West Coast Nut - April 2022

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WEST COAST NUT

April 2022 ISSUE

SPOTLIGHT ARTICLE:

PHYTOPHTHORA IN NEW PISTACHIO ORCHARDS

IN THIS ISSUE:

TOP FIVE QUESTIONS FOR NEW TECHNOLOGY SEE PAGE 16

SEE PAGE 42

PISTACHIO INDUSTRY ANNUAL CONFERENCE COVERAGE

SEE PAGE 24

PRODUCED IN THE HEART OF

ALMOND HULL PRICE BOOM SEE PAGE 50

JUNE 8, 2022

BY REAL CALIFORNIANS

See page 23

PUBLICATION

Photo by Catherine Merlo


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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 American Pecan Council Contributing Writer

Theresa Kiehn President and CEO, AgSafe

Aubrey Bettencourt President and CEO, Almond Alliance of California

Rich Kreps CCA, SSp., Contributing Writer

Vicky Boyd Contributing Writer Ashtyn Carr Contributing Writer

Mitch Lies Contributing Writer Catherine Merlo Contributing Writer

Taylor Chalstrom Digital Content Editor

Marcelo L. Moretti Assistant Professor, Oregon State University, Corvallis

David Haviland UCCE Entomology Advisor, Kern County

Rafael M. Pedroso Research Associate, Oregon State University, Corvallis

Julie R. Johnson Contributing Writer

UC Cooperative Extension Advisory Board Surendra K. Dara Director, North Willamette Research and Extension Center Kevin Day County Director/UCCE Pomology Farm Advisor, Tulare/Kings Counties Elizabeth Fichtner UCCE Farm Advisor, Tulare County

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

Katherine Jarvis-Shean UCCE Area Orchard Systems Advisor, Yolo and Solano

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.

Award Winning Editorial By the Industry, For the Industry

IN THIS ISSUE 4

Hello Old Foe: Evolving NOW Strategies May Create Opening for Peach Twig Borer

8

California Walnuts Face Export Headwinds as Chile and China Ramp Up Production.

16

Five Questions to Ask Before Taking the Plunge with New Technology

20 24

Fresno State Trains Leaders for the Nut Processing Industry

26 30 34

Integrated Approach to Managing Aflatoxin in Pistachios

Pistachio Industry Still Bullish Despite Looming Large Crops Ahead

The Burden of a Broken Supply Chain on California Ag Exports Andersen & Sons: Twenty Years in, the Sons Continue to Grow the Vertical Walnut Business

38

Maximizing Spider Mite Biocontrol in Almonds Starts with Monitoring

42 46

Phytophthora Issues on the Rise in Pistachios

50 54 60 64 68

View From the Top: Q and A with Wonderful Orchards President Rob Yraceburu Almond Hull Prices are a Bright Spot for the Almond Industry Voluntary Quality Assurance Program For Pecans Scouting for Ants—“The Silent Yield Robbers” Research and Resources for Cover Crop Practices Can Electricity Aid in the Fight Against Herbicide-Resistant Italian Ryegrass in Hazelnuts?

72

COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave: What You Need to Know for 2022

76

Add Soluble Nutrition to Retain Nutrition in Pistachios

SPOTLIGHT ARTICLE: Phytophthora in New Pistachio Orchards As more pistachios are planted on marginal ground researchers are noticing an increase in Phytophthora crown and root rot in California pistachios. See page 42

April 2022

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HELLO OLD FOE

Evolving NOW Strategies May Create an Opening for Peach Twig Borer By CECILIA PARSONS | Associate Editor

Peach twig borer can cause serious structural damage on second-leaf trees that are being pruned to three primary scaffolds (photo by Jeff Wilk.)

W

ith most insect pest control attention in tree nut orchards now directed at navel orangeworm, it is possible that a previous almond pest can come creeping back into orchards. That could become the case with peach twig borer (PTB),

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warned Emily Symmes, senior technical field manager for Suterra. “Statewide, peach twig borer is not the concern it once was. We don’t see many in mature nut trees now, but if it infests young orchards, this pest can negatively impact tree development,” Symmes said. The almond industry’s shift away from dormant insecticide spray applications, elimination or reduced ‘May’ sprays for NOW control and increased adoption of mating disruption for NOW can present an opening for PTB, once held in check by those applications. CCA Justin Nay with Integral Ag said that as control chemistries and timings change in the future, almond growers could see larger PTB populations and damage in some years. “They can cause serious structural damage on second-leaf trees that are being pruned to three primary scaffolds,” Nay said.

PTB an Old Foe

Peach twig borer (Anarsia lineatella) was first reported in California in the 1880s. Until navel orangeworm became the primary insect pest in almonds, peach twig borer was considered to be the worst pest in almonds, damaging new shoots, killing terminal growth and feeding on almond kernels. Larvae of PTB overwinter inside tree bark cracks, in the crotches of one- to three-year-old wood and in pruning wounds. According to UC Integrated Pest Management guidelines, PTB larvae emerge around bloom and migrate up the twigs and branches, tunneling inside branches and killing the terminal shoot. Nay said the adult PTB moths are cryptic and look like bark or spur and are rarely seen in the orchard except in traps with lures for male PTB.

Continued on Page 6


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This pest has four generations per year. Peach twig borer adults begin to emerge in late March to early April. The moths are gray and a quarter- to half-inch in length. The adults lay eggs on twigs during May and June. Larvae hatch from those eggs in 4 to 18 days and will be the second flight of moths in late June and early July. The second-generation moths repeat the cycle, causing shoot and kernel damage and producing another generation. Almonds become more susceptible to PTB damage near harvest. Nay said PTB likes to lay eggs at nonpareil hull split and feed in the hull. They may also make their way to the kernels. For most almond varieties with decent shell seal, they rarely get into the kernels, but in some years can be numerous in the hull. Nay added that PTB rarely pupate in the nuts and a single larva can damage more than one nut. Feeding by PTB also makes kernels more attractive as feeding sites to NOW. Nay said in an average year, damage from PTB is usually less than 0.25% of harvest grades statewide, but every so often, the damage jumps to 1% or 2% and catches many growers off-guard, even when they are monitoring for the pest throughout the season. “On a high year, it is just one more thing that adds to the inedible on the grower’s grade sheet,” Nay said. Almond cultivars differ in susceptibility to kernel damage with Merced and Thompson the most susceptible. Nonpareil, Fritz, Price and Ne Plus Ultra follow in susceptibility. The primary issue with an infestation of PTB is the potential for damage to young trees. First-leaf orchards can lose terminal shoots and experience growth delay. Canopy growth can be impacted and scaffold selection in the first dormant season can be difficult. Shoots that have been mined by peach twig borer or oriental fruit moth larvae can cause the affected portion of the twig to wilt, a symptom known as “flagging” or a “shoot strike.” Severe

Developing a strategy for PTB control depends on an orchard environment, level of pressure, timing of other sprays and the need to control other insect pests (photo by J. Nay.)

PTB feeding can mimic the appearance of non-infectious bud failure because so many bud positions are eaten, failing to produce new shoots.

Monitoring and Management

Symmes said growers or orchard managers should be on the lookout in the spring for shoot strikes to determine if young trees are infested with PTB. Monitoring for PTB should begin in mid-April. When shoot strikes are observed, they should be cut down and sliced open to look for PTB larvae. PTB larvae are light brown with a black head and prothorax when they first hatch. The head and prothorax remain black as the larvae grow, but the body turns chocolate brown, and white coloration between each body segment gives the appearance of bands. Oriental fruit moth larvae may also be observed inside the sliced shoots. They are white or pink with a brown head. Finding four or more shoot strikes per tree in a mature orchard is an indication that a control action should be considered. Harvest samples should also be checked for PTB damage. Pheromone traps placed in orchards will catch a lot of PTB moths, Symmes said, so they alone are not a useful measure of PTB pressure.


Until navel orangeworm became the primary insect pest in almonds, peach twig borer was considered to be the worst pest (photo by Amanda Farqurhaso.)

The UCCE publication Sacramento Valley Orchard Source notes that the May spray timing for PTB can adequately protect developing prima-

ry scaffolds on new trees from shoot larvae and eggs. Bt provides an organic strikes. Protecting new shoot growth option for PTB control. on new trees in early spring is worth For biological control, the California the investment. Shoot strikes occurring gray ant, Formica aerata, is one of the at other times on vigorous nonbearing most effective predators of peach twig trees does not set trees back or warrant borer in the Central Valley. Ants feed control. on larvae found within the tree. The UC IPM Guidelines offer three Developing a strategy for PTB different management options for PTB control depends on an orchard envithroughout the growing season. Dorronment, level of pressure, timing of mant-season applications can be made other sprays and the need to control to kill larvae overwintering in the hiother insect pests. The dormant timing bernaculum, bloom time sprays can be should be considered if another spray made to kill the larvae with insecticides application is planned (e.g., scale treatthat do not target bees, and May spray ment). UC IPM Guidelines report that timing can be made to kill adult moths applying a tank mix of fungicides and and their first generation of larvae and PTB-specific insecticides at bloom can eggs. be effective. Applications of either Spinetoram (Delegate), Chlorantraniliprole (Altacor), Flubendiamide (Belt), Methoxyfenozide (Intrepid), Spinosad (Entrust, Success), Phosmet (Imidan), Esfenvaler- Comments about this article? We want ate (Asana XL) and Bacillus thuringien- to hear from you. Feel free to email us at article@jcsmarketinginc.com sis (BT) can be made to target moths,

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Competition Heats Up California walnuts face export headwinds as Chile and China ramp up production. By VICKY BOYD | Contributing Writer

O

ver the past decade, California walnut production has soared to record heights as new plantings begin bearing. But production and exports from a number of other countries, including China and Chile, have grown at an even faster rate, worrying some U.S. walnut handlers. To maintain export markets, they say, marketers should continue to promote the positive reputation of U.S. walnuts, the industry’s sustainability story and the nut’s healthful profile. “It’s about reliability, honoring contracts, settling complaints and concerns promptly, things on the customer service side,” said Bill Carriere, president and CEO of Carriere Family Farms in Glenn. “California has always had that advantage.” And Mike Poindexter, CEO of Poindexter Nut Co. in Selma, said the industry needs to develop new products that use walnuts, much like the almond industry has with its respective crop. His family-owned company now markets a line of flavored walnuts for snacking under the Crazy Go Nuts brand. Poindexter also applauded Mariani Nut Co. for its walnut milk. “It would be nice to have 50 handlers coming out with new products on their own,” he said.

To maintain export markets, a number of handlers say marketers should continue to promote the positive reputation of California walnuts, the industry’s sustainability story and the nut’s healthful profile (photo by California Walnut Board.)

China Walnut Production

China has aggressively increased walnut orchard development during

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AT EE US S ME O C

June 8th, 202

April 2022

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Continued from Page 8 the past two decades as well as upping its quality. The country grows varieties selected and bred there that differ from the English walnut varieties grown in California. Although the actual acreage is unknown, China has become the largest walnut producer in the world. “China is improving their quality, and that’s a concern,” Carriere said. “They’ve gotten some good varieties and the yields are really high. They have good kernel weight as well as color. I’ve seen some halves that are beautiful. Taste is still subjective. The problem is they’ve been so cheap on their prices.” Although many E.U. customers are still willing to pay for California nuts, Carriere said the more price-sensitive ones may take a chance with Chinese walnuts. Poindexter said California walnuts need to remain competitively priced though not necessarily the cheapest.

“We can’t be 40% higher and go into the market where walnuts are a pricey item for people,” he said. Both he and Carriere pointed to fall 2021 when initial USDA estimates put the California crop at 670,000 tons, prompting prices to rise on news of a shorter crop. Price-sensitive in-shell customers looked to China instead. The California crop turned out to be 50,000 tons larger than initially estimated. “By the time we found out that the handler estimate was more accurate, that in-shell market was lost to China. And by the way, we have 50,000 tons more nuts than we thought we had,” said Poindexter, a California Walnut Board member.

Chile, a Southern Hemisphere Producer

Chile, which also has improved its quality, grows mostly Serr and

Bill Carriere of Carriere Family Farms said California walnut handlers need to emphasize California’s reputation for safety quality and service over international competitors like Chile and China (photo courtesy B. Carriere.)

Chandler walnut varieties, the same as California. The South American country has taken advantage of the walnut health benefits touted by the California industry, Carriere said.

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“They’re kind of riding on our coat tails,” he said. “We’ve done a good job promoting walnuts in general.” Poindexter said he views Chile as more of a friendly competitor since their spring harvest is opposite California’s fall harvest. This is especially important to markets, such as the Middle East, that don’t have good cold supply chains. Buyer will source from California after the fall harvest and from Chile after its spring harvest. “Freshness is really important to them,” Poindexter said. “A lot of the open-air bazaars don’t have cold storage for keeping that product, so I would expect them to be much more active in the market.” In addition, Carriere said the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine does little to help the world walnut market. Ukraine was a major producer, exporting much of its product to Russia.

Closer to home, both he and Poindexter said California walnut growers need to take a hard look at their orchards and possibly remove poorer-quality blocks that are underperforming or contain older varieties. “We’ve enjoyed such high prices over the year’s past, I think we need to relook at how many acres we can support as far as the market and then remove our older varieties, like Chico and Tehama,” said Carriere, a California Walnut Board member. “There’s no way you can make any money with these, and it just adds to the problem.” Poindexter agreed, saying, “10% of our volume are older varieties that need to come out of the market. We need to get back into alignment of supply and demand.” In addition, Carriere said he favored increasing promotions. “I’m obviously a proponent of increasing marketing

China has aggressively increased walnut orchard development during the past two decades as well as upping its quality to compete with California (photo by V. Boyd.)

spending, whether it’s just California generic marketing or branded marketing; we need both.”

Shipping Challenges

Probably more of a concern than global competition has been recent shipping issues, Carriere said. He pointed to his family’s operation, which

Continued on Page 12

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Continued from Page 11 only exported about half as much in 2021 as it did in 2020. Supply was not an issue but rather obtaining enough shipping containers and transportation. Importers have begun booking orders for May and June shipment, hoping to receive them before the big holiday season. But he said Chilean exporters face similar shipping back-ups. “It’s delaying their shipments as badly as ours,” Carriere said. “Their harvest is coming up and they’re not going to get their stuff shipped out, so it will push everything back.”

