West Coast Nut - December 2021

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WEST COAST NUT

DECEMBER 2021 ISSUE

Your

Connection to the Tree Nut Industry

JAN 5, 2022

See page 61

JAN 12, 2022

PECAN

DAY

Yuba-Sutter Fairgrounds

JAN 13-14, 2022

See pages 88-91

ION ICAT L B PU PUBLICATION



Publisher: Jason Scott Email: jason@jcsmarketinginc.com Editor: Marni Katz Email: marni@jcsmarketinginc.com Associate Editor: Cecilia Parsons Email: cecilia@jcsmarketinginc.com Production: design@jcsmarketinginc.com Tel: 559.352.4456 Fax: 559.472.3113 Web: www.wcngg.com

Contributing Writers & Industry Support Almond Board of California Contributing Writer American Pecan Council Contributing Writer Jeff Bowman Grimbleby Coleman CPAs Vicky Boyd Contributing Writer Danita Cahill Contributing Writer California Walnut Board Contributing Writer Taylor Chalstrom Assistant Editor Kathy Coatney Contributing Writer Marieke Fenton Ph.D. Candidate, Dept. of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Davis Brittney Goodrich Asst. Cooperative Extension Specialist, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, UC Davis

Roger A. Isom President/CEO, Western Agricultural Processors Association Rich Kreps CCA, SSp., Contributing Writer Mitch Lies Contributing Writer Chris McGlothlin Director of Technical Services, Western Agricultural Processors Association Catherine Merlo Contributing Writer Jerrod Penn Assistant Professor, Dept. of Agricultural Economics & Agribusiness, Louisiana State University Mike Wade California Farm Water Coalition Eryn Wingate Agronomist, Tri-Tech Ag Products, Inc.

UC Cooperative Extension Advisory Board Surendra K. Dara UCCE Entomology and Biologicals Advisor, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties Kevin Day County Director/UCCE Pomology Farm Advisor, Tulare/Kings Counties Elizabeth Fichtner UCCE Farm Advisor, Tulare County Katherine Jarvis-Shean UCCE Area Orchard Systems Advisor, Yolo and Solano

Steven Koike Tri-Cal Diagnostics Jhalendra Rijal UCCE Integrated Pest Management Advisor, Stanislaus County Kris Tollerup UCCE Integrated Pest Management Advisor, Parlier Mohammad Yaghmour UCCE Area Orchard Systems Advisor, Kern County

View our ePublication on the web at www.wcngg.com

The articles, research, industry updates, company profiles, and advertisements in this publication are the professional opinions of writers and advertisers. West Coast Nut does not assume any responsibility for the opinions given in the publication.

By the Industry, For the Industry

IN THIS ISSUE 6 12

Navel Orangeworm Rejects on the Rise View from the Top: A conversation with Blue Diamond’s Mark Jansen

16 20 24 28

Planning for Nitrogen Efficiency for 2022 CARB Updating Regulations for Trucking Industry Weighing in on Almond Profitability Restoring Soil Health and Ecosystem Services in California’s Almond Orchards

34 38 42

Winter Prep in Walnuts Tips for Financial Planning Through the Drought Almond Pollination 2022: Economic Outlook and Other Considerations

52

Pollinator Efforts Lead to Prestigious Sustainability Award for Almond Board of California

56 60 64 68 70

Start Thinking about Pollinator Contracts Sweet Flavor Keeps Chestnut Buyers Coming Back for More Grower Cooperators a Vital Cog in Research What It Could Mean for Californians if We Have Another Dry Year Organic Walnut Production Increases as Growers Learn New Management Techniques

74 76 78 82 84

Health Research Helps Drive Consumer Demand for Walnuts Grower Profile: Joseph Jackson on “Doing What Matters” California Legislative Recap for 2021 A Peak into the Pecan Powerhouses Network Ant Management in Almonds

SPOTLIGHT ARTICLE: Navel Orangeworm Rejects on the Rise With a notable uptick in NOW rejects over the last decade, it's time to double down on almond IPM, starting with winter sanitation, to reduce damage. See page 6

December 2021

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ise ter R e th ith win n o ts ting w c e j Re M, star m r wo ond IP e g an on alm mage. r O l e a Nav ble down reduce d riter u W o g t o n i D n, Contribut o i t a t sani Y BOYD | ICK By V

Timely harvests are part of a navel orangeworm integrated management program. The end use, whether for meats or for in-shell, also will affect harvest timing (photo by V. Boyd.)

W

hile the amount of Nonpareil almond rejects due to navel orangeworm (NOW) damage varies from season to season, Blue Diamond Growers has noted a concerning uptick over the past 10-plus years. With the upward trend comes opportunity losses from reduced or no grower premiums. University of California Cooperative Extension farm advisors and Blue Diamond staff point to not one, but a combination of factors that likely are responsible for the increasing rejects. “It’s hard to say exactly what’s going on,” said Jhalendra Rijal, UCCE IPM advisor for Stanislaus, San Joaquin and Merced counties. “It could be multiple factors at play.” Among potential contributors are drought conditions, larger nut crop acreage that provides increased continuous hosts, the availability and cost of polling crews for winter sanitation, and pesticide resistance. As a result, Extension and industry representatives recommend growers double down on their IPM practices, which start with foundational winter sanitation. Proper timing of the other IPM practices is also crucial, whether it is hanging monitoring traps in the spring, putting out mating disruption dispensers, applying hull split sprays or harvesting.

Rejects Up in 2021

So far this season, Nonpareil overall reject levels are running about 1.75%, second only to the “train wreck” of 2017 and 2018, said Mel Machado, Blue Diamond vice president

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of member relations. In the past, about 80% of the rejects could be attributed to NOW damage. But that’s not the case anymore. While NOW still comprises the bulk of the rejects at 53%, he said other problems, such as brown hole, are on the rise. “NOW is still the primaThe navel orangeworm moth ry problem out there, but itself does not feed on almonds. primary is a relative term,” Females lay eggs on mummy nuts Machado said. Rather than or on nuts after hull split begins. looking at average reject After they hatch, first-instar larlevels, he said he prefers to vae bore into the nut meat (photo look at how much of the courtesy USDA-ARS.) crop goes into the co-op’s quality programs. Based on the amount of the Blue Diamond crop run as of late October, about one-third failed to make grade and was considered standard. Broken down, the northern production area was running 38%, the central 25.7% and the south 44%. “That’s stunning, 44%,” Machado said. “Even in 2017, it was 37%.” When Machado compared the crop going for meats to that destined for in-shell, the differences were glaring. Only 12% of in-shell failed to make grade. He attributed it to varieties that have tighter seals, making them less susceptible to NOW. Growers also are more aware of reject levels for the in-shell market and manage accordingly.

The Foundation: Winter Sanitation

At the heart of NOW management is winter sanitation, which not only removes mummies in which larvae overwinter but also eliminates egg laying sites for the first NOW flight in the spring. Franz Niederholzer, UCCE farm advisor for Colusa, Sutter and Yuba counties, recommended surveying orchards for mummies on or before Jan. 15. Count the mummies on 20 representative trees and average the results. This should be done for each variety, regardless of shell thickness or seal, Continued on Page 8


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Make timely hull split sprays, keeping in mind that nuts at the top of trees typically split before those at eye level (photo by V. Boyd.)

Mummies not only provide an overwintering site for larvae, they also offer egg-laying sites for the first NOW moth flight in the spring (photo by V. Boyd.)

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within the orchard. If there are more than two mummies per tree, plan to mechanically shake or have a crew hand-poll the trees to remove them before bud swell. In the central to southern parts of the Central Valley, David Haviland, UCCE farm advisor in Kern County, recommends striving for fewer than one per tree. But the increased cost and reduced availability of polling crews has made winter sanitation more challenging, he said. Afterward, the orchard floor should be disked or flail mowed by March 1 to destroy mummies on the ground. The optimum time for winter sanitation is after a heavy dew, fog or rain when the mummy nuts have absorbed some moisture. This makes them heavier and easier to shake and remove. The moisture also helps rot mummies in the trees as well as aids larval mortality on the orchard floor. Unfortunately, Haviland said, the southern San Joaquin Valley never received heavy rains last winter. “The ground remained bone dry all winter long,” he said. “Even if a mummy is below ground and it doesn’t get wet, a larva can emerge if it’s in the top few inches. Shallow-buried mummies never got wet.” Rijal said sometimes growers and PCAs think that instead of shaking they can apply an insecticide to the mummies due to understandable reason, such as dry winters and labor shortages. Regardless, he said, “We cannot beat the navel orangeworm if we only rely on insecticides, and we need to find ways to do the winter sanitation effectively. In fact, for winter sanitation, any time after the harvest through early February works. For example, we had some rain last week, and mummy sanitation can be done now if you can.” In response to NOW control challenges, almond, pistachio and walnut growers representing more than 400,000 acres combined have successfully incorporated in-season mating disruption into their IPM programs, Haviland said. Among adoptees is Niederholzer,


Many growers like to wait for dew, dense fog or some rain before they shake mummies in the winter (photo by V. Boyd.)

At least a few growers in the northern Sacramento Valley have put tracks on their shakers so they can remove mummies even in wet orchards (photo by F. Niederholzer)

who also is manager of the Nickels Soil Lab. “Over the past two years at Nickels, we’ve had some of the best control measures of the last 10 years,” he said. Hung in orchards in the spring, pheromone dispensers emit chemicals throughout the season that imitate those produced by female NOW. This confuses male moths, preventing them from finding females with which to mate. The system works best on large, contiguous blocks, but Haviland said even smaller-scale growers have seen benefits. “We know it works on 40 acres in almonds,” he said. “We know it works better on 100 acres, and anything over 100 is just bonus.” While not a silver bullet, mating disruption can help eliminate at least one in-season NOW treatment, according to UCCE.

Hull Split Sprays

Although insecticides are part of NOW IPM, they alone may only be 50% effective, and in many cases, less, Rijal said. “Every time I do a trial with insecticides, I never reduce damage to zero even though I dip the nuts in a solution,” he said. In other words, insecticides at hull split are critical, but they cannot solve all of the problems and need to be combined with other control measures. Insecticide choice also has grown more challenging as NOW has become less sensitive to the pyrethroid class of chemistries, Haviland said. “Generally, pyrethroids are not working as well as they used to; there’s

Continued on Page 10 December 2021

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Larvae can overwinter in mummies left on almond trees after harvest (photo by V. Boyd.)

Continued from Page 9

The lack of availability and increasing cost of polling crews have prompted many growers to rely solely on mechanical mummy removal (photo by V. Boyd.)

you look where the nuts are in the canopy, they’re in the tops of the trees.”

definitely pyrethroid resistance,” he said. Application timing is critical as the “Timely” Harvest hulls split and the nuts become susceptiWhile some talk about an early ble to NOW egg laying. harvest to possibly avoid the third NOW Machado said growers should time flight, Machado prefers the term “timely hull split sprays based on the crop stage, harvest.” not the moth flight. Where they may get “What’s the goal?” he asked. Is the into trouble is not noticing the nuts in crop going for meats or for in-shell, the tree tops that typically split before since the two end uses prompt different those at eye level. harvest timing. “They need to be watching the tops of Even then, it’s a balancing act. Ideally the trees, whether that’s with a pruning for the meat market, Extension recomtower or long hook,” Machado said. “If mends shaking when 100% of the nuts

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are one-half to two-thirds of the way split and the hull is still green, known as stage “d.” With some varieties, growers have found that harvesting at stage “c,” when the hull split is 0.25 to 0.5 inch, allows for a cleaner shake. Harvest significantly earlier, and resulting higher moisture levels will mean the nuts have to sit on the ground longer to dry. This makes them potentially susceptible to additional ant damage, Machado said. Going too early also may mean the brown kernel skin hasn’t set adequately, and you get more “peelers.” On the other hand, if you let the nuts dry for a prolonged period on the tree, you expose them to an increased egg laying potential from the third NOW flight. The hulls also cup and become tough, making them more difficult to remove. For the in-shell market, Machado said growers should wait until the hulls butterfly before they harvest. Leaving the nuts on the tree longer also exposes them potentially to more NOW egg laying. If the orchard was managed with high fertility, toxins from hull rot also could build up with later harvest, creating more stick-tights. To determine how well their NOW program worked during the season, Rijal said growers shouldn’t just rely on handlers’ grade sheets. In addition, they should collect field samples at harvest because up to half of damaged nuts are left in the orchard and aren’t reflected in the reports. “Take multiple samples of 500 to 1,000 nuts representing the orchard and crack the nuts out,” he said. “It helps to know what’s going on and also look at the history of the orchard.” Comments about this article? We want to hear from you. Feel free to email us at article@jcsmarketinginc.com


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View from the Top ‘The Role of the CEO Has Greatly Changed’

A Conversation with Blue Diamond's Mark Jansen By CATHERINE MERLO | Contributing Writer Note from the Editor: This new series in West Coast Nut magazine called “View from the Top” will feature high profile industry executives and their thoughts on leadership, markets and the future of the industry.

A

s one of the biggest players in the global almond market, Blue Diamond Growers can rightly credit CEO Mark Jansen for much of its recent success. But, as Jansen shares here, the past 21 months haven’t been easy, and there’s still plenty of work ahead. Since he arrived as CEO in 2010, Jansen has helped transform Blue Diamond Growers into a $1.75 billion global food manufacturer. The Sacramento-based cooperative has become the leading shipper of California almonds into the U.S., India, China and many other countries. In 2020, Blue Diamond was named one of the nation’s 10 fastest-growing food companies for the fourth consecutive year. Its brand is recognized globally, and its Almond Breeze product, sold in 100 countries, is the world’s No. 1 almond milk. And the co-op has done all of this as California set record highs for almond production. But even as Blue Diamond enjoys its success, new challenges are emerging for the 111-year-old company like everywhere else. The statewide drought, water scarcity and the myriad effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are forcing business leaders like Jansen to rethink their approaches to operations, markets and the future. With 3,000 grower-members, 1,800 employees and a global customer base, there’s a lot at stake for Blue Diamond. “We’re not pessimistic,” Jansen said in an interview for West Coast Nut. “But my frustration is our industry could be so much better if some of the underlying issues could be solved.”

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Q: How are the port congestion and supply-chain disruptions affecting Blue Diamond?

Our average shipping order over the past 18 months has been booked three times. The sad truth is up to 50% to 55% of the containers are leaving Oakland empty, which is just shocking to me. The berths are there if you can effectively manage and get through that. We’ve also seen about 3% cost inflation over the past year from port and supply chain issues alone. I don’t see that going away. My fear is that it’s actually increasing. One of our advantages is that we’ve been a major exporter out of the Port of Oakland for decades. In fact, roughly 60% of our sales are exports. We’re a big player. But also because we’re a coop, we are strong on partnerships. We look for win-win solutions. We’ve been working with our suppliers, freight forwarders and shippers to find ways to become their best customers.

Blue Diamond has the creativity and the people to get through the industry’s challenges, says CEO Mark Jansen (all photos courtesy Blue Diamond.)

Q: What would you like to see done about the problem?

What I would love to see happen, and this is not a short-term fix, is that important changes, like ports operating 24/7, are truly in place. That needs to happen consistently throughout the entire port system. We need to also think about the availability of trucking. Very few trucks can actually service the ports, either because of unionization of truckers or more likely because of California state regulations that limit much of the nation’s trucking workforce from coming into California or particularly the ports. If the ports aren’t working, that sends ripples throughout the U.S. So, we need to find ways to ensure that we have adequate resources with the transportation structure. The other big wish I have, and this is a federal issue, is that we develop

Jansen considers his biggest success as CEO to be creating a shared sense of purpose between Blue Diamond’s employees and growers.


deep-water ports on the West Coast that can take the biggest, most efficient shippers, because right now they can’t. We also need to invest in the modernization of ports. That automation and technology would provide significant long-term security. I’m happy to say that Joshua Woods, Blue Diamond’s director of transportation, warehousing and order management, was named to the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission’s new National Shipper Advisory Committee in September. It’s an honor for him and for Blue Diamond to have a seat at that vital table. Other committee members representing both importers and exporters include notable companies such as Amazon, Walmart, Target and Cargill. Together, they will advise the commission on policies relating to our nation’s ocean freight delivery system.

Q: As California enters another year of drought, what do you foresee

“We used to pay our growers 1 cent per pound

more than what they would get if they delivered their almonds to anyone else. Now, we’re up to 20 cents a pound. – Mark Jansen, Blue Diamond

for the state’s almond production?

The drought does have an impact on yields. We are seeing it in this year’s crop. We came off last year with an all-time record crop where everything was working: adequate water, perfect bloom weather, everything came into place. We’re looking at a crop this year that is constrained in yields because of the drought. What we know about droughts and almond trees, however, is that the biggest impact is not the year when the drought occurs; it’s the following year. So, we foresee not only a shorter crop this year but an even

shorter crop next year. The other thing is, if you’re an almond grower with a tree toward the end of its lifecycle, you may determine, ‘I’ve got limited water supplies. I’m going to put all my water on my young orchards, and I’ll pull out this orchard a year or two ahead of time.’ So, we’ll see some reduced acreage because of that dynamic. While there are still some plantings going on, we’ll see some pull-outs of those older orchards. For the next couple of years, we’re anticipating lower supplies of almonds.

Continued on Page 14

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Continued from Page 13

Q: What are the biggest challenges for Blue Diamond and California’s almond industry?

