California Almond industry members will be presented with recent research findings and trade developments addressing the most pressing issues they face in growing, processing and marketing the state’s premier specialty crop at the 37th Annual Almond Industry Conference, to be held Dec. 9-10, in Modesto, Calif.

With a theme of “Driving Value through Innovation,” this year’s event will focus on innovative research results that will promote more effective and efficient crop production while preserving the environment and protecting the market with food-safety practices.

The two-day program offers sessions on production research tailored to the interests of growers and PCAs-CCAs, and presentations on global, technical and regulatory affairs will address the “need to know” for handlers, huller-shellers, and others associated with the processing and marketing of California Almonds. Continuing education units are available for applicators, PCAs, and CCAs for most presentations.

Some highlights of the production research “Hot Topics” include:

• Pollination Update – with a roll-out of the ALMOPOL pollination model, a tool that is being developed and is undergoing validation to help growers decide strength and number of hives needed under various scenarios of orchard and weather conditions. The session also includes a presentation on the year-round activities of a migratory beekeeping operation, a report on colony health, and a preview of bee supply, including considerations for the 2010 bloom season.

• Balancing Insect Management with Environmental Concerns – Presentations on the latest tools and techniques for effective insect and mite management, and how these can be balanced with environmental regulations. Also addressed: Tools to evaluate the volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from pesticides, and surface water protection measures.

• Irrigation World Roundup – Water availability and efficient use are global issues. Panelists will discuss water management perspectives from Australia and Spain, what the industry has learned in California in 2009, particularly with respect to important ongoing research investigating drought management strategies, as well as the role of irrigation scheduling for top yields, crop quality, and food safety.

• Developments in Disease Management – A panel of research specialists will review the latest in fungicide development and resistance management, and will address the factors contributing to lower limb dieback and the effective management of LLDB and canker diseases.

• Variety Development, Evaluation and Selection: Balancing Field Performance and Market Potential – Performance and market potential are two key considerations when choosing which varieties to plant. This panel will discuss current and future variety development, what past variety trials tell us, and how this knowledge is applied to improve variety selection. Also to be presented: A discussion of marketing perspectives, and how growers can put all this information together to choose which varieties to plant and how to manage them to yield the most desirable product for the conditions under which they are grown.

Over the two-day program, a total of 4.5 continuing education units are available for growers, PCAs and others licensed by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation. CCAs will have a total of 19 continuing education units available in the various categories. For specific information on units assigned to each session visit almondboard.com/conference.

Once again, a lucky conference attendee will drive away a brand-new Kawasaki Mule, thanks to Garton Tractor and Log5 Corp. Tickets for the drawing are included in registration packages, and extra tickets are available at the Growers’ Breakfast. The drawing will be held at the Thursday luncheon.

A highlight of the conference will be the Wednesday evening Gala Dinner, featuring keynote speaker Bear Grylls, whose best-selling books, inspirational speaking engagements and award-winning television show “Man vs. Wild” have brought him worldwide acclaim as the most fascinating survival expert alive today.

Keynote speaker for the Growers’ Breakfast is Charles Hoppin, chair of the California Water Resources Control Board, who is himself a grower. He will review the evolving California water landscape and where we go from here. The Growers’ Breakfast is free, but you must call Elaine at (209) 343-3200 to make reservations for limited seating.

Keynote speaker for Thursday’s luncheon is Rich Karlgaard, publisher of Forbes, on “The Global Economy and the New Administration: What’s in Store and How to Weather the Storm.”

Sponsorships by BASF — the Chemical Co., Jose Borrell, Bayer CropScience, JackRabbit and Satake help make the Almond Industry Conference the biggest event of the year as well as the only conference dedicated entirely to the almond industry.

The complete two-day conference agenda, information on special conference events, and an online registration form are available at almondboard.com/conference.