A Decade of Growth

From 2011 to 2021, California walnut production increased by 46% while global production increased by 81%, according to figures presented by Claire Lee, California Walnut Commission assistant marketing director for international trade. In 2020, the state’s

California walnut growers need to take a hard look at their orchards and possibly remove poorer-quality blocks that are underperforming or contain older varieties (photo by V. Boyd.)

growers harvested a record crop of 783,000 tons. Of that, 63% was exported, making markets abroad crucial to the industry’s health. Much of the growth has occurred during the past five years, with global production increasing by 235,618 metric tons, or 259,724 short tons, Lee said during the recent 2022 UCCE virtual

statewide walnut series. During the 2017-18 marketing year, the U.S. accounted for 29% of world production, with China accounting for 42% and Chile 5%. Five years later, the U.S. represented 27% of world production, China 49% and Chile 7%. “Global production is outpacing California walnut production; that’s just because the countries that produce walnuts are producing more and more,” Lee said. Broken down into global suppliers, the U.S. remains the top exporter with 54% of world trade during the 2020-21 marketing year. Only five years ago, it dominated with 68%. Exports from China have grown to 13%, up from just 2% in 2017-18. And Chile now accounts for 16% of exports compared to 13% five years ago.

Changing Economic Policy

Daniel Sumner, director of the UC Agricultural Issues Center and an agricultural economics professor, said Chile’s increasing walnut quantity and quality now makes the South American country a competitor. It also has made inroads into profitable export markets, such as the E.U., shared by the U.S. How much more Chile expands walnut production and exports will depend on its political climate, he said. “They have a changing economic policy,” Sumner said during the UC virtual statewide walnut series. “They had a very business-friendly eco-

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Shipping issues have been more of a concern to some walnut handlers than export market competition (photo by Port of Oakland.)

Continued from Page 12 nomic policy for two decades. The current government is anti-government and anti-business. So that doesn’t change the amount of walnuts that are in orchards, but it does mean Chile, at least for a while, has these policies hostile to business.” Determining actual acreage and production in China is difficult, since the government there doesn’t release figures, he said. But China is facing different political pressures that involve the government underwriting unprofitable businesses. “The government has discovered that throwing money at businesses isn’t good,” Sumner said. “That doesn’t do anything for five- to ten-year-old walnut trees. Whether they replace those or not [in the future] is another question.”

The California Walnut Differences

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Lee said the California Walnut Commission, which promotes walnuts internationally, will continue to focus on the state’s reputation as a sought-after walnut producer. Included in the messaging are high food safety standards, year-round

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availability and high quality. And it seems to resonate well with customers, based on consumer surveys conducted in Korea, Lee said. One respondent favored the image of California’s sunny growing climate and that the state’s walnut growers “know what they’re doing.” Another respondent chose California walnuts because they worried about the food safety of Chinese products. “I don’t worry about California,” the respondent said. While California walnuts are sold to more than 50 countries, the No. 1 customer remains the U.S., where domestic use takes about 30% of the state’s production. At the core of the commission’s activities is getting more people abroad to eat more walnuts, said Pamela Graviet, commission senior marketing director, international. “Per-capita consumption outside the U.S. is lower than we’d like it to be,” she said. To that end, the grower-supported organization has promotional programs in nine key international markets. They focus on new ways to use and consume walnuts as well as the nut’s health benefits, supported by more than 30 years of research. “To have walnuts more readily available, programs are also designed to inspire chefs and food manufacturers on how to use walnuts in menus and new products,” Graviet said. “This goes beyond snacking and baking to where walnuts can be easily incorporated into plant-based meat substitutes, offering flavor, texture and increased nutrition.” In their favor, walnuts are the only tree nut that contains a significant amount of omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid, the plant-based omega-3 essential fatty acid bodies need but can only get from food. Several studies have shown diets rich in omega-3 ALAs offer multiple health benefits. Comments about this article? We want to hear from you. Feel free to email us at article@jcsmarketinginc.com


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Investing in New Technology?

Five Questions to Ask Before You Take the Plunge By CECILIA PARSONS | Associate Editor

A

well-thought-out plan for use of new technology and a clear understanding of your goals when adopting it can ensure a return on investment. Seth Hansen, independent PCA/CCA and owner of Reliant Crop Services in Fresno, said a grower should be guided by their valuation of their farming operation and a long- and short-term vision of what they intend to achieve. “We have all been to meetings and trade shows and seen the latest and greatest in technology, but first you have to figure out what you need,” Hansen said. “Will this new technology take you where you want to be?” A grower roadmap should take into consideration current challenges in their farming operation and challenges that are on the horizon. An objective look at financial considerations and the size of their operation is also important. For example, Hansen said, the information on moisture sensors sounds great, but what if you have a good irrigator or agronomist and your irrigation efficiency is already dialed in? But, he said, if there is a problem with crop quality like kernel shrivel or your orchard is in the white zone of a groundwater sustainability agency, considering a sensor to improve irrigation might be a smart move. Pat Biddy with Tulare-based Vanguard Ag said prospective buyers should ask themselves what is driving their decision to purchase new technology. If a decision to buy is made because of a sales pitch or the ‘cool’ factor of a product, buyer remorse may be in their future. David Doll, ‘The Almond Doctor,’ said ag technology companies have focused on a variety of issues in tree nuts, including irrigation, pollination and 16

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April 2022

A well-thought-out plan for use of new technology and a clear understanding of your goals when adopting it can ensure a return on investment (all photos by Marni Katz.)

It is in a grower’s best interest to choose a partner that is sensor agnostic, according to Vanguard Ag’s Pat Biddy. Some companies only offer their sensor and do not work well with others.

aerial imagery. Some ideas have been great and evolved into successful companies. Other companies have failed to execute the idea or have overestimated the need for their product by the tree nut industry. The top five most important questions a grower should ask before signing a contract to purchase new technology, as suggested by Hansen, Biddy and Doll are:

Do they give you action on an item or charts and squiggly lines?

A follow-up question would be: are these action items being directed by more than one type of sensor? Biddy said that “when”, “where” and “how long” questions need to be answered by their software or service. If they cannot explain clearly to you, then move on. Make sure the question is answered by at least three different types of technology. Some companies only offer their sensor, Biddy said, and


do not work well with others. It is in your best interest to choose a partner that is sensor-agnostic and to use the Almond Board’s Irrigation Improvement Continuum as a guideline. Make sure you have access to an agronomist to answer questions, he added. Doll suggested asking for crop-specific research available to support the analysis used by the technology, including number of studies and where they were performed. Companies also need to communicate clearly about their products. The sales staff should be knowledgeable about the product and how it is applied to the field.

Ask yourself: Where are you today and where do you want to be in five years?

Biddy recommends choosing a business partner that meets your goals today as well as future needs. An example would be starting off with weather monitoring and moving to a long-term goal of full irrigation control. Make sure it can all be done on the same platform, he said. Staffing changes or

additions may be necessary in your operation to meet goals. Biddy said it is important to have a champion of the technology on staff and have the financial ability to meet goals.

Can their hardware expand and adapt to the fast pace of technological advancement?

Biddy noted that technology changes fast and you want to make sure the product won’t become out of date. With new sensors, telemetry providers need to be able to connect with other sensors, not just their own. It is also important that they can connect to many different sensor types and are willing to implement new ones. Is the partner able to adapt to changes out of their control? Biddy said that 3G cellular phaseout has a lot of companies scrambling to supply new modems or telemetry to their customers. He advised to make sure the that as 3G phases out, the only replacement

“Do your homework, don’t just take their word for it. Check out the company’s background.” – Pat Biddy, Vanguard Ag

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Continued from Page 17 needed will be the modem and not all the telemetry. If a service tech must visit your telemetry station to update its firmware, you are using out of date equipment, Biddy said.

Do they have local support?

Find out if that is actually the case, Biddy said. Many companies claim they have local personnel, but determine what they mean by “local.” Without local service, support and sales, it can cost in s ervice fees, support fees and down equipment. The company must answer the question: Whom do I call to fix problems? Doll wrote. What is the typical maintenance schedule and life expectancy of the hardware, how frequently is the software updated and who is expected to perform the maintenance are follow-up questions.

Is the company financially stable enough to stand on its own?

If a service tech must visit your telemetry station to update its firmware, you are using out of date equipment.

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Biddy said you are taking a huge risk by choosing a partner that cannot stand on its own. A lot of technology companies are venture capital financed or government funded. That can be okay, Biddy said, but you have to recognize the risks of dealing with a company that could lose financial backing and go out of business. “Do your homework, don’t just take their word for it. Check out the company’s background.” At UC Merced, there is ongoing research on grower decisions on adoption of new technology. UC Merced is part of a National Science Foundation grant program that established the Engineering Research Center for the Internet of Things for Precision Agriculture (IoT4Ag). The program is focused on creating and translating into practice Internet of Things (IoT) technologies for precision agriculture as well as education and training a workforce. Catherine Keske, professor in the UC Merced engineering department, and graduate students Christopher Bernal and Nicolaus Goncalves have been involved in a project where they interview tree nut growers about their decisions to adopt new ag technologies for use in their operations. Midwest schools in the NSF program are focused on row crop growers. Not surprisingly, Keske said, tree nut growers’ number-one concern with new technology was profitability and return on investment. “They want to know if adoption of new technology is worth the money. What will it mean to their bottom line?” Keske said. Keske said the project is ongoing and the UC Merced team would like to find tree nut growers to participate.

April 2022

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Fresno State is Training Tomorrow’s Leaders for the Nut Processing Industry

Industry-supported course and facility gives students hands-on learning opportunities in nut handling. By ASHTYN CARR | Contributing Writer

T

he classroom looks different for each generation. Our grandparents might remember a school filled with dirty chalkboards, hardback textbooks and mechanical pencil sharpeners bolted to the wall. On the other hand, Generation Z is familiar with smartboards, online courses and all things digital learning. There have been extraordinary changes when it comes to the learning experience. One of those changes has been the need for hands-on opportunities. At Fresno State, hands-on learning has taken on a new meaning for students interested in nut processing. For the past several years, university representatives along with industry leadership have been developing a course for students to learn more about nut processing lines.

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This course is structured as a four-hour contact per week class, made up of two hours of lecture and two hours of lab. Lecturers will feature people who work in the nut processing industry and local representatives. The hands-on experience comes from the lab portion of the course. Athanasios “Alex” Alexandrou, Ph.D. is one of many members of the team putting this project together. Alexandrou is a professor of Mechanized Agriculture and serves as the Department Chair for the Department of Industrial Technology in the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology at Fresno State. With his expertise in agricultural engineering and vast knowledge of local agriculture, Alexandrou has been an integral part of the team and an advocate for this type of course. “[This course] is an idea that we are pursuing in my department in the college lately, the last five years or even a little bit more, because we believe that hands-on experiences for students are extremely important for future professional development success,” Alexandrou said. The lab features a full nut processing line, which is the first time an American university has installed a full line used for a course. The idea was partly inspired by a similar line and packing facility that the university has for the citrus industry. Be that as it may, the need for a class such as this one was identified through industry skill gaps.

Filling a Need

The Western Agricultural Processing Association was heavily involved with the planning and execution of the project. Located in Fresno, WAPA is a regulatory and legislative organization that advocates for and represents the four major tree nut commodities grown in the state. In December 2018, one of WAPA’s board members came to the association with an issue he was seeing when filling roles for his operations. Dan Pronsolino is the General Manager at Cortina Hulling and Shelling, which owns and operates both Cortina Hulling and Shelling and Dunnigan Hills Hulling and Shelling. Pronsolino has a lifetime of experience under his belt that was put to use in the early stages of the project. Unfortunately, Pronsolino was finding that many of the recent college graduates applying to nut processing workforce positions did not have a great deal of experience within the processing facilities. Chris McGlothlin, director of technical services at WAPA,


Fresno State is the first university in the country to put a nut processing facility on campus (all photos courtesy Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, Fresno State.)

remembers Pronsolino identifying an area as “being critical to the advancement of the industry,” that area being the development of some kind of work experience that better equipped participants with skills necessary for the nut processing and packing workplace. The goal was, and still is, to teach students about the equipment and operations through collaboration with other industry leadership. “We thought that it would be a no brainer to go straight to the university

The need for a class such as this one was identified through industry skill gaps. Nut processors have found in recent years that many of the recent college graduates applying to nut processing workforce positions need more experience in further processing facilities.

in our backyard and work with them on something,” McGlothlin said. “A class or just kind of an introduction for these students to be able to get their hands dirty with the type of equipment that they would find, and give them an introduction to the business, to the industry. Then have those students, if they’re interested in it, be able to make those contacts with industry representatives to find employment opportunities.”

Excitement from Industry

Once the idea was set in motion, there was no stopping the team. They began working on securing donations and equipment. However, there were many obstacles they had to overcome. From the COVID-19 pandemic to spacing issues to university protocols, it took a little while for the ball to get rolling. In the meantime, Pronsolino and others worked with vendors to get

Continued on Page 22

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The new facility at Fresno State is home to six pieces of equipment, including a TOMRA Nimbus 640 color sorter (the most technologically advanced machine in the lab) and a Nolin gyratory sizer.

Continued from Page 21 equipment in the lab. With so much vendor support, Pronsolino said they had more materials donated than they had space for. “The vendors were so excited about [the lab] because they’re all starving for people just the same,” Pronsolino said. “The vendors were all over it. It was not difficult to get donations at all.” The full line of equipment was unveiled April 1, 2022. Gary Dunn, director of capital projects at Wonderful Pistachio and Almonds, was a driving force in installing the machinery. Dunn

With so much vendor support, the lab ended up having more materials donated than they had space for.

has 27 years of experience with Wonderful Pistachio and Almonds, and much of that is in processing, equipment design and installation. Although it is a complete nut processing line, the pieces are separated so that students can get a closer look at each piece of machinery and conceptualize the process more efficiently. “You know, for the students, it’s nice to know what gravity separation is or what color sorting is or what sizing is and how all that stuff works,” Dunn said. “So, all the equipment we have in there is basically set up to run as an individual piece of equipment. You put

the product in one side, it comes out in maybe two or three different streams based on what you’re trying to do.” The facility is home to six pieces of equipment. Dunn says their TOMRA Nimbus 640 color sorter is the most technologically advanced machine in the lab. Other machinery includes a Nolin gyratory sizer, Forsberg TKV-25 Gravity Deck, Forsberg G2 Destoner, AB FAB aspirator and QCIFY automated quality grading machine. In addition to the processing machinery, the lab has some pieces of auxiliary equipment that support the line. “I hire a lot of engineers, and what I’m really looking forward to is seeing what this will yield for us in the future,” Dunn said. “For students, even if they can come through this and understand what basic processing equipment is for the industry, it’s going to help the industry as a whole.” The nut processing line course is in its third trial semester. Though enrollment has been controlled by the department thus far, it will soon open as an upper-level course with no prerequisites to all university students. Alexandrou says that the overarching goal of this course is to provide the nut processing industry with employable workers who have the right skill set for the job. “We envision ourselves in a very close relationship with the local industry,” he said. “Trying to satisfy their educational needs to the best of our abilities. We are very happy because we can feel their support and their excitement.”

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Pistachio Industry Conference 2022

Pistachio Industry Still Bullish Despite Looming Large Crops Ahead

A panel of pistachio industry veterans discussed what the next five years will bring for the pistachio industry. Moderated by Rich Kreps of Lark Farms, the panel included, from left: Dennis Woods, Woods Family Farms, Dominic Pitigliano, Pitigliano Farms, Jimi Valov, Valov & sons Farming, Justin Wylie, Wylie Farms, Michael Woolf, Mike Woolf Farming, and Ted Sheely, Sheely Family Farms (all photos by M. Katz.)

