WEST COAST NUT
June 2022 ISSUE
CONSIDERATIONS WHEN PLANTING A NEW ORCHARD SEE PAGE 30
IN THIS ISSUE:
WALNUT HUSK FLY
SEE PAGE 14
BENEFICIAL FUNGI TO CONTROL NUT PESTS SEE PAGE 44
HULL ROT ON THE RISE SEE PAGE 20
PRODUCED IN THE HEART OF JUNE 15-17, 2022
BY REAL CALIFORNIANS
Photo by C. Parsons
Publisher: Jason Scott Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Editor: Marni Katz Email: email@example.com Associate Editor: Cecilia Parsons Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Production: email@example.com Tel: 559.352.4456 Fax: 559.472.3113 Web: www.wcngg.com
Award Winning Editorial By the Industry, For the Industry
IN THIS ISSUE 4
Phosphorus: Does Your Orchard Need It?
Using the Latest Breeding Technologies to Help the California Tree Nut Industry Evolve
Contributing Writers & Industry Support Almond Board of California Rich Kreps CCA, SSp., Contributing Writer Contributing Writer American Pecan Council Contributing Writer
Mitch Lies Contributing Writer
Kari Arnold, Ph.D. UCCE Area Orchard and Vineyard Systems Advisor, Stanislaus County,
Catherine Merlo Contributing Writer
Vicky Boyd Contributing Writer Taylor Chalstrom Digital Content Editor Phoebe Gordon, Ph.D. UCCE Area Orchard Crops Advisor, Madera and Merced Counties Janine Hasey UCCE Tree Crop Emeritus Advisor, Sutter and Yuba Counties
Mohamed Nouri, Ph.D. UCCE Area Orchard Systems Advisor, San Joaquin County David Shapiro-Ilan Research Leader, USDA-ARS Southeastern Fruit and Tree Nut Research Laboratory Katherine Jarvis-Shean, Ph.D. UCCE Area Orchard Systems Advisor, Capitol Corridor Mike Wade California Farm Water Coalition, Contributing Writer
Elizabeth Fichtner UCCE Farm Advisor, Tulare County
CDPR Proposes to Further Restrict Neonicotinoids
Hull Rot on the Rise in Almonds
Precision Irrigation Research: Sorting Through the Sensors
Five Things to Consider When Planting a New Orchard
From Farm to Spoon: Northern California Nut Growers Diversify with Walnut Butter, Co-pack Operation The Future of Pesticides in Walnut Production
Fertigating Efficiently is Still Possible Even with Water Scarcity
Using Beneficial Fungi for Control of Nut Crop Pests
Steven Koike Tri-Cal Diagnostics
View from the Top. ‘We Have to Keep Upping Our Game’
Jhalendra Rijal UCCE Integrated Pest Management Advisor, Stanislaus County
Retail-Based Data Highlight Efforts to Promote Taste, Nutrition
Mohammad Yaghmour UCCE Area Orchard Systems Advisor, Kern County
Crown Gall: Rootstocks, Treatments and Strategies
Today’s World is Full of Uncertainties; Our Food Supply Shouldn’t
UC Cooperative Extension Advisory Board
Kevin Day County Director/UCCE Pomology Farm Advisor, Tulare/Kings Counties
Walnut Husk Fly Continues to Plague Walnut Orchards
Roger A. Isom President/CEO, Western Agricultural Processors Association
Surendra K. Dara Director, North Willamette Research and Extension Center
Katherine Jarvis-Shean UCCE Area Orchard Systems Advisor, Yolo and Solano
View our ePublication on the web at www.wcngg.com
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and Versatility of Pecans
Be One of Them
Nitrogen Management in Walnuts
Soil Does Much More than Hold Up the Tree
SPOTLIGHT ARTICLE: Considerations when Planting a New Orchard Associate Editor Cecilia Parsons writes about five things growers should consider when planting a new orchard. See page 30
Phosphorus: Does Your Orchard Need It (Probably Not)?
New research projects look at the need for annual P applications in tree nut crops.
