Like many California almond growers, Eric Genzoli has been able to manage what, at one time, was the most difficult insect pest in almonds: navel orangeworm. With timely winter sanitation, he rarely, if ever, resorts to dormant, or even hullsplit, sprays to control NOW, and yet his reject levels are well below industry standards.

In fact, according to aggregate data gathered from growers through the California Almond Sustainability Program (CASP), more than 85% of California Almond growers practice winter sanitation to control navel orangeworm, shaking and poling stick-tight mummies during the winter, and mowing them to destroy overwintering worm pests.

The ability to compare his operation to other almond growers throughout the state through the sustainability program is just one advantage of CASP, according to Genzoli, who farms in Stanislaus County.

Genzoli has participated in CASP since 2011, completing modules for each of his orchards on pest, nutrient and irrigation management, energy efficiency and air quality.

 

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Genzoli filled out the assessments initially with his father, Brian, at a handler meeting in 2011, which he says was a good exercise for them to go through together as responsibility for more of the orchard’s management is being transferred from Brian to the 27-year-old Eric.

“For anyone who is going through that generational change with a son or grandson taking over management, it’s helpful to fill it out together and walk through the different practices on each block,” Eric Genzoli said.

It also gave them an instant glimpse into where their practices fit in relation to other almond growers throughout the state.

“When you see you are in a low percentile of participants who do a certain sustainable practice, you say, ‘Wow, a lot of people are doing this, and obviously they are getting some return on it,’” explained Genzoli. “‘Maybe it’s something I need to try on my orchard to be more efficient.’”

Genzoli, a member of this year’s Almond Leadership Program and currently in Class 43 of the California Ag Leadership Program, is the fourth generation to farm almonds on the family’s 200-acre orchard in Turlock and Hughson. After college, when he told his father he was ready to come back to work on the farm, his father advised him to first “go do something else.” So he taught English in Spain for a year, an experience that broadened his perspective and gave him even more appreciation for the value of his family’s farm.