By MARNI KATZ | Editor

W

hile American pistachio growers continue to produce record crops, innovative marketing that capitalizes on the unique health benefits of consuming pistachios continues to boost demand for pistachios worldwide. As a result, attendees at this year’s Pistachio Industry Annual Conference heard significant optimism from speakers, exhibitors and American Pistachio Growers during the two-day event in Carlsbad, Calif. As 2021 produced a second record-breaking crop year in a row, industry leaders are starting to ask “what is an off year” for the alternate bearing crop, said APG present Richard Matoian. “For the next several years, we will have ever-increasing crops based on new acres going into the ground,” Matoian said. The industry between 2011 and 2016 planted an average of 33,000 acres a year. That new acreage dropped off for three years following, but hit that level again in 2021. As a result, bearing acres will continue to increase to an estimated 500,000 bearing acres in 2025 and production will increase by nearly a third by 2026. Despite that growth, Matoian said aggressive marketing should continue to maintain stable prices for growers and handlers alike. “I believe that we will be able to effectively market ahead of these big 24

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crops we have got coming,” he said. Judy Hirigoyen, VP of Global Marketing for American Pistachio Growers, explained how value-added marketing will negate the impact of increased production and reduce price sensitivity through expansion into new markets and targeting promotions deeper into existing markets. Exports continue to be a bright spot for the future of pistachios, growing at an estimated clip of 16% a year. Recent growth has been propelled by messaging about the health benefits of pistachios as a complete protein. A grower panel of industry veterans generally expressed that same level of optimism. Panelists included APG Chair Dennis Woods, Woods Family Farms; immediate past chair Dominic Pitigliano of Pitigliano Farms; and other past chairmen or committee leaders Jimi Valov, Valov & Sons Farming, Justin Wylie, Wylie Farms, Michael Woolf, Mike Woolf Farming, and Ted Sheely, Sheely Family Farms. Pitigliano noted that China and other key markets he has visited in his role as chairman state a preference for pistachios produced in California compared to other international producers. Woolf recognized the value in the data collection APG provides that provides a roadmap for where the industry is headed. He said APG’s 860 member entities in three states need to

Judy Hirigoyen, VP of Global Marketing for American Pistachio Growers, provided an update on the growth of export markets for American pistachios and efforts to grow demand for the “perfect protein” worldwide to offset increased production.

A highlight of this year’s Pistachio Industry Conference was an interview with Buffalo Bills star quarterback, and pistachio grower, Josh Allen by pistachio industry spokesperson Dr. Mike Rousell.

The trade show provided opportunities for industry networking.


The California legislature’s bipartisan “Problem Solvers Caucus” discussed ways state senators and assemblypersons work together to find common ground for California agriculture. From left, Assemblymember Adam Gray, D-Dist. 21; Senator Melissa Hurtado, D-Dist. 14; Assemblymember Heath Flora, R-Dist. 12; and Assemblymember Jordan Cunningham, R-Dist. 35, answer questions from panel moderators.

Growers were happy to be together in person after a year away from the annual industry event.

UC IPM Advisor David Haviland answers questions following a presentation on NOW and Gill's mealybug.

continue to find common ground to move the industry forward. “We have nine out of the 10 processors as part of this group. I think the future is very rosy, but we have to stay together,” Woolf said. India continues to be a strong market for pistachios from the United States, and its increasing population, per capita income and buying power give the market tremendous potential. Several speakers spoke to how the plant-based protein of pistachios align well with eating and buying trends in the U.S. and internationally in markets such as India, a largely vegetarian market that values plantbased protein sources that do not require refrigeration. “One in 10 people in the world live in India, so that’s a big market that could easily absorb the 2.4 billion pounds we have coming,” Woods said. “We are chasing a big wave and that’s fortunate. The challenge is to get a luxury nut to become a common food to the population in India.” Conference sessions from production seminars to marketing proceedings focused on the costs and control of navel orangeworm. It was estimated that NOW cost growers $500 an acre in 2021, and that cost is projected to increase to $600 an acre in 2022 and perhaps $900 an acre by 2026 in management costs and lost bonus income. Sheely shared his experiences with eradicating pink bollworm as a cotton farmer using sterile insect technology and outlined how the pistachio industry’s investment in SIT could hopefully help suppress NOW as well to keep those costs down. APG has helped leverage $22 million in federal funding for a pilot project for NOW sterile insect technology, and it is estimated the industry will need $21 million a year over the next few years to expand the program. Comments about this article? We want to hear from you. Feel free to email us at article@jcsmarketinginc.com COMPLETE PLANTS Built to Fit Your Needs

Hossien Robani, Cyrus Kashefi and Ramin Robani, from left, enjoy the Carlsbad, Calif sun during a break at the APG’s Pistachio Industry Conference.

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Integrated Approach to Managing Aflatoxin in Pistachios New research suggests areawide approach improves efficacy of biological control. By MITCH LIES | Contributing Writer

R

esearch is showing that an areawide approach may be necessary for pistachio growers to optimize a biological control program for aflatoxin. Speaking at UC ANR Statewide Pistachio Day on Jan. 20, UC Davis Plant Pathologist Themis Michailides said the research is showing that where large blocks of pistachios and almonds are treated with the biological control agent Aspergillus Flavus 36 Prevail, the efficacy improves dramatically over cases where adjacent orchards are left untreated. Under existing practices, the biological control agent, which is an atoxigenic strain of Aspergillus, is displacing 50% to 70% of the toxigenic strain of Aspergillus when used in California pistachio orchards, Michailides said. This is well below displacement levels cotton and corn producers in Arizona and Texas are achieving under the program and also below what initial research indicated was possible in pistachios. “In Arizona, where this material is applied to reduce aflatoxin in cotton seed and in corn in Texas, they get consistently 80% to 90%+ displacement,” Michailides said, “and that results in very significant reduction of positive samples of aflatoxin.” Aflatoxins are subject to strict regulatory limits in the U.S. and European food markets. Allowances for almonds and pistachios are capped at 20 parts per billion (ppb) in the U.S. and 10 ppb in Europe, with that dropping to 8 ppb for the B1 aflatoxin. Aflatoxin contamination also makes up the highest percentage of incidents in the Rapid Alert System for Feed and Food notifications, a system for reporting food safety issues in the European Union, making up between 50% to 76% of the alerts between 2014 and 2018. At 14% to 39%, ochratoxin alerts are a distant second in percentage of alerts. Biological control of aflatoxin was 26

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among several approaches for minimizing aflatoxin contamination in pistachios that Michailides addressed in his presentation.

Early Splits and NOW

Among other approaches, Michailides said it is critical to avoid tree stress and subsequent development of early splits by applying sufficient irrigation early in the season. “[Early splits] are very good sores for infection by Aspergillus fungi and infestation by the navel orangeworm,” Michailides said. He added that experiments have shown that trees stressed early in the season are more susceptible to early splits. Rootstock selection also can help reduce early splits, given that some are more prone to early splits development than others. In experiments, UCB1 and PGI (Pioneer Gold) had lower incidence of early splits than Pistacia atlantica and PGII, he said. Reducing navel orangeworm (NOW) populations through chemical and cultural control programs, such as orchard sanitation during fall and winter months, can be critical to minimizing aflatoxin levels, he said. Not only does NOW create wounds that can be an avenue for Aspergillus to infect nuts, it can also carry spores of Aspergillus for infection. “In lab studies, we have shown that as you reduce the damage of NOW, there is a linear correlation in the reduction of aflatoxin positives,” he said. Also, he said, removing mummies is important to reducing levels of Aspergillus in an orchard, given that some may be infected when they fall to the ground, and these can subsequently introduce Aspergillus to soil. The fungi then can become airborne on the dust of soil and can reach canopies and infect nuts.

Early splits, shown here in September, have several drawbacks in pistachio production, including providing entry points for aflatoxin infection (all photos by T. Michailides.)

This photo shows the sporulation of Afla-Guard GR (left) under 96.5 degrees relative humidity versus AF36 Prevail (right).

Another key approach to minimizing aflatoxin in pistachios involves timely harvest, he said, specifically avoiding late harvests if possible. “The amounts of aflatoxins increase as we delay harvest,” Michailides said. “In fact, the re-shakes will have the highest incidence of positives and also the highest amounts of aflatoxin.” It also is important for processing plants to sort out defective nuts to minimize aflatoxin levels in pistachios, he said.

AF36 Biological Approach

Michailides noted, however, that even after incorporating all of these measures, growers can still have issues with afla-

Continued on Page 28



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Continued from Page 26 toxin. “And that is why we move to new approaches and to use a biological control of aflatoxin by using the atoxigenic strains of Aspergillus flavus, or strains that do not produce aflatoxin.” Biological control programs to date have involved applying the atoxigenic strain to orchards with the intent of displacing the toxigenic strains. Four years of research showed displacement rates of 90% to 95% in pistachios, which led to an average of 40% reduction in aflatoxin contaminated pistachios in the first harvest and up to a 55% reduction in re-shakes. Additional research, which involved inoculating pistachio fruit with toxi-

genic and atoxigenic Aspergillus, also showed a significant reduction in aflatoxin contamination, including the highly regulated aflatoxin B1. “So, this tells us that if a nut is infected with both strains, the toxigenic and AF36, aflatoxin will not be produced,” Michailides said. In researching methods to improve the performance of biological control programs, researchers (Drs. Ramon Jaime and Michailides) compared the treatment efficacy based on whether adjacent orchards were also treated. In the experiment, researchers were able to achieve atoxigenic displacement rates of between 75% to 95% in the treated blocks that were surrounded by other treated blocks. This is well above what

they were able to achieve in orchards adjacent to untreated blocks and well above the industry’s current displacement rates. “That indicates to us that we are going in the right direction to reduce the incidence of aflatoxin positive samples even more,” he said regarding support of areawide biological control programs. A similar study in almonds also showed an improved displacement rate when a treated orchard is surrounded by other treated blocks and a lower displacement rate when adjacent blocks were untreated. Researchers were able to achieve an 80% displacement rate in this study, he said, despite very high levels of toxigenic strains in the treated orchard’s soils.

New Product

Up until this past year, the sole biological control product for aflatoxin registered for use in California pistachios, almonds and figs was AF36 Prevail. Produced by the Arizona Research Protection Council, it uses milo as its carrier. Last summer, an additional atoxigenic strain of Aspergillus flavus was approved for use in California pistachios, almonds, peanuts and corn. Called Afla-Guard GR, the product, produced by Syngenta, uses barley as its carrier. In experiments, Afla-Guard sporulated well under relatively low temperatures and low moisture and at high humidity. And the product held up well to ant and beetle predation, Michailides said. Growers should irrigate just prior or immediately after application of the two biological control products, Michailides said, and avoid spraying herbicides for one to two weeks after application. He added that there are no negative effects from switching to Afla-Guard after several years of using AF36 Prevail if growers so desire. Comments about this article? We want to hear from you. Feel free to email us at article@jcsmarketinginc.com

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THE BURDEN OF A BROKEN SUPPLY CHAIN ON CALIFORNIA AGRICULTURE EXPORTS By AUBREY BETTENCOURT | President and CEO, Almond Alliance of California

L

ong before the invasion of Ukraine, the agricultural community of the U.S. had been bearing the burden of a broken supply chain. The consumer and many in the agricultural community know full well how long it’s taking to export and receive certain orders. For many, the tracking number for their package is traced to a dot floating in the Pacific.

One of the most significant economic impacts on American farmers, small businesses, truckers and America’s economic standing globally is our export crisis. A recent survey of agricultural exporters by the national Ag Trade Coalition found that lost sales ranged from $120,000 for the smallest company up to as much as $65 million, and

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load of American exports. Box Rules permit intermodal equipment providers (IEP) and ocean carriers to restrict which IEP’s equipment may be used to transport containers. A trucker must use the ocean carrier’s designated intermodal equipment provider’s chassis, or they cannot pick up a shipment or move an empty. Truckers constantly have to go back and forth to switch chassis to pick up a load or

an empty container, artificially contributing to the already short supply of chassis. Gross Vehicle Weight restrictions vary from state to state, particularly coming into port in California. These rules create massive inefficiencies, as trucks inbound from out of state with heavier loads must stop and break

Continued on Page 32

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A recent survey of agricultural exporters by the national Ag Trade Coalition found that lost sales ranged from $120,000 for the smallest company up to as much as $65 million, and 85% said sales were lost as a result of not being able to deliver within the contracted time frame (photo courtesy CCAGA.)

85% said sales were lost as a result of not being able to deliver within the contracted time frame. To name a few, citrus, pork, dairy, rice and almonds have experienced tremendous disruption and loss. UC Davis found that California agriculture lost $2.1 billion in export in five months in 2021.

Contributing Factors

The export crisis stems from a series of contributing factors: Undersized & out-of-date infrastructure unable to keep up with the COVID-19 spike of 20% increase in imported goods. According to an October 2021 study by the World Bank and IHS Markit, of 351 container ports around the globe, Los Angeles was ranked 328, and the port of Long Beach at 333 for efficiency and modernity. Ships that used to take 15 days to traverse the Pacific and unload now take 50 days, making turning around with empty containers more financially attractive than taking the extra time to pick up a

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Continued from Page 31 down the load onto smaller trucks to meet California’s truck weight standards. Although increased to 88,000 pounds from 80,000 by Governor Gavin Newsom, it’s still limiting the movement of product and increasing freight costs compared to the Pacific Northwest, where truck weights of 105,500 pounds are allowed. Combined with a trucker shortage of about 90,000, we’re again undersized and out of date. The White House reported that detention and demurrage fees had increased 50% over just one financial quarter to $2.2 billion. State and Federal legislators continue scrambling to figure out what can be done.

