Fresno County almond grower Don Cameron, general manager of Terranova Ranch, Inc., finished picking up the last of his Nonpareils during the second week of September. That was about three weeks after he started shaking the six-year old trees on Aug. 23.
“The Nonpareils came off the trees beautifully,” he says. “With the hot, dry weather they developed pretty quickly and the harvest went very smoothly.”
Yields in our blocks should reach 2,800 to 3,000 pounds per acre, Cameron reports. That’s up from last year’s production of 2,200 to 2,300 pounds per acre. He also likes the size of the kernels — no more than about 23 to 25 per ounce — produced by the trees this year. This will be a real plus with most orchards in the area producing smaller sized almonds this year, Cameron adds.
“I’m a little surprised they did so well,” he says. “We keep a close eye on our trees and make sure they have they get what they need when they need it throughout the season. We hope to be producing about 3,000 pounds or better per acre on a consistent basis starting next year when the trees reach seven years of age.”
Plans call for starting in on his Monterey blocks the third week of September. “They have a nice crop, too,” Cameron says. “They might even be a little better than the Nonpareil.”
The 180 acres of Nonpareil and Monterey trees that Cameron is harvesting this season are part of Terranova Ranch’s almond orchards south of Kerman, Calif. They include another 450 acres of younger trees. Three hundred acres of those trees will come into production next year, followed by the remainder in 2015. With wells the sole source of water for all his almond acreage, Cameron’s crop has not been affected by any reduction in surface water supplies this year.
The almonds are one of 26 crops on 7,000 acres that Cameron manages for Terranova Ranches and Prado Farms. The crops range from carrots, onions and wine grapes to pistachios and walnuts.
“We’re glad to have almonds in production,” he says. “We put off planting them for a number of years. But they mix well with our operations. Along with our vine and other tree crops they help keep our employee working year round.”
Cameron’s program for controlling navel orangeworm features good orchard sanitation and timely application of insecticides when needed. This year he sprayed for NOW once, earlier in the season, and again at hull split. This approach, he says, enabled him to keep NOW well under control in a season when growers elsewhere have reported much higher than normal pressure from this pest.
Heavy foliage along with several sprays early in the season also helped him to stay ahead of mites and escape any damage from them this season.
Some growers faced pressure from the leaffooted plant bug this year. Although Cameron found a few a few of them in some trees, the isolated location helped protect his crop without having to spray, he notes.
Prices for the new-crop almonds rose as the harvest got underway before dropping back a bit. Lately, though word of lighter-than-expected production in hard shell varieties may help firm prices back up, he notes.
“I think it looks like a good, solid marketing year for the 2013 almond crop,” Cameron says.