Mark Anderson, Fresno, Calif. PCA, says his trees are looking good —one reason is the bloom in Fresno and Kings counties was 7 days to 10 days earlier.
He confirms what the first crop estimate reflects: the crop is lighter this year.
“The trees are healthy and nut size seems a little larger than last year because there are fewer nuts on the trees. Some fields look like they might produce 3,000 pounds of almonds per acre. But, yields on most will probably be in the 2,000 pound to 2,500 pound per acre range. It looks like an average year for almonds.”
Mite numbers are much lower than last year, he says. “They came out very early this year, almost as soon as the trees leafed out. But I haven’t seen any major flareups. Orchards that had really severe mite problems last year are under light pressure this year.”
He attributes that, in part, to cooler, wet weather and less dust in the air than a year ago.
But, he has treated a few fields where dust kicked up by nearby traffic led to mite buildups the last couple of years with an insect growth regulator.
“It’s the first time we’ve used an IGR and it looks very successful at this point,” Anderson says.
He is recommending that his growers start regulated deficit irrigation in June, if they are short of water, and that they limit water applications to about 75 percent of the evapotranspiration. He will continue this for about a month, depending on soil moisture conditions determined by neutron probes, adjusting irrigation rates, as needed.
“We’ve done this in the past without many problems, assuming the root zone is full at the start of deficit of irrigation,” Anderson says. “If you let the field get too dry, you can get some nut shriveling. Also, the nuts tend to stick to the trees and are hard to remove at harvest in dry conditions.”
Researchers are heralding the importance of post-harvest irrigation. Without a good shot of water after harvest, yields could be negatively impacted for the next two years years.
“The main thing is to manage the water to provide trees at least six inches of water after harvest,” Anderson says. “If there’s not enough water in August and September during bud differentiation, buds tend to enter a vegetative phase, producing wood instead of nuts the following year. The sooner you can harvest nuts with regulated deficit irrigation, the better.”