Bentley said regulation on contamination of groundwater is “a big deal big for you; it’s big for the industry. We don’t want this industry to get a black eye, it has one of the cleanest names right now, and we don’t want it to have a bad name.”

Because of a previous spray, there was a low level of mites in the LPGL Ranch orchard. Bentley was able to find some after considerable effort at the base of a tree. He advised wearing a long-sleeved shirt to protect against scratches while reaching into branches.

“See that white fuzz and speckling on the leaves,” he said. “That’s the key you look for early. You need to know your orchard and if you have a stressed orchard.”

Bentley said orchards that neighbor corn fields can have greater pressures from spider mites that blow in because growers of the corn cannot get into the fields after a certain point to spay.

The mites can bring defoliation, something Bentley said almond growers do not want before the nut’s shell opens.

Doll talked of nutrient and water needs and of how hull rot can be exacerbated by over-application of both water and nitrogen.

Previous farm advisors have likened hull rot to “the gout of almond diseases” or the “good growers’ disease” because it can result from “too much food and drink.”

Doll said the problem may be exacerbated this year as more growers, given water shortages, can be expected to rely more on groundwater they pump into the orchards.

That groundwater, he said, can contain “nitrate nitrogen, a great source of nitrogen for your orchard.”

But he cautioned that growers should take into account what that additional nitrogen could mean: “For every part per million of nitrate in your water, you should take that times .273 times for every acre inch of water applied. At 10 parts per million, you’re getting 2.7 pounds of nitrogen per acre.”

Because highly vigorous trees are an issue in hull rot, Doll said, that added nitrogen “will tie into later season management” of the crop.