As he walked among almond trees in central San Joaquin Valley orchards in mid-April, Jim Wagner liked what he saw.
“Overall, I’m pleased with the size of the crop and the lack of disease,” he says. “Growers are doing a good job.”
He also credits bees for doing their part during pollination. “They came to California looking pretty strong. Judging by the number of nutlets on the trees following bloom, we got a lot of performance from the bees this year.”
A PCA with Wilbur-Ellis at Hughson, Calif., Wagner works with almond growers in Stanislaus and Merced counties east of Highway 99, from Modesto to Merced. He also farms 5,000 acres of almonds in this same area in partnership with two producers.
Because of above-normal rainfall and below-normal temperatures during bloom, the normal fungus disease threats at this time, including brown rot, shot hole and jacket rot, have been a major concern. But efforts by growers to limit damage were successful.
In most cases, Wagner reports, they made fungicide applications two or three times during bloom. Those applications often also included foliar feeding of the trees with nutrients such as calcium, zinc, boron and phosphorus.
That was prompted by the cold, very damp ground, which tends to inhibit fertilizer uptake by the tree roots. As the weather and soil warm, growers are now putting fertilizer on the ground.
Next month, they’ll begin ramping up insect control programs. May is an opportune time to spray for peach twig borer and to make the first miticide application of the season, Wagner notes. Also, that’s when growers will begin navel orangeworm protection programs, if necessary.