Legislation in the Works

With funding from the USDA and partnership from CDFA, the Port of Oakland, the nation’s largest agricultural export port, is working to alleviate the congestion and entice ocean carriers to return service. For example, the Port of Oakland has set up a 25-acre empty yard where containers are made available for rapid access by exporters. In Congress, the bipartisan Ocean Shipping Reform Act carried by Rep. Garamendi and Rep. Johnson passed the House, and with the help of Sen. Klobuchar and Sen. Thune, it is working its way through the Senate. While the legislation is still being refined to address box rules, it also empowers the Federal Maritime Commission to hold foreign carriers accountable for refusing exports. The Ocean Shipping Reform Act would: Prohibit ocean carriers from unreasonably declining opportunities for U.S. exports. Promote transparency by requiring ocean common carriers to report to the FMC each quarter on total import/export tonnage and 20-foot-equivalent units (loaded/empty) per vessel that makes port in the U.S. Authorize the FMC to self-initiate investigations of ocean common carrier’s business practices and apply enforcement measures, as appropriate. Establish new authority for the FMC to register shipping exchanges to improve the negotiation of service contracts. In the California State Legislature, Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry introduced AB 2406 to prohibit intermodal marine equipment providers or intermodal marine terminal

The Port of Oakland has set up a 25-acre empty yard where containers are made available for rapid access by exporters (photo courtesy Port of Oakland.)

operators from imposing per diem, detention, demurrage, extending dwell or congestion charges under certain circumstances that are not within the control of the importer, exporter or trucker. The ag community is not facing a supply problem or a demand problem. It’s a leadership problem. The attention provided by the state and federal administrations is appreciated, but it’s treating symptoms, not the disease. We must explore and exercise the full authority of the U.S. and the State of California to find whatever recourse or incentive available to hold carriers to contracts. The California farmer is heading into what might be the most expensive year of farming in their lifetime. The cost of water is on the rise heading into the third year of reduced water allocations and drought. The fuel cost is equally increasing, the irregularity and increased cost of critical fertilizer and plant health products exacerbated by the war in Ukraine. On any product sold but not delivered, payments were never received. The 2022 cash flow is tight, and still, the trees continue to grow, and the 2022 crop will be harvested soon. American farmers, workers, small businesses, truckers and everyone along the way can’t hold much longer. As an ag community, we are headed into tough times. So much of the supply chain crisis seems out of our control. Still, we are resilient, sophisticated and adaptable. While we continue to call for leadership to defend the American worker, farmer, small business and position in the world, it is apparent we cannot leave this up to the government alone to solve. Like everything else on the farm, we’re going to have to solve this problem for ourselves. At the Almond Alliance, we continue to be a resounding voice in Washington and Sacramento, elevating the reality of the crisis and advocating for real solutions, not just temporary relief. We continue to work with our partners and our members on the ground to explore, identify and create workable options and find technical and financial resources to keep our farmers farming. Comments about this article? We want to hear from you. Feel free to email us at article@jcsmarketinginc.com

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ANDERSEN & SONS: TWENTY YEARS IN, THE SONS CONTINUE TO GROW THE VERTICAL WALNUT BUSINESS By JULIE R. JOHNSON | Contributing Writer

W

hen Mike and Pat Andersen graduated from California State University, Chico (Mike with a degree in plant sciences in 2001 and Pat in ag business two years later), the brothers had developed a business plan for their fourth-generation walnut, prune and cattle ranch in Vina, Calif. However, the duo had no idea at the time that their humble beginnings would grow into one of the industry’s most successful nut growing, shelling, processing and marketing companies in the west. But the Andersen’s story starts much earlier than that. “Our great-grandfather bought the original acreage right here where we are today in 1904 and planted it in row crops,” Mike said. “Then our grandfather planted the family’s first walnuts in 1944, the year our father, Frank, was born.” Pat adds, “That’s how we became tree farmers really, my grandpa started planting walnuts and prunes, so at that point they became tree farmers.” Both Mike and Pat grew up on the Vina ranch, both attending the local elementary school and high school. “We are truly homegrown farmers working the family farm,” Mike said. “Something that is becoming less and less common in the agriculture industry.” They worked on the ranch from the time they could find ways to help and always knew their lives would follow in their father, grandfather and great-grandfather’s footsteps. “I was only 24-years-old when Pat and I started processing our own walnuts and those for a neighbor grower.

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We built a tiny plant and sold all our nuts the first year and just kept going from there,” Mike says. “Those first few years it was about a million pounds annually.” The brothers’ success just kept growing, and rather quickly, to three million pounds, then six and eight and up. “We are still growing today, this is our 20th season of processing and I’m now 45 and Pat 43,” Mike adds. “We don’t see any slowing down any time soon.” Mike operates the farming, marketing and processing side of things, while Pat runs the operation’s finances. Currently, Andersen & Sons farms 2,500 acres of their own nuts, with about 180 outside growers. “We have a lot of really good partners,” Mike said. One of the big changes the brothers undertook as they transitioned into running the company was upgrading to modern technology, both at the plant and in the orchard. “Our mom, Glenda, did all the bookwork on paper by hand,” Pat explains. “While I was in college, I talked her into working on a computer and using QuickBooks. But she was never a fan.” Frank Anderson is semi-retired. “He spends half the year up in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and half his time here at home,” Mile said. Glenda passed away a few years back, but in her memory, the brothers named a line of their most current products after her. The company’s website says it best: “In homage to Glenda Andersen, the Andersen brothers’ mother, we developed Glenda’s Farmhouse brand.

Mike, left, and Pat Andersen of Andersen & Sons Shelling in Vina, Calif. stand next to one of the original walnut trees planted on the property which now is home to a state-of-the-art nut storage, drying, shelling and processing plant along with hundreds of acres in walnuts and prunes (all photos by J.R. Johnson.)

Pat Andersen shows one of the pieces of nut processing equipment in Andersen & Sons’ one-stop-shop plant in Vina.

Glenda’s Farmhouse was designed to provide 100% whole ingredients and healthy alternatives to cooking at home.” The line offers packaged organic walnuts, pistachios, pecans, almonds and cashews. “We are also introducing a flavored line of products and a line of plantbased protein substitute made out of walnuts to substitute hamburger,” Mike

Continued on Page 36


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Continued from Page 34 said. “We do just about everything anymore if it has to do with the nut.” The marketing focus is mainly domestic, much of it direct to retail channels. “We do a lot of private labels,” Mike said. “We have a lot of big-name customers, such as Costco, Walmart and Trader Joe’s, and many of the supermarkets. For instance, we have 15 items on the shelves at WinCo.” The original business plan developed by the brothers 20 years ago “tapped out at around 15 million pounds,” said Pat. “That occurred at year four.” That leads Mike to believe anyone can find success if they have the right work ethic. That work ethic for the brothers includes always doing what they say they are going to do. “That isn’t always the case in business. Our reputation is very important to us, and a reputation of honesty is essential to our customers, our name and brand,” Mike explained. As the current almond and walnut market is struggling a bit right now, he said, the demand at Andersen & Sons supersedes their supply. That is one of the business’s keys to success. “That is how we keep growing. We have a demand domestically that makes it possible for us to accept new growers and have a home for their nuts,” Mike added. “It’s about supply and demand and keeping the right balance.”

in the shell, hull, dry, process, pasteurize and put them in a retail container, either our own or a label for someone else, whatever the customer wants, and then ship it,” Mike said. “Providing for our growers and buyers in a timely, fresh and honest manner is one of our prime goals.” The plant’s pasteurization system, the Stein JSP-1, uses

Just outside his Andersen & Sons office, Mike Andersen shares a picture of this grandfather, who planted the first walnuts at the Vina property, and his sons, including Mike's father, Frank, who, although semi-retired, likes to do his part on the farm still today.

The Plant

Built in 2017, the Andersen’s storage, shelling, processing and packaging plant is very close to being fully automated; however, quality control is always done by skilled, specially trained employees to keep this, the most important point in the process, up to the company’s standards. “We designed the plant knowing what we wanted. Working with contractors, we were able to construct a plant that provides farm-to-table products that are as fresh as possible,” Mike said. Pat and Mike explain one of the thoughts behind their design was to make it possible to do everything in one place. “We can bring in the nuts from the grower, store them

During a tour of Andersen & Sons Shelling, Clayton Handy takes a look at the plant's in-shell walnut storage facility, which features 12-inch-thick concrete walls to help keep the walnuts at a constant cool temperature.

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Kristin Coley of Andersen & Sons Marketing and Customer Relations is a part of the Andersen team to promote the company's unique plant, services and products.


helping a lot to reduce pest and disease pressure,” Mike said. The Andersens are also committed to being “bee friendly.” “We provide our bees with forage and water buckets, and only spray at night when the bees are in their hives,” he added. “We are about 50% towards receiving our Bee Friendly certificate.” The Andersens also grow almonds, about 450 acres, in Durham.

The Future

Fourth-generation walnut growers Pat, left, and Mike Andersen are extremely proud of the products their company provides, their orchards and the processing plant they have created.

According to Mike, the processing side of the business has expanded enough to concentrate on what they have built and streamlining the processing and efficiency. “We have a great group of growers, and we will just grow with our growers. Most of them have young trees and will grow 5% to 10% a year,” Mike said. “I was on a call with a grower this morning and he just bought another 60 acres in walnuts and asked if we would accept it and I said sure.” With walnuts being a healthy nut, he

ISOMATE Andersen & Sons Shelling company created a product line in honor of Mike and Pat’s late mother, Glenda. Glenda's Farmhouse markets packaged, flavored nuts to a domestic market.

a steam and heat treatment method which eliminates salmonella and other pathogens without compromising the integrity of the raw nut. Currently, the plant can put out 30 to 40 tons of shelled walnuts an hour.

The Farm

The Andersen’s grow walnut varieties Chandler and Howard on VX211 rootstock. As do most walnut growers, they fight the problems of blight, Huskfly, navel orangeworm and Bot disease. “For a lot of those problems, the dry weather we are going through is a good thing. That and orchard sanitation are

sees more and more people turning to plant-based alternatives, and walnuts products can fill that need. “I believe this is one of the markets we can look to now and in the future,” Mike said. “We have to continue to be open to all possible marketing potentials in the nut industry.” Mike explained Andersen & Sons is not the “norm” in the walnut industry as the majority of their marketing is domestic, about 75% domestic and 25% export. Pat and Mike agree that it appears the company’s future will continue to be focused on domestic sales. “It really depends on the year, but we are finding the domestic market just keeps growing and the demand is following suit,” Mike said. “During the pandemic when people were staying home and cooking more, we were extremely busy keeping up on the demand.” Comments about this article? We want to hear from you. Feel free to email us at article@jcsmarketinginc.com

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Maximizing Spider Mite Biocontrol in Almonds Starts with Monitoring By DAVID HAVILAND | UCCE Entomology Advisor, Kern County

S

pider mites are a perennial pest of almonds throughout California. They are present in all orchards, in all years and in all parts of the state. However, there are significant differences from year to year and from orchard to orchard in mite density. These differences are driven by ‘push’ factors that promote mites (e.g., hot dry weather, dust and plant stress) and ‘pull’ factors like natural enemies that help control them. Miticides are only needed in cases where the pushes outweigh the pulls. For several decades, we have measured the ‘push’ side of mite management through presence-absence treatment thresholds. These were developed by Frank Zalom and colleagues in the mid-1980s. They found that if natural enemies are present, treatment with a miticide is needed if 43.6% of leaves are infested. If predators are absent, that treatment threshold should be reduced to 22.0%. At the time, the most common natural enemies were predatory mites (phytoseiids), which were easily monitored through the same leaf sampling program used to monitor mites. Over the past several years, our team has conducted research to revisit the topic of treatment thresholds. The premise of that research was that much has changed since the 1980s. Yields are higher, the industry has moved southward, and pesticide programs dominated by broad-spectrum organophosphates have been replaced by programs using selective reduced-risk materials. From a natural enemy perspective, almond orchards have become a much ‘greener’ place to live. 38

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Figure 1. Spider mite treatment thresholds for almond. An action threshold of 1.4 mites per leaf is the equivalent of seasonal captures of sixspotted thrips on predator traps.

What We Know

Research showed that in the presence of natural enemies, almond growers should make a decision to treat mites (action threshold) when there are 1.4 mites per leaf (38% of leaves infested) to prevent mites from reaching a treatment threshold of 5.4 mites per leaf one week later (Figure 1). This threshold correlated nearly perfectly with the thresholds previously established in 1985 and have been promoted since that time on the UC IPM Program’s Pest Management Guidelines for Spider Mites in Almonds (www2.ipm. ucanr.edu/agriculture/almond/). However, research also noted significant differences between the 1980s and 2010s regarding biological

Continued on Page 40

Figure 2. Sixspotted thrips adults captured on a sticky card. Individual thrips are about 1/8 inch long (photo courtesy D. Haviland.)


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Continued from Page 38 control. In the 1980s, predatory mites were the predominant predator, but are now much less prevalent. This phenomenon was seen in multiple regions of the state, regardless of the pesticide spray programs being used. Further investigation revealed the reason: sixspotted thrips (Figure 2, see page 38). Once considered an obscure natural enemy that was rarely noticed or written about, this mite predator was now omnipresent and had an equal appetite for both spider mites and predatory mites. Each year, sixspotted thrips adults became active in April and May as overwintering spider mites moved up into the canopy to start feeding (Figure 3). They continued to build their populations until the mites were gone, at which point they temporarily disappeared. Then, when spider mites returned as the weather turned hot and dusty, and as tree stress increased after hull split, there was about a twoweek lag time followed by a return of the thrips. This pattern has been seen repeatedly over the past few years in orchards throughout the state. Sixspotted thrips feed almost exclusively on mites and consume an average of 50 eggs per day at 86 degrees F. They thrive in hot, dry climates and like to live in tight spaces, such as inside spider mite webbing. The population is comprised of approximately 90% females and can double in size every four days when abundant food is present. This allows them to quickly out-reproduce the spider mites and cause their populations to crash (Figure 4). Our understanding of sixspotted thrips biology comes in large part from the development of a cheap, easy, and effective way to assess thrips populations through the use of traps. There is one particular trap called a Predator Trap (Trécé, Inc., available at Great Lakes IPM) that is extremely effective at capturing sixspotted thrips (Figure 5, see page 41). Traps can be attached to a binder clip that is attached to a mid-canopy tree limb using an unwound paper clip at a rate of about one per 20 acres. An easy rule to follow is to place one predator trap at the location of each trap used for navel orange40

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Figure 3. Seasonal patterns in sixspotted thrips captures on predator traps in almond.

Figure 4. Predator-prey relationships between spider mites (solid line) and sixspotted thrips (dashed line). The lag time between prey and predators is about two to three weeks.

worm. After one week, the trap can be recovered and the sixspotted thrips can be counted. Thrips are easy to identify with a hand lens due to the three spots found on each wing and the fact that they are typically stuck on the trap feetdown (Figure 2, see page 38).

