Prospects for the almond crop in the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley are looking up.

The trees pollinated well and have had continued favorable weather since, reports PCA Robert Gaddie. Bakersfield, Calif. His firm, Robert L. Gaddie Crop Production Consultant, serves growers throughout Kern County.

“For the most part, the crop volume in my orchards looks better than last year,” he says.

Last season several of his blocks suffered serious freeze damage. So far this year, they’ve remained free of frost.

In general, pollination was excellent, he notes. “However, the pollinator varieties appear to have a better crop than Nonpareil,” Gaddie says. “We’re scratching our heads over that one. From time to time you see differences in pollination among varieties.”

He’s keeping a watchful eye on mites, which began moving up the trees in mid to late March. The dry winter weather has resulted in higher early-season populations — more so with two-spotted mites than brown almond mites. “The number of mites that survived the winter is definitely larger than we’d like to see,” he says. “So, I expect to see more mite activity this year.”

Depending on the weather, growers could begin seeing damage from the leaf-feeding pests by the middle of May, he notes. He plans to put his first mite spray on between the middle of April and mid-May. If necessary he’ll follow with a second miticide application in June to carry the trees into July, when he’ll include a third treatment in his hull split spray.

 

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That hull split spray will also target NOW larvae as they emerge from eggs laid on the exposed new-crop nuts. Pistachio orchards in the area were under unusually heavy navel orangeworm pressure late last summer. However, the number of eggs he’s finding this spring in almond orchard traps has been pretty typical.

The weather, at least up this point, has helped keep disease pressure in the orchards low. “What little moisture we’ve had has been followed by wind and seems to dry off rapidly,” Gaddie says.

Earlier this season, he applied a fungicide to protect the trees against brown rot blossom blight. He’ll soon be turning his attention to preventing alternaria leaf spot, primarily in orchards with an alternaria history.

Fields with very dense foliage, stagnant air and fan jets or drip irrigation systems create high humidity levels which is ideal for alternaria. Leaf spot develops most rapidly in June and July. In severe cases, the disease can almost completely defoliate trees by early summer.

Gaddie will put on his first alternaria treatment between the last part of this month and the middle of May. He’ll treat again in June.

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 Valent USA.  If would like to receive Tree Nut Farm Press go to the Western Farm Press home page (westernfarmpress.com) and sign up for it and other Farm Press electronic newsletters.

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