The promising almond crop consultant Mark Anderson was seeing in the orchards on the San Joaquin Valley’s West Side at the end of March belied the deep concern he and his clients share about production prospects for the rest of this season and beyond.

A CCA and PCA based in Fresno, Calif., he works with tree nut and row crop growers in an area stretching from the Mendota area in Fresno County south to Bakersfield, in Kern County. Most of his work is in the Westlands Water District, which is expected to receive no surface water from the federal Central Valley Project. Last year, growers here received just 20 percent of their normal allocation.

“Right now, the almond trees, for the most part, look good,” says Anderson, who has been serving growers here for three decades. “Many orchards have set a pretty nice crop. Some are really heavily loaded and look like they could produce 3000-plus pounds per acre or more.”

 

 

The Butte-Padre trees just finished setting their crop, but Nonpareil and other early varieties are well on their way, he reports.

“Some guys say their Nonpareils don’t have as many nuts as the pollinators, like Fritz, Butte and Monterey. I don’t know if I agree. I’ve seen some really good-looking Nonpareil.

Currently, he notes, the nuts are still sizing. He’ll have a better idea of this year’s set by the middle of April. That when nuts, now hidden from view by leaves, should be big enough to view more easily.

Insect pests have shown up earlier than usual this season, Anderson reports. However, mite pressure is much less than a year ago at this time. About 1.25 inches of rain in the first week of March washed some early mites off the tree leaves. He’s expecting them to return in another month or two.

 

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Meanwhile, Anderson has been trapping early flights of peach twig borer and navel orangeworm. He put the NOW biofix, the date he began seeing a consistent increase in egg laying on traps, at around March 25. That’s pretty typical timing. He’ll use that date plus accumulated degree-days to determine when to time the first hull-split spray.

Currently, mite pressures are lower than at this time last year. But, Anderson suspects that PTB and NOW pressure could be a problem this summer.