Practical Treatment Guidelines

Over the past few years, we have taken more than a thousand measurements of mite density (mites per leaf today) and thrips density (thrips caught per predator trap in the past seven days) and compared that to mite densi-

ty one and two weeks later. Those data were used to correlate changes in mite density associated with different predator-prey ratios. The results showed that mite density stays the same over seven days when there are 0.42 thrips per trap per week per every one mite per leaf. Efforts to convert this number into something for practical use by growers yielded two different thresholds for use at different times of the year. First, in the spring, as long as spider mite density remains below 40% of leaves infested, an average of one sixspotted thrips per trap per week is sufficient to predict


be needed at any point through harvest. If sixspotted thrips density is below three per trap per week, mites are present and the population is building, and it is the last opportunity to apply a miticide with a hull split spray. Then a treatment is warranted. Maximizing reliance on biological control is a highly sustainable way to manage spider mites. Sixspotted

thrips occur naturally and do not cost anything. Relying on them can save growers thousands of dollars in miticide bills while fulfilling industry goals of maximizing the use of sustainable almond production practices. Comments about this article? We want to hear from you. Feel free to email us at article@jcsmarketinginc.com

Figure 5. Monitoring for sixspotted thrips using predator traps is an essential part of IPM efforts to maximize reliance on biological control (photo courtesy D. Haviland.)

that spider mites will not exceed a threshold. To the contrary, within a couple of weeks, springtime spider mite density will crash to very low numbers for the late spring and early summer. This phenomenon has become almost universal, such that prophylactic applications of miticides as ‘May sprays’ have become obsolete. Exceptions are when broad-spectrum insecticides are used for pests like leaffooted bug, thus keeping the sixspotted thrips below a density of one per trap per week, at which point spider mites can become a problem. The second application of our predictive model is for use at hull split. At this time, treatment thresholds are tricky because you cannot exclusively ask if spider mites are at a treatment threshold. You also have to predict if a treatment threshold will be reached during harvest at a point after the last opportunity to apply a miticide with a navel orangeworm spray has passed. In this situation, a modified version of our predictive model showed that if you capture an average of three sixspotted thrips per trap per week, that mite density will stay the same or go down within 14 days, and a miticide will not April 2022

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Phytophthora Issues on the Rise in Pistachios

By MITCH LIES | Contributing Writer

A

s more pistachios are planted on marginal ground researchers are noticing an increase in Phytophthora crown and root rot in California pistachios. Speaking at the UC ANR Statewide Pistachio Day on Jan. 20, UC Davis plant pathologist Florent Trouillas, who is based at the Kearney Ag Center, said he would guess between 20% to 25% of pistachio plantings are on marginal soils that favor Phytophthora because of their propensity to create standing water.

“These are hardpan soils, high-saline soils, with poor water infiltration,” he said. Last year, Trouillas visited eight pistachio orchards with trees of varying ages and types, all of which were collapsing under pressure from the disease. “I have had many talks informing growers about this issue that we see is definitely on the rise,” Trouillas said. Phytophthora pathogens, which are fungus-like organisms, often, but not always, are introduced to orchards

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This picture shows gumming on the rootstock of a pistachio tree infected with Phytophthora (all photos by F. Trouillas.)

through contaminated surface water. “It comes from canal and river water, in general,” he said. “That is the way they generally are introduced into an orchard.” Phytophthora has not been found in well water, he said, but the pathogen also can infect orchards irrigated solely from well water, given that some of the Phytophthora pathogens are endemic and present in most soils. “So, over-irrigation may lead to Phytophthora problems, including in orchards that are on well water only,” he said. “These are diseases we find in soils with poor chemistry, poor water infiltration and drainage, such as heavy soils or hardpans and high-saline soils,” he said. “And, again, prolonged periods of high soil moisture are required for infection.”

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Phytophthora pathogens have resting structures call oospores that will germinate and produce sporangia when conditions are ripe, such as when soil is wet or moist. The sporangia contain zoospores that are capable of swimming through pores of soil and moving to tree roots when soil is flooded or saturated, leading to infection of roots and crowns of trees. The most common, or apparent,

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Continued from Page 42 symptoms appear as crown rot. “In the field, most often times, you will find crown rot,” Trouillas said. “Root rot is more difficult to diagnose.” Crown rot symptoms appear as light-colored gumming at the base of a tree. When removing the bark, cankerous tissue will appear just below the soil line. “These crown rots are very aggressive and fast-growing and can kill a tree over a growing season,” he said. “So, crown rot infection generally will lead to tree death.” Additional symptoms include black discoloration in the rootstock. “That is where the pathogen grows,” he said, “right around the cambium area. As the pathogen develops around the circumference of the trees, then trees are girdled, explaining this relatively fast decline that we see with Phytophthora crown rot. “It can kill trees of all ages, including second- and third-leaf trees as well

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as mature and very old trees, where usually in these old orchards there is oftentimes issues of soil compaction through the many passages of equipment,” he said. Phytophthora is distributed pretty much throughout the pistachio-growing counties of California, Trouillas said, and of the species present in California, Phytophthora niederhauserri, is the most common. Trouillas said he often sees Phytophthora in third- and fourth-leaf orchards when the irrigation line and the drip emitter is kept close to the trees. “That is generally a site where we see the disease,” he said, “so, start moving these lines away from the base of the tree starting in the second- and third-leaf of the orchard.”

Rootstock Tolerance

Much of the current research into Phytophthora in pistachios has focuses on analyzing rootstock tolerance. “When we think disease management for Phytophthora, of course

An aggressive disease, Phytophthora crown and root rot can kill a tree over a growing season.

there is water management, site selection, chemical treatments, including phosphites,” he said. “But the main focus of our research in the last few years has been looking at rootstock tolerance.” In the research, which has involved inoculating stems and roots of three commercial rootstocks, UCBI, PG1 and Platinum, Platinum has consistently outperformed the others. “Over several years, Platinum had smaller lesions when infected with Phytophthora, meaning it was the most tolerant rootstock when compared to PG1 and UCB1,” he said. Also, when inoculating soil, Platinum had less plant death than the others, he said. And when analyzing loss of root mass, Platinum again appeared to perform better, “meaning that we had less root decay following inoculation,” he said. An additional experiment with zoospores in flooded young trees again showed Platinum as the most tolerant to Phytophthora infection. “When we looked at crown rot in the zoospore experiment, there was no crown rot incidence in the Platinum, where almost 100% of the UCB1 and 60% of the PG1 had crown rot symptoms,” Trouillas said. “So, it is very clear that Platinum is


lem for pistachio orchards, Trouillas said. “However, the disease may arise if you are intercropping with cotton or tomatoes. “So, management is based on using the proper rootstock, and if you were to plant following cotton or tomatoes, then you should collect a soil sample and send it to a specialized laboratory to assess the number of microsclerotia per gram of soil,” he said. For almonds and pistachios, anything at or above three microsclerotia

per gram of soil is considered high risk for the disease to show up in an orchard. Also, he said, minimizing tree stress through maintenance of soil fertility and soil moisture will help trees tolerate the disease and encourage their recovery. “Also, remember that potassium deficiency may increase tree loss to Verticillium,” he said. Comments about this article? We want to hear from you. Feel free to email us at article@jcsmarketinginc.com

This picture shows a typical crown rot infection symptom in the bottom portion of the trunk of a pistachio tree.

the rootstock of choice in a situation where Phytophthora crown rot in California may be an issue,” he added.

Verticillium Wilt

Preliminary data are showing that Platinum performed well against Verticillium wilt as well, he said, which is another soilborne disease of concern in California pistachios. “When we looked at Platinum against Verticillium wilt, it performed as well as PG1,” he said. “So, it seems like, overall, we have definitely some promising results in terms of soilborne disease management when it comes to the selection of Platinum compared to the other rootstocks.” To date, the data on Verticillium wilt has been compiled by inoculating plantlets of PG1, UCB1 and Platinum with the pathogen Verticillium dahliae and rating the inoculated trees for wilting symptoms from mild to highly severe and death of the trees. “This is exciting data,” he said. “But keep in mind, these are preliminary results. We will repeat this type of experimentation in field conditions to confirm these findings.” In general, if using tolerant rootstock, Verticillium wilt should not be a prob-

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View from the Top Q&A with Wonderful Orchards President Rob Yraceburu ‘We Are Making Significant Investments’ in Efficiency and Sustainability Rob Yraceburu brought a “run it like you own it” mindset from his career at Wells Fargo Bank when he joined Wonderful Orchards (photo courtesy Wonderful Orchards.)

By CATHERINE MERLO | Contributing Writer

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I

t might be easy to think the Wonderful Company is somehow impervious to the pressures confronting California’s tree nut industry. It is, after all, the world’s largest grower and processor of pistachios and almonds. The company farms nearly 90,000 acres of tree nuts in the San Joaquin Valley and processes 700 million pounds of the two nut crops each year. On top of that, Wonderful also processes and markets the crops of 900 independent pistachio growers, whose orchards stretch from Kern County to north of Sacramento. These “grower partners” deliver their crops to Wonderful from acreage that’s separate from the company’s 90,000 owned acres. Wonderful’s tree nut farming, processing and marketing operations, including Wonderful Orchards, are all part of the $5 billion Wonderful Company. Leading Wonderful Orchards is Rob Yraceburu, a fourth-generation member of a Fresno farming family. Yraceburu spent 29 years with Wells Fargo Bank, where he headed its National Food and Agribusiness division. In 2015, he was approached by Stewart and Lynda Resnick, long-time customers of the bank and owners of the Wonderful Company. Wonderful Orchards’ long-time president was retiring, and the Resnicks asked Yraceburu to consider taking on the farming company’s top job. He joined as president later that year. Today, Yraceburu oversees a team responsible for farming Wonderful’s pistachios and almonds as well as 10,000 acres


Autonomous tractors and remote water sensing are two areas of testing and development at Wonderful Orchards (photo by C. Merlo.)

of pomegranates and wine grapes. He also leads Wonderful Nurseries and the company’s bee and pollination operations. During peak season, Wonderful’s farming operations employ about 4,000 people and another 2,500 people for processing and marketing. The company operates five tree-nut processing facilities, from Firebaugh to Lost Hills. Despite those impressive numbers, even Wonderful is contending with 2022’s tree nut industry pressures, including rising costs, slowing exports and lower prices. But, as Yraceburu shared in a late February interview with West Coast Nut, those challenges are driving Wonderful to look for new ways to maintain its tree nut success.

Q. What are the biggest challenges facing Wonderful’s tree nut production these days?

As with most players in the industry, we’re all facing a lot of challenges around higher input costs, pricing pressure for our crops, labor availability and water, just to name a few. The demand for our crops is the biggest motivator, and our top priority is to produce healthy, good-for-you food. We consistently evaluate all levels of our business, with an eye toward efficiency and sustainability, and we are making significant investments now and in the months and years to come. We have teams dedicated to advancing innovations, efficiency, technology, automation and sustainability.

garding remote water sensing. We don’t just irrigate off the calendar. We irrigate based on what the trees need. We mon-

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Continued from Page 47 itor evapotranspiration and tree stress using traditional infield soil sensors and pressure bombs as well as newer trunk sensors and aerial imagery.

Q. In terms of pricing, does Wonderful have an in-house or risk management team that sells the crop?

Nearly all almonds processed and marketed by Wonderful are produced on company-owned ranches. Our ability to impact almond markets is limited as there are over 100 handlers and we represent less than 4% of the industry. Conversely, we are the leader in the California pistachio industry and annually process and market over half of the state’s crop. We market five to six times more pistachios than we do almonds. The majority of those are produced by our grower partners. As a result, our marketing efforts are focused on pistachios, where we can truly

The Wonderful Company markets over half of the pistachios grown in California (photo by C. Merlo.)

make a difference. Our pistachio grower partners have enjoyed a better return, and our intention is to maintain that level of success for them. We’ve built our reputation on a steady, reliable supply of product to

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Q. One of the consequences of this pandemic has been the supply chain crisis. How has that affected you?

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The pandemic has put big burdens on supply chain and distribution channels, which has caused disruptions for many ag commodities, including nuts. It’s hard to get product shipped and moved to the consumer. As a result, inventories are growing, placing a downward pressure on prices. Only time will tell how quickly these disruptions are going to correct themselves and the long-term impact on prices. Furthermore, supply chain challenges have not only affected how we sell our product but have also reduced the availability and increased the cost of our inputs, including fertilizer, chemicals, packing material and more.


Q. What can you do about it?

There’s no easy answer. We are working with our business partners to look at more efficient ways of running every aspect of our business. We predicted the port challenges in August of last year and pre-shipped 60 million pounds of pistachios before we even had orders. We leveraged our size and industry knowledge to ensure our international customers were covered. We understand this is not the case for the entire industry, and their delay will result in industry opportunity loss and lower prices for growers. We obviously made the right decision to ship early, but the port challenges will continue to be a problem. It will take federal and/or state intervention to fix some of the systemic flaws in our ocean transportation system.

meet demand. We have a long-range plan to invest significant capital and expand our processing capabilities and marketing efforts to ensure grower-partner pistachios are harvested in a timely manner and achieve the highest grower returns. We look at various growth opportunities all the time, but we don’t wake up in the morning and say, ‘Let’s grow today.’ We wake up in the morning and say, ‘Let’s be collaborative and challenge each other in how we, with our grower partners, get better.’ Growth may come out of that. But we’re not here just to get bigger. Comments about this article? We want to hear from you. Feel free to email us at article@jcsmarketinginc.com

Q. What are your priorities for 2022?

Our top priority is to sell more nuts and to increase demand for our quality pistachios and almonds around the world. At the end of the day, we’re a company whose foundation is based on the people who live and work in the communities we serve. We believe investing in our employees results in excellence, and we have a long-standing commitment to the development and well-being of our employees. Finally, we are keenly focused on efficiency across our operations and will continue to address supply chain challenges through increased forward-planning.

Q. Where do you see California’s pistachio and almond industries three to five years from now?

Almond industry supply and demand will eventually become balanced. We’ve experienced distribution channel disruptions at the same time the industry has produced record crops. Combined, these factors have resulted in lower almond prices. Almond trees last 25 years and then need to be replaced. Given current prices, some growers will replace trees early, which will hopefully result in supply/demand coming back in line quicker. Pistachios, on the other hand, are a tree crop that never dies. We have some of the oldest pistachio trees in the state. Some are 60 years old and still yielding within 10% of our newer plantings. There are enough young pistachio trees in the ground right now to double this crop in the next 10 years. So, the industry will need to devote resources and focus its efforts on increasing demand for pistachios both in the U.S. and globally.

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Almond Hull Prices are a Bright Spot for the Almond Industry By CECILIA PARSONS | Associate Editor

Almond hulls are classified as a moderate neutral detergent fiber with a low crude protein level and high soluble carbohydrate level (photo courtesy M. Kelley.)

