "You see a lot of growers applying those foliarly."

But foliar applications are expensive. "We had trouble achieving the desired results", says Picanso. "We were looking for something new, and Steve told me about the success fruit growers were having with N-pHuric, so we decided to try it."

N-pHuric acid fertilizer is a patented reaction of urea and sulfuric acid. It is strongly acidic, but requires no special handling permits. Any of several acids could be used, says Picanso. Sulfuric and nitric acids deliver sulfur and nitrogen, respectively, but require handling permits. Phosphoric acid is popular because of its phosphorus content, but it is the most expensive of the four.

Strong spring flush The acid/nutrient mix was applied in the spring as the trees were beginning to leaf out. The result was a strong flush of growth rather than the spotty yellowing the grower had seen in the past, reports Picanso.

"I was pleased with it, and I would expect to do it again anytime I see these same conditions," he concludes.

The concept isn't new but is being refined, says Blake Sanden, Kern County irrigation and agronomic farm advisor. "Early on, growers were applying sulfuric acid to almond soils and were getting beautiful green leaves, but a week later there would be damage to the trunk. No one is sure why, but we think that the acid may have lowered the soil pH so much that aluminum toxicity occurred. You get that when soil pH goes to 3 or 4.

"I think growers are leery of any acid for that reason," says Sanden, "but I believe a program that uses a softer product like N-pHuric to lower soil pH to 5 or 6 along with supplemental iron and zinc should work."

"I know a lot of growers on the Westside already use phos acid," says Kallsen. "N-pHuric should work even better because it's a more acidic product."

A new community orchard has been planted at Cal Poly. Created by the university's College of Agriculture and the Central Coast chapter of the California Rare Fruit Growers, the orchard will also be used by Cal Poly agriculture students.

Summer! The time to enjoy the sweet, rich taste of those ripe Bing cherries. Delicious just as nature made them or toss pitted into a fruit or green salad for color and flavor. These jewel-toned, bite-sized snacks are grown right here in California - one of the top three cherry-producing states.

The pistachio is a relative of both the mango and the cashew. California grows all of the nation's commercial pistachios on 60,000 acres.

The Farm Bureau points out that California farmers and ranchers produce an average of $67 million in food, fiber and flower products every day of the year.

Milk is California's top ranked commodity, having a value of $2.9 billion in 1994. Grapes follow in second, with cattle and calves rounding out the top three spots.

The famous "Golden Apples" of Greek mythology were actually apricots. Commercial growing of apricots in California started in 1872 in California's fertile Santa Clara Valley.

How much did a Bartlett pear cost in the mid-1800s? $20.67. they were so delicious, people paid the same price for Bartletts as they did for an ounce of gold!

California leads both the nation and the world in apricot production with a 10-year average of about 180,000 tons. Of that only 6 percent is consumed fresh.

More than two-thirds of the U.S. production of Bartlett pears is harvested in California. The peak season for Bartletts is from mid-July to November.

In orchards where water infiltration is limited, gypsum applications can be helpful. Gypsum is especially effective in increasing water penetration.

Good management practices and common sense will help prevent the spread of weeds. Prevention now can reduce the need for additional control measures in the future.

On average, only one in 20,000 chemicals makes it from the chemist's laboratory to the farmers field, says the Alliance for Food and Fiber.

The top five walnut producing counties in California for 1995 according to production share were San Joaquin, Tulare, Stanislaus, Butte and Sutter.

The U.S. walnut industry is made up of over 5,000 growers and 52 walnut processors (marketers).

Dating back to 7000 B.C. the walnut tree is the oldest known fruit tree. Fifty percent of the world's supply of walnuts comes from California.

The California Farm Bureau heard through the grapevine that 75 percent of all California raisins are eaten at breakfast.

Figs were not only eaten by the first Greek Olympians for their great tasted and healthful qualities, they were also worn as medals for their Olympic achievements.

Almonds are really a fruit. They originated in China and are related to such fruits as peaches, plums and cherries.

The No. 1 olive producing county in California is Tulare.

The "Gala" apple was first found in 1939 in New Zealand. It is a cross between a Golden Delicious apple and a Kid's Orange Pippin.

The pistachio is a relative of both the mango and the cashew. California grows all of the nation's commercial pistachios on 60,000 acres.

Grapefruit is very high in vitamin C and is a source of potassium, folacin and Vitamin A. Dieters are especially fond of grapefruit because it is sodium and fat-free.

During the Super Bowl, enough avocados were consumed to cover a football field 18 inches deep in guacamole!

The Farm Bureau points out that California farmers and ranchers produce an average of $67 million in food, fiber and flower products every day of the year.

California produced 151 million pounds of pistachios last year; Iran leads the world in production of pistachios.

Milk is California's top ranked commodity, having a value of $2.9 billion in 1994. Grapes follow in second, with cattle and calves rounding out the top three spots.

California avocados contain more vitamin A than many other popular fruits, including apples, bananas and grapefruit.

The famous "Golden Apples" of Greek mythology were actually apricots. Commercial growing of apricots in California started in 1872 in California's fertile Santa Clara Valley.

How much did a Bartlett pear cost in the mid-1800s? $20.67. they were so delicious, people paid the same price for Bartletts as they did for an ounce of gold!