Certainly, for an almond grower, water is the existential issue. What concerns us as a co-op, what keeps us up at night, is inflation. It’s a big deal. It’s not transitory; it’s here to stay. We’ve announced price increases into the marketplace. Everything in the grocery store has taken a price increase, so we’re not alone. Fuel costs, wages, the cost of resins and steel and other core materials all continue to rise. I don’t see anything short-term that leads me to believe that this is plateauing, at least in our business.

Q: What one or two things are you pushing hardest for these days?

Finding ways to be more effective and efficient. We know costs are increasing. We have a big focus on what we call margin enhancement, which is more complex than cutting costs. It’s also about finding ways to increase capacity without significant investments. That idea also leads into things like sustainability. The great news is that sustainability links up very, very well with those margin-enhancement initiatives. We’ve actually gone so far as incentivizing our growers for sustainability in their actions. We think it makes them and us ultimately more efficient. But, also, we think there is value that goes beyond that because we know our customers

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value that we are good actors and that we’re doing the right things. That’s another way for us to distinguish Blue Diamond in the marketplace.

Q: What are your other priorities for 2022?

One of the big things that’s changed, now that I’ve been CEO here for 11 years, is broadening out who our stakeholders are. The role of the CEO has greatly changed in that timeframe. It used to be, ‘Take care of your customers, your owners and your employees, deliver good results, and all is well.’ It’s a very different world today. People want to know how you’re taking care of the communities where you operate. We talk about environmental issues, but also other elements of ESG (environmental, social and governance). For example, we’ve done a lot of work, really employee-driven, around social impact and how Blue Diamond impacts the communities we participate in. It’s about how we align the values of the co-op and our people in a way that we also can communicate more broadly out into our communities and the marketplace. This is an area of priority for our leadership team.

Q: What do you consider your biggest success at Blue Diamond since you became CEO?

Creating a shared sense of purpose between our employees and our growers. It’s what allows us to be successful. Drawing those two things together has allowed us to almost triple in size, to have a 2,000% increase in profitability to growers

Q: A 2,000% increase?

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We used to pay our growers 1 cent per pound more than what they would get if they delivered their almonds to anyone else. Now, we’re up to 20 cents a pound. So that’s that 20-times-greater incremental profit margin over and beyond what they used to get. And that’s real. Particularly in this past year, where we had historically low market prices for almonds and increasing costs, that could be the difference between a grower having a year of loss or breaking even or being profitable. Comments about this article? We want to hear from you. Feel free to email us at article@jcsmarketinginc.com


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Planning for Nitrogen Efficiency for 2022

Better Preparation, Calculation, Application and Assimilation in Light of Skyrocketing N Prices By RICH KREPS | CCA, SSp., Contributing Writer Changing nitrogen inputs from a 50-unit slug to (four) 10-unit shots can not only save money but hopefully ensure more absorption (photos by Marni Katz.)

N

itrogen is 78% of the air we breathe. 78%!? Yet we have to pour the N to our crops to get them to perform at optimal levels because we are told they can’t find a way to use it themselves. Right? So, what happens when N prices double? It’s damn near as debilitating as California West Side surface water costing $2000 an acre-foot or more! The Midwest would be losing their minds if they knew what we pay to farm here in California, but of course, they have

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December 2021

their own set of problems. One of which is certainly the price of N. With almost 1 billion acres of farmland in the U.S., the nitrogen problem and unprecedented rise in all input costs has to be considered to farm in 2022.

Estimating Yield

When we make our input calculations for our farms this time of year, we have to consider our expected yields. The UC has a fluid range of nitrogen used to grow 1,000 pounds of almonds at about 65 units today. Of course, we all are hopefully optimistic that we will hit that golden number of 4,000 pounds of almonds, or 8,000 pounds of pistachios, or four tons of walnuts. When we assess the crop potential in the spring, many times we realize our final numbers will be less than optimal. Here in lies the rub. Nitrogen and phosphorus levels start high in the spring and taper in our tissues throughout the season. We have to be right early, yet we waste much of what we apply later in the spring if our yields aren’t what was predicted in our planning. How do we make our nitrogen applications more efficient and timely? The Western Region’s CCA of the Year, Keith Backman, was recently speaking at the Crop Consultant Conference in Visalia, Calif. this fall. He again reiterated his immense lab experience and observations from years of dedicated service to us farmers. He noted that typically, a tree will only be able to assimilate 10 units of nitrogen per week. Let’s say we plan on making a 3000-pound almond crop. At 65 units per 1000 pounds, and assuming a 70% use efficiency, that puts us around 250 units needed to grow that big of a crop and keep the trees growing. What farmers for years have taken that to mean is applying 50 units every month from March to July. But how effective is that? And what about the other nutrients? We typically need as much calcium as we do nitrogen. We aren’t getting that from just applying CAN-17. That would only be half of the calcium demand. If it were only 70% efficient, we’d need to apply 33 units of phosphorus to get to the proper number in our


'

JAN 13-14, 2022

When we make our input calculations for our farms this time of year, we have to consider our expected yields.

tissues. If magnesium needs to be about 20% of your nitrogen number in the tissues, your trees would have to consume 55 units of Mg in a season. How often do we even come close to applying that much Mg?! (And wait until the magnesium shortage hits harder with all the alloys used to make electric cars… but I digress.)

Planning and Preparation

See pages 88-91

“So, what are you saying, Rich?” We have to get better at our preparation, calculation, application and assimilation. I have a client, Norma in Madera, who is a bad-ass farmer. She and her late husband have farmed in Madera for decades, and on her own, she has been one of the most adaptive

and forward-thinking farmers I know. From cover crops, to mulching, to intensive irrigation management, and very diligent nutrient management, she was able to harvest well over 3,000 pounds of nuts per acre (again) on less than 30 units of in-season applied nitrogen. Continued on Page 18

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Continued from Page 17 The sheer tons of green manure that is produced from her cover crops gets mowed and deposited out of the centers on the crotch of the berms. By the time she harvests, it’s decomposed to organic matter, into the soil and doesn’t affect her sweeping. And that’s a very stable and sustainable future N release. Her water management practices keep nutrients in the root zone without leaching. She does lots of smaller shots instead of one big one per week, and the same for her inputs. The amount of microbiology that has increased over the years ensures more nutrients get solubilized and assimilated into her crops. And it’s all brought up on rain water in the winter so well or any surface water is not used to grow it. It’s taken some work, but her soil biome and farming system is very efficient.

Improving the Soil

Am I suggesting a farmer cut his

Yield estimates are an important component in planning for inputs.

applied N next year to 30 units from 250? Absolutely not! But let’s say we apply two tons per acre of a stable, well cured compost to our fields this winter. We plant a cover crop that rain brings up. All in, we are probably, with the cost of diesel today, under $150/ ac. If that translates into a much more efficient and stable soil biome, saving us nitrogen applications, P, K, Ca, Mg and S inputs as well as water efficiency,

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December 2021

how much are we talking about? Let’s take 80 gallons per acre of UAN-32 down to 50 gallons. At $4 to $5/gallon, we should be saving $200/ac at least! And that’s just nitrogen. What if all the other nutrients, phosphorus and calcium in particular, become more efficient? What if we can now save half an acre-foot of water per acre? On the westside, that could be another couple $100 or more depending on where you are and how much you need to buy. Let’s take that to another level. Let’s say you are in a white area like I am and may be limited to pumping less than an acre foot of water per year in the future. A 1% increase in organic matter holds 20,000 more gallons of water per acre in the root zone! Being that efficient with water may be the difference between farming or not. The government is forcing us to be more efficient (again) with water and inputs. The more hands-on we become, the more efficient we become, may actually buy us enough time to outlast the idiocracy of our current state and federal government. Changing our inputs from a 50-unit slug to (four) 10unit shots will not only save us money but hopefully ensure more absorption. Balancing all the other essential nutrients should dramatically enhance the assimilation of each. Letting Mother Nature do some of the heavy lifting with rain water can help shoulder the load we are carrying.

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CARB Updating Regulations for Trucking Industry New executive order could change the trucking fleet within the next decade. By CHRIS MCGLOTHLIN | Director of Technical Services, Western Agricultural Processors Association

Under the proposal, seasoned agricultural trucks on the road today will no longer be allowed to operate in the state (photo by Cathy Merlo.)

I

INFO@RST-CLEANTECH.COM

n January 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Executive Order N-79-20, which banned the sale of light-, medium- and heavy-duty combustion engines in the transportation sector by 2035. While 2035 is still over a decade away, his administration and representative government agencies have wasted no time in developing strategies to expedite that commitment. With the completion of the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) Truck and Bus Regulation ending in January 2023, many seasoned agricultural trucks on the road today will no longer be allowed to operate in the state. Fleets throughout the state will be reduced and replaced with 2010 or newer heavy-duty diesel equipment. While many businesses and industries look ahead to strategize how they will be able to move goods and products in the near future, CARB has already begun developing and workshopping new regulations pertaining to the 2010 and newer equipment.

Advanced Clean Truck Regulation

The first significant regulation to impact the trucking industry begins 20

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with the Advanced Clean Truck Regulation. The intent of this regulation is to evaluate larger, heavy-duty fleets and see where opportunities for electrification could occur and benefit the fleet. The initial requirements of this regulation are focused on the manufacturing sector of the trucking industry. CARB aims to require that “…manufacturers who certify Class 2b-8 chassis or complete vehicles with combustion engines would be required to zero-emission trucks as an increasing percentage of their annual sales from 2024-2035”. (CARB ACT Fact Sheet). The regulation would require percentages of total manufacturer sales made in the state of California be in zero-emission equipment. While many have seen the high-profile demonstration of Tesla’s new battery-powered Semi model, there are a surprising number of other manufacturers with different models of electric trucks as

well. CARB cites that by 2023 more than 71 different manufacturers will be marketing zero-emission trucks, and the projected number of truck models is set to increase from 468 current models on the market to over 600 by 2023. CARB is not solely focused on Class 8 trucks; the regulation ties in several medium-duty rated vehicles such as vans and three-quarter-ton pickup trucks like the F350 and Ram 2500. While having the technology is a great first step, this doesn’t address the significant costs associated with purchasing one of these pieces of equipment as well as the electric infrastructure costs that are required when equipment like this is purchased. Additionally, equipment testing in agricultural settings is typically not included in a manufacturer’s research. The second step in this regulation is the requirement of larger businesses to report their fleets into a newly devel-

oped CARB database. Large entities are defined by CARB in this regulation as companies with over $50 million in annual receipts as well as companies that own, operate or dispatch 50 or more vehicles within the state of California. The purpose of the reporting component is so CARB can evaluate electrification opportunities within applicable fleets. This broad applicability of “Larger Entities” brings in numerous agricultural and food processing facilities, and opens the door for requiring these same businesses to upgrade their fleets a second time after the completion of the Truck and Bus Rule.

Inspection and Maintenance Program

While the Advanced Clean Trucks regulation applies to larger businesses, CARB is developing updates to their Heavy-Duty Vehicle Inspection and Maintenance Program (HDVIMP)

Continued on Page 22

December 2021

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Continued from Page 21 which would apply to every heavy-duty vehicle owner. Currently, trucks that are still operating under the existing Truck and Bus Regulation are required to have a Periodic Smoke Inspection (PSIP) annually. These inspections measure engine opacity with the engine running, and if an engine is found to out of compliance with the truck’s engine model year opacity limitation, then the vehicle must have the necessary repairs done in order to operate the equipment. Oftentimes, if a fleet owner is locked out from updating their Truck and Bus fleet online, CARB staff will ask for the most recent PSIP inspection in order to verify mileage. The proposed updates to the HDVIMP program will still incorporate PSIP testing for some model year-specific vehicles (2010-13), but CARB is looking to take a more creative approach to ensure equipment and their emission control systems are functioning properly. CARB intends to take advantage of the technological advancements made by the equipment manufacturing industry, specifically the on-board diagnostic (OBD) systems that are tied directly into the engine. CARB is proposing to require fleet/vehicle owners to take their equipment to a licensed repair shop twice a year to have their trucks evaluated. From there, the repair shop would connect their computer with the OBD system within the truck. The repair shop would evaluate all emission control systems within the heavy-duty truck as well as monitor the opacity of the exhaust coming out of the truck as it is in operation. If any of the emission control systems show any sign of failure, a notice will be issued to the vehicle owner requesting immediate repair. Fleet/vehicle owners

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The intent of the Advanced Clean Truck Regulation is to evaluate larger, heavy-duty fleets and see where opportunities for electrification could occur.

are given 90 days to repair the equipment and bring it back to the repair shop to have the truck re-evaluated. Failure to repair and re-test the equipment would result in CARB notifying DMV of the truck’s failure and a temporary registration hold being placed on the equipment. Similar to tactics used in the most recent years of the Truck and Bus Regulation, CARB is working directly with the DMV in order to ensure compliance through registration holds. Owner operators would have to maintain their compliance with the mandatory inspections as well as keep a copy of their certificate on file. Vehicles would also need to be entered into a separate CARB database. Additionally, a $30 compliance fee would be included in a truck owner’s DMV Registration Renewal invoice. CARB is also looking for businesses to act as the agencies’ enforcement inspectors, asking that any business that contracts any trucking work ask to see a compliance certificate with the HDVIMP before beginning any work, and if one cannot be supplied, that the contracted trucking business not be allowed to continue working at the site.

‘Through the workshop process, many agricultural associations have raised the alarm that agricultural trucking works slightly different than overall goods movement.’ Through the workshop process, many agricultural associations have raised the alarm that agricultural trucking works slightly different than overall goods movement. The seasonality of agricultural goods movement and harvest support warrants some consideration from CARB staff, and truckers in the agricultural sector should be identified differently than the intended target for both regulations. Western Agricultural Processors Association along with several other agricultural organizations and associations has been active in supplying comments and working directly with staff to try and make both of these proposed regulatory changes more workable for the industry. Stay tuned for more updates!

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WEIGHING IN ON ALMOND PROFITABILITY

Growers weigh tough decisions to continue farming as costs continue to rise.

By CECILIA PARSONS | Associate Editor

As growers near the break-even point, they said there is really no way to cut production costs without sacrificing yields (all photos by Paul Ewing, RPAC.)

T

here is no doubt that production costs per acre in tree nut farming have cut into profit margins. Rising labor and fuel costs are part of the production cost increase, but water availability and cost is ultimately the deciding factor in almond profitability. According to information on almond production supplied by UCCE Orchard Systems Advisor Franz Niederholzer, since 2016, total cost per acre (at 2,200 pounds per acre) has gone from $3,890 to upwards of $4,000 per acre. While almond prices have fluctuated since 2016, they have garnered positive net returns for most growers. Water costs and availability vary throughout the state, said CCA Bill Brush. Water is the most critical input as it determines crop production. Loss of water and reduced water quality is causing growers to make hard decisions on 24

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farming individual blocks of trees. Growers who see their surface water deliveries cut can be forced to pump groundwater or buy water, placing them at the break-even point or even losing money depending on market prices. Paying higher prices for water to ensure good yields is difficult when the market demand is low. Brush said there is really no way to cut production costs without sacrificing yields. “There is nothing to be saved. Cut back on pollination, you lose yields. Fungicides, fertilizers, they have a proven benefit to yield and crop quality,” he said. There may be a little money to be saved here and there, he said, but the number one cost in UC production cost studies points to water. In a 2019 report, the UC Agricultural Issues Center reported water costs will vary considerably depending upon the irrigation district and, when

pumped, the pumping level, energy costs and type of irrigation system. Water costs may also change depending on availability and ground water regulations. Their study for almonds in the southern San Joaquin Valley assumed 100% ground water usage and availability. An estimated cost of $22 per acre-inch ($264 per acre-foot) is used. A total of 52 acre-inches of water is applied to a fifth leaf orchard March to October. An additional six acre-inches are applied in January to leach salts and fill the soil profile. Costs for irrigation were listed at $1,264 per acre.

Tough Decisions

RPAC partner and almond grower Paul Ewing said the number one factor in considering the profitability of an almond orchard is the yields per acre. But, the same numbers don’t hold true for every almond growing region. “If they have good water availability, and prices are historically high, unlike current prices, some growers might hang on to a 1,500 pound producing block a little longer. But, if water prices are high and availability is an issue, even a 2,200 pound block could get pulled out,” Ewing said. Tree count per acre is another consideration on assessing profitability, Ewing said. It is important that the value of the crop weighs on farming decisions. Outside of water, there are not massive


Almond grower Paul Ewing said if the outlook for water does not look good, growers might consider removing orchards earlier than expected.

differences in operating costs, Ewing said. With a strong market and a productive orchard, growers can still expect a profit. Some almond growers are making the decision to pull orchard blocks due to water uncertainty, he confirmed. If the outlook for water does not look good, such as in some federal districts, they might look at removing orchards earlier than they would have. In the almond industry, Ewing said, there is a price/market cycle where, when prices are low, there is an uptick in replanting. When prices are good, more orchards are retained. Planting a permanent crop like nut trees is a long-term decision. Market trends and recent history are part of that decision, along with water outlook, Ewing said.

Sound Plans are a Must

Tom Vermeulen, a certified public accountant and an almond grower in the Modesto area, said growers must have a sound plan for their almond farming operation going forward. Stakeholders in the operation, including family members who depend on you to make good financial choices and your banker who must judge your decisions, rely on your financial plan, he said. Considerations in the plan must include water availability or alternative land use, age of orchard and soil profile or amendments needed to optimize

production. Those considerations are vital in a decision to invest in a new orchard for future productivity. When assessing orchards, Vermeulen said, look at production per acre, cost per acre and cost per pound of nuts produced.