A

shortage of fiber feedstuffs for However, prices could reach the dairy cow feed is driving higher point where alternative fiber sources prices for almond hulls. are sought, he added. The primary market for this byproduct of the almond industry has Hull Prices Reflect Demand long been the daily ration consumed by Fermentable fiber is already in dairy cows. Hulls provide dietary fiber short supply in California and Susand digestible carbohydrates. As hay tainable Groundwater Management and other fiber sources have become Act regulations will make that shortscarcer, demand for hulls has increased. age worse, predicted Peter Robinson, “Hullers and shellers are in an envia dairy nutrition and management ous situation right now as the West is specialist for the University of short on fiber,” Mike Kelley, president California. of Central California Almond Growers “Almond hulls will have a role here, Association, said. but as with all feeds in the California Dry almond hulls are delivered to dairies Production of alfalfa hay, silage and dairy world, the price of the hulls, between 88% and 91% dry matter. In a total straw has decreased in California due relative to competing feeds, will drive mixed ration, they absorb moisture, gaining 2% to 4% in weight (photo courtesy Dave to drought and changes in cropping how much is fed. Supply of hulls will Phippen, Travaille and Phippen.) decisions, leaving dairies to increase also drive the price,” Robinson said. purchases of almond hulls for their Prices for hulls have nearly doudairy cow feed. Almond hulls are in bled since 2020. That year, the average ample supply in California, Kelley said, price per ton was $93. The average and the ‘lofty’ prices being received by price topped out at $130 per ton last Hull Sales Reduce Fees hullers and shellers reflect demand by year, and Kelley said that the 2022 harDave Phippen, grower-sheller-prothe state’s 1.6 million-plus dairy herd. vest would see hull prices in excess of cessor and partner in Manteca-based “Hulls are a real bright spot for the the $170-per-ton range. The demand, he Travaille and Phippen, said sales of almond industry right now,” Kelley said. noted, fortunately comes at a time when hulls traditionally reduced the fees “We have started this season in a good dairies are receiving stronger prices for of the hulling and shelling process place and have ample supplies of hulls.” their milk products. Continued on Page 52

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Continued from Page 50 paid by almond growers. “At a time when the prices for electricity, labor and transportation are on the rise, what a happy coincidence that so too has the value of hulls risen to deflect any potential increase in the hulling and shelling fees charged to growers,” Phippen said. He added that at this same time, many of the huller and sheller facilities have ditched the traditional method of charging a hulling and shelling fee by the pound of shelled almonds emerging from the huller. Phippen said that many now charge growers by the incoming weight of loads from the orchards. Hopefully, he said, this provides a sound reason for growers to do a better job of cleaning up loads by removing debris like sticks, stones and other foreign materials from field loads. Many growers now use conditioners on the windrows for this cleaning process.

Mike Kelley president and CEO of Central California Almond Growers Association, center, noted that new hulling and shelling technology is also helping deliver a quality product to dairies as more shells can be removed in processing (photo courtesy M. Kelley.)

Phippen said that any effort on the part Hull Standards of almond growers to remove foreign The California Department of Food debris from their loads has a directly and Agriculture has established a stanpositive correlation in lowering their dard for what can be sold as almond cost for the hulling and shelling process. hull feed, requiring it contains less than Traditional turnout ratios of the low 15% crude fiber. 20th percentile are moving towards the Kelley said hullers and shellers try high 20th percentile with this orchard to meet that standard, but that requires cleaning effort by growers, he said. some blending. On average, soft-shell varieties have a range of 11% to 12% fiber while pollinator varieties can have

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Prices for hulls have nearly doubled since 2020. That year, the average price per ton was $93. The average price topped out at $130 per ton last year (photo courtesy Dave Phippen, Travaille and Phippen.)

able in the future, Robinson predicted, due to its high water use relative to biomass produced. Alfalfa production will decline as it creates far too little biomass for the amount of ET water used, Robinson said. Corn silage and winter cereal crops make better use of water, he added. Straw and other low-quality forages along with almond hulls will be used to fill the gap. “Price of almond hulls will drive how much is fed going forward. Dairy

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16% to 22% fiber. “We watch closely to make sure we are meeting that 15% criteria,” Kelley said. Higher percentages of new softshell varieties, compared to hard and semisoft varieties of almonds, make that somewhat easier to create hull blends that are below the required 15% fiber. Kelley noted that new hulling and shelling technology is also helping deliver a quality product to dairies as more shells can be removed in processing. Robinson said that contamination and variability in hulls are two challenges for hull use by dairies. The less shell in the load, the more valuable the hulls are as part of the ration. Sourcing hulls from brokers and feed companies can create variation in hull quality at the dairy not from variance created on the processing side, but rather due to the differences in sources.

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Robinson said that dry almond hulls are delivered to dairies between 88% and 91% dry matter. In a total mixed ration, they absorb moisture, gaining 2% to 4% in weight. Hulls are classified as a moderate neutral detergent fiber with a low crude protein level and high soluble carbohydrate level. Overall, Robinson said, almond hulls as a dairy feed have a nutritional value equal to mid-grade alfalfa hay. Hulls can be included in dairy rations at levels as high as 20% of diet dry matter with little impact on milk production. Alfalfa availability will be question-

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A WORD FROM THE BOARD: AMERICAN PECAN COUNCIL

Voluntary Quality Assurance Program

Next Steps in Meeting Buyer Demands By AMERICAN PECAN COUNCIL | Contributing Writer

The U.S. pecan industry has been in the process of developing a voluntary Quality Assurance Program (QAP) through the American Pecan Council (APC) in order to address concerns such as increasing government regulations, changing consumer and buyer preferences and various food safety considerations (all photos courtesy APC.)

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022 is certainly moving full speed ahead with the dawn of Q2 upon us. U.S. agriculture is in a pivotal and transformative era, which is leading the food and agriculture supply chain to find new ways of building resilience to combat impacts on the food supply. Fundamental shifts that were already occurring in consumer markets accelerated with the onset of the pandemic. Developing a sustainability program that includes verifiable assurance standards has never been more critical for those involved in the agricultural industry. Producers are continuing to field an increasing number of questions from consumers and customers about how their product is grown and processed. Furthermore, increasing pressure is coming from the international community. Initiatives such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the E.U.’s Farm to Fork strategy are seeking to adopt more specific sustainability measures throughout the entire global food production system. U.S. agriculture is a leader in innovation and the sustainable practices. The ag industry has aggressively worked to increase sustainability by voluntarily tackling sustainability challenges with a myriad of robust and comprehensive ini-

Continued on Page 56



Continued from Page 54 tiatives. Commodities such as almonds, dairy and beef, among many others, have adopted sustainability programs in order to address the items and concerns outlined above. The U.S. pecan industry has been in the process of developing a voluntary Quality Assurance Program (QAP) through the American Pecan Council (APC) in order to address concerns such as increasing government regulations, changing consumer and buyer preferences and various food safety considerations. Consumers want to know their purchases are supporting environmentally and socially responsible practices. As consumers continue to ask more questions about their food and where it comes from, the U.S. pecan industry has focused on improving transparency across its supply chain. Over the last several years, buyers and

consumers are becoming more involved and part of the overall food safety, security, environmental and social responsibility discussion. This industrywide program provides transparency to pecan buyers by demonstrating the industry’s efforts to meet consumer needs while showcasing the growing and processing practices performed across the country to produce an exceptional product. Sustainability programs and a commitment to transparency build trusted relationships across the supply chain. This program gives the industry an avenue to communicate to consumers the high quality of the U.S. pecan product. Certified participants would have the ability to make a claim at the consumer level through an APC-branded logo. Through this verified program, consumers are assured that the product they are purchasing is

safe and of the highest quality. The strategic plan conducted by BCG defines the vision for the future of the U.S. pecan industry: “To increase demand for American pecans and provide industry with a path to sustainably grow profitability across the value chain.” The program development was aligned with the priorities identified in the strategic plan in order to maximize the benefits for the industry. Achieving a consistent, industry-driven sustainability program will help achieve those strategic priorities. The program showcases the practices of the industry and the collaborative efforts among industry members to enhance and support the U.S. pecan industry’s standing in the competitive global market while giving the industry credit for the practices already being done. U.S. pecan industry is very diverse

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with growing regions across the U.S. While this program covers the entire U.S. pecan industry, it also highlights the diversity of practices across the various pecan-growing regions. Creating a quality management program creates a unified voice across the industry by harmonizing the American pecan industry practices to the elevated U.S. pecan industry “standard” to ultimately make a claim at the consumer level through an APC‐branded logo, thus driving demand for U.S-grown and processed pecans. The Program acknowledges and enhances current industry practices and initiatives by creating a consistent set of verifiable quality assurance standards, adding value to participating growers, accumulators and shellers. It is also important to note that the Quality Assurance Program is a living standard. The industry will continuously innovate and explore new concepts and ideas. Quality is derived from a collaborative approach that considers both risks and opportunities throughout the supply chain.

Benefits for Participants in The U.S. Pecan Industry

As previously mentioned, many other commodities have this type of program already in place. There are also others that are following in pecan’s footsteps and are beginning to mirror the materiality assessment in phase 1 of the Program. There are many benefits in incorporating this type of Program, which is why many commodities have/are taking steps to develop. A well-organized, credible sustainability program can get participants: Improved Risk Management: Evaluating sustainability performance systematically can provide an early warning system to detect possible risks. According to McKinsey, the business value at stake of sustainability concerns can be as much as 70% of earnings. Greater Efficiency: Sustainability topics often directly or indirectly relate to operational costs. Benchmarking sustainability performance can highlight possibilities for cost-savings and shared learning. PepsiCo generated $375 million in savings due to its sustainability initiatives from 2010 to 2015. Better Customer Relationships: Grocers and retailers like Walmart are showcasing products from sustainable companies in their Sustainable Leaders shop. Walmart now buys 70% of its U.S. goods from suppliers that participate in their Sustainability Index. Revenue Growth and Improved Market Share: From 2010 to 2013, aggregate revenues from sustainable products and services climbed by 91%, while overall sales grew just 15%, among a sample of 12 S&P Global 100 companies. Meaningful Customer Engagement and Consumer Marketing: A recent international survey by Unilever found that 33% of consumers are now choosing to buy brands they believe are doing social or environmental good. Building Resilience During an Economic Downturn: Since COVID-19, 56% of Americans want both the government and brands to prioritize sustainability.

Update on the Process of Development

The Quality Assurance Program is structured as a process-based standard that is relevant to the operational context of growers, accumulators and shellers across the 15 U.S. pecan-growing states. The program development process is broken up in six phases. To date, Phases 1 and 2 of the programs which consisted of a materiality assessment and development of the drafted standard has been completed. Phase 1 involved a materiality assessment which assesses material topics to internal and external APC stakeholders through a two-dimensional process: Importance to Customers/Stakeholders and Environmental, Social and Economic Impacts. In other words, the materiality assessment helped identify and prioritize topics and issues of importance to both stakeholders within the industry as well as external, such as the buyers/retailers, while also measuring the potential impacts for the industry, its people, the environment and local communities. The results from this analysis identified priority focus areas important to sustaining profitability for the industry while mitigating risk and capitalizing on the demands of consumers. Phase 2 of the project involved the

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The Quality Assurance Program is a living standard. The industry will continuously innovate and explore new concepts and ideas.

Continued from Page 57 standard creation drafted from the priority topics identified in Phase 1. APC engaged a Quality Assurance Program working group of industry members to gather input and refine the program standard and governance documentation. APC also engaged a native pecan working group to provide feedback and direction on the inclusion of native pecans in the program. This past year, APC has been gathering feedback through various working groups and committee meetings as well as industry gatherings to discuss and set a solid foundation for the program. The feedback is vital to ensure the program is relevant and achievable across the U.S. pecan industry’s various pecan-growing regions. With the completion of these phases, APC is now moving into phases 3-6 of the project. In these phases, APC will continue to engage industry stakeholders, develop grower and

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handler handbooks to facilitate program implementation, perform readiness reviews to determine grower/sheller alignment to the standard and execute an external communication plan to create a robust marketing and reporting strategy that promotes the APC program standard and increases pecan demand.

We Need Your Help

Now that we have discussed the background of the Program, the ‘why’ behind implementation and the process of the development thus far, we can move into what the next steps are for the program. With the final feedback and approval of the working group and Grades & Standards committee, the Program will be moving into phase 3 of the project, which involves stakeholder engagement through an industrywide survey and public comment period. The program has been drafted and we want your feedback and thoughts! APC will notify industry as soon as the industrywide survey and public comment period is open through the In a Nutshell newsletter, publications and associations as well as on the industry website. This program was built by the industry, for the industry, and we continue to welcome your thoughts and feedback. Everyone’s feedback is critical to ensure the success of the Program for the U.S. pecan industry considering all the diverse aspects and natures of this industry. If you or a constituent have not done so already, you can register on the American Pecan website or reach out to Emma Garner at egarner@americanpecan.com to receive updates from the Council. We look forward to hearing from you! Comments about this article? We want to hear from you. Feel free to email us at article@jcsmarketinginc.com


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Scouting for Ants—“The Silent Yield Robbers” By CECILIA PARSONS | Associate Editor Ant damage can be a hidden problem, not realized until the numbers show on reject sheets from the processor (photo by Jack Kelly Clark, UC Statewide IPM Program.)

I

t is not too early in the growing season to begin planning ant control strategies for almond orchards. “Put it on your calendar, plan ahead,” advises Franz Niederholzer, UCCE farm advisor in Colusa, Yuba and Sutter counties. “Ants are silent yield robbers.” April to May is the start of ant scouting in San Joaquin Valley almond orchards. Warmer springs in the Sacramento Valley should have growers thinking about looking for ants in their orchards earlier than usual. If there is a history of ant damage in an orchard, growers and PCAs should be particularly alert for protein-feeding ants in almonds. There is no guarantee of repeat damage, but it certainly is a possibility, Niederholzer said. Only protein-feeding ants feed on almonds, entering through openings in the shell. Voracious ant feeding can leave a hollowed-out pellicle. Without weight of the kernel, the hull and shell can be blown out of the windrow at

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harvest, never picked up by the harvester. Those nuts don’t make it on the processor grade sheets and growers may not know the severity of ant damage to their crop, thus the silent yield robbers. Niederholzer said the longer the nuts are on the orchard floor after shaking, the greater the risk of ant damage. He reported that in 2020, ant damage to almond crops had increased over previous years. That damage may have been caused by extended drying times for nuts on the ground as a result of reduced solar radiation due to wildfire smoke.

bers show on reject sheets from the processor. Niederholzer recommends that harvest samples be taken when nuts are in the windrows to get an accurate picture of ant pressure in the orchard. This will take into account nuts that are not likely to get picked up due to their light weight. Taking a harvest sample of 500 nuts per block, cracking them open and looking for ant damage can give a grower or orchard manager an idea of what to expect when the nuts are processed.