By PHOEBE GORDON | UCCE Orchard Crops Farm Advisor, Madera and Merced Counties
hosphorus fertilization is only How Important is Phosphorus? needed if your trees are below the Phosphorus is a macronutrient and July sufficiency ranges, and docone of the nutrients found in complete umented deficiencies in orchard crops fertilizers, but we don’t talk about it in California are incredibly rare. There much in orchard crops. Long story is very limited evidence that first-leaf short, most research involving phosalmonds planted into soil with incorpo- phorus fertilizers hasn’t yielded many rated wood chips benefit from phospositive results. Deficiencies are so rare phorus. However, there is no strong in California that the almond and pisevidence to support annual P applicatachio production manuals published tions in mature orchards. by UCANR only devote a few sentences More research is being done on this to the nutrient. However, results of a topic, including work led by UCCE’s recent almond replant trial I did with Franz Niederholzer, examining P apGreg Browne have got me thinking plications to mature almond orchards, about the nutrient. the evaluation of additional first-leaf Before I continue: You should be almond orchards by Greg Browne and I, diagnosing nutrient deficiencies in and a newly funded California Pistayour mature orchard with July leaf chio Research Board project to examtissue analyses (Table 1 shows critical ine nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizavalues for commonly grown orchard tion needs in newly planted pistachio crops.) If your trees are sufficient, you orchards, to be led by me. shouldn’t worry about phosphorus. Oversupplying any nutrient will not
improve your orchard’s performance as the orchard crops we grow do not accumulate nutrients to save for later. In fact, most plants reduce phosphorus uptake (along with other nutrients) when their supplies are sufficient. Applied phosphorus stays put in soils, so a single application can last many years. Eroded soil containing phosphorus fertilizer can also cause eutrophication if it enters surface water systems, so we need to be careful about overapplying this nutrient. Phosphorus, like nitrogen, is found in a lot of compounds in plants. It’s a critical component in the building blocks of DNA and RNA. It’s part of the compounds that form cell membranes, it’s involved in metabolic processes as part of a high-energy but unstable compound (ATP) and it is
Continued on Page 6
Crop Critical Value Sufficiency Range Almond 0.1 0.1 – 0.3 Peach, Nectarine 0.1 0.1 – 0.3 Pistachio 0.14 0.14 – 0.17 Plum, Prune 0.1 0.1 – 0.3 Olives 0.1 0.1 – 0.3 Walnut 0.1 0.1 – 0.3 dĂďůĞ ϭ͗ >ĞĂĨ ĐƌŝƚŝĐĂů ǀĂůƵĞƐ ĂŶĚ ƐƵĨĨŝĐŝĞŶĐǇ ƌĂŶŐĞƐ ĨŽƌ ĐŽŵŵŽŶůǇ ŐƌŽǁŶ ĂůŝĨŽƌŶŝĂ ŽƌĐŚĂƌĚ ĐƌŽƉƐ͘ Table 1: Leaf critical values and sufficiency ranges for commonly grown California orchard crops.
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Harvest unit per acre
Capturing Maximum Genetic Potential firstname.lastname@example.org (559) 498-0388 www.agroplantae.com June 2022
Crop P2O5 removed Harvest unit per acre Almonds 18-20 lbs 1000 lbs of kernels Prunes 5 2lbs Ton of fruit removed Crop P O5 removed Harvest unit per acre Pistachios 7 lbs lbs 1000 lbs marketable Almonds 18-20 of kernels yield Olives Ton of of fruit fruit removed removed Prunes 52-4 lbslbs Ton Stone Fruit 1 lb Ton of fruit removedyield Pistachios 7<lbs 1000 lbs marketable Walnuts 10 lbs Ton of of fruit harvested nuts Olives 2-4 lbs Ton removed Table Removal rates for commonly Stone2:Fruit < 1 lb grown California orchard Toncrops. of fruit removed Walnuts 10 lbs Ton of harvested nuts Table 2: 2: Removal Removalrates ratesforfor commonly grown California orchard Table commonly grown California orchard crops.crops. Olsen Bicarb (in ppm P2O5) Weak Bray (in ppm P2O5) Low < 20 ppm <10 Medium 20-40 Bray (in ppm P2O5) 10-20 Bicarb (in ppm P2O5) Olsen Weak High 20-40 Low <40-100 20 ppm <10 Very High >100 >40 Medium 20-40 10-20 Table Soil P test interpretation values. Note: these do not take into account specific crop soil critical levels and are High3:3: 20-40 Table Soil P test interpretation 40-100 values. Note: these do not take into account specific crop noVery t valHigh idated for orchard crops. Adapted>100 from the CDFA FREP Crop Fertilization Guidelines. >40 soil critical levels and are not validated for orchard crops. Adapted from the CDFA FREP Crop Table 3: Soil P test interpretation values. Note: these do not take into account specific crop soil critical levels and are Fertilization Guidelines. not validated for orchard crops. Adapted from the CDFA FREP Crop Fertilization Guidelines.