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Continued on Page 26

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for contingencies, Vermeulen suggested. A farming plan for the next 5 to 10 years should also be laid out. Capital improvements, equipment needs and orchard replacement are major components. Loss of income and cash flow until an orchard is producing and debt service are important considerations. Review the plan, Vermeulen said. ”Develop a best case, a worst case and reasonable expectation. Ask if the plan is SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely.”

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‘PLANTING A

PERMANENT CROP LIKE NUT TREES IS A LONG-TERM DECISION. MARKET TRENDS AND RECENT HISTORY ARE PART OF THAT DECISION, ALONG WITH WATER OUTLOOK.’


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RESTORING SOIL HEALTH AND ECOSYSTEM SERVICES IN CALIFORNIA’S ALMOND ORCHARDS By ERYN WINGATE | Agronomist, Tri-Tech Ag Products, Inc.

S

ustaining agricultural production through climate change, prolonged drought and economic pressure largely depends on the soil’s ability to support high-yielding crops under increasing stress and resource scarcity. California’s almond industry garners public scrutiny for its high water consumption and environmental impact. Yet, growers have installed microsprinklers and other irrigation

system upgrades, successfully decreasing water usage by 33% since 1990. The Almond Board pledged to decrease consumption another 20% by 2025. Meeting water conservation goals requires a multipronged approach, and soil health management can contribute to the puzzle. While water usage rightly receives public attention, the environmental impacts incurred by poor soil quality

also deserve urgent consideration. Marginal cropland with low organic matter maintains productivity by spoon feeding fertilizer and water. Compaction, salt accumulation, nutrient imbalances and soilborne diseases compromise yield and increase the amount of water, fertilizer and pesticides needed to maintain yields. Ag chemicals runoff into surface waters and leach down to aquifers. Nitrous oxide and methane emissions contribute to climate change. Yet, food production and environmental protection goals do not need to remain at odds. Adopting management strategies that increase soil organic matter can slowly transform agricultural lands to provide significant ecological benefits while promoting crop health and vigor. Nut crops may require a lot of water, but soil conservationists advocate farming systems designed around permanent crops that offer greater carbon sequestration potential than heavily tilled annuals. Tillage depletes organic matter by disturbing the ecology and exposing soil to the air. Microbes previously limited by low oxygen concentration suddenly accelerate growth, oxidizing soil carbon faster than it can be fixed. Annual net carbon loss ensues, compromising soil structure and fertility. Orchard and vineyard soils can remain undisturbed for many years, allowing enough time to accumulate organic matter and reap the environmental and agronomic benefits.

Organic Matter Does It All

Organic matter improves almost every aspect of soil health, including

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Nut crops may require a lot of water, but soil conservationists advocate farming systems designed around permanent crops that offer greater carbon sequestration potential than heavily tilled annuals.

JAN 5, 2022

See page 61

’ physical, chemical and biological characteristics. Organic matter builds soil structure, the physical architecture that facilitates movement of water and air through the soil profile. Organic matter adheres to clay surfaces, forming organo-mineral colloids that prevent further decomposition. Mineral and organic matter complexes bind together forming stable soil aggregates separated by pore spaces that hold water and air. Soil with stable aggregation and plenty of porosity prevents runoff by

allowing fast water penetration and infiltration during heavy rainfall or irrigation. Organic matter and improved structure increase the soil’s water holding capacity, allowing the field to retain more water to sustain the crop during drought. Organic matter’s adhesive properties also prevent water and wind erosion, conserving topsoil while protecting the surrounding environment from nitrate, phosphorus and pesticide residue contamination. Excess water captured during major storms

can replenish aquifers rather than runoff into streams, eroding the landscape along the way. Organic matter’s chemical characteristics provide important benefits to crop production by buffering pH and increasing nutrient availability. Plant, animal and microbial remains decompose into carbon molecules with both positive and negative charge sites. The reactive sites attract and hold cations,

Continued on Page 30

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Continued from Page 29 such as hydrogen, calcium, potassium and magnesium, and anions, including hydroxide, nitrate, borate and molybdate. Binding with organic matter prevents essential nutrients from leaching to groundwater or precipitating out of soil solution with other minerals. Ions buffer into or out of soil solution to maintain chemical equilibrium, keeping pH near neutral and replenishing nutrient concentrations in response to plant absorption. The living fraction of soil organic matter drive all of the activity contributing to healthy soil development. Fungal networks, beneficial bacterial populations, earthworms and more contribute to carbon cycling and organic matter fixation. Micro and macroorganisms decompose raw organic matter, returning essential elements to plant available form. Sticky substances

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exuded by microbes bind soil particles into aggregates and earthworms burrow through soil, creating channels for water and air flow. Microbial metabolites chelate micronutrients, delivering iron, zinc and other elements to roots in plant-available forms. Beneficial fungi extend the crop’s root system, exchanging water and nutrients for photosynthate and signaling when to activate stress defense mechanisms. Microbial biomass also provides nutrient storage, releasing plant-available nitrogen, phosphorus and other elements as populations turn over.

Feed the Soil its Carbon

Microbial activity, nutrient cycling, and structure development require carbon. Almonds and other tree crops feed the microbiome by sending photosynthate down to the rhizosphere, but significant improvement in soil quality requires more biomass. Feeding micro-

‘Highly productive,

carefully managed orchards might not show any changes in yield or crop quality, but better soil health may allow growers to decrease water and fertilizer use while maintaining productivity.

bial populations by growing cover crops and applying compost or mulch can help achieve net carbon gain, initiating the processes that build organic matter and improving agricultural sustainability. Soil structure and beneficial microbial ecology take time to develop. During the first few years of cover cropping, the orchard might require more water and fertilizer to establish a robust cover crop stand without jeopardizing the crop’s access to sufficient moisture and nutrition. Over time, the investment pays off. Incremental increases in organic matter ramp up the soil’s capacity to sustain diverse, active microbial populations. Increased microbial activity accelerates humus formation and the other beneficial soil characteristics follow. Improved nutrient availability, soil moisture and beneficial microbes can improve tree health, reducing symptoms of micronutrient deficiency, drought and salinity. Measurable improvements in water holding capacity, bulk density and nutrient availability may take several years to develop. Soil type, management practices, weather, water, fertilizer and many other factors influence organic matter accumulation and soil health. While some soils may respond quickly, others resist organic matter fixation. Very sandy soils lack the clay particles that bind and stabilize organic matter, preventing accumulation. The type of


organic matter added to the system also impacts results. Some studies show better water-stable aggregate formation after cover cropping compared with compost application, but the effect varies with both soil type and cover crop species. Further research on interactions between cover crops, soil types, and microbial response will improve our ability to adjust management practices to suit the conditions on each ranch. In the meantime, feed the soil microbiome with diverse carbon sources from cover crop mixes, mulch, and compost. Send soil samples to labs to check for parasitic nematodes and other soil borne disease. Select cover crop species that do not host the pathogens present in the

Continued on Page 32

Feeding microbial populations by growing cover crops and applying compost or mulch can help achieve net carbon gain, initiating the processes that build organic matter and improving agricultural sustainability (photo by Roger Duncan, UCCE.)

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Continued from Page 32

Further research on interactions between cover crops, soil types, and microbial response can help fine-tune management practices to suit the conditions on each orchard (photo courtesy Paul Lum, AFT.)

Continued from Page 31 field. Consider other drawbacks, such as gopher population growth in response to legumes or winter frost exacerbation when soils remain colder under cover crops. UCCE advisors, cover crop seed companies and experienced growers can provide guidance on cover crop establishment and may suggest options to avoid some of the pitfalls. Comprehensive soil chemical analysis can guide fertilizer applications and labs providing soil health diagnostics can help measure change after implementing new soil building practices. Field evaluations can measure changes in structure, water infiltration rate and erosion potential. Highly productive, carefully managed orchards might not show any changes in yield or crop quality, but better soil health may allow growers to decrease water and fertilizer use while maintaining productivity. Increasing organic matter and improving soil health takes time and experimentation, but long-term changes in land management provide an array COMPLETE PLANTS Built to Fit Your Needs

of environmental benefits, including water conservation, erosion prevention and resiliency against extreme climatic stress. California’s almond orchards and other permanent crops provide a critical opportunity to sequester carbon and build healthy living soils that will remain productive and efficient far into the future. Sources: Almond Cover Crops Benefits-to-tradeoffs Assessment https://projects.sare.org/wp-content/uploads/Almond-Cover-Crop-Article.pdf Brady, Nyle C. and Weil, Ray R. (2008). The Nature and Properties of Soils. Fourteenth Edition. Pearson Prentice Hall. California Almonds – Orchard Management https://www.almonds.com/almond-industry/orchard-management Cover Crop BMPs https://live-almonds-next.pantheonsite.io/sites/default/ files/2021-07/Cover%20Crops%20Best%20Management%20 Practices%20BMPs.pdf Magdoff, Fred and Weil, Ray R. Soil Organic Matter in Sustainable Agriculture. CRC Press 2004. Print. University of California Drought Management: https://ucmanagedrought.ucdavis.edu/Agriculture/Crop_Irrigation_Strategies/Almonds/#

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WINTER PREP IN WALNUTS Start Thinking about Control Strategies for Weeds and Disease By MITCH LIES | Contributing Writer

D

ecember and January provide ideal opportunities for walnut growers to get a head start on weed and disease control programs. In terms of weed control, that may mean laying down some long-residual preemergence herbicides to keep orchard floors clean going into spring. In terms of disease control, the early winter is an ideal time to measure walnut blight inoculum levels and prepare your season-long control strategy. Luke Milliron, UCCE farm advisor for Butte, Glenn and Tehama counties, said most growers have a good sense of the walnut blight inoculum in their orchards from monitoring nut drop the previous May, June and July. In cases where they don’t, he advises to scout in winter months and sample for inoculum levels in walnut spurs with terminal buds. According to the UCCE walnut blight sample guidelines, buds can be sampled up to the time they start to open, or anytime from December into early April for late-leafing varieties. But earlier sampling provides more time for designing disease control strategies. The sampling guidelines include a recommendation that growers cut 100 or so three-inch-length dormant spurs with fat terminal buds from several trees in an orchard. “Walk the entire area, collecting a random sample,” the guidelines state. “One or two buds per tree should spread the sample adequate-

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Winter annual weeds pop up in the spray strip in this young walnut orchard just as trees are defoliating. December and January offer ideal times for certain weed management programs (photo by L. Milliron.)

ly… One sample could easily represent 50 acres if experience suggests reasonable uniformity.” Growers or PCAs should place samples in paper bags, which will allow samples to breathe and eliminate condensation, and store them in a cool, dry place before mailing to a lab. UCCE advisors can help interpret lab findings and discuss the relative disease risks. Getting a bead on walnut blight inoculum levels and utilizing an aggressive spray program, if necessary, are keys to staying ahead of a disease that ranks as the number one disease threat to walnuts, according to Milliron. The disease is caused by the bacterium, Xanthomonas arboricola pv. juglandis (Xaj), which overwinters inside dormant bud scales and causes infec-

tion in spring when it is rain splashed onto developing shoots and flowers.

Low Blight Pressure

Fortunately, blight pressure has been low the last two years, Milliron said, and inoculum levels should be low this winter. “A lot of people will be going into this next spring hopefully with very little blight pressure, because we’ve had those two back-to-back dry years,” he said. In cases where blight pressure is high, Milliron advises growers to act early. “If you know you have high blight pressure, you are going to start earlier in terms of sprays, really quite early, just the very start of prayer stage or catkin emergence,” Milliron said. “And you are going to be back with a second


spray a week after that. “It is a very aggressive program. You are going to treat it differently [than if you have low disease pressure].” He added that regardless of pressure levels, growers will want to get a spray on ahead of rain events. “That doesn’t change,” he said. “The advantage of knowing inoculum levels ahead of time is really more about how early you start and how aggressive you are with those first two sprays.” If treating for walnut blight, growers should consider utilizing Kasumin in combination with copper or mancozeb, according to UCCE guidelines. Kasumin, which was registered for use in walnuts in March of 2018, offers excellent and consistent efficacy when applied with either copper or mancozeb, according to UCCE research. The product also has a unique mode of action, providing an excellent rotational material for resistance management.

Milliron advised growers to follow label directions when spraying for walnut blight and to rotate chemistries to avoid the build-up of resistance. “If the effectiveness of the copper-mancozeb combination was lost due to resistance, it would be an incredibly tough hit to the industry, particularly in the Northern Sacramento Valley where rainfall levels are the greatest,” Milliron wrote in a Sacramento Valley Orchard Source article in 2018.

Winter Weed Control

Like walnut blight programs, winter weed control programs require a good understanding of the pressure in an orchard. According to a Sacramento Valley Orchard Source article from Milliron and UCCE Weed Specialist at UC Davis Brad Hanson, that understanding often comes from past observances and a fall weed survey. Documenting weed discovery and escapes is also advised to

help growers understand what worked and what didn’t in last year’s program and to help in devising a change in strategy if need be. “I think it is really important to be smart about understanding the weed problem you are trying to resolve,” Hanson said. “That includes properly identifying the weed and having some idea of its biology, such as when does it come up versus when are my interventions.” In developing orchards, UC Davis weed management guidelines say it is important to maintain a weed-free strip at least 30 inches from the trunk of trees to prevent weeds from competing with trees for water and nutrients. In established orchards, weed control is less about removing competition for water and nutrients, although that remains a consideration, and more about

December 2021

Continued on Page 36

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Continued from Page 35 improving water distribution, removing impediments to harvest operations and removing habitat for vertebrate pests, insects, mites, nematodes and diseases. December and January offer ideal opportunities for growers to come in with long-residual preemergence herbicides that will be worked into soil with winter rains. “If rains do not come after application, you may need to water in your preemergent herbicide if your irrigation system and water availability allow it,” Milliron said. The treatment regime will depend on a variety of factors, according to the UC Davis Integrated Weed Management guidelines, including soil type. Different soil textures and organic matter tend to influence the types of weeds present and can factor into control tactics. On light-textured soils, annual species such as puncturevine, crabgrass and horseweed, and perennial species such as johnsongrass, nutsedge and bermudagrass, are more common. Pe-

rennial weeds, such as curly dock and field bindweed, are more common on heavier soils. When devising control strategies, it is important to remember that clay or clay loam soils often require higher rates of preemergence herbicides to achieve the same level of weed control than in light, sandy soils. Good herbiWhen sampling for walnut blight, select dormant cide-to-soil contact also is important spurs with terminal buds from several trees interfor a successful herbicide application, spersed in an orchard (photo courtesy UC IPM.) so it is important to keep orchard floors and berms clean by removing leaves and other debris before treatment. sulfuron (Mission) and oxyfluorfen Hanson provided a list of several (Goal, GoalTender and others). preemergence and postemergence her“I usually think of those first three bicides that could have a fit in different as the heavy hitters in this market,” orchards, depending on weeds targeted, Hanson said. “But good programs can soil textures and other factors. The list be built for specific sites out of many of includes indaziflam (Alion), penoxsuthem in various combinations.” lam (PindarGT) and flumioxazin (Chateau and others). Products that typiComments about this article? We want cally work well in tank mixes include pendimethalin (Prowl H20 and others), to hear from you. Feel free to email us at rimsulfuron (Matrix and others), flaza- article@jcsmarketinginc.com

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TIPS FOR FINANCIAL PLANNING THROUGH THE DROUGHT By JEFF BOWMAN | Grimbleby Coleman CPAs

Longer-term conditions are impacting the value of land based on the future water outlook, and this impacts both the net worth of the owner and the value of securities that might be the source of lending from the grower’s bank (photo courtesy California Farm Water Coalition.)

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December 2021

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s we watch growers rapidly implementing deficit irrigation to keep their crops alive with what water they have, protecting those same growers against wild financial fluctuations has never been more important. While much decision-making and troubleshooting is being executed at the moment, it’s a crucial time to set some concrete plans. The lack of water has meant diminished current-year crops, leading to less revenue. Undeveloped land must continue in fallow condition so that water allotments can be used elsewhere on existing crops. Longer-term conditions are impacting the value of land based on the future water outlook, and this impacts both the net worth of the owner and the value of securities that might be the source of lending from the grower’s bank. All of these events and the resulting financial stress present a myriad of challenges for growers and processors.

Being Financially Resourceful

Tough decisions have growers researching how to be resourceful with their finances. Scaling down the business to protect capital has been a frequent topic of discussion with our growers. Our team has advised on fallowing fields and delaying new plantings, early removal of mature orchards to prepare for future development, and even reducing operations in the short term. Diversification is another topic that is back on the table. We’ve seen clients use a 1031 tax-deferred exchange to sell ag land and invest in other commercial real estate ventures.


This can help diversify assets for clients with primarily ag-based real estate holdings when there is concern about long-term water or market issues. For example, a family that has farmed for multiple generations may have accumulated a sizeable amount of farmland. From a financial perspective, it may be wise to consider diversifying a portion of those assets into other forms of real estate. Growers should also be mindful of the market dynamics regarding supply and demand for their crops. If water constricts supply by reducing the size of the crop, then in theory, the existing

‘THIS IS ALSO A GOOD TIME TO ASK IF THERE ARE OPPORTUNITIES TO PRODUCE LESS PRODUCT BUT AT A HIGHER QUALITY OR CONSIDER ANOTHER VALUEADD THAT WILL HAVE A GREATER FINANCIAL RETURN IN THE MARKET.’ demand levels should cause prices and overall returns to go up. This is also a good time to ask if there are opportunities to produce less product but at a higher quality or consider another value-add that will have a greater financial return in the market.