Survey in Mid-Spring and Harvest

The two species of protein-feeding ants that infest almond orchards are pavement ants and Southern fire ant. Pavement ants are 0.13 inches long, dark brown and covered with coarse hairs. Using a hand lens, ridges on its head can be seen. The pavement ant prefers to nest in sandy or loam soils and the ant hills appear as small mounds or patches of loose soil. This species can be found throughout the Central Valley, but is more common in the northern San Joaquin and Sacramento valleys. Southern fire ants are 0.07 to 0.25 inch long and have amber heads/thoraxes with a black abdomen. This is the predominant protein-feeding ant in almond orchards. When nests are dis-

UC IPM Guidelines recommend surveying orchards for ant colonies in April or May. There is a correlation in ant damage between number of colonies and the time harvested almonds remain on the ground. UC IPM tables show that finding 15 colonies in April and May in 5,000 sq. ft. can result in 0.9% damage if nuts are on the orchard floor for four days. At 21 days, damage is estimated to be 4.9%. When 185 colonies are found in the same square footage, damage could hit 2% in nuts left on the ground for four days. At 21 days on the ground, damage rates are estimated at near 11%. Ant damage can also be a hidden problem, not realized until the num-

Protein-Feeding Ants


Southern fire ants can be confused with the pyramid ant, a beneficial species that is similar in size. It is a predator of peach twig borer (photo by Jack Kelly Clark, UC Statewide IPM Program.)

turbed, the fire ants will swarm out and deliver painful stings that can cause visible swelling. Southern fire ant nests are likely to be concentrated around the edges of

wetted areas in orchards with drip irrigation. In flood-irrigated orchards with heavy soils, fire ant nests are located mainly on the berms. In lighter soils, nests are found both on the berms

and in the middles. Southern fire ant nests are frequently found in clumps of weeds like nutsedge or spotted spurge. Southern fire ants can be confused

Continued on Page 62

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Southern fire ant nests are likely to be concentrated around the edges of wetted areas in orchards with drip irrigation (photo courtesy UC ANR.)

Continued from Page 61 with the pyramid ant, a beneficial species that is similar in size. It is a predator of peach twig borer. Pyramid ants do not swarm and attack when nests are disturbed.

UC IPM Guidelines note that damage from protein-feeding ants appears to be less in orchards with clean floors. Damage is also lower in almond varieties with a tight shell seal or with splits less than 0.03 inch wide. Shell seal can also vary from year to year depend-

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ing on variety, crop size and cultural practices. Heavy crops with small-size nuts appear to have less open shells and lower potential for ant damage. Orchard surveys will determine need for treatment. Niederholzer said he would not recommend regular ant control treatment without first scouting for protein-feeding ant species. Scouting is easy, he said, and ant bait is relatively inexpensive. Time spent baiting a block that doesn’t have treatable levels of ants is time not available for other orchard tasks. Niederholzer said that given the levels of damage associated with even small populations and short time on the ground, the economic threshold is pretty low. “One-percent damage in a 2,000-pound crop is $50 if nuts are $2 a pound. I don’t think control measures, including material and labor, are that costly.” If an orchard survey indicates the need for control, baits are the recommended material. Foraging ants will collect the bait and take it back to the nest where it eventually kills or sterilizes the queen and developing larvae fail to mature. Niederholzer emphasized that timing with baits is important. Bait products, such as Clinch, Esteem and Extinguish, should be applied four to 10 weeks prior to estimated harvest to allow them time to work. Altrevin is a newer bait product that works within days but does not have the residual effect of the others. Bait quality is important. Niederholzer advised deciding on the product you will use and making sure it is available. The soybean component of the bait can become rancid over time and will not attract ants. Only the amount of bait needed for one season should be purchased. Soil surface in the orchard should be dry when the bait is applied so the moisture is not absorbed by the bait, reducing its effectiveness.

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Cover Crop Research and Resource Offer Important Considerations for the Practice By TAYLOR CHALSTROM | Digital Content Editor Almond Board of California’s Cover Crop BMPs note that in almond orchards, cover crop species with high seeding rates, such as grasses and some native annuals, are needed to out-compete weeds throughout the season (photo courtesy Almond Board of California.)

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R

esearchers and growers at Davis Ranches recently wrapped up a threeyear grant-funded trial in conjunction with UC Davis examining the positives and negatives of 31 available cover crops species. While the cover crops were grown in field rows instead of orchards, many of the principles and knowledge gained from the project are universal and applicable to orchard settings. The study provided valuable perspectives for the purpose of cover crops and their management, such as the fact that cover crops are not cash crops like the specialty crops they grow next to. They can help save money, but they don’t make money. There are also the costs associated with planting and removing a cover crop. In some instances, it is not a cheap practice, but research has proven that with time, best management practices and available incentives, the ecological and economic benefits can outweigh associated costs.

Looking from Both Sides

Kurt Richter, a grower affiliated with the project and owner of Richter Ag, explained some concerns he has with the practice now that the project has ended, noting that at the end of the day, he still believes cover cropping is a valuable practice. “Number one is just the cost of all this,” he said during a field day in February. “There’s no cash return on a cover crop. We’re farmers, we’re businessmen, and this needs to be able to pay for itself ultimately in some way.” Previous research has provided evidence of potential economic benefits from cover cropping. A study (doi.org/10.1016/j. jenvman.2020.110205) published in 2020 by UC Davis’ Alyssa DeVincentis along with UC and Swedish researchers analyzed the costs/benefits of winter cover cropping in almond and processing tomatoes based on grower surveys. In almond, the benefit/ cost ratio exceeded a value of 1 after about ten years, excluding harvest complications. When harvest complications were included in the survey calculation, the benefit/cost ratio exceeded a value of 1 after about 15 years. Important to note is that all operations are different and have different goals, and growers can calculate and analyze costs and benefits of their cover crops using UC’s Winter Cover Crop Calculator (shiny. lawr.ucdavis.edu/shiny/cc_calculator/app. Rmd#section-overview).


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Richter named seed and labor as the highest costs when incorporating cover crops. While incentive programs, such as those through USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, exist for mitigating cover crop seed costs, if there isn’t sufficient rain when the seed goes into the ground or it’s too cold, then it’s all for nothing. For these reasons, timing of seeding is important. Almond Board’s Cover Crop BMPs outline the most important factors to consider for timing. The guide recommends growers seed cover crops after harvest and post-harvest levelling of the orchard middles, noting that the most benefits will be seen if seeding is completed prior to tree irrigation (for microsprinkler and flood irrigation) or prior to rain (for drip-irrigated systems.) Some growers have voiced concerns in the past with cover crops competing for water with almond trees, but “research indicates that the soil moisture of orchard alleys with cover crops is largely unchanged from keeping a bare orchard alley over the winter, indicating limited excess water use when used as a winter cover crop,” according to UC Davis Postdoctoral Researcher Vivian Wauters. Soil temperatures also need to be considered. Seeding in colder temperatures during December and January is most limiting for cover crops, thus it is recommended that seeding occur prior to December or even during spring if water availability is adequate. Richter listed one of the most important reasons he and the research group have seen for planting cover cropping as weed suppression. “Weed control is increasingly difficult,” Richter said. “Herbicides feel less effective every year and the weeds adapt and adjust. Switching to something like this is a good way to offset that.” “Cover crops, through direct competition with weedy species, can shift or reduce weed populations during winter growth,” Wauters said. The Cover Crop BMPs note that in almond orchards, cover crop species with high seeding rates, such as grasses and some native annuals, are needed to out-compete weeds throughout the season. If prompt establishment is not

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achieved, weeds will not be suppressed. Be careful about incorporating native species as some may be herbicide-resistant. Cover crops are not an immediate solution to most issues they’re used to assist with, and for this reason, the practice might not fit every grower’s needs. Return on investment can take time. “For a specific beneficial result (reducing compaction and increasing water infiltration), growers may see more short-term benefits,” Wauters said. “However, ongoing research in our lab indicates that winter cover cropping alone (without adoption of other agroecological practices, such as animal integration, or year-round cover) may be insufficient to shift soil biological and chemical indicators.”

Cover crops eventually need to be terminated, and the timing of this termination is key to encouraging decomposition of different species, creating a clean floor for harvest and reducing water competition with trees during the most crucial part of the growing season (photo by Paul Ewing, RPAC.)

potential nitrogen benefits. Additional information regarding cover crop conAdditional In-Season Considerations tributions to nitrogen can be found in A cover crop requires precise manAlmond Board’s Nitrogen BMPs. agement during certain parts of its life The Cover Crop BMPs recommend cycle in an almond-growing season. At mowing to terminate cover crops, poplanting, as was previously mentioned, tentially more than once depending on timing of seeding is important for it species and level of growth for proper to germinate. Cover crop eventually decomposition. If terminating a cover need to be terminated, and the timing crop early when rain is still a possibility, of this termination is key to encouragfollow weather forecasts and terminate ing decomposition of different species, before a rain to allow maximum water creating a clean floor for harvest and absorption for almond trees or other reducing water competition with trees cash crops. during the most crucial part of the “You want to have that rain go engrowing season. tirely into your field,” said UCCE Water Termination of cover crops in alResources Specialist Sam Sandoval, who mond orchards can take place as early was also present at the Colusa field day. as February and as late as May or even “That will improve soil moisture and June depending on species. Almond organic matter.” Board’s Cover Crop BMPs note that These benefits can be amplified by timing of termination depends on spepairing cover crops with other sustaincific goals, and different timings pose ability practices, according to Wautdifferent benefits/tradeoffs. er. “Like any tool, it works best when Early termination in February to integrated with other sustainability mid-March can help residue break practices, such as organic amendment down early before other operations, applications and animal integration, but biomass accumulation is limited. and if the cover crops are used for their Mid-termination in mid-March to April flower resources, then protecting insects can allow for more biomass accumulafrom risk of pesticide exposure.” tion, but fast-growing brassicas might be woody and difficult to manage. Late termination in May to June gives ample time for flowering to provide pollinaComments about this article? We want tor forage, but letting the cover crop grow well beyond flowering reduces any to hear from you. Feel free to email us at article@jcsmarketinginc.com


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Can Electricity Aid in the Fight Against HerbicideResistant Italian Ryegrass in Hazelnuts? By RAFAEL M. PEDROSO | Research Associate, Oregon State University, Corvallis and MARCELO L. MORETTI | Assistant Professor, Oregon State University, Corvallis

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azelnut (Corylus avellana L.) is an economically important tree nut crop with a world market value of over $2 billion. The vast majority of the 88,000 acres of U.S. hazelnuts are grown in Oregon’s Willamette Valley due to ideal environmental conditions. Weed management is key to ensure high hazelnut yields by preventing weed competition,

but also to maximize harvest efficiency as orchard floors must be kept weed- and debris-free to allow for efficient mechanized harvest. Troublesome weeds such as Italian ryegrass (Lolium perenne L. spp. multiflorum; Figure 1, see page 69) can thrive in hazelnut orchards. This annual winter weed (Poaceae) grows across the world

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and is widely distributed throughout North America. In Oregon, Italian ryegrass management has been complicated by the development of resistance to four herbicide sites of action (groups 1, 9, 10 and 15). Many factors influence Italian ryegrass management in Oregon hazelnut orchards. Dormant trees are generally planted during the mild winters, while rainfall is abundant. Although the fields are weed-free at planting, weed species such as Italian ryegrass quickly emerge, interfering with hazelnut orchard establishment. Furthermore, hazelnut acreage is rapidly expanding in Oregon, with bearing orchards reaching 60,000 acres in 2021, double the area of 2014. New orchards replace crops, including wheat and grass seed fields where herbicide-resistant weed populations have evolved under recurrent selection pressure. Increasingly, chemical control options become limited. Fields previously cropped with tall fescue or perennial ryegrass can also regrow these plants, requiring control. At this time, herbicides are the primary means to control weeds in hazelnut orchards. In the wake of Italian ryegrass resistance to glyphosate and post-emergent graminicides, growers have been left with fewer chemical weed control options. Electricity has always sparked interest as a weed control method. Widespread adoption of this rarely used yet interesting control option has been limited due to safety concerns and cost of equipment. More recently, the release of new


Figure 1. Italian ryegrass growing in a hazelnut orchard and seedling (inset) (all photos courtesy R.M. Pedroso.)

technologies and equipment such as the one we have currently tested at Oregon State University has the potential to change this scenario. This technology could diversify weed management programs and reduce herbicide resistance selection.

Electric Control

Electric weed control exposes weeds to electrical energy. Efficient weed control is achieved when electrical energy is converted into heat for long enough, thus rupturing cell membranes and ultimately destroying the vascular bundle. However, many soil and plant factors impact the efficacy of electric weed control. Mineral composition, texture, temperature, porosity and moisture status (Figure 2) affect soil resistivity and directly control how long the electrical pulse remains in the treated weed plant. In soils with high resistivity, as sandy soils do, the electrical energy is less likely to move from the treated plant into the soil. The weed receives a larger dose of energy and the outcome is better control (Zhou et al. 2015). Oregon hazelnuts are typically grown in silt and silty loam soils (medium-to-low resistivity), and we expect more energy to be required to provide similar control levels relative to silty sand or sandy soils. Plant factors, such as weed density, infestation and plant type, can also impact efficacy. Plant factors such as weed density, infestation and plant type can also impact efficacy. The energy transmitted to a single plant (E) is proportional to electrode voltage (V) and contact time

Figure 2. Electric weeder which we have adapted and used in trials against Italian ryegrass and other troublesome weeds in Oregon hazelnut orchards. See also how electrical charges are generated and delivered to weed plants.

(Tc) (Vigneault and Benoit 2001). Further, (ZassoTM, Zug, Switzerland; Figure 2) the electrical resistance of the plant itself adapted for use in hazelnut orchards has (Rp) will dictate how much energy moves been tested for control of herbicide-rethroughout the plant. sistant Italian ryegrass in orchards near Given the many variables involved, Corvallis, Ore. Two voltage settings (5 our research efforts are directed to and 9 kV) and four application speeds evaluating the feasible use of electricity (0.5, 1, 2 and 3 mph) were tested, and a for herbicide-resistant weed control in Oregon orchards. An electric weeder Continued on Page 70

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Continued from Page 69 nontreated control was included. Italian ryegrass plants were one to two feet tall at the time of treatment. Ryegrass shoot and inflorescence biomass were measured to provide control efficacy information.

Results

Note: all results presented here are current. Treatment with the electric weeder caused rapid and significant damage to Italian ryegrass plants (Figure 3). As expected, the best results were observed at lower speeds as the treated plants remain in contact with the equipment paddles, which are the source of the energy discharge. Italian ryegrass was well-controlled by treatments with 9 kV and application speeds of up to 2 mph. The same level of weed control was achieved with 5 kV treatments and an application speed of up to 0.5 mph (Figure 4). The best voltage x speed combination was 9 kV at 2 mph. This combination resulted in a 90% decrease in shoot and a 70% decrease in ryegrass inflorescence biomass compared to the untreated control plants. Conversely, 5 kV did not decrease ryegrass biomass accumulation to such low levels, even at application speeds of 0.25 mph. We also observed that Italian ryegrass seedlings were easily controlled at any voltage setting. This is likely due to their less developed root systems and overall biomass. Our results suggest the possibility of integrating electric weed control into a more resilient weed management pro-

Figure 3. Electric weeder trials on a hazelnut orchard in Corvallis, Ore. (A) Untreated control plot; (B) plot which was treated with 9 kV employed at 2 mph.

