John Edstrom, University of California Cooperative Extension Farm Advisor for Colusa County, calls this year’s Nonpareil set in his county mediocre and development so far, erratic.
Nonpareil represent a third of the Sacramento Valley county’s almond production, he notes.
“The Nonpareils are a little disappointing from what we’d like to see,” he says. “I don’t think it’s a poor crop, but it doesn’t appear to be a strong one, either.”
He attributes part of this to large crops some orchards produced the last two years. This depleted the trees’ carbohydrate reserves needed to set flowers this season. Also, he suspects the weather during bloom may have played a role. However, despite stories of Colony Collapse Disease (CCD) this year, bee activity he observed was very good and bee hours were in the middle range, he says. “Nonpareils are a little finicky,” Edstrom explains.
However, he’s also seen some very good Nonpareil orchards this season. They were either younger trees or produced small crops in the last year or two.
At the same time, early prospects for three other key varieties – Butte, Carmel and Monterey – are promising. “They all look pretty good to me,” Edstrom says. “As the nutlets were coming out of their jackets, you could see uniformity.”
This year’s bloom was spread out somewhat by the weather which slowed flower opening. Several weeks ago, he was seeing a large size differences between earlier and later-setting nuts in Butte and Carmel. However, his initial concern that the older, bigger nuts would out-compete the smaller ones for the tree’s food reserves proved unwarranted. “By the end of March, these smaller nuts had either caught up in growth or fallen off, but the crop still looked good,” he says.