Planning for Expense Variances

Fickle water pricing and availability have led us to examine some best- and worst-case expense scenarios with our clients seeking preparedness and opportunities. We start with a budget or

Continued on Page 40

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Continued from Page 39

Jeff Bowman at Grimbleby Coleman CPAs encourages growers and processors to come to the table with hard-hitting questions on the modeling of cash flows, tax impacts and losses, write-offs from new developments and financial resourcefulness ideas to get through this drought (photo courtesy Grimbleby Coleman CPAs.)

40

West Coast Nut

cash flow projection tool to understand your “normal year” or average costs of production. With a budget or cash flow projection in hand, consider the following questions: How much revenue loss can you handle and still break even? What pricing of water is justifiable? What is the cost of water (if available) versus loss of yield? If water is available, can higher water costs be offset if the crop price increases due to shrinking supplies? Do you have capital available to withstand losses from drought years, or should land be sold/put to alternative use? What does the model of cash flow look like three to five years in the future under various water availability and pricing scenarios? Remember, permanent crops cannot be easily scaled down in small increments; more often than not, related decisions impact large blocks of land and long-term invest-

December 2021

ments (or loss) as plants are removed or time passes before new plants become productive. Are your farm lenders in the loop? If the land is security for a debt or operating lines, will the lender impair value based on decreasing water allocations? Will that impact the borrowing base? How will losses impact taxes and cash flow? Can losses be carried back to reduce prior-year taxes paid, or should they be held to offset future income? Our team at Grimbleby Coleman CPAs encourages growers and processors to come to the table with hard-hitting questions on the modeling of cash flows, tax impacts and losses, write-offs from new developments and financial resourcefulness ideas to get through this drought. With that information, we can develop the right financial plan. Comments about this article? We want to hear from you. Feel free to email us at article@jcsmarketinginc.com


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Almond Pollination 2022: Economic Outlook and Other Considerations By BRITTNEY GOODRICH | Assistant Professor of Cooperative Extension, Dept. of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Davis MARIEKE FENTON | Ph.D. Candidate, Dept. of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Davis and JERROD PENN | Assistant Professor, Dept. of Agricultural Economics & Agribusiness, Louisiana State University

2,400,000 Beekeepers 2,200,000Preferred Cover Crop Mix 2,000,000 Any1,800,000 of the following bee-friendly cover crops are 3,000,000 1,600,000 welcome 2,800,000 1,400,000 Brassica mix (mustards,

December 2021

2,400,00 1,000,000 Clover mix

Bloom timing

Potential Benefits to Almond Orchard

Percentage of Response

33% January-March

Increased soil organic matter, water infiltration

37%

Erosion control, nitrogen 10% fixation2020 2018 2022 Almond Pollination Season Soil builder mix (Combination Combination of Brassica and 2,000,00 January-May 13% Estimated Demand Colonies brassicas, legumes and grains) Clover mix benefits Total U.S. Colonies for Almond Pollination into CA on Jan 1 1,800,00 Aesthetically pleasing, not Wild flowers (California poppy, 1,600,00 February-June 3% ideal for planting within Figure 1. Total U.S. colonies on January 1, estimated demand for colonies, and shipments black-eyed susan, etc.) orchards 1,400,00

Colonies

2,200,00

2016

March-June

of colonies into California, 2015-22

I would2015-20 prefer my grower not Reports, USDA NASS and CDFA; Apiary Shipments through California Border Sources: Almond Acreage 1,200,00 1% plant a bee-friendly cover crop Protection Stations, CDFA Plant Health and Pest Prevention Services; Honey Bee Colonies Reports, USDA NASS 1,000,00 Other 3% Note: Estimated demand is two colonies 2016 per acre for traditional varieties acre for self-fertile. 202 2018 and one colony per 2020 Note: Bloom timing and potential benefits taken from PAm Seeds for Bees site: https://www.projectapism.org/pam-seed-mixes.html and California Native Plant Society California Wildflowers gui Almond Pollination https://www.projectapism.org/pam-seed-mixes.html and California Native Plant Season Society California Wildflowers guide https://www.cnps.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/wildflowers-peak-season-guide.pdf Exact bloom timing will Estimated Demand Exact bloom Colonies https://www.cnps.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/wildflowers-peak-season-guide.pdf will Totaltiming U.S. Colonie depend on timeliness of planting and rain or irrigation. for Almond Pollination into CA on Jan 1 depend on timeliness of planting and rain or irrigation.

Figure 3 Figure 3

0.35 0.3

15

0.25 10

0.2 0.15 0.1

5

0.05 0

2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021

0

Figure 3. Almond pollination colony strength and winter mortality rates, 2010-21 Sources: The Pollination Connection, BIP Winter Loss Surveys

Colony Strength: Average Frame Count

20

0.4 Winter Mortality Rate (Proportion of Colonies Lost)

Almond prices rebounded this summer due to a lower-than-anticipated almond crop for the 2021-22 marketing year following roughly a year of low almond prices. Relatively low competition from other exporting countries, coupled with steady growth in almond demand have kept almond prices strong despite monumental growth in production over the last two decades (Bruno, Goodrich and Sexton 2021). The Almond Board of California and Land IQ estimate the removal of around 48,000 acres of almonds by September 2021, approximately 3.6% of the 1.3 million bearing acres in 2021. This is up slightly from 2020, with an estimated 39,000 acres removed. Aging orchards are the likely candidates for removal, and a few industry sources speculate the removal of additional orchards after harvest this year due to water scarcity concerns from consecutive years of drought and expected limitations due to the Sustainable Ground Water Management Act. Land IQ estimates 13% of almond orchards are more than 21 years old, compared to 20% of young orchards that will begin bearing in one to three years. Between June 2019 and May 2020, nurseries reported 66,000 acres of sales, with over half being for new orchards and the remainder replacing aging orchards. These numbers suggest that almond acreage is still expanding, though likely at lower rates than previous years due to the recent low prices and uncertain water availability. West Coast Nut

2,800,000 2,600,000 Table 3

2,600,00 canola, etc.) 1,200,000

Almond Industry Update

42

3,000,000

Colonies

I

n this article, we summarize some considerations for the 2022 almond pollination season, including results from a 2021 survey of commercial beekeepers regarding their almond pollination agreements. The survey results provide insights on pollination fees, agreement details related to advance payment and limiting pesticide exposure as well as beekeeper preferences for bee-friendly cover crop mixes.


Colony Demand

Figure 1 (see page 42) plots the estimated demand for colonies based on bearing almond acreage each year from 2015 to 2022 as well as the total colony shipments into California for almond pollination and the total number of colonies in the U.S. on January 1. Estimated demand is calculated using two colonies per acre for traditional varieties and one colony per acre for self-fertile varieties (Shasta and Independence). A consistent gap between estimated demand and colony shipments is filled by colonies that remain in California year-round. For the 2021 almond bloom, roughly 1.3 million almond acres (3.3% in self-fertile varieties) required an estimated 2.6 million honey bee colonies for pollination (Figure 1, see page 42). According to apiary shipment data provided by CDFA, other states shipped 2.1 million honey bee colonies into California for the 2021 bloom, up 16% from 2020. As seen in Figure 1, the estimated demand for colonies in 2022 is 2.63 million colonies, slightly above that of 2021. It seems the recent increase in self-fertile variety plantings have started leveling off the estimated demand for colonies. However, the required colonies for almond pollination in 2022 still represent 90% of the 2.92 million colonies in the U.S. on January 1, 2021, so at least in the short run, it’s unlikely this leveling off of demand will put downward pressure on pollination fees. Additionally, an article published in Nature found the Independence variety showed an increase in yield by 20% from allowing bee visitation (Sáez et al. 2020). The researchers used the standard stocking rate of two colonies per acre. This study eliminates any claims that these self-fertile varieties do not require honey bee colonies for commercial production. Growers of self-fertile varieties who do not currently place honey bees in their orchards are likely “borrowing” pollination services from neighboring orchards. In the future, growers with traditional orchard varieties surrounded by many self-fertile orchards with few (or no) colonies per acre may have to compensate by placing more colonies per acre.

Figure 2. U.S. Drought Monitor, July 27, 2021

In October 2012, approximately 40% of the U.S. was in a severe drought or worse, slightly more area affected than our current situation. According to national honey yields from USDA, the 2012 honey crop was the lowest production in over 30 years. Figure 3 (see page 42) shows winter mortality rates and colony strength delivered at almond pollination for

Continued on Page 44

ALMOND POLLINATION SERVICE Beekeeper & Pollination Broker since 1996

Weather Impacts on Colony Supply

Much of the western U.S. and major honey producing states in the northern plains have been under severe drought conditions throughout the summer, which could have implications for colony strength and numbers for the upcoming almond pollination season. Figure 2 shows the U.S. drought monitor for the week of July 27, 2021, a time when major honey flow should have been taking place in states where most commercially managed honey bee colonies are located for honey production in the summer (North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana). As of the week of October 12, 2021, 35% of the U.S. was still in a severe drought or worse. Consequently, many commercial beekeepers have seen decreased honey production, increased costs of feeding and poor colony nutrition, all likely to negatively impact the supply and strength of colonies for almond pollination. To get an idea of potential impacts of this drought, we looked back to 2012 when a similar drought took place.

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Average Colony Strength Requirement

Percentage of Responses

Average Pollination Fee

Average Premium/ Discount compared to 8-frame

Minimum

Maximum

<6-frame

11%

$ 192.00

-0.03%

$

175

$

205

6-7 frame

28%

$ 184.81

-3.77%

$

130

$

200

8-frame

46%

$ 192.05

$

160

$

225

>8-frame

15%

$ 211.43

$

200

$

225

$

130

$

225

Total

10.09%

$ 192.84

Table 1. Average 2021 almond pollination fees by average colony strength requirement (N=95)

Continued from Page 43

mond pollination decisions. The sample represented over 19% of hives demanded for the 2021 almond bloom. The following sections summarize some key findings of interest. Some participants chose not to answer certain questions, so sample sizes vary and will be indicated in figures, tables and text.

years 2010-21. Following the 2012 drought, winter mortality rates were 31%, according to Bee Informed Partnership (BIP), 38% higher than the previous winter. Average colony strength delivered for 2013 almond pollination dipped 20% Preferred lower than the previous Potential Benefits to Beekeepers Percentage of Bloom timing Mix pollination could seeAlmond Responses Orchard year. Cover 2022 Crop almond Almond Pollination Fees similar impacts on colony availability We asked survey respondents to and strength from the 2021 drought. report the fees associated with their largest almond pollination agreement Increased soil organic January-March matter, water infiltration 2021 Almond Pollination in 2021. Reported fees ranged from March-June Survey Results $130/colony to $225/colony. Fees vary In February 2021 to April 2021, weCombination dueof to a number of factors, a primary Brassica mix benefits conducted an online survey of over 90and Clover determinant being the colony strength commercial beekeepers that particirequirement in the agreement. Table pated in the 2021 almond pollination 1 shows the average, minimum and market to better understand their almaximum pollination fee by colony

Proactively mitigating risks to colonies from pesticide exposure and providing payments in advance are relatively low-cost options for improving upon existing agreements and enhancing the relationship with your pollination provider.

44

West Coast Nut

December 2021

strength requirement. Most pollination agreements (46% of those reported) required eight active frames for an average fee of $192 in 2021 (Table 1). Across all frame count categories, the average fee was $193 per colony. Agreements with higher colony strength requirements received a 10% premium compared to eight-frame agreements, while six- to seven-frame agreements saw approximately a 4% discount. Low strength agreements (<6 frames) on average received about the same fees as eight-frame agreements, however this could be due to the small number of these agreements reported. 27% of beekeepers said at least one of their pollination agreements were incentive-based contracts that pay per-frame based on the results of a third-party inspection (see Goodrich and Goodhue 2016 for a sample incentive-based contract.) For the beekeepers whose largest contract was an incentive-based contract, on average, they received $191/colony for a seven-frame average and $210/colony for an 11-frame average. On average, this constitutes a $5 premium per frame over the base fee.

Pesticide Exposure and Agreement Specifics

We asked beekeepers if their colonies had experienced either sublethal or lethal pesticide exposure during the 2020 or 2021 almond pollination seasons. Of the 77 beekeepers who answered this question, 19% and 56% had experienced lethal and sublethal exposure, respectively, in the last two almond pollination seasons. This suggests that pesticide exposure is a relatively common cost that beekeepers have to factor in when making pollination decisions. Growers can follow the Honey Bee Best Management Practices (almonds.com/almond-industry/orchard-management/pollination) to help minimize damage to colonies from pesticide exposure. We also asked about language related to pesticide exposure in pollination contracts. Fifty-four percent of beekeepers said that at least one of their pollination agreements contained de-

Continued on Page 46



Continued from Page 44 tails to prevent pesticide exposure or to receive compensation if it occurs. Table 2 (see page 47) shows the percentage of beekeepers whose agreements contained language about pesticide exposure by the specific feature. The most common detail included was that the grower would not apply pesticides when bees were active (33%). Eleven percent to 12% of beekeepers stated they had agreements in which they would be reimbursed if colonies had to be moved or were damaged due to pesticide applications.

Beekeepers Preferred Cover Crop Mix

Potential Benefits to Almond Orchard

Any of the following bee-friendly cover crops are welcome Brassica mix (mustards, canola, etc.)

Percentage of Responses 33%

January-March

Increased soil organic matter, water infiltration

37%

March-June

Erosion control, nitrogen fixation

10%

Soil builder mix (Combination brassicas, legumes and grains)

January-May

Combination of Brassica and Clover mix benefits

13%

Wild flowers (California poppy, black-eyed susan, etc.)

February-June

Aesthetically pleasing, not ideal for planting within orchards

3%

Clover mix

I would prefer my grower not plant a bee-friendly cover crop Other

Advance Payment

Bloom timing

1% 3%

Beekeepers were asked if any of their growers/broNote: Bloom timing and potential benefits taken from PAm Seeds for Bees site: https://www.projectakers pay some portion of the pollination fee before pism.org/pam-seed-mixes.html and California Native Plant Society California Wildflowers guide https://wwExact bloom timing will depend colonies are placed for almond bloom. Nearly half of w.cnps.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/wildflowers-peak-season-guide.pdf on timeliness of planting and rain or irrigation. respondents (44% of N=91) had at least one contract that pays part of the pollination fee in advance. Table 3. Percentage of respondents by cover crop preference (N=78) Twenty-one percent of beekeepers received advanced payments of 30% or less of the total pollination fee. Nineteen percent of participants received over 40% Bee-Friendly Cover Crops of the total pollination fee in advance. Paying the beekeeper Given the potential benefits cover crops can provide to in advance can benefit both parties; it locks the beekeeper almond orchards, we investigated beekeepers’ preferences into a contract, reducing the grower’s risk that a beekeeper and experiences with bee-friendly cover crops. All cover will default, and it provides the beekeeper with working crop mixes that we inquired about are based on Project Apis capital to feed and prepare colonies before bloom. m.’s Seeds for Bees cover crop mixes. Of the 89 beekeepers that responded, 21% said that they had at least one grower provide bee-friendly forage in or near the almond orchard they were pollinating. Most of those were from bee-friendly cover crops planted in the almond orchard, but others plantLEADING THE WAY IN NEW TECHNOLOGY ed permanent or temporary pollinator habitat as well. PRESENTING THE MULTI-PURPOSE... We provided beekeepers with a list of bee-friendly cover crops and asked which cover crop mix they would prefer. Table 3 shows the results for each cover crop mix along with the timing of bloom and potential benefits for the almond orchard. The most popular response was the Brassica mix (37%), which consists of mustards and canola, followed closely by a third of beekeepers responding that any of the bee-friendly cover crops would be welcome. The Soil Builder mix, a combination of brassicas, clovers and grains, was the second most popular mix (13%). The Brassica and Soil Builder mixes are popular due to relatively early bloom timing compared to the other mixes. The Clover mix may not bloom until mid- to late March, at which point it may not be useful for bee colonies if bloom has ended and they have been moved on. This preference for earlier blooming mixes is supported by the responses of two beekeepers who selected “Other” as an option. They said, “Any that would bloom by - TRADITION - INTEGRITY - SERVICE - CRAFTSMANSHIP February 1” and “Anything that would bloom in February to mid-March.” Beekeepers remain hesitant on cover crop benefits beFlory Industries, Salida, CA 95368 USA 209-545-1167 cause of the uncertainty in the timing of bloom. Even within a cover crop mix, bloom timing can vary substantially due to the timeliness of planting, rain and/or irrigation. Figure 4 (see page 47) displays the percentage of beekeepers that agreed with two statements about individual cover crop mixes. The first statement was, “The cover crop mix will bloom at the correct time to benefit my colonies.” Over 60%

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46

West Coast Nut

December 2021


No pesticide details in pollination agreement Apply pesticides only during inactive foraging times (e.g. evening, night)* Minimum notification time before applying pesticides (e.g. 48, 72 hours)* Not apply specific chemicals Pay extra fees if colonies must move due to pesticide application Pay damages for colony losses due to pesticide exposure Not tank-mix multiple pesticides*

46% 33% 29% 18% 12% 11% 11%

Table 2. Percentage of beekeepers with agreements containing pesticide exposure details (N=82) Note: Participants could select more than one, so the percentages add to over 100%* indicates detail is listed as one of the Honey Bee Best Management Practices

Percent in Agreement

Percentage of Responses

The grower agrees to…

60%

40%

20%

0%

Brassica

Soil Builder Wildflower Not true for any Cover Crop Mix Mix will bloom at the Mix will improve strength to correct time to benefit better meet almond pollination my colonies requirements Clover

Figure 4. Percentage of beekeepers in agreement for each bee-friendly cover crop mix Note: For each statement, respectively, N=74 and N=63. Respondents could select more than one cover crop mix, so percentages will not sum to 100%.

of respondents thought the Brassica mix will bloom at the correct time, and over 40% thought the Soil Builder mix would. Respectively, only 22% and 20% thought the Clover and Wildflower mixes would bloom at a beneficial time, and 28% thought none of the mixes would bloom at a time that would be beneficial to colonies. The second statement was, “Mix will improve colony strength to better meet almond pollination requirements.” Due to their early bloom timing, the Brassica and Soil Builder mixes received the highest percentage that agreed, with 46% and 32%, respectively. 40% of respondents did not think that any of the mixes would bloom at a time that would help beekeepers meet colony strength requirements (Figure 4.) We asked beekeepers about their beliefs regarding various aspects of bee-friendly cover crops planted in almond orchards. As expected, beekeepers’ views of bee-friendly cover crops were positive. Of the 78 beekeepers who responded, 94% and 68% agreed with the statements that cover crops planted for bee forage will improve colony health and decrease feeding costs, respectively. Nearly half of beekeepers agreed that bee-friendly cover crops would reduce colony susceptibility to disease. Few beekeepers believed that bee-friendly cover crops planted in almond orchards would increase pesticide exposure or provide too little forage to be beneficial. Given that beekeepers clearly care about early blooming mixes, the Soil Builder mix may have the most potential benefits to the grower due to

Continued on Page 48 December 2021

www.wcngg.com

47


Concluding Thoughts

In the future, growers with traditional orchard varieties surrounded by many self-fertile orchards with few (or no) colonies per acre may have to compensate by placing more colonies per acre (photo by Marni Katz.)

