As his Kern County, Calif., pistachio trees moved through full bloom, Carl Fanucchi has brightened his hopes for a good year due to welcomed spring rains.
“Pretty much everyone welcomed that rain,” says Fanucchi, at Fanucchi Diversified Management, Inc., Bakersfield, Calif.
“From now on, any rain we receive will probably be insignificant. But despite the less-than-normal snowpack in the mountains, we shouldn’t have much of a water problem. After the last two years of wet weather, reservoirs are full and have about a year’s worth of water. So, we should be good this year.”
Based on fruit buds on the trees, he sees potential for a big crop year.
”Most growers are expecting up to a 600-million pound crop this year,” Fanucchi says. That compares to the 448-million pound crop in 2011, an off year, and the record 528 million pounds two years ago.
Growers continue adding acreage. Earlier this spring, one of Fanucchi’s clients finished planting 900 acres of trees. “Pistachio plantings continue unabated — that is, if growers can find available and affordable land,” he says. “Land prices have gone out of sight. Good land with good water supplies is selling for $10,000 to $14,000 an acre.”
As pistachio plantings increase in the area, botrysphaeria and alternaria are becoming more prevalent. Normally, Kern County pistachio growers don’t treat for these fungal diseases unless their orchards have a history of them; however, if wet weather continues, growers would probably treat for botrytis, he says.
To prevent alternaria, most growers also apply a fungicide after pistachio leaves start pushing. Infection from the disease can also encourage colonization of botrypshearia spores, which can blow up later in the season under the right conditions — high humidity and temperatures in the high 80s. However, now is when the spores can inoculate the trees, Fanucchi says.
“The only way to control botrysphaeria is to prevent it, So, growers who go with a full treatment program will apply a fungicide in April, June and late July. If the pressure gets really high, they may make a fourth application. That gets expensive.”