Figure 4. Italian ryegrass shoot biomass (blue bars) and inflorescence biomass (red bars) were measured at each treatment. At the highest voltage setting (9 kV), Italian ryegrass was well controlled at application speeds of up to 2 mph. A 5 kV application required slower application speeds (0.25 and 0.5 mph) to get the same level of weed control.

gram designed to improve Italian ryegrass control in Oregon hazelnut orchards. We observed that grasses are more easily controlled with electricity than broadleaves are. Ongoing research efforts are focused on determining what makes some weed species more prone to die from electrocution and how much energy is lethal to various weed species. We also observed damage to such troublesome species as yellow nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus L.) and horseweed (Conyza canadensis (L.) Cronq.) These species are currently under investigation, as are other factors that might affect electric weed control efficacy. One research question of special concern is how often electric weed control must be applied to deplete underground food reserves of weed species. References C. Vigneault and D.L. Benoit. “Electrical weed control: theory and applications,” in Physical Control Methods in Plant Protection, Vincent and Fleurat-Lessard, published by Springer-Verlag, New York, 2001, p. 174. M. Zhou, J. Wang, L. Cai, Y. Fan and Z. Zheng, “Laboratory Investigations on Factors Affecting Soil Electrical Resistivity and the Measurement,” in IEEE Transactions on Industry Applications, vol. 51, no. 6, pp. 5358-5365, Nov.-Dec. 2015, DOI: 10.1109/TIA.2015.2465931. Comments about this article? We want to hear from you. Feel free to email us at article@jcsmarketinginc.com

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COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave: What You Need to Know for 2022 By THERESA KIEHN | President and CEO, AgSafe

I

n February, Governor Newsom signed into law SB 114, which reinstated 80 hours of COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (SPSL) for companies with 26 or more employees through September 30, 2022. This iteration of COVID-19 SPSL is not an exact replica of the 2021 SPSL, and employers

need to ensure they have a procedure to implement it correctly. In this article, we will highlight the critical elements of the 2022 COVID-19 SPSL and identify potential pitfalls for agricultural employers.

Calculating Employees

One of the most frequently asked questions in the ag industry is how to determine if you meet the 26-or-more employee threshold. With the seasonality of crops and our workforce, employee numbers can fluctuate throughout the year. The California Division of Industrial Relations (DIR) directs employers to follow their company size based upon the minimum wage rates. Additionally, if you are a grower that contracts with a farm labor contractor, then you will need to include those workers into your employee count.

Employee Notification

It is critical that employers who are required to provide COVID-19 SPSL notify employees of their rights under the law. DIR has developed an informational flyer in both English and Spanish in which employers are required to post and review with their employees. The link to this poster can be found here: dir.ca.gov/dlse/COVID19resources/COVIDPostings.html.

Retroactive Pay

While the law went into effect February 19 of this year, employers are required to provide SPSL to employees beginning January 1, 2022. This means if an employee was out sick or took time off because of a qualified COVID-19 related issue between January 1 through February 18, they would have access to their bank of 80 hours. As an employer, you are required to notify employees of the benefits; however, it is up to the employee to request the time either verbally or in writing. Once an employee requests COVID-19 SPSL, an employer will have until the payday for the next full pay

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It is critical that employers who are required to provide COVID-19 SPSL notify employees of their rights under the law.

California employers with 26 or more employees are required to post this informational flyer notifying employees of their rights under SB 114.

period to pay the “retroactive” 2022 COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave.

Leave Banks

Unlike the prior 2021 SPSL, this new law breaks the amount of time employees can take into two 40-hour

banks for a total of 80 hours. According to DIR, an employee is eligible to access the first bank of time if they are unable to work or telecommute for the following reasons: Caring for Yourself: The covered employee is subject to a quarantine or isolation period related to COVID-19 (see note below) or has been advised by a healthcare provider to quarantine due to COVID-19, or is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis. Caring for a Family Member: The covered employee is caring for a family member who is either subject to a quarantine or isolation period related to COVID-19 (see note below) or has been advised by a healthcare provider to quarantine due to COVID-19, or the

Continued on Page 74

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Once an employee requests COVID-19 SPSL, an employer will have until the payday for the next full pay period to pay the “retroactive” 2022 COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (photo by Vicky Boyd.)

Continued from Page 73 employee is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed or unavailable due to COVID-19 on the premises. See FAQ 6 for the definition of family member and child. Vaccine-Related: The covered employee or a qualifying family member is attending a vaccine appointment or cannot work or telework due to vaccine-related side effects. The second bank of 40 hours is available only if an employee or a family member for whom they are providing care tested positive for COVID-19. For this second bank, an employer is allowed to request proof from their employee, and under this regulation, an at home rapid COVID-19 test would qualify. If you decide to require proof, ensure it is a part of your procedure and you follow the same process with all of your employees. It is at the employee’s discretion to indicate which bank of time they would like to utilize. Please note: all SPSL time taken shall be itemized on the employee’s pay stub with the bank or banks of time they have drawn upon. There are numerous other nuances 74

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included within this regulation, and we strongly encourage all employers and their teams to review the COVID-19 SPSL FAQs on the DIR website. The FAQs are thorough and provide examples to assist with implementation. The link for the FAQs in both English and Spanish can be found here: dir.ca.gov/ dlse/COVID19Resources/2022-SPSLFAQs.html. If you should have additional questions regarding COVID-19 SPSL, please contact the AgSafe office at 209-526-4400 or send an email to safeinfo@agsafe.org. For more information about worker safety, human resources, labor relations, pesticide safety or workforce development, please visit www.agsafe.org, call (209) 526-4400 or email safeinfo@ agsafe.org. AgSafe is a 501c3 nonprofit providing training, education, outreach and tools in the areas of safety, labor relations and human resources for the food and farming industries. Since 1991, AgSafe has educated over 100,000 employers, supervisors and workers about these critical issues. Comments about this article? We want to hear from you. Feel free to email us at article@jcsmarketinginc.com


Provided by Syngenta

NOW is the Time to Monitor Traps and Count Degree Days Navel orangeworm (NOW) flights are soon expected across tree nut territory. While many producers are preparing for their “mummy spray,” more treatments could be needed this summer, depending on degree days and what’s found in field traps. NOW is the primary pest found in California almonds and pistachios and is seen more and more in walnuts. NOW is a pervasive pest that can do great damage to the nuts. That’s why entomologists recommend producers monitor traps in their fields and evaluate egg and moth counts to identify potential next flights. Three to four adult flight periods can occur per season, and sprays should be timed according to degree days and again at harvest, as needed.

Hull split is a crucial time to get a handle on both insects. The good news is that with the right treatment program, producers can cover all three pest life stages throughout the season. Syngenta offers Minecto® Pro and Besiege® to do just that. Minecto Pro is a broad-spectrum insecticide that takes care of mummies in May and June. Its two active ingredients, cyantraniliprole and abamectin, protect against multiple overlapping pest populations, including mites. Minecto Pro is effective on NOW eggs and larvae, and adult moths early in the season.

3 Average number of shoot strikes/tree

An effective management plan for NOW can also help with peach twig borer (PTB) control. PTB is mainly a concern in Northern California during the early part of the season in smaller orchards. PTB settles into fresh shoots in young trees but can delve into nuts in older orchards at harvest. PTB may not be recognized, however, if NOW are feeding.

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ADD SOLUBLE NUTRITION TO RETAIN NUTRITION

IT’S POSSIBLE TO GET MORE INTO PISTACHIO TREES WHILE APPLYING LESS By RICH KREPS | CCA, SSp., Contributing Writer

The most expensive nutrients are the ones that don’t get in your trees or improve your soil health (photo by Cecilia Parsons.)

I

t’s April, and that means pistachios are on the move! Although we see the vegetation pushing and the clusters developing, we sometimes forget what is happening on a

T5 100-PTO-horsepower

microscopic level. We are concerned with cell division. With too many criminals in our state here in the west, the government just lets them out of their cells instead of creating more. As farmers, we don’t have that option. Any nutrition that escapes costs us a ton in the long run, and we can’t chase them down later. So, what do we do? We add nutrition. But what kind? Soluble. Stop playing games with rocks and heavy salts. We need calcium on an ionic level that our roots can drink. If you are still playing with only rocks, you better add some biology and acid to break those nutrients down in your soil. If you have the option to fertigate often with smaller shots of low salinity cations, I have good news. You’ve got this! At last month’s American Pistachio Growers annual conference in Carlsbad, Calif., we had the honor of having many guest speakers share their knowledge of agronomy and give us some new insight into how to get more nutrition into our trees, often with less inputs. Someone I highly respect in the agricultural industry, John Kempf, dove deep into some specific nutrients to help us achieve those results. He’s as passionate as they come in helping growers. ‘Wait, you said get more into your trees while applying less?’ ‘Aw yes, Grasshopper, more with less.’ That brings up some questions: 1) is it possible 2) is it sustainable, and 3) is it affordable? In my humble opinion, I believe the answer is yes, yes and yes.

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I have spoken to many farmers over the last few years that haven’t met their calculated applied nutrient levels for specific nutrients. When you calculate the soil expectation and crop removal rates, many times they are grossly short on NPK and magnesium for the year. And yet, year after year,

Continued on Page 78 76

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PISTACHIO GROWERS Want Consistent Proven Yield Increases? How does an increase of 999 pounds and $1,670/ac over 3 years sound? Yield: ‘Gold Hill’ Pistachio – 3 Year Results

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3000

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Maximizing yields year in and year out starts with maximizing nut set. Achieving consistency in set and minimizing alternate bearing years is key to consistent yields and higher profits in pistachios. The secret is ensuring the tree has the right nutrients at the right time in the right forms and right mix. We achieve this with a combination of Agro-K phosphite and Dextrose/Lactose (DL) based foliar nutrients. Vigor SeaCal, Sysstem LeafMax, Top Set DL, and Micro SeaMix are designed to help growers meet peak nutrient timings at critical points of the crop cycle. Nut set can be influenced by boron which enhances pollination. Boron synergizes calcium and enhances its affect. Molybdenum plays a direct role in nut set and retention and nitrogen utilization. Top Set DL is a unique boron-moly blend designed for synergistic application with Vigor SeaCal (calcium and seaweed) to address early season nutrient needs and maximize nut set – especially in cool wet springs. Sysstem LeafMax and Micro Sea Mix deliver a highly systemic (phloem and xylem mobile) nutrient mix with rapid and complete uptake and fast support to early leaf and root development. Zinc is essential for maximum

Agro-K Program + GSP 2017

Grower Soil Program (GSP) 2018

Agro-K Program + GSP 2018

leaf size, vascular function and root growth. Magnesium, iron, manganese and copper are all critical for complete chlorophyll development. When applied together, Sysstem LeafMax and Micro Sea Mix provide these important nutrients, making them a critical application. Large leaves and chlorophyll production is key to maximizing photosynthesis that generates the carbohydrate production in the tree not only for the current year’s productivity but also as storage for the following year. Low carbohydrate production can be tied directly to increased alternate bearing issues and higher incidence of blanks. Implementing an Agro-K nutrient program will reduce blanks and improve off year yields. Yield results from three consecutive years of replicated data, on the same trees, are shown in the chart above. Fully replicated plots, conducted on the same trees over three years, demonstrate Agro-K’s “Science Driven™” nutrition programs can consistently improve yield, quality and profitability. Speak to an authorized Agro-K distributor today to learn more about increasing your yields with a science driven nutrient program.

Products Available At: ®

AGRO-K CORpORAtiOn 8030 Main Street, NE • Minneapolis, MN 55432 800-328-2418 • www.agro-k.com

Science-Driven Nutrition ™


Continued from Page 76 their tissues have improved and their soil acetate extraction results have remained constant. What does that tell us? The soil calculation of parts per million (ppm) with an acetate extraction is an expectation of the seasonal availability of those nutrients in the next year, not a total nutrient load (thank you Joe Mullinax for making that clear!) Let’s repeat that: That is not a number that represents the total nutrient load of that element, just a calculation of what should be released this year. So, when you see a soil test with 1000 to 5000 ppm calcium for a season, and you do the math (“times two, carry the one, multiply by the square root of pi, e=mc2 and calculus…”), 20,000 pounds of calcium in one foot of soil should be plenty for the next 100 years of farming! So, what are we missing here? Once again, it’s not what you put on your crops, but what you get in your crops that matters! It has to get into the irrigation water. Let’s say you were using a 100% soluble calcium solution. Twenty gallons per season of a 6% solution is going to correlate with several tons of wallboard when you factor in solubility. Calcium will enter a plant much more effectively as an ion or with nitrate than it will with sulfate, and way cheaper than the cost of tons of dry material and the labor to spread the traditional

route. Use the dry to amend your soil if it is severely depleted, use the soluble forms to feed your trees. I’ve seen it work time and time again. Is it sustainable? Go back to the comment on 20,000 pounds! We’re good. Is it affordable? The most expensive nutrients are the ones that don’t get in your trees or improve your soil health. Factor in application costs and your budget hasn’t changed.

Avoid Square Pegs in Round Holes

Now let’s go one step further. Let’s talk potassium and magnesium. The cations all compete for similar spots in a plant. Sodium and potassium are notorious for it. Calcium, potassium and magnesium fight pretty hard with sodium for sites in the cellular cage match of life. If the nutrient demand curves I have mentioned in several articles don’t match what you are putting on, you are trying to put a square peg in a round hole. You ever try to spoon-feed a toddler the last scoops of baby broccoli when they don’t want it anymore? You just make a mess. Your trees and soils will do the same thing. I love a little potassium to push bloom and get some zinc and boron moving into a tree. But after pollination, you have about 21 days to maximize calcium and create that infamous cell division (sorry almond guys, it’s already happened.) Do this quick math. Let’s say you create 100 cells at cell division in one plant (A) and 200 cells in another (B). If you are the best farmer in the world and you fill those 100 cells to the max, let’s say that’s a measure of two, that’d be 200 “growth units” in A. If you miss some things later in the season in option B and aren’t perfect, you have 200 cells to work with. If those 200 cells only grow to say a measure of 1.5, that’s 300 growth units because you have so many more cells. That’s a significant improvement. I’d say that should correlate to more weight. After pollination and full leaf expansion, we can address potassium and add some magnesium for chlorophyll production. But we need to measure it. How do you know? You need to pull multiple tissue samples. Pull them from old leaves and new ones as well on the same tree. Keep them separate. If you haven’t gotten into it yet, you can also send them out for sap analysis. If a consultant like me is pulling your tissues, make sure they are also pulling them from the same height, the same place on each tree and at the same time of day, each time, and in the sun. You want photosynthesis to be optimal with each sample for a better comparison. Don’t just guess. I have often looked at tests and told a grower to back off on specific nutrients if they were out of balance with the rest of the nutrients. We saved some serious money. Too much of one thing isn’t a good thing, nitrogen being one of the worst culprits. Prove to yourself you may not need as much supplemental nutrition if you apply it correctly, when its needed, in a form it can be absorbed and balanced. Things become much more efficient in the proper mix. Divide those cells and then show how cool you are at filling them. You may find you even save some money while you’re making more. Comments about this article? We want to hear from you. Feel free to email us at article@jcsmarketinginc.com

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West Coast Nut

April 2022


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