Continued from Page 47 the combination of soil health benefits from multiple cover crop species and the benefit of early nutrition for bee colonies. We also asked beekeepers to indicate the minimum percentage of the almond orchard that needs to be planted in the Soil Builder cover crop mix to be beneficial for their colonies (for reference, we said that the area between tree rows typically makes up 50% of each acre.) 83% of beekeepers who answered

(N=52) said that 50% or less of the orchard acreage needed to be in the Soil Builder mix for it to be beneficial and 35% said less than 25% of area needed to be covered. Over half of beekeepers thought that the Soil Builder mix would be beneficial even if the mix does not cover the entire orchard alleyway, this is promising for growers who find it logistically challenging to establish much of the orchard floor in cover crops.

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West Coast Nut

December 2021

This summer’s drought across much of the western U.S. may potentially impact the total number and strength of colonies available for the upcoming almond pollination season. We recommend growers check in with their pollination provider early and often to make sure their pollination needs will be met. In years with high winter losses and low colony strength, pollination fees may rise as bloom nears and colony health and numbers are realized, increasing the economic incentive for an unhappy beekeeper to default on a previously established agreement to capitalize on higher fees. Maintaining a good relationship with your beekeeper can prevent this, whether it’s this year or in the future. Proactively mitigating risks to colonies from pesticide exposure and providing payments in advance are relatively low-cost options for improving upon existing agreements and enhancing the relationship with your pollination provider. Planting bee-friendly forage is a more costly (and initially challenging) practice to implement, but may be worth it when growers factor in both benefits to pollinator and soil health. References Bruno, Ellen M., Brittney Goodrich, and Richard J. Sexton. 2021. The Outlook for California’s Almond Market. ARE Update 24(6): 9–11. University of California Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics. https://giannini. ucop.edu/filer/file/1629132450/20132/ Goodrich, Brittney and Rachael Goodhue. 2016. Honey Bee Colony Strength in the California Almond Pollination Market. ARE Update 19(4): 5-8. University of California Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics. https://giannini.ucop.edu/filer/ file/1461278500/17280/ Sáez, A., Aizen, M. A., Medici, S., Viel, M., Villalobos, E., & Negri, P. 2020. Bees increase crop yield in an alleged pollinator-independent almond variety. Scientific reports, 10(1), 1-7. https://www. nature.com/articles/s41598-020-59995-0 Comments about this article? We want to hear from you. Feel free to email us at article@jcsmarketinginc.com


Omar Navarro

559-470-4910

onavarro@agromillora.com

Main Office

530-846-0404

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A WORD FROM THE BOARD: THE ALMOND BOARD OF CALIFORNIA

Pollinator Efforts Lead to Prestigious Sustainability Award for Almond Board of California By ALMOND BOARD OF CALIFORNIA | Contributing Writer

T

he past October, the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign (NAPPC) presented its Business for Bees Sustainability Award, an honor reserved for standout organizations that go above and beyond to support pollinators, to the Almond Board of California (ABC) and the state’s almond farmers. “This is about their long-term dedication to supporting all pollinators in their orchards and throughout our ecosystem,” said Kelly Rourke, executive director of Pollinator Partnership, which founded NAPPC 21 years ago. “We’ve worked with them for many years, and this is well-deserved recognition of their steadfast commitment to engaging farmers in pollinator conservation on multiple levels. The Almond Board and the entire almond industry have really moved the needle to raise awareness and generate action to protect pollinators.” NAPPC has only given out its Business for Bees Sustainability Award once before. It is given in years when there is a business taking extra special steps to protect bees and all pollinators and to advance sustainability and innovation. “ABC’s name is on this award, but it really goes to the 7,600 almond farmers in California,” said Josette Lewis, ABC’s chief scientific officer. “Farmers understand how important pollinators are to growing almonds and to all of agriculture and the environment. They want to be part of the solution.”

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Almond Board of California’s leadership in founding the California Pollinator Coalition was a main driver for receiving the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign’s Business for Bees Sustainability Award (all photos courtesy Almond Board of California.)

The reasons for the award, Rourke said, include ABC’s leadership in founding the California Pollinator Coalition (CPC), its work promoting on-farm pollinator habitat and its support of years of research and education about the best practices for providing hospitable environments for pollinators in almond orchards and in other habitats. ABC worked with Pollinator Partnership and CDFA last spring to create the CPC, which brought together a broad array of grower organizations across the state’s ag and environmental landscape to help promote the health of wild and managed pollinators. “The formation of the California Pollinator Coalition was such a big step,” said Laurie Davies Adams, Pollinator Partnership’s director of programs, who helped found the CPC. “This is a unique statewide coalition that brings together every grower, farmer and rancher group. I don’t think that’s ever happened before. It’s going to make a real difference on the ground.” NAPPC is a collaboration of diverse partners from the U.S., Mexico and Canada. It includes respected scientists, researchers, businesspeople, conservationists and government officials. NAPPC works to promote awareness and scientific understanding of pollinators, to find common ground for solutions and to create innovative initiatives that benefit pollinators. NAPPC is administered and sup-

ported by Pollinator Partnership, a non-profit headquartered in San Francisco with a mission to promote the health of pollinators through education, conservation and research. The award was announced during NAPPC’s 21st-Annual International Conference, held virtually this year for the second time and hosted by the Pollinator Partnership and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. The conference and award ceremony were planned for the Smithsonian before being forced to remain virtual because of COVID-19. Rourke and Adams said they would have liked to have given the honor in person to show how much they appreciate ABC’s work. “The strong effort that the Almond Board of California has mounted with the support of the almond industry to engage farmers and the entire agricultural community far beyond almond orchards is really impressive,” Adams said. “Bringing every grower group together to have an agriculturally led coalition for pollinators is significant. It will provide building blocks for even more engagement and large results. It’s a pioneering effort that other states are seeking to emulate.” “This is an outstanding honor for our farmers,” Lewis said, “especially considering all the good work that NAPPC and the Pollinator Partnership do. As much as anyone, almond farmers are tuned in to the importance of pollina-


tors to their crops and our ecosystem. That’s why they work so hard to make their orchards healthy places for pollinators.” Almond farmers across California’s Central Valley sit in what is essentially a flyway for pollinators. In recent years, almond farmers have applied to certify more than 110,000 acres of Bee Friendly Farming®, providing pollinator habitat and integrated pest management across the valley to keep that flyway healthy and create badly needed floral resources that compliment and expand beyond the annual almond bloom. “Almond farmers have doubled the number of acres of bee friendly habit in California and in that pollinator flyway,” Lewis said. “We’re proud to help lead a broad coalition of agriculture and conservation groups to work together to promote and preserve habitat for pollinators.”

Pollinator Coalition is a group of agricultural and conservation groups that will work to encourage more voluntary, grower-friendly efforts to protect the state’s native insect pollinators and managed honeybees. The coalition includes a broad array of more than 20 of the state’s leading agricultural organizations and conservation groups. The Coalition will focus on increasing grower participation in projects to provide habitat and forage for pollinators and other beneficial insects across the state’s agricultural landscape. “California’s almond industry has a long record of continuing improvement in the area of integrated pest management and protection and stewardship of managed bees,” said Lewis. “This new coalition helps us expand on our work to benefit California’s many native pollinator species. We’ll also get more results by collaborating within the agriAbout the California culture and conservation communities Pollinator Coalition on voluntary efforts that benefit both Antles_WCN_Ad1C_101920.pdf 1 10/19/20 11:47 PM Spearheaded by ABC, the California growers and the environment. Improv-

C O N T R O L L E D

The California Pollinator Coalition is a group of agricultural and conservation groups that will work to encourage more voluntary, grower-friendly efforts to protect the state’s native insect pollinators and managed honeybees.

ing the health or our ecosystems is not something we can do alone, so we are glad to have many strong allies in this.” Convened by Pollinator Partnership, the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the Almond Board of California, the Coalition’s goal is to increase habitat for pollinators on working lands to benefit biodiversity

Continued on Page 55

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The Coalition plans to address habitat issues on an unprecedented scale for the benefit of the state’s beneficial insects, which include 1,600 species of native bees, managed honeybees, butterflies, beetles, wasps and more.

Continued from Page 53 and food production through on-farm and in-orchard projects, supported by technical guidance, research and documenting progress toward increasing healthier pollinator habitats. “What we are doing in California is acknowledging the urgency to address the critical issue of protecting all pollinators, including native and managed species,” said Adams. “Agriculture and conservation must work together to achieve this goal. “The outcome will not be a tidy report that sits on a shelf, but rather a metric of acres, projects and species added to the landscape while agriculture continues to profitably feed the nation,” she said. Extending the California almond industry’s commitment to protect honeybees during almond pollination, the Coalition plans to address habitat issues on an unprecedented scale for the benefit of the state’s beneficial insects, which include 1,600 species of native bees, managed honeybees, butterflies, beetles, wasps and more. Populations of many California pollinators are declining and often suffer from the same challenges as California’s agriculture. The Coalition will work together on a variety of fronts to support pollinators: Prepare grower-friendly guidance to build and maintain pollinator habitat on farms and ranches Conduct research and disseminating relevant science

Monitor outcomes (adoption rates and effectiveness of practices) “Collaborative action can mitigate risks to California’s pollinators, and that’s exactly why this coalition has come together,” said Karen Ross, CDFA secretary of agriculture. “We need urgent action, yet the first step in the process is building trust that encourages, enables and enhances the result. The California Pollinator Coalition is a big step forward in a journey of grower and conservation groups voluntarily demonstrating leadership.” “This will not be an easy or quick fix,” Lewis said. “It will require a robust and sustained effort, but we are determined to be part of the solution. Almond growers and many other farmers depend on pollinators to produce a crop and pollinators depend on us to provide safe habitat. Working lands can and should be part of the solution.” “Farm Bureau supports voluntary, farmer-friendly efforts to improve habitat for native pollinators, and we have long advocated improved research on pollinator health,” said President of the California Farm Bureau Jamie Johansson. “We will work with the coalition for the benefit of native pollinators and managed bees, and to assure stability for the domestic bee business.”

Comments about this article? We want to hear from you. Feel free to email us at article@jcsmarketinginc.com

December 2021

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START THINKING ABOUT POLLINATOR CONTRACTS

BEEKEEPERS SAY CONTRACTS ARE WELCOMED ‘SOONER RATHER THAN LATER’ By CECILIA PARSONS | Associate Editor

H

arvest is over. Mummies are shaken and swept. Is it time to think about almond pollination? According to bee brokers and beekeepers, tighter supplies this year and increasing demand for pollination services mean almond growers need to contract for hives early and plan ahead for their arrival in the orchards.

New Era of Pollinator Contracts

Denise Qualls, a bee broker with Pollination Connection, said contracts with growers are welcomed sooner rather than later to ensure an adequate honeybee supply. Some almond growers do book early, she said, but for the most part, growers don’t think about bees until after harvest. Many contracts are signed in December and January, but bees are still being booked in February. Qualls said the days of a handshake to secure pollination service might be over. “Most growers and brokers now have written contracts that spell out terms for pollination services including price, delivery time and hive strength,” Qualls said. Conditions spelled out in the contract can ensure the grower re-

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In addition to costs, hive numbers and arrival time, beekeepers need to know if the hives will be secure from theft, if pesticide applications will be made, if there is a water supply and the timing of payments (photo by Marni Katz.)

ceives the pollination service necessary for setting a crop. The contract also can ensure beekeepers are fairly compensated for their time and investment in healthy, strong hives. Verbal agreements worked back when hives were renting for less than $100 and far fewer acres of almonds were grown. Now, Qualls said, demand for strong hives to cover all almond ground in the state requires that both sides agree on exact terms and put them in writing. Josette Lewis, chief scientific officer with Almond Board of California said ABC recommends growers sign contracts for pollination service. There needs to be clear understanding and communication between the growers and beekeeper. A sample contract is available at ABC’s website Number of full frames per hive is a key element in a contract, Lewis said. A third party inspector can verify the hive strength for the grower. County Agricultural Commissioners’ offices

should provide inspector information.

Working Together

Steve House, director of operations at California Almond Pollination Service, said once a grower finds a good beekeeper and a beekeeper finds a good grower, they each have an integral component in their supply chain and a major factor in the success of their businesses. Both parties need to understand the success of one depends on the success of the other. In addition to costs, hive numbers and arrival time, House said beekeepers need to know if the hives will be secure from theft, if pesticide applications will be made, if there is a water supply and the timing of payments. Important considerations for almond growers are hive strength and confirmation of arrival time in the orchard, generally no later than 5%

Continued on Page 58


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Important considerations for almond growers are hive strength and confirmation of arrival time in the orchard, generally no later than 5% bloom (photo courtesy Joseph Jackson.)

Continued from Page 56 bloom. Almond growers depend on strong, healthy hives that have at least six frames of bees and an average of eight frames of bees at the beginning of bloom. Hives that lack these frame minimums have very little ‘field force,’ House said, and do very little pollinating. It would take seven to eight four-frame hives to equal one eightframe hive. House explained that the numbers in the hives keep the hive warm and take care of the queen and the brood. An eight-frame hive has a field force of about 6,400 bees that actively go out to collect pollen, nectar and water. A fourframe hive will have only about 800 bees living in the hive. That is the reason hive inspection and grading is recommended, House and Qualls agreed. “It’s like paying for 1,000 gallons of fuel and receiving only 800 gallons,” House said. About 15% of the hives should be inspected. An apiary inspector can conduct the inspection and growers should observe. An inspection will determine if the terms stated in the grower/beekeeper agreement are being met. The Almond Board of California Honey Bee BMPs noted that growers should be sure to notify the beekeeper of the inspection so they can assist in handling the hives. It is best to let the hives acclimate to the orchard landscape before conducting the inspection. Colony strength evaluations not only help ensure growers get what they pay for, they also help ensure that beekeepers

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Demand for strong hives to cover all almond ground in the state requires that both sides agree on exact terms and put them in writing. are compensated for additional expenses in providing quality hives. Growers can further monitor colony strength by walking orchards daily during bee flight hours to observe activity levels. When walking orchards during bee flight hours, growers should look for bees carrying pollen on their legs, which confirms that pollination is taking place. In addition, growers should record hives that appear weak, having few bees coming and going at the hive entrance during the day, or inactive, and then report those hives to the beekeeper.

plications when bees are present in the orchard can also be part of the contract. The pest management plan for the orchard should be shared with beekeepers to make them aware of the products

that may be used, Lewis said. Beekeepers are asked to register their sites with the county, but it is also important that they relay contact information to PCAs. Who will change water after a pesticide application should also be specified. “Both growers and beekeepers should have a clear understanding of the elements of the contract,” Lewis said. Comments about this article? We want to hear from you. Feel free to email us at article@jcsmarketinginc.com

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Other Considerations

Qualls noted that bee supplies remain tight. If beekeepers can keep winter losses under 40%, there should be adequate numbers. She said losses were only anticipated to be in the 25% to 30% range this year. Varroa mites, drought and lack of native forage have had negative effects on hive strength, she said, and beekeepers have higher costs in maintaining healthy hives. She noted that as demand for pollination services has increased, higher prices will likely follow, though they have held steady at $200 to $210 for the last two years. Hives priced at lower rates may mean beekeepers haven’t made the effort needed to control varroa mites, Qualls said. Rising costs for inputs and the ongoing drought have been hard on both almond growers and beekeepers this year, Lewis said. When it comes to pricing information for pollination, Lewis said California State Beekeepers Association generally surveys beekeepers at their annual meeting and then publishes that information. Besides frame and grading requirements, House said other important contract points are number of hives delivered, delivery date, price per hive and payment schedule. Pesticide ap-

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Sweet Flavor Keeps Chestnut Buyers Coming Back for More By CECILIA PARSONS | Associate Editor

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Chestnuts in California have very few pest or disease problems (all photos courtesy Jenni Avila.)

