It was two weeks late getting started, but the Kern County almond harvest is moving into full swing, says PCA Alan Butterfield, who works with growers in the eastern side of Kern and Tulare counties.

“The late start puts a lot of pressure on growers,” he says. “They’ll have to work very fast and efficiently to get the crop in before the fall rains come.”

In the second week of August one of Butterfield’s clients was spraying trees for mites, after being surprised by a late influx.

He attributes this late-season surge to insufficient predators to keep the spider mites in check.

“I don’t think we had much buildup of predators earlier in the year,” he says. “So, when the weather turned hot, the mites came on strong, and there weren’t enough predators to hold them back.”

If you would like to read more of Butterfield’s comments about the 2011 San Joaquin Valley almond crop, go to http://enews.penton.com/enews/farmpress/treenutfarmpress/current where you can see the most recent issues of Tree Nut Farm Press and subscribe to the free enewsletter that is emailed twice monthly through the growing season. It is sponsored by Cheminova.

Late pistachios

While some pistachio processors are predicting this year’s crop will total 400 million to 450 million pounds, consultant and former grower Carl Fanucchi is weighing in with a bigger estimate — perhaps a 475 million, or even a 500-million-pound harvest.

“The crop looks good,” says t owner of Fanucchi Diversified Management, Inc., Bakersfield, Calif. told Tree Nut Farm Press, Fanucchi  works with pistachio growers throughout Kern County. “Nut fill on mature trees is excellent, and nut size is larger than last year. Also, the number of blanks is a bit lower than normal, except for first-crop trees where blanks might be a little higher than the rest. That’s probably the result of not enough pollen in those young orchards.”

Based on the color of the nuts, good disease control and lack of staining, and other insect damage, he also sees excellent prospects for a top quality crop.

“Because of all the rain this season, growers with any kind of history of fungal problems have done a good job of spraying their trees to prevent any disease problems,” Fanucchi says. “The trees look good.”