The black-margined aphid, part of the yellow aphid complex, is one of Slagle’s two major insect threats. He used to ignore the large amounts of honeydew on leaves. However, the sooty mold that grows on the honeydew can reduce photosynthetic efficiency. A decade ago, he began spraying an insecticide to reduce the insect’s pressure. Since then, his nut production has increased significantly, he reports.

Slagle’s method of managing his other insect pest, the black aphid, varies. For the last several years he sprayed the trees with an insecticide. This year, he soil applied it as a systemic to coincide with his first irrigation.  “By changing the treatment this way I’m trying to keep the aphids guessing a bit to get better control,” he says.

To nourish his trees, Slagle includes a dose of UAN 32, drilled into the soil, along with a broadcast application of urea to start the season. This year, for the first time, he plans to use only liquid UAN solution for the rest of his nitrogen treatments this season. He’ll apply a total of 220 units per acre.

“It takes longer to drill in the UAN, but I think it does a better job than the urea,” he says.

He supplements his nitrogen fertilization with a spray of zinc and other micronutrients.

For the third straight year, spring winds have been unusually strong, blowing at speeds of about 30 to 45 miles per hour, gusting even higher.

“We’ve already had two weeks of days close to, or above, 100 degrees,” Slagle says. “When you add in the drying effects of wind, we can be maxed out on irrigation. We can hardly put on enough water to keep up with the trees’ demands.”

Slagle’s surface water for his trees comes from the nearby Rio Grande River and is provided by the Elephant Butte Irrigation District, which maintains several reservoirs.

“Those reservoirs are just about empty,” he says. “This year we will get just one irrigation with the river water.” He’ll pump the rest.

“If you’re a well driller around here these days, you’re way busy,” he says.

This report is from Tree Nut Farm Press, a twice-monthly electronic newsletter published by Western Farm Press during the growing season. This edition was sponsored by DuPont Crop Protection.  If would like to receive Tree Nut Farm Press go to the Western Farm Press home page ( and sign up for it and other Farm Press electronic newsletters.


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