Mild weather is boding well for pistachio orchards, says Justin Kilukov, grower relations manager with Primex Farms. He works with pistachio producers from southern Kern County north through Merced County.
“It looks like we”ll have a good year, but it doesn’t look like we’ll have a bumper crop,” he says. “Although the crop varies throughout the region, overall it looks good. Nut size is average and it appears that areas of southern Kern County have a somewhat heavier crop than last year. The trees there bloomed a little earlier than farther north and before the inclement weather, which affected bloom in other areas.
“For the most part, we’re anticipating a bigger crop than last year. But, on a lot of the trees with their second or third crop, production is likely to be less that we were expecting earlier in the season.”
He predicts California growers will produce a little under 600 million pounds of pistachios in 2012; that compares to 2011’s 448 million pounds.
“We still have to get through the nut fill stage to see what we actually have inside the shells in July and August,” Kulikov says.
Earlier this year, botrytis showed up at various times and locations in orchards on the eastern side of the valley. Typically, the disease is a bigger concern in this area than farther west. Also, depending on the type of surrounding crops, some of his growers’ orchards had stink bugs and plant bugs.
“Right now, some of our growers are treating for mealybugs,” Kulikov says. “They’re becoming much more prevalent than in the past. Growers have also been applying insecticides, as needed, to control navel orangeworm.”
“Most everyone should be fine on water this year,” he says.