Continued from Page 4 involved in some cell regulatory processes. Deficiency symptoms can be difficult to diagnose as they’re typically just reduced above-ground growth and leaves that are a deeper green. In severe cases, leaves can become purplish or even exhibit burn. Flower initiation and seed formation could be reduced,
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and leaves may fall off prematurely (again, applying P in excess of plant needs will not enhance flower and seed formation!) Orchard crop removal rates are for the most part very low (Table 2), which is likely one reason why deficiencies are so rare.
Phosphorus is immobile in soils
because it will bind to other compounds, particularly at low and high soil pH. Soil tests mostly show what is called “labile” phosphorus, or phosphorus that is easily available for uptake, but these tests cannot extract all the phosphorus available in soils, so it’s better to think of them as a predictor to whether your trees will respond to added P, rather than an absolute test as to how much P can be found in the soil. Because of the different ways P can be bound in soils based on the soil pH, the tests that are performed by your soil lab will differ. The Bray I/Weak Bray test is used in neutral to acidic soils and the Olsen Bicarb test is used in basic/alkaline soils. For soils that are around pH 7.0, you may be provided with both values depending on the laboratory. The numbers these tests will spit out differ as the reagents used for extraction are different. This is important to understand! The values that are considered to be ‘moderate’ or
Phosphorus deficiency symptoms can be difficult to diagnose as they’re typically just reduced above-ground growth and leaves that are a deeper green (photo courtesy University of California.)
‘high’ vary drastically based on the test performed (Table 3). It is thought that orchard crops may be able to remove adequate P in soils with 5 ppm (Olsen Bicarb), but I was unable to verify the source of this when writing this article beyond a citation in a research article authored by former farm advisor John Edstrom (written in 2008) with no original source to back up this value. Because phosphorus is immobile in soils, the main method of uptake is diffusion. An extremely tiny amount of phosphorus is dissolved in soil water; once this phosphorus is taken up by plants, some bound phosphorus will dissolve into the soil solution and move toward roots. The speed at which P can move toward roots is extremely slow, so the amount of P in soil that roots can access is only a few millimeters around a root. Most plants have evolved root hairs that increase the amount of soil that can be exploited for immobile nutrients, though a small minority of plants, like pecans, do not have root hairs. Phosphorus nutrition in plants can be aided by mycorrhizae, but only in plants that form mycorrhizal associations. Mycorrhizae are symbiotic fungi that invade plant roots. Plants provide energy to the mycorrhizae, and mycorrhizae in-turn provide some nutrients, notably phosphorus. These infections happen when plants are extremely young, and research that has looked at infecting trees with mycorrhizae at planting has not been effective for various reasons, one possibility being many of these fungi are already found in soils.
