Ants can take a significant bite out of an almond crop if nuts are not properly protected during the drying process.
That’s especially true in the kind of dry conditions we’re experiencing in the San Joaquin Valley. Drier orchards means there are fewer protein sources available for ants to forage on, making your almonds an even tastier proposition than usual.
To minimize ant-related damage, experts recommend that growers combine solid cultural practices with an effective ant bait to prevent losses.
From the central part of the valley and further south, almond growers face heavy fire ant pressure. In the north, they typically see a combination of fire ants and pavement ants.
PCAs should begin scouting for ant colonies in early spring to see where colonies are located and to gauge population densities. This is especially important in young orchards. Because young trees produce comparatively fewer nuts than more established trees, growers can lose a much higher percentage of their yield due to ants than in mature orchards.
For long-lasting ant control, consider applying a proven product such as Esteem® Ant Bait from Valent U.S.A. Corporation eight weeks before first harvest. For best results, apply when ants are actively foraging.
Consult the previous year’s packout damage to assess whether one application or two will be necessary. A second bait application may be necessary in the growing areas found further south in the valley.
If a second application is required, rotate chemistries to enable a resistance management plan for ants in the orchards landscape.
Use the correct rate, proper calibration and application techniques and—most important of all—keep the bait dry so it remains active and attractive to ants.
If rain is imminent, you should delay application.
Also, make sure to keep bait away from irrigation water. If using flood irrigation, apply Esteem Ant Bait to the orchard’s borders. If using micro-irrigation, make sure to apply bait in the middle of the rows, outside of the spray patterns. Attach a curb to the sides of your spreader to keep the product from fanning out too far.
Remember, ants set up their colonies in dry parts of the orchard. Do the same with your bait.
To learn more about Esteem and the rest of Valent’s portfolio of tree nut products, visit http://www.valent.com/esteemantbait.