In pest management, we currently have early stage research evolving from two decades of initial research on mating disruption for navel orangeworm that is likely to lead to significant breakthroughs in the management of this important pest through the use of pheromone mating disruption.

A number of individual research projects are working synergistically to produce better management strategies for navel orangeworm. They are looking at chemical attractants emitted by the pest both for control by mating disruption and as a monitoring tool.  In addition, investigations are under way on kairomone attractants emitted by the tree itself, which, like insect pheromones, have the potential to be used in traps for monitoring or in control. Research is also looking at the pest’s ability to detoxify pesticides and the implications of that trait in spray efficacy and chemical control technology. These lab-focused projects are an important precursor to research that can revolutionize pest control practices in the orchard.

A series of smaller projects led by farm advisors throughout almond growing regions are looking at a number of cultural and orchard management practices to improve yields and production in the orchard.

In Merced County, farm advisor David Doll is looking at salinity tolerance of almond rootstocks. This research already has revealed that trees on peach-almond hybrid rootstocks have fared much better under saline conditions than trees on peach rootstocks in terms of symptoms and yield.

Pruning studies

Another important project led by farm advisor Carolyn DeBuse in Solano and Yolo counties is looking at timing for pruning young almond trees to inhibit the development of canker-causing pathogens. Butte County farm advisor Joe Connell is current leading a trial that looks at increasing the percentage of Nonpareil in relation to pollenizers with the objective of improving Nonpareil yield per acre.

An additional project is looking at factors with implications on controlling tenlined June beetle. This effort is led by farm advisor Elizabeth Fichtner in Tulare County. Improving foliar boron nutrition is the focus of studies led by farm advisor Franz Niederholzer in Colusa/Sutter/Yuba counties.

Additional posters will share information about pruning research that is already changing how growers prune. Newer research on carbon sequestration from chipping material added to the soil illustrates how older research that initially addressed one area, in this case chipping to address burning and air quality, can lead to possible breakthroughs for almond growers in other areas, such as carbon offsets and climate change.

There will be a lot going on at this year’s 39th annual Almond Conference, but we encourage you to take a few minutes and stop by the poster sessions, visit with researchers and learn more about the extent of research going on and what it might mean for growers down the line. Annual reports and posters will be online after January 2012.

To learn more about The Almond Conference and to register, go to AlmondBoard.com/Conference.