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hestnuts are not just a Christmas season specialty. The familiar Christmas song gained this unique tree nut a place at the holiday table, but its sweet flavor places chestnuts among the ingredients for many dishes prepared year-round. Joe and Jenni Avila, chestnut growers in the Modesto area, were familiar with chestnut use in Portuguese cuisine when they began growing chestnuts, but found their customers of diverse ethnic backgrounds value chestnuts for their sweet flavor. The Avila family operation, The Chestnut Farm, grows, harvests, processes and sells chestnuts onsite. Weeks prior to Christmas, in most years, they must hang their ‘sold out’ sign.

Not a Native Nut

Like most tree nuts grown in California, chestnuts are not native to the state. According to a UC Small Farms report, historically, chestnut tree forests were found in most East Coast states where trees grew to heights of 100 feet and the trunks were three to four feet in diameter. In the early 1900s, the species was decimated by the fungal disease Chestnut blight. More recently, development of a chestnut species tolerant to blight was initiated by State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY). Last year, the university sought deregulation of Darling 58, an American chestnut variety developed using genetic engineering for tolerance to chestnut blight.

Continued on Page 62


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Continued from Page 60 The Agricultural Marketing Resource Center reports that the U.S. is one of the few nations in the world that can grow chestnuts, yet doesn’t have a significant chestnut industry. In 2018, U.S. chestnut production was less than 1% of total world production. The U.S. had 919 farms producing chestnuts on more than 3,700 acres. The top five chestnut-producing states are Michigan, Florida, California, Oregon and Virginia. There are four common species of chestnuts grown in North America, but most trees in commercial orchards are hybrids of these species.

Acre at a Time

Joe Avila said his five acres of chestnut trees started with one acre in 1984 and gradually grew an acre at a time. He said he started with seedling trees and grafted them with the European Colossal variety with a Nevada pollinizer and an Italian chestnut vari-

Degree of burr separation from the shell and ease of pellicle removal from the nut meat are quality characteristics.

ety. Cross-pollination is required for chestnut trees, but since the pollen is often shed before pistillate flowers are receptive, overlapping male and female bloom from two different varieties is required. The Colossal variety produces a larger nut, which is more valuable. Avila’s trees are in full production and have reached a height of about 45 feet.

“Our buyers are knowledgeable about chestnuts and are looking for high quality. In the last two years, we have sold out well before the holidays,” Avila said. Some customers prepare them by boiling and serving them in main dishes, while others prefer to roast the nuts. Avila said a key to quality in chestnuts is to place the nuts in cold storage

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after harvest. Stored at 35 degrees F, they retain their sweet flavor. “Yield is important, but you must have quality or they don’t sell,” Avila said. “They have to be sweet and peel well.” “Chestnuts are more like a grain, containing about 40% carbohydrate, 40% water, 5% to 10% protein and less than 5% oil,” Avila said.

Harvest in September

The Avila’s chestnut harvest usually begins about Sept. 10 when the mature chestnuts begin to fall to the ground. Those early nuts are harvested by hand. Avila said as they walk the orchards to harvest the fallen nuts, they crush the prickly burr that encases the dark, hard leathery shell and pick up the nuts by hand. The burrs are easy to split when mature. Ideally, Avila said, most of the crop is already out of the burr at harvest with only about 30% still encased. Degree of burr separation from the shell and ease of pellicle removal from the nut meat are quality characteristics. Hand harvest only lasts a short time. By the end of the month, Avila said most of the nuts have fallen to the ground where they are swept in a windrow and picked up by a machine. Mechanical shakers come in at the end to remove the last few nuts. The Avila’s next step is to sort the nuts, discarding any that are off-quality. The nuts are then sized by machine into four sizes and placed in bags. The Avilas weigh the bags to make sure they contain 25 pounds, then place them in cold storage until they are sold. Chestnut value is related to its size, with the larger nuts at the highest value.

Joe and Jenni Avila run The Chestnut Farm, a family operation that grows, harvests, processes and sells chestnuts onsite.

microbes and night crawlers that aerate the soil and aid in nutrient uptake by the trees. The organic matter also holds soil moisture. In mature orchards, weeds are not a problem due to shading on much of the orchard floor. When trees are young, he said cover crops are used to add organic matter. Avila said he does incorporate some of the orchard debris, but most has decomposed by the next harvest season. He does some scraping to keep the orchard

middles flat. Most of those production practices focus on producing top yield and quality. “You need yields, but what is really important is to have the quality, the flavor and easy peeling or they won’t sell well.” Comments about this article? We want to hear from you. Feel free to email us at article@jcsmarketinginc.com

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Orchard care for chestnut trees is relatively easy. Avila said he does not have organic certification, but need for insecticide application is rare. Insect pests are not an issue in his orchards, Avila said. Nutrition is also a factor in nut size. Avila said postharvest potash application is done prior to winter rains and, if needed, nitrogen is applied in March. Avila said the burrs left on the orchard floor add organic material to the soils and foster growth of beneficial

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Grower-Cooperators a Vital Cog in Research Growers provide an invaluable service for university and USDA researchers as well as for their respective industries.

By MITCH LIES | Contributing Writer Cliff Beumel of Agromillora Nursery spreads chips in a walnut orchard as part of a whole orchard recycling trial at the farm of Sutter County grower-cooperator Mat Conant. Grower-cooperators like Conant are vital to the success of research, according to UCCE Farm Advisor Luke Milliron (photo by L. Milliron.)

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or the past three years, walnut harvest has taken a little longer on one block of Jerry Moore’s Visalia, Calif. farm. There are no weather issues or equipment malfunctions slowing harvest. Moore has volunteered the block to UCCE for research into solving a nematode problem that has plagued walnut growers for decades. Moore receives no compensation for the extra time it takes as UCCE researchers test and weigh walnuts after each row is harvested. But he rests easy knowing that he is helping growers across the state who have lost yield to nematodes. “What I get out of it is the gratification of knowing we are helping the industry,” Moore said. “If they can come up with something to solve the nematode problem, it will be a big help to the industry.” According to researchers, growers like Moore provide an invaluable service for university and USDA researchers as well as for their respective industries. “We could not be successful farm advisors without grower-cooperators,” said Luke Milliron, UCCE farm advisor for Butte, Glenn and Tehama counties. “There is just no way around it.” Milliron added that he is fortunate to be centered near a research farm, in his case the Chico State University Farm, where he can conduct certain projects. “But you really need to do this research on different types of ground, with different pests and disease pressure,” he said, “and the only way to find those

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types of situations is to have these grower-cooperators that are willing to put up with inconvenience and potential loss in some profits by letting you have rootstock blocks and test different materials in their orchards.” Joe Grant, research director for the California Walnut Board and UCCE farm advisor emeritus, said in many cases, research has to be conducted on-campus or on university field stations. Spraying unregistered pesticides, for example, can’t be conducted on a commercial farm without having to destroy the treated crop. And some research, like evaluating the performance of new varieties and rootstocks, isn’t generally conducive to a grower-cooperator situation. “No grower is going to want to put up with devoting a lot of space to wait 10 to 12 years for a variety to get evaluated,” he said. Conversely, Grant said, many research projects can and, in some cases, need to be done in the field. Pat Brown, UC Davis walnut breeder, noted, for example, that much of his initial breeding work takes place on campus. “But,” he said, “once we are pretty sure that something looks good, we need growers across the state to trial it before we release it. That is a key step in putting out new varieties.” Grant agreed. “It allows researchers to test things in a much broader variety of settings and management styles than we could ever do on campus. So, that is very valuable. It is a quicker route to ultimate successful adoption when you can get a new technique or new variety or new rootstock looked at across a broad range of conditions.”

Give and Take

Grower-cooperators typically reap some benefit from participating in research, according to growers and researchers. Many like being on the cutting edge of new advances and seeing them at work on their farm, Grant said. But they also encounter inconveniences in working with researchers, and it can be a financial burden. “The grower usually ends up sacrificing something, whether it be yield, profit, convenience or time,” Grant said. “But I think

Continued on Page 66



Continued from Page 64 some growers volunteer to do these kinds of things because they want to see what is coming. They want to kind of be on the leading edge of learning what is happening in a particular domain, like what is the latest findings on walnut blight. “It is kind of a give and take thing,” he said. Davin Norene of Rio Oso, Calif. has been cooperating with researchers throughout his career. In his case, he said, it is a family tradition. “My dad has always cooperated with the UC Extension and USDA researchers who are looking to move the industry forward, and that is how I learned. That is the culture here on our farm,” he said. “You definitely get something out of it,” he added, “It is all about learning and collaborating. You end up being a better farmer, and maybe you get some new tools out of it. But it is usually more of a financial burden than a financial benefit.” Milliron characterized farmers who donate ground to research as being service oriented. “Because it is an inconvenience, these folks really do have a service-oriented mindset and are seeing the value for the whole industry by advancing this work,” Milliron said. “And it is just really tremendous that growers let us do that work, especially as it has gotten much harder for a lot of researchers to use the research and extension center, like the Kearney Ag Center in the Fresno area. The fees associated with having a research orchard out there have become expensive.

Walnut grower Davin Norene said participating in university and USDA research projects is a family tradition on his Rio Oso farm (photo by M. Lies.)

“On a grower-cooperator farm, however, it is free,” he said. “Growers typically will be fronting a lot of the costs for testing things like whole orchard recycling, or to conduct an almond or walnut or prune rootstock trial in their orchard. “All of these things are just such a huge benefit, and hopefully these folks are learning in the process, too,” he said. Like many researchers, Milliron has several trials in place on farms. “We are in dozens of farmers fields, not only in the three counties in the Northern Sacramento Valley that I serve, but I work with other farm advisors and have plots in growers’ fields in Sutter and Yuba counties,” he said. “And it is the same with other advisors around the state.” He added that he is fortunate to work with several “really great cooperators.” “It is hard to find a really great cooperator,” Milliron said. “What it really takes is not only that they are willing to let you do research, but they have to be invested in the research as well. If they are, they are going to keep up on the communications and they are going to let you in to do what you need to do. A good cooperator is going to give you a ‘heads-up’ well in advance of harvest, or when something is going to get sprayed out there.”

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Moore, the Visalia walnut grower, said he learned the value of grower-cooperators while serving as chairman of the California Walnut Board’s Production Research Committee. “I know what it takes for these researchers and how hard it is sometimes to find ground to do their projects,” he said. “So, if I have a chance, I open up some ground for them to come and work.” Moore just completed the third year of his commitment to the nematode project, and last year, he opened up part of his nursery for researchers to conduct rootstock research. “I’m excited to see what comes out of that,” he said. “These clones they are looking at have resistance to phytophthora, crown gall and nematodes.” As for the nematode project, there, too, he is optimistic. “They are getting some good results,” Moore said, results that may prove beneficial for him and many other growers in California. Comments about this article? We want to hear from you. Feel free to email us at article@jcsmarketinginc.com


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productive growth. You can see many similar benefits in young and old almond orchards. Dormex® is the original dual-stabilizer formula made to exacting German standards and is the most studied product in its class. Supplies are limited this year. Reserve your Dormex® today with your favorite authorized Dormex® retailer. Visit our website DormexUSA.com. for more information, or contact John.Meyer@AlzChem.com or call (559) 545-4701.

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What It Could Mean for Californians if We Have Another Dry Year: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly By MIKE WADE | California Farm Water Coalition

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ur water year began October 1, and it’s no surprise to any of us that 2020-21 was the second driest on record. While the atmospheric river that drenched the state in October was good news, we still must prepare for a dry 2022 and think about what choices we may face if October’s drenching rain was an aberration. It’s not all doom and gloom, but there is some good, bad and ugly.

The Good

A bipartisan infrastructure bill passed by congress and signed by the president is expected to bring much needed relief to the state. We’re hopeful that federal funding for important California water projects will soon be on the way. In February 2019, 18 trillion gallons of rain fell in California, but due to inadequate storage, much of it could not be captured for future use. Last October’s storms also brought us water we couldn’t capture, which produced floods and rockslides instead of fruits, nuts and vegetables. Passage of this critical bipartisan bill will expand our ability to capture both surface and groundwater, im, JAN 12

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Almonds may be one of the last profitable crops in California if regulations continue to hammer at the state’s water supply (all photos by Mel Machado, Blue Diamond.)

prove water supply, expand flood control, improve downstream water quality, provide ecosystem benefits and fix our existing water-delivery infrastructure. In other good news, earlier reports of salmon demise were incorrect. Despite the dry and hot conditions, salmon have returned to the Sacramento Valley in record numbers. According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, it is the largest number of returning adults in 15 years. This means collaborative efforts by multiple stakeholders to address all the factors impacting fish are working. We continue to believe one of the solutions to California’s water management problems are the Voluntary Agreements, which would provide a more holistic approach to managing water for people and the environment. They rely on collaboration at the local level that will move the state substantially closer to the coequal goals of providing a more reliable water supply for California and protecting, restoring and enhancing the environment.

West Coast Nut December 2021 wcngg.com/PecanDay

Infrastructure legislation as well as the Voluntary Agreements are desperately needed, would improve water supply or water quality for all water users, help salmon and other struggling fish, and are within our reach.

The Bad

Cutting farm water supplies too low or increasing the cost to unreasonable levels could cause more problems than it solves. We all need to conserve, and California farmers have reduced their water consumption by double digits since 1980. While conservation efforts will continue, it still requires water to provide a healthy, safe, diverse food supply. Those who advocate for solving our water problems completely on the backs of farmers either don’t realize or don’t care about the consequences. The majority of California farms have been family-owned for decades and are active in their communities. The less water and the more it costs, the more land will be fallowed or sold


THOSE WHO ADVOCATE FOR SOLVING OUR WATER PROBLEMS COMPLETELY ON THE BACKS OF FARMERS EITHER DON’T REALIZE OR DON’T CARE ABOUT THE CONSEQUENCES. The San Luis Reservoir, at 12% of capacity on August 16, could be more difficult to fill if proposed State and Federal cuts hit future water supplies.

to institutional interests, driving out family-owned operations, which is the exact opposite of what Californians say they want. Whatever farms remain will have no choice but to plant crops that provide the highest return per unit of applied water. The long-term future of California’s historic crop diversity, such as tomatoes, nuts, lettuce, broccoli, melons, sweet corn and many other examples of healthy food products we count on to keep our families healthy, won’t be possible, again the opposite of what Californians want. Because of California’s highly productive soil and climate, our production can’t simply be moved to other states. Nature provides assistance to California growers that simply can’t be transplanted to other states. Growing less in California will lead to more imported food, much of it from countries with less stringent safety regulations as well as less diversity of food products and higher prices for consumers at the grocery store.

ger-pointing create strife and chaos as well as endless litigation while doing nothing to solve our very real problems. As Californians, we’re all in this together and must work toward common solutions. Comments about this article? We want to hear from you. Feel free to email us at article@jcsmarketinginc.com

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The Ugly

Dismantling water rights is also touted as an easy fix when the exact opposite is true. Water rights are attached to the land, are a form of a vested property right, are long-established law and are rooted in historical precedent going back to English common law. Ending water rights strikes at the very foundation of our system and raises serious constitutional questions at both the state and federal level. We may face further assault from federal agencies that want to revert to old, outdated operating rules for both the Central Valley Project and the State Water Project. If enacted, the new plan would throw collaboration out the window, abandon the holistic approach to managing our environment that the latest science tells us we need and remove operational flexibility that is critically needed, especially in a drought. It would revert to measuring fish impact through a calendar system rather than by gathering data in real time as we do today. If we don’t embrace the good and work to avoid the bad, we could be left with ugly. Punitive measures and fin-

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Interested in organic articles?

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Organic Walnut Production Increases as Growers Learn New Management Techniques By CECILIA PARSONS | Associate Editor

Organic walnut growers work to enhance soil health and integrate mechanical weed control into their systems (all photos courtesy Fillmore Farms.)

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rganic walnuts are rapidly growing out of the ‘niche’ market.

Evidence is in the number of retail online outlets for organic walnuts and the increase in production over the past six years. Mike Poindexter of the vertically integrated Poindexter Nut Company in Selma, Calif. said that domestic production of organically grown walnuts has ramped up to surpass foreign imports and pricing has reached more consumer-friendly levels. Supply of organic walnuts has increased greatly over the past several years, Poindexter said. In 2015, 4,424 tons of organic walnuts were produced. By 2019, production had increased to 10,055 tons. However, he said current data is hard to come by and there is no information on the size of the 2020 organic walnut crop, which has made figuring out pricing levels a bit tricky. Putting it into perspective, however, Poindexter’s total walnut output is two and a half times larger than Califor-


nia’s entire organic walnut crop. Poindexter attributed the increase in organic walnut production to existing orchards being transitioned to organic and increased production numbers per acre due to higher yielding varieties. Irrigation and nutrients are important components in organic farming practices, he noted, but neither of those are new developments in walnut farming.

Pricing Premium, Higher Costs

that do not have production or the crop quality. Color is the main quality driver for sales and pricing. “If a grower wants to farm organically, they should be farming one of the newer varieties: Chandler, Ivanhoe, Tulare, Howard or Solano,” Poindexter said. Visual aspects are very important as the largest segment of consumption for organic walnuts is in retail sales for culinary use. Institutional baking and ingredient use of organics is still a very small part of the market, Poindexter explained, so the older varieties are going to struggle to find a market amid the expanding supply of premium varietals.

