Next year, Wegis and Young will fine tune its tree hedging program – hedging every row and every year but a little wider cut. Hedging will expand from 32 inches this year to 44 to 46 inches next year to allow more sunlight and air movement in the orchard.

“It is very cost effective to hedge prune versus hand prune,” said Wegis. “Hand pruning crews clean out the centers of trees; one to two cuts per tree.”

Almond plantings are on the dense side with six-year-old orchards planted 24 feet by 16 feet apart (114 trees per acre). This compares to more conventional populations in California of 100 trees per acre.

“We are growing for early returns and plan to manage our way through the later years the best we can,” Wegis said.

Other family members in the operation include Wegis’ father, Rick Wegis; his brother-in-law Joe Etcherry; uncle Richard Young; and cousins Mike and Jeff Young.

Of Wegis and Young’s almond acreage, about 1,850 acres are bearing and 250 are non-bearing.

Wegis and Young Property Management LLC will plant about 1,000 acres of almonds in March in western Kern County for outside investors. The company manages 10,000 acres of crops in the Blythe area and 1,000 acres in the Lake Isabella area.

cblake@farmpress.com