Soil P levels ranged from 6 to 15 ppm (Olsen bicarb). The potassium treatments were applied annually for five years. In the first four years, there were no differences between fertilizer formulation or application method, but in the last year, the treatment that included phosphorus (the applied rate would have supplied 1 lb K2O and 1.5 lbs P2O5 per tree) had the highest yield, approximately 200 lbs/acre above the next-highest-yielding treatment, banded potassium sulfate at a rate of 2 lbs of K2O per tree. It also outperformed other fertigated potassium treatments that supplied 1 or 2 lbs of K2O per tree. The orchard was in its 10th leaf at the conclusion of the trial. Since this trial was not set up to examine whether the orchard was deficient in phosphorus (which would have required a treatment with only phosphorus), the results should be taken with a grain of salt. However, given the significant increase in yield above other potassium-only treatments, it is probably worth examining phosphorus fertilization in other mature almond orchards. More recently, I worked on an Anaerobic Soil Disinfestation trial in Chowchilla, Calif. with Greg Browne (USDA-ARS), Jamie Ott (USDA-ARS) and Abdur Khan. The full results were presented during the poster session of the 2019 Almond Conference. We found that applying 6 oz of P2O5 per tree below the soil surface in the first growing season resulted in approximately a one-inch trunk circumference increase
Continued on Page 8
There has been very little research that I could find that examines phosphorus fertilization in mature California orchards. Serr published a paper in 1960 on overcoming P deficiency in walnut orchards growing in volcanically derived soils; trenching or applying phosphorus in circles around the tree was effective in fixing the deficiency symptoms. A much more recent publication on potassium fertigation in almonds, done at Nickels Soil Laboratory in Arbuckle, Calif., included monopotassium phosphate among several other potassium fertilization treatments. While leaf tissue analyses for phosphorus were not reported, the authors noted that the trees were not deficient.
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Continued from Page 7 over the control, which received very low rates of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (the control was applied to the entire field, so the P-only treatment would have received the same low rates of N and K.) The increase in growth was no different than fertilizing with two different types of complete fertilizers (15-15-15, applied at a rate of 5 oz N per tree; and 15-9-12 applied at a rate of 6 oz N per tree) or 5 oz of nitrogen applied as urea. The full results will be detailed in a future article, and we will be continuing to monitor this orchard in its second year. Research on application methods has shown that broadcasting phosphorus fertilizer on the soil surface may be ineffective as it binds to soils very quickly. One study examining the movement of surface-applied monoammonium phosphate found that with three inches of irrigation applied after the fertilizer, the phosphorus only moved one to two inches below the soil surface, regardless of soil type. Six inches of irrigation only moved the fertilizer one inch deeper. However, modern microirrigation systems result in a proliferation of roots very close to the soil surface, so this depth may be sufficient for plant uptake. If you need to fertilize your orchard trees with phosphorus, the best way to apply it is one that gets the phosphorus into the root zone. You can trench it in or drill it into the soil; just be sure the fertilizer is in the wetted zone of the irrigation system. Fertigation has been found to be effective at moving phosphorus deeper into the root zone,
but it can precipitate with calcium found in irrigation water, so check your water quality first and perform a jar test before fertigation. If you must surface apply it, band it under the emitters and follow with a heavy irrigation. Surface banding will result in a high concentration of phosphorus, which will increase the likelihood that Phosphorus nutrition in plants can be aided by mycorrhizae, binding sites will be but only in plants that form mycorrhizal associations (photo courtesy UC ANR.) saturated and the nutrient will move deeper into the soil. Most forms of inorganic fertilizer will be applied every year, and if the applibe adequate for fertilization; the only cation rate of manure is made based exception is rock phosphate, which is on the nitrogen requirements of these only appropriate for acidic soils. Since crops, this would result in overapplicaapplied phosphorus is rapidly bound to tion of P every year and a buildup of P soil particles, applying it in such a way in the soil. Based on P’s immobility in that it gets to the roots is more importsoils and the fairly low rates of compost ant than the specific formulation. to orchards, I would speculate that the Composts and composted manures P contribution from surface-applied can be a source of phosphorus, but to composts and composted manure is my knowledge, the P credits from the low, but given the extremely low P application methods used in orchard needs of orchard crops, I wouldn’t comcrops (surface application with no pletely discount it. incorporation, with likely loss of the orOriginally published on San Joaquin ganic material during harvest activities) Valley Tree and Vines (sjvