Stanislaus County, Calif. almonds came through pollination season in good shape, says Roger Duncan, University of California Cooperative Extension farm advisor.
“We had a fairly long bloom this year. The Nonpareil bloom was pretty spotty, coming after several years of pretty high yields. It wasn’t a terrible bloom, but I suspect the trees were taking a year off.”
It appears that favorable weather during pollination resulted in more flowers than might otherwise have been expected.
“We won’t know for sure until after nut drop in early spring, but at this point it looks like nut set on most varieties is pretty good.”
Growers have been making fungicide treatments when needed with rain in the forecast, fertilizing trees, and mowing row middles to keep grass for frost protection.
Local irrigation district canals have been bank-full this winter as many growers took advantage of post-2011 extra water to replenish soil profiles left short of moisture by the dry winter weather. That changed some with the arrival of rains mid-March, followed by periods of more rain and cool, cloudy weather. Under such conditions, trees tend to hold moisture in their canopies, setting the stage for fungal diseases.
Growers treated for brown rot, shot hole and jacket rot during bloom. A two-spray program is a common practice in his area, Duncan says. Typically, growers target brown rot with their first spray, then usually go back 10 days later to mop up any brown rot and treat for shot hole and jacket rot.
“Diseases generally do not cause problems here,” he says. “But if you don’t spray, the diseases will most likely show up.”
Growers are now turning their attention to the threat from two summer diseases — scab and rust. As elsewhere in the state, rust was a problem for many Stanislaus County growers last year.
“If there’s a pretty high level of scab and rust inoculum in an orchard from last season, and the weather this spring is cool and wet like the last two years, this diseases could flare up,” Duncan says. “However, often growers spray too early for the fungicide to be effective and then are surprised with these diseases show up.”
Rather than spray once to control scab and again later for rust, he recommends growers delay treatment and combine the fungicides for both diseases in one application four to five weeks after petal fall.