California leads both the nation and the world in apricot production with a 10-year average of about 180,000 tons. Of that only 6 percent is consumed fresh.

More than two-thirds of the U.S. production of Bartlett pears is harvested in California. The peak season for Bartletts is from mid-July to November.

A 50-acre apple orchard with 44 trees per acre can lose about $27,000 a year to deer.

The key for long-term success of drying raisins "on-the-vine," will be new varieties, according to UC Davis viticulture specialist Pete Christensen

The almond industry experienced a record crop in 1997 of 756 million pounds. In 1998, production dropped to 509 million pounds of receipts, according to the Almond Board of California.

While other citrus crops sang the "citrus-freeze blues," the blood orange from Southern California endured and is wooing citrus lovers with its memorable flavor and dramatically sanguine juice. Its unexpected brilliance adds a vivid touch as a garnish or in a salad.

The most well-nourished families are those that prepare foods from scratch, buy more fruits and vegetables and use a variety of cooking methods.

Want the comforting effect of a glass of good wine without the alcohol? Eat some grapes. Their abundant glucose content stimulates production of serotonin in the brain - a natural relaxant. In addition, reports Farm Bureau, those sweet, juicy grapes are packed full of potassium and iron.

Pick California cherries, the first stone fruit of the season, for a succulent snack that's high in potassium but low in calories. California is one of the top three cherry producing states, shipping over 750,000 18-pound boxes a week in June.

Prunes top the list of antioxidant fruits, followed by raisins and blueberries. Heading the list of antioxidant vegetables is kale, followed by spinach and Brussels sprouts.

Sixty percent of California's raisins are sold as an ingredient to food processors, according to the California Raisin Marketing Board.

Marketing research studies show consumers praise low-cost raisins as a source of nutrients, as a convenient and nutritious snack, and as a useful cooking ingredient.

The glassy-winged sharpshooter rides again! No, it's not a cute, little gun-totin' winged fairy. It's an insect that poses a serious threat to California viticulture. Why? Because it spreads Xylella fastidiosa - the bacterium that causes Pierce's disease - for which there is no effective treatment.

Rural crime has changed. It's no longer just a neighbor's kid swiping Tipe cherries from your tree on a warm spring day - it's serious business. Commercial orchards are particularly vulnerable to thefts of walnut burls that sell for thousands of dollars and are used in luxury vehicles.

California continues to lead the U.S. in production of apricots, avocados, grapes, lemons, plums, prunes and strawberries.

Eating a handful of walnuts everyday will lower your blood cholesterol. A study at Loma Linda University found that people who ate any kind of nuts at least five times a week had half the risk of heart attacks as those who ate nuts less than once a week. California leads the nation in production of walnuts, which ranks 10th in agricultural export commodities. What, countries import them? Japan, Spain, Italy, Germany, Canada, Netherlands and Israel.

Differences in color are not the only thing that distinguishes white-fleshed peaches and nectarines from traditional varieties. Yellow varieties continue to ripen after harvest, while white varieties taste sweet even while they are quite firm to the touch.

Ben Franklin predicted that in the future food would be our medicine. He was right! Farm Bureau reports that researchers found certain compounds in cherries which can help prevent heart disease, block inflammatory enzymes and are more effective than aspirin for reducing pain. So, if you hurt...eat 20 cherries and call me in the morning.

What do wine and angel food cake have in common? Cream of tartar. Farm Bureau sources report that this major ingredient in baking powder is a natural, pure substance left behind after grape juice has ferments to wine, and keeps egg whites from foaming.

Winery shipments increased for the sixth consecutive year, reaching a record high of 446 million gallons in 1999.

"An apple a day..." You know the rest. Studies have found that people who eat at least one apple a day have a lower risk of stroke than those who don't eat apples.

Kiwi - no, not the bird - the funny, fuzzy fruit-was rated No. 1 in per-gram nutrient density out of 27 fruits analyzed. In addition to vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber, kiwifruit contains phytochemicals and amino acids that have been shown to help prevent macular degeneration - a leading cause of blindness.

At first glance, a kiwifruit isn't very pretty. In fact, it looks like it needs a good shave. However, Farm Bureau says those hirsute kiwifruit are especially good for men. Each serving contains a healthy dose of nutrients that help fight prostate cancer and impotence. No need to peel it; just cut it in half and scoop out the goodness with a spoon. Or, eat it with the skin on. Really. Some do.

The earliest evidence of wine was found on a pottery jar in Iran dating back at least 7,000 years.

What familiar, low-cost, lunchbox treat is grown only in California? Raisins.

According to researchers, farm children have lower rates of asthma than those children raised in cities. Studies credit this to their early exposure to fungi, dust and animal dander.

California's 37,000 apple-producing acres yielded 408,000 tons of apples at last count.

Technically, olive oil is really "fruit juice." It's the only cooking oil that doesn't come from seeds, grains or nuts. And, like other fruit juices, it's good for you.

If you're "nuts" for nuts, snack on pistaschios while you're watching Monday night football. A one-ounce serving has about 47 nuts - more per serving than any other nut - so you can eat a lot. They're tasty, loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber and monounsaturated fat that helps lower cholesterol. Shaped like little footballs, too!

The United Kingdom is the largest export market for California raisins - about 22 percent, says Farm Bureau.