When almonds are drying on the ground during harvest, they are susceptible to damage from that perennial pest, the Southern fire ant. Soft-shelled almonds are particularly at risk, with the fire ant entering through a suture in the hull, removing the nutmeat and often leaving only the pellicle.
It’s critical for growers and PCAs to watch their orchards and monitor for ants and their mounds. This is especially important in younger orchards. Because there are not as many nuts on the ground in a younger orchard, there may be a higher ratio of ants to nuts, thus increasing the damage percentage. And in many cases, the first-year harvest orchard has not had any products applied in the past and can therefore have a larger ant population than a more established orchard.
While almonds should be removed from the orchard floor as soon as possible after shaking, growers can rest easier during this hectic time by applying an effective bait product in the lead-up to harvest.
A preventive application of Esteem® Ant Bait about eight weeks before harvest can control ant populations for months.
Esteem is long-lasting (controls entire colonies of Southern fire ant, red imported fire ant, bigheaded ant and pavement ant) and farm-friendly (soft on beneficial insects). When worker ants carry Esteem back to their nests, it interrupts the development of immature larvae and sterilizes the queen, resulting in the colony’s demise.
Depending on the timing of your harvest, Esteem should be applied in mid-May or June for best results.
To learn more about these insects as well as Valent’s portfolio of tree nut products, visit www.valent.com.