Water costs and debt service make up a large part of the cost structure. Poindexter said that typically, higher yielding walnut varieties would have a drop in production due to the inefficiencies of organic fertilizers compared to synthetics. Other farming costs, including weed control, for example, also Finding a Home tend to be higher in organic production. Lake County has historically led In order to achieve comparable returns the way in acres of organically grown on a per acre basis, he said there needs walnuts in California. UCCE Farm to be a 30% premium per pound on Advisor Rachel Elkins said that 2018 average. statistics show the county had 1,700 “We have seen substantially higher acres producing organic walnuts. San premiums in years past, but I expect Luis Obispo County listed 650 acres, the normal bump on pricing will be San Benito County listed 564 acres and much closer to 30% to 40% over conthe Solano/Yolo counties combined ventional pricing moving forward.” listed nearly 2,000 acres. Poindexter said that ideal locations Many growers of organic walnuts for organic production would be areas in Lake County are now struggling, Elwith lower insect pressure and without kins said, with the loss of a major hullclose proximity to conventional farms er/dryer and marketer for their nuts. to eliminate the need for a buffer zone Two dry winters have also stressed the to account for drift of pesticide applica- trees and made them more vulnerable tions. Because of the difficulty in overto freezing temperatures. Many walnut coming deficiencies in the soils, startorchards in Lake County are also older ing in good walnut ground, class 1 soils varieties, she said. with good water penetration, would be ideal. Poindexter sources organic wal“There is a short crop here this year, nuts from growers in the San Joaquin and the big issue is finding a home for Valley and in the Paso Robles area. those walnuts,” Elkins said. He said that in the past, there have been many walnut orchards that were Grower Challenges no longer economically viable unThe Fillmore family in Gridley, Calif. der conventional methods and were is a certified organic walnut grower and converted to organic to stretch the processor. Ryan Fillmore said growers productive life of the orchard. With the who choose to farm organically have a recent rise in supply of organic walnuts, different set of challenges compared to Poindexter said that older orchards conventional walnut growers. or those with lower yielding varieties “Those challenges are manageable, are again getting pushed into negative but you have to think ahead.” margins. The market won’t pay the premium necessary for older varieties Continued on Page 72

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Continued from Page 71 Fillmore said the goal with organic production is to find ways to use the tools you have. Insect pests, nutrition and orchard floor maintenance are the three main challenges. Organic walnut growers look to soil health for production and integrating mechanical weed control into their systems. Trees that are farmed well produce pretty good yields, Fillmore said. Fillmore said the family focuses on soil health in their orchards, encouraging the growth of beneficial soil microbes that produce nutrients for sustainable crop production. Transitioning young trees to organic production is a common practice, but he said that production can begin to taper off after a few years unless growers recognize the importance of soil health in providing for tree nutritional needs. Navel orangeworm (NOW), codling moth and husk fly are the main insect pests, but Fillmore said there are a couple of positives about the organic approach. Not using broad-spectrum insecticides leads to a higher population of beneficial insects. Fillmore Farms also utilizes bat houses to provide habitat for bat colonies that can help reduce insect populations in orchards. For husk fly control, Fillmore said timing is important for efficacy of a spinosad-based treatment. Treatments at $60 to $150 per acre are expensive and provide less benefit if timing The largest segment of consumption for organic walnuts is in retail sales for culinary use.

is off even a day or two. Codling moth can be treated with BT, but each treatment is only effective for a few days. Fillmore said codling moth damage is not as immediately obvious on the processing side, but CM attacks the hull of the immature walnut, providing an opening for NOW. Orchard sanitation, mating disruption and trapping are Fillmore’s strategies for NOW control. This pest is the toughest challenge in organic walnut production. He noted that Peterson traps have been an effective tool to remove female NOW from the orchard but added that any moderate to severe NOW problem will require more than one approach to control in an organic setting. There currently are no organic sprays that effectively control NOW. “NOW is a little like Bermuda grass,” Fillmore said. “If you let it get a start in the orchard, it is much harder to control later on.” When it comes to weed control, Fillmore said modified mowers that work closely around tree trunks are used rather than herbicides. Choosing to mow weeds rather than use herbicides also removes herbicide resistance from the list of grower concerns.

Comments about this article? We want to hear from you. Feel free to email us at article@jcsmarketinginc.com

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A WORD FROM THE BOARD: THE CALIFORNIA WALNUT BOARD

Health Research Helps Drive Consumer Demand for Walnuts By CALIFORNIA WALNUT BOARD AND COMMISSION | Contributing Writer

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ICE HIL N E

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hrough investment in health research, the California Walnut Commission (CWC) drives consumer demand by keeping walnuts and their health benefits top of mind with consumers and health professionals. This is accomplished in three important ways: Gives more science-based reasons for consumers to eat walnuts, especially in top topics of nutrition interest; builds on the credibility of walnuts as a nutrient-rich food among health professionals who strongly influence consumer dietary choices; and appeals to top-tier media read by consumers. “The first 15 years of research in heart health led to walnuts’ qualified health claim* with the FDA and being the first nut certified with the American Heart Association’s Heart-Check mark, which we’re proud of, but we couldn’t stop there. Our mission to further the science on the health benefits of eating walnuts continues to lead us in our research,” said Jennifer Olmstead, senior director of U.S. marketing and communication with the California Walnut Commission. With each new study, consumers have more reasons to add walnuts to their grocery cart, and reporters have a time-

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December 2021

ly reason to include walnuts in a news story. Two long-term studies published in 2021 linked walnuts with life longevity and cardiovascular health. Investing in the research and sharing the findings also allows the CWC to build and nurture relationships with registered dietitians and health reporters. “Positive results to the health research brings additional media attention to walnuts and builds awareness to the proven health benefits,” said Olmstead. A study led by Yanping Li, Senior Research Scientist at the Department of Nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, found that higher walnut consumption, both in terms of the amount and frequency, may be associated with a lower risk of death and an increase in life expectancy among older adults in the U.S. compared to those who do not consume walnuts. This study, supported by the California Walnut Commission, found eating five or more servings of walnuts per week (one serving = one ounce) may provide the greatest benefit for mortality risk and life expectancy. Eating five or more servings per week was associated with a 14% lower risk of death (from any cause), 25% lower risk of dying from cardiovascular diseases and a gain in about 1.3 years of life expectancy, compared to those who didn’t consume walnuts. Popular consumer sites and food trade publications shared headlines like Verywell Health’s “Eating More Walnuts Could Help You Live Longer,” Martha Stewart’s “Eating Walnuts Could Lead to a Longer Life, a New Study Says” and Food Navigators’ “Walnut consumption linked to improved life expectancy.” Ultimately, news of the studies’ findings garnered more than two billion impressions, with more than 300 international articles covering the study, generating a total of 702,843,291 impressions. Another study that published in August 2021 found an association between regular daily walnut consumption and sustained lower levels of cholesterol among 708 healthy older adults who included walnuts as part of their diet for


four years. The findings again reinforced the notion that regular walnut consumption may be a useful part of a heart-healthy eating pattern. Hundreds of millions of people saw news reports touting “Want Better Heart Health? Consume Walnuts!” or “Eat a Handful of Walnuts Daily to Protect Your Heart and Stay Slim,” including a captive audience of more than two million viewers watching Good Morning America. Articles from health studies result in millions of consumers having a deeper understanding of the benefits walnuts provide, including how they can help you live a healthier life. *Supportive but not conclusive research shows that eating 1.5 ounces of walnuts per day, as part of a low sat-

urated fat and low cholesterol diet and not resulting in increased caloric intake, may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease (FDA). One ounce of walnuts offers 18g of total fat, 2.5g of monounsaturated fat, 13g of polyunsaturated fat

including 2.5g of alpha-linolenic acid, the plant-based omega-3. Comments about this article? We want to hear from you. Feel free to email us at article@jcsmarketinginc.com

One study, supported by the California Walnut Commission, found eating five or more servings of walnuts per week may provide the greatest benefit for mortality risk and life expectancy.

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JOSEPH JACKSON ON “DOING WHAT MATTERS” “YOU CAN TAKE THE FARMER OUT OF THE ORCHARD, BUT CAN’T TAKE THE ORCHARD OUT OF THE FARMER” By TAYLOR CHALSTROM | Assistant Editor

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arming has been practically inesend of the day, and that’s just not the capable for most of Joseph Jackson’s case with farming,” he added. “[In farmlife, and it’s become his livelihood. ing], you really do feel like what you’re Jackson, a part-time grower himself doing matters.” and account manager with Phytech, Jackson and his father have been in helped his father grow row crops and talks to form a partnership and lease or stone fruits for much of his childhood in buy a new tree nut orchard. He said that the Kettleman City area. It wasn’t until due to current regulations and comthe early 2000s when his father shifted mercial advancements, he and his father to farming almonds that he entered the have been more thoughtful throughout world of tree nuts. the planning process about where the “Like a lot of people in the [Central] orchard will be located and how it will Valley, he saw the great prices of albe managed. monds and pistachios and thought, ‘Hey, “[We want to] make a system where I gotta get in on that as well,’” Jackson we can keep farming for a long time,” said, noting however that it has been Jackson said. increasingly difficult to farm in the area Jackson puts great value on optimizin recent years. “Problems with available ing management practices and improvsurface water or prices of surface water ing on-farm sustainability, reasons why as well as really no access to groundwahe said he will never let go of farming. ter at all in our area meant that we kind “We’re also helping make positive change, of kept downsizing the operation, not whether it’s caring for a piece of land, just in changing crops but also in land taking care of the plants there, the soil sales.” there,” he said. “It’s just something really special.” Looking for the Long-Term When considering more sustainable Jackson said he became less engaged practices, Jackson is also thinking about in the family farm as it downsized, the next generation of growers. “I have citing the stress of regulatory challenges kids now, and with my love of ag, I want as a factor as well as the fact that his them to be able to experience agriculture current paychecks don’t entirely depend in the valley,” he said. “So, to do that, we on the weather. That being said, working need to be more thoughtful and more with growers every day in his position sustainable with how we’re farming so at Phytech has made him miss growing, that we can keep farming for generations and he’s been looking to reenter it in a to come.” larger capacity. “I miss [farming] enough to where Always Contributing I don’t think I could go much longer Jackson accrues most of his hours in without having any serious impact,” orchards through his commercial posiJackson said. “So, whether that’s buying tion, but he has also found other ways a small plot, 40, 50 acres, starting there to stay involved in the tree nut industry. and having a little something, almonds He is a graduate of the Almond Board and pistachios especially are what I’m of California’s (ABC) selective Almond interested in getting back into. Leadership Program, which “inspires “There are lots of jobs where you go in and prepares almond community memand feel like you’re clocking in, clocking bers to join a network of leaders meeting out and not really seeing anything at the the challenges of a changing industry,” 76

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Working with growers every day in his position at Phytech has made Joseph Jackson miss growing, and he’s been looking to re-enter it in a larger capacity (photo courtesy J. Jackson.)

according to ABC’s website. Additionally, Jackson sits on ABC’s Strategic Ag Innovations Committee where he and other members strategically decide where the almond industry needs to go with things like ag, environmental and food safety initiatives. At the time that Jackson applied for the Almond Leadership Program, he was still working as a grower full-time and was stuck in what he referred to as an “almond industry silo.” After graduating from the program, he had a clearer understanding of the scope of the industry and could see beyond his grower perspective. “We have all of these grower concerns on our minds, but when it comes to the almonds, we get them off the tree and kind of pat the trucks goodbye, and that’s kind of in a sense where the almonds stop with us,” Jackson said. “But, they go on a much longer journey, and that’s really what the [Almond] Leadership Program gives you… they actually take you to those places.” Jackson is referring to every step of the supply chain after almonds are trucked away from the orchards, such as huller-sheller facilities and shipping ports. Program members also get to hear from ABC about industry research into almonds’ nutritional benefits and global


marketing efforts. Members meet for one day every month, and that day is dedicated to an aspect of the industry, Jackson said, whether it’s marketing, transit, research, etc. “[This industry] is all so interconnected, and we really need each other for success,” he said. Jackson was part of the Almond Leadership Program’s Class of 2019, which consisted of himself and 18 other individuals that contribute every day to the almond industry. On completion of the program, graduates are given an honorary membership to ABC’s multiple working committees, and Jackson took special interest in the Strategic Ag Innovations Committee. Honorary members don’t get to vote on issues, but they are invited to attend meetings, are sent information and resources, and can voice opinions on industry matters at meetings. Jackson applied for a regular membership, which was approved this summer and allows him to be able to have a counted vote, after his honorary membership expired. The Committee mainly focuses on

Jackson puts great value on optimizing management practices and improving on-farm sustainability, and he’s always thinking about the next generation of growers when considering sustainable practices (photo by Roger Duncan, UCCE.)

collecting research that is sifted through by a selection of working groups as well as deciding who gets funding for certain projects. Jackson made it a point to say that this funding, which comes in large part from growers, is by no means going to waste. “Everyone on this committee is super, super thoughtful about growers’ money,” he said. “Especially with the price of almonds being as low as it is, when part of that [price] is immediately taken off and sent to an agency, you want to feel confident that it’s not just going into a bureaucratic black hole, and it’s really not.” While Jackson has contributed much

of his extracurricular time to almonds through the Almond Leadership Program and the Strategic Ag Innovations Committee, he has also been looking for ways to get more involved with the other major tree nuts. “Working with Phytech in the commercial sector, I also have a lot of walnut growers I work with, pistachio growers. So, I’ve definitely tried to reach out to some of those organizations and find ways that I can participate with the [California] Walnut Board, American Pistachio Growers.” Comments about this article? We want to hear from you. Feel free to email us at article@jcsmarketinginc.com

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California Legislative Recap for 2021 By ROGER A. ISOM | President/CEO, Western Agricultural Processors Association This year’s budget includes $90 million in General Funds over the next two years for the Department of Pesticide Regulation (photo by Cathy Merlo.)

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he 2021 legislative session was an interesting one, still subject to COVID-19 restrictions limiting access to the Capitol, but bolstered by a big surplus budget. All in all, things could have been far worse. The following is a brief summary on the bills we felt were most important to the tree nut industry during this year’s session.

AB 73 (R. Rivas)

Current law requires the State Department of Public Health and the Office of Emergency Services to establish a personal protective equipment (PPE) stockpile, and requires the department to establish guidelines for the procurement, management and distribution of PPE, taking into account, among other things, the amount of each type of PPE that would be required for all health care workers and essential workers as defined in the state during a 90-day pandemic or other health emergency. This bill would specifically include wildfire smoke events among health emergencies for these purposes and would include agricultural workers in the definition of essential workers. The bill passed out of the Assembly 78-0, passed out of the Senate 37-0 and was signed by the Governor on Sept. 27.

AB 284 (R. Rivas)

This bill would require the State Air Resources Board, as part of the next scoping plan update and no later than Jan. 1, 2023, to identify a 2045 climate goal with interim milestones for the state’s natural and working lands, and to integrate into the scoping plan update recommendations developed by the Natural Resources Agency and the Department of Food and Agriculture regarding practices, policy and 78

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financial incentives, market needs and two-year bill and may be acted upon in potential reductions in barriers that January 2022. would help achieve the 2045 climate goal among other recommendations. AB 616 (Stone) The bill was moved to the Inactive File This was the big bill of the session. and may be acted upon in January 2022. Current law requires the Agricultural Labor Relations Board to certify the reAB 377 (R. Rivas) sults of an election conducted by secret This bill would require, by January ballot of employees in a collective bar1, 2023, the State Water Resources Con- gaining unit to designate a collective trol Board and regional boards to pribargaining representative, unless the oritize enforcement of all water quality board determines there are sufficient standard violations that are causing grounds to refuse to do so. Current or contributing to an exceedance of a law further provides that if the board water quality standard in surface water refuses to certify an election because of the state. The bill would require the of employer misconduct that would state board and regional boards, by render slight the chances of a new elecJanuary 1, 2025, to evaluate impaired tion reflecting the free and fair choice state surface waters and report to the of employees, the labor organization Legislature a plan to bring all water shall be certified as the bargaining segments into attainment by January 1, representative for the bargaining unit. 2050. The bill was held on the Assembly This bill would refer to the secret ballot Suspense File and may be acted upon election as a polling place election. The January 2022. bill passed out of the Assembly 50-17, passed out of the Senate 24-11, but was AB 567 (Bauer-Kahan) vetoed by the Governor on Sept. 22, Current law generally regulates 2021. pesticide use by the Department of Pesticide Regulation and requires the AB 1395 (Muratsuchi) Director of Pesticide Regulation to The California Global Warming endeavor to eliminate from use any Solutions Act of 2006 requires the State pesticide that endangers the agriculAir Resources Board to prepare and tural or nonagricultural environment. approve a scoping plan for achieving A violation of those provisions and the maximum technologically feasible regulations adopted pursuant to those and cost-effective reductions in greenprovisions is generally a misdemeanor. house gas emissions and to update the Current law requires the department scoping plan at least once every five on or before July 1, 2018 to issue a deyears. This bill, the California Climate termination with respect to its reevalCrisis Act, would declare the policy of uation of neonicotinoids and to adopt the state both to achieve net zero greencontrol measures necessary to protect house gas emissions as soon as possible, pollinator health within two years, as but no later than 2045, and achieve specified. This bill would prohibit the use of a neonicotinoid on a seed, as specified. The bill was made into a Continued on Page 80

December 2021


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Continued from Page 78 and maintain net negative greenhouse gas emissions thereafter, and to ensure that by 2045, statewide anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions are reduced to at least 90% below the 1990 levels. The bill passed out of the Assembly 42-21, but failed passage in the Senate 14-12. Reconsideration was granted and may be acted upon in January 2022.

SB 95 (Skinner)

This bill would provide for COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave for covered employees, as defined, who are unable to work or telework due to certain reasons related to COVID-19, including that the employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19. The bill would entitle a covered employee to 80 hours of COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave if that employee either works full time or was scheduled to work, on average, at least 40 hours per week for the employer in the two weeks preceding the date the covered employee took COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave. The bill would provide a different calculation for supplemental paid sick leave for a covered employee who is a firefighter subject to certain work schedule requirements and for a covered employee working fewer or variable hours, as specified. The bill passed out of the Senate 22-2, passed out of the Assembly 57-19 and was signed by the Governor on March 19, 2021.

SB 559 (Hurtado)

This bill would establish the Water Conveyance Restoration Fund in the State Treasury to be administered by the Department of Water Resources in consultation with the State Water Resources Control Board and the Department of Fish and Wildlife. The bill would require all moneys deposited in the fund to be expended, upon appropriation by the Legislature, in support of subsidence repair costs, including environmental planning, permitting, design and construction and necessary road and bridge upgrades required to accommodate capacity improvements. The bill would require the Director of 80

West Coast Nut

The big bill of the session, AB 616, covered secretive balloting for collective bargaining votes (photo by Taylor Chalstrom.)

Water Resources to apportion money appropriated from the fund, subject to specified requirements, for the Friant-Kern Canal, Delta-Mendota Canal, San Luis Field Division of the California Aqueduct and San Joaquin Division of the California Aqueduct. The bill was moved to the Inactive File and may be acted upon in January 2022.

Budget Act of 2021

The Legislature passed this year’s budget in stages, and spends $262.5 billion in total state funds, consisting of approximately $196.4 billion from the General Fund, $61.2 billion from special funds, and $4.9 billion from bond funds. Of note, the budget includes: •

$31 million for the Governor’s Climate Catalyst Revolving Loan Fund;

$65 million to address drought impacts on fish and wildlife (habitat restoration);

$40 million for Water Resilience Projects;

$170 million for the FARMER program, plus an additional $42.5 million in Carl Moyer funds directed to agriculture;

December 2021

$32 million for methane reduction programs;

$50 million designated for Land Resource Protection which would include repurposing irrigated ag lands;

$180 million for SGMA implementation (this is $120 million more than the previous budget); and

$7 million for CDFA to help farmers transition to organics.

The budget also includes $90 million in General Funds over the next two years for the Department of Pesticide Regulations. These monies are in place of a tiered mill assessment proposed by the Department but rejected by the Legislature. The Department did receive an additional appropriation of $10 million to study different approaches to the mill assessment that help transition the State to safer products. In a year when the legislation could have been a lot worse, the failed recall attempt did take people’s attention away from some of those critical pieces of legislation, and maybe, just maybe, helped keep some of those bad bills at bay. That’s good for now, but we need to buckle up and be prepared for 2022. It will be a whole new battle! Comments about this article? We want to hear from you. Feel free to email us at article@jcsmarketinginc.com



A WORD FROM THE BOARD: AMERICAN PECAN COUNCIL

A Peek into the Pecan Powerhouses Network By AMERICAN PECAN COUNCIL | Contributing Writer

I

n our last article, we shared about the various marketing activations we’ve engaged in this past year to reach the eyes and minds of a crucial audience: health professionals and registered dieticians. These individuals educate and engage with consumers as experts in health, nutrition and wellness. They advise people on what to eat, so by reaching them, we can move the needle in the health food and wellness marketplace at large. We’ve engaged with this audience on multiple fronts, from developing useful nutrition resources to partnering with well-known and well-respected influencers and chefs amongst the health professional community. In this article, we will hone in on two of the most significant and rewarding activations to date, which have been ongoing efforts for the past two years now: The Pecan Powerhouses Network and our partnership with the Retail Dietitians Business Alliance (RDBA).

Pecan Powerhouses Network

The Pecan Powerhouses Network is an exclusive network the APC has developed, comprised of health and wellness leaders who receive first-hand access to innovative recipes, engaging educational resources and cutting-edge research, all highlighting the , JAN 12

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power of the Original Supernut. This group of credentialed health professionals (registered dietitian nutritionist, physician, nurse, fitness professional, etc.) and students in a health-related field (dietetic intern, medical student, etc.) chose to opt in and were vetted before receiving acceptance. They are enthusiastic about pecans and are keen on sharing their unique health benefits and culinary applications with their communities. We launched the Pecan Powerhouses Network in 2020, and it has seen continued growth in 2021. This year alone, we recruited 332 new members through our activations engaging this audience, bringing total membership to over 600. We distributed four quarterly newsletters to all members to-date, with a 40.4% average open-rate and 6.5% average click-through rate, both above industry standards. A huge win this year has been the launch of a quarterly webinar series as a way to regularly engage with and provide meaningful, educational content to our Pecan Powerhouse Members, despite the limitations of the pandemic. Through this series, we covered pecans’ tree-to-table story, which garnered 1,266 registrants over the four events, recruited 134 new Pecan Powerhouse Network members and reached 93k+ health professionals via targeted webinar promotions. The final webinar in the series, “Holistic Nutrition Strategies: A Threefold, Evidence-Based Approach to Immune Health,” which took place on September 22, 2021 and was led by the co-founder of the Culinary Nutrition Collaborative, Kristy Del Coro, was our

West Coast Nut December 2021 wcngg.com/PecanDay

most-successful webinar to-date. We track this success based off key metrics like registration & attendance as well as from post-webinar surveys we’ve conducted to gather feedback. Webinar registration has more than tripled since the inaugural event in January 2021, showing how far we’ve come in such little time. In our pre-webinar communications for the Q4 webinar, we reached 25.3k+ health professionals across four promotional channels and had 40% of our 702 registrants attend the live event. The objective of this webinar was to discuss the key micronutrients for immune health, creative and convenient culinary pairings featuring immune-supporting ingredients, and evidence-based lifestyle habits to incorporate into their practice as a nutrition professional. Attendee Q&A focused on nutrient changes resulting from preparing pecans in recipe applications and specific benefits of the key micronutrients discussed. In our post-webinar survey distributed immediately following the webinar, 86% of respondents rated the webinar very good or excellent, 85% said they learned something new about key micronutrients for immune health, creative culinary pairings and evidence-based lifestyle habits, and 65% plan to incorporate all or most of the information they learned into their


APC’s newly-introduced quarterly webinar series for 2021 covered pecans’ tree-to-table story (photo courtesy American Pecan Growers.)

everyday practice. Additional attendee feedback demonstrated strong interest in recipe ideas and pecans’ application to a variety of health needs, which will help guide future content we distribute to the Pecan Powerhouses Network.

Retail Dietitians Business Alliance

The RDBA is a first-of-its kind professional group representing 2,400 retail dietitians throughout the U.S. and Canada. These professionals work for and/or consult to major supermarket retailers, helping customers and employees with food, culinary and nutrition topics. Our partnership with this key dietetic practice group was four-fold, including development of a sponsor page on their website, participation in Samplefest, a Snacking Trends Webinar and dedicated e-blasts to their membership. Our Sponsor Page on RDBA’s website offered retail dietitians easy access to the APC’s health professional-facing resources and talking points about pecans taste, versatility, and nutrient makeup for convenient use in virtual and in-store activations. Samplefest is an activation put on by RDBA that pairs insights and information on trending topics with product samples in one tailored bundle specifically for retail dietitians. As a sponsor, APC was able to place educational resources and pecan product in the hands of 227 retail dietitians representing 44 major grocery retailers. These resources included a bento box, double-sided

educational handout and single-serving pecan pack. RDBA’s engaging snacking trends webinar we were the sponsor of served to increase visibility of pecans and grew awareness of pecans’ nutritional attributes and culinary versatility. In the pre-webinar promotion, 6.4k+ health professionals were reached and 11 major retailers were represented among the attendees, which collectively encompass approximately 7.2k retail locations. Lastly, two dedicated e-blasts sent out to the RDBA database served as successful promotional channels for the Pecan Powerhouses Network and our 2021 webinar series. We made great inroads with the vital audience that is the health professional community in 2021. Looking forward to 2022, our topline objective will be to continue to increase consumption of, recommendation and positive sentiment for pecans among targeted health professionals. Building off the momentum of this past year, we will continue to grow the Pecan Powerhouses Network and build partnerships to position pecans’ heritage story as an interest hook and key differentiator, leverage pecans’ unique trifecta encompassing taste, satisfaction and nutritional value, and elevate the experience of pecans as the “foodie” nut for all. Comments about this article? We want to hear from you. Feel free to email us at article@jcsmarketinginc.com

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Ant Management in Almonds Plan Ahead for Ants to Prevent Damage at Harvest By KATHY COATNEY | Contributing Writer

T The amount of ant damage sustained is directly proportional to how long the nuts are sitting on the ground, according to UCCE Entomologist David Haviland.

here are two main ant pests in almonds: the pavement ant and the southern fire ant. The pavement ant is about 0.13 inch long, dark brown and covered with coarse hairs. It has ridges on its head that are visible with a hand lens and prefers to nest in sandy or loam soils. It’s found throughout the Central Valley, but most commonly in the northern San Joaquin and Sacramento valleys. The southern fire ant is 0.07 to 0.25 inch long and has an amber head and thorax with a black abdomen. Compared to pavement ants, fire ants vigorously swarm from the nest entrance when disturbed. “Both ant species are primarily protein feeders,” according to David Haviland, UCCE entomology and pest management farm advisor for Kern County, and almond kernels are excellent sources of protein. “That’s why we grow them and eat them. “Different ants respond differently to different climates, different ground covers, different types of soils and different amounts of rainfall,” Haviland said. Neither species likes to climb trees, but once the nuts are harvested and on the ground, they eat them, especially if there’s an opening in the shell.

Ant Management

“The amount of ant damage sustained is directly proportional to how long the nuts are sitting on the ground,” Haviland said, so the biggest factor in ant management is manipulating how long the nuts are on the ground. “Once the nuts are shaken, of course

Continued on Page 86 84

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Continued from Page 84 they need to dry, they need to be blown, windrowed and then picked up. And the issue is, from an ant management standpoint, the longer the nuts are on the tree, and the drier they are when you shake the tree, the less time they need on the ground before you can pick them up,” Haviland said. But the longer the nuts are left in the tree, the longer they are exposed to navel orangeworm. So growers are juggling between harvesting the trees as late as possible to minimize ant damage and getting the nuts off the tree as fast as possible to prevent naval orangeworm damage. “What ends up happening is growers primarily deal with the ants by applying baits, and then shaking the trees as soon as possible,” Haviland said.

a couple of weeks, and then give them tons of water, those tomatoes expand really fast and split. The same can happen with cherries close to harvest if you get a rainstorm,” Haviland said, adding uniform irrigation and growth equals a more uniform shell. There are organic baits, but they aren’t as effective as conventional baits, Haviland said. “For organic growers, it really comes down to getting the nuts off the ground as fast as possible. Also, a lot of organic growers, in order to help prevent damage from navel orangeworm, tend to grow more hard shell varieties because they’re less susceptible to navel orangeworm. That also makes those varieties less susceptible to ant damage.”

Shell Uniformity

Hard shell varieties are less susceptible to ant damage than soft shell varieties. “All varieties have split hulls, but the integrity of the shells does change,” Haviland said, adding the way the almonds are managed during the year can affect the integrity of the shell. Haviland explains that if almonds are really wet, then really dry, then really wet, then really dry, there will be periods of rapid hull expansion, and it can impact the uniformity of the shell. It’s similar to growing backyard tomatoes. “If you forget to water them for 86

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Organic Management

December 2021

Determining Damage

Taking annual samples at harvest is important to determine the level of ant damage. “One way you can tell that it’s ant damage is that the ants don’t like the skin of the kernel. So, if all the white meat part of a kernel is eaten out, and there’s still remnants of the skin from the surface of the kernel, that’s ant damage,” Haviland said, adding they will also leave behind a powdery substance that is an indication of ant damage.

ONE WAY YOU CAN TELL THAT IT'S ANT DAMAGE IS THAT THE ANTS DON'T LIKE THE SKIN OF THE KERNEL. SO, IF ALL THE WHITE MEAT PART OF A KERNEL IS EATEN OUT, AND THERE'S STILL REMNANTS OF THE SKIN FROM THE SURFACE OF THE KERNEL, THAT'S ANT DAMAGE. – DAVID HAVILAND, UCCE

Pros and Cons of Specific Baits

Baits fall into two main groups. Clinch, Esteem, Extinguish are all applied approximately two months before harvest (May and June). The worker ants take the bait into the colony, it’s fed to the queens and the queens become sterile and/or die. “This has been a standard practice for a couple of decades,” Haviland said. There is also a newer bait called Altrevin. Altrevin works much faster, but doesn’t have the residual effect of the other baits. “Growers that want to use Altrevin will typically apply it within a couple of weeks of harvest,” Haviland said. The advantage of first three baits are that they are inexpensive and applied earlier in the season when typically labor and equipment are available to make those applications. In comparison, an application of Altrevin must be made just prior to harvest when growers are in harvest preparation and equipment may be tied up with hull split sprays, mowing and other ground preparations. “There’s just a lot of things going on at that time, where it’s nice to just say in May or June that you’ve checked the box, you’ve put out your baits and ants won’t be a problem,” Haviland said. But Altrevin has the advantage that growers can monitor ant populations and decide whether or not to treat two weeks before harvest. “It’s easier to react to the popula-


There are two main ant pests in almonds: the pavement ant (pictured) and the southern fire ant (photos by Jack Kelly Clark, UC Statewide IPM Program.)

tion in the field with a later treatment, whereas most treatments that are done in May and June are done on more of a presence/absence preventative approach, which works and is very effective. But in hindsight, all of those fields may not have needed treatment,” Haviland said. If growers have the manpower and the ability to make a late application, they could save money using Altrevin because they might not need to make an application, depending on ant populations. To maintain bait quality and maximize bait pickup by ants: Don’t use baits within 24 hours after an irrigation or 48 hours before an irrigation with sprinklers or microsprinklers. The soil surface should be dry so that moisture is not absorbed by the bait and reduce its attractiveness to the ants.

Use bait products soon after opening and do not store bait for more than a few weeks. Open bags should be used within a week or two so that the soybean oil does not become rancid and be less attractive to ants. Purchase only as much bait as can be used in the current season.

Monitoring

Monitoring is always advised, but at the same time, thresholds can be difficult to interpret, Haviland said. “Imagine if you harvest a field and you get the nuts out within three days, versus harvest the same field, on the same day, but it takes you 10 days to remove the nuts. That’s the difference between ants being a problem or not,” Haviland said. Treatment isn’t solely dependent on how many ants there are; it’s also dependent on the details of harvest, how

much equipment a grower has and how long the nuts are on the ground. “Sometimes those details aren’t available until real time. In May, you don’t know if it’s going be sunny or whether a cool rainstorm will come in the middle of harvest. That’s not common, but still, you don’t know what the weather is going to be until the week of the weather,” Haviland said, and if yields are higher than expected, it can impact how much time it takes to get the nuts out of the field. There are ant monitoring guidelines available on the UC IPM website at www2.ipm.ucanr.edu/agriculture/almond/Ants/.

Comments about this article? We want to hear from you. Feel free to email us at article@jcsmarketinginc.com

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with the California Walnut Board and Commission on this year ’s California Waln ut Conference. The purpose of extending to a two-day conference is to have time to present a more in depth look at what’s happening in the walnut industry on both a domestic as well as international level. This two-day conference will feature crop research, consumption research, marketing and industry updates and more. My vision for this event 10 years ago was for it to become the key event for the Walnut Industry and to create a space where the industry wou ld come to gether to learn from each other and access information and technolo gies that are for walnuts. I know moving to a 2-day event is a significant chan ge and bigger commitment for all involved than the past years half day show . However, in today's climate we are in need of a better understanding of the industry and where we are headed and we feel that this conference is a key opportunity to help the industry lead a new path of positive change by hold ing a comprehensive conference with our industry partners, UC Research and the California Walnut Board and Commission. Please clear your schedule and be part of the change and experience on both days, our industry needs your participation and prospective. Register today: wcngg. com/events

Jason Scott

Jason Scott | Publisher

iforrtant to the Cal ce is very impo en er nf Co t nu al t with our The California W portunity to mee op an ts en es pr d as it re out what’s nia Walnut Boar information ab te da to up t os ve them the m e a fantastic way growers and gi ence sessions ar er nf co e Th . ry e indust ement, happening in th st on pest manag te la e th on n io h ceive educat studied throug for growers to re currently being cs pi to r he ot d ement, an s can hear orchard manag itionally, grower dd A . m ra og Pr tion Research d the CWB Produc ted in the US an s being conduc m ra og pr g tin us marke t the work about the vario learn more abou as l el w as , ow gr g product they eased to work d for the amazin an m de ild alnut Board is pl bu W to ia ed rn gn ifo si al C de e Th export markets ational alnut industry. nt and our educ the California w ne r po fo m te co ca w vo ho ad g to nce in the trades the CWC is doin ent. Their experie ev is th te na di s experience. ting to coor dustry a first clas in r with JCS Marke ou s er off at tion th tive Director, cu e x inning combina E | w a r ly fo el e n ak n o m sessions Michelle C ission

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Climate Change and Impacts on Pest Generations

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Mites- A Growing Concern in Walnuts

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New Technologies in Spraying and Why Calibration Will Still Be Important

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Crown Gall--Rootstocks, Treatments and Strategies

Living with Low Winter Chill in Walnuts

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