By the last week of May, many of the Nonpareils in Sacramento Valley almond orchards had finished kernel fill. That may be a little earlier than usual reports Franz Niederholzer, University of California Cooperative Extension orchard systems farm advisor for Colusa, Sutter and Yuba counties. “Those in the cooler spots don’t look like they are quite there, yet,” he adds. :”Also, not all nuts on a given tree are uniform in development and the nut set in some blocks looks a little light. But, overall, the Nonpareil crop looks pretty good.”

This year’s weather pattern is increasing growers’ concerns about early and higher than usual insect pest pressures in their orchards.    “We had a really dry January and February,” he says. “Often, that means warmer, drier weather in the spring and summer which drives insect numbers and their biological clocks a little faster.”

No significant mite activity has been reported, he notes. However, that could soon change. Forecasts for early June call for the first 100-degree temperatures of the season

The leaffooted plant bug numbers appear to be higher than usual in the spotty areas where they have shown up this year. “They don’t appear to be a major threat to the valley’s almond crop, Niederholzer says. “But, if they’re in your orchard, these bugs can be a big problem.”

Based on trap findings, the peach twig borer and navel orangeworm seem to be early this year. As in San Joaquin Valley almond orchards, navel orangeworm egg counts as far north as Tehama County are up this year, he notes.

“We’re getting bigger numbers earlier in the season than we’d like,” Niederholzer says. “However, we’ll have to wait until closer to harvest determine just how much of a threat the worms will be. Right now, growers need to be very vigilant and then try to get their crop off the trees as quickly as possible, once 100 percent hull split has been reached.”

Fortunately, a number of Sacramento Valley growers are scheduled to receive 75 percent of their full allocation of surface water this season.

Unlike the San Joaquin Valley where some West Side growers expect to get no more than 20 percent of their surface water allotment, some in the Sacramento Valley are scheduled to receive 75 percent of their full deliveries of surface water.

“More worrisome is the impact that any rain shortage next year could have on California’s overall water situation in the long term,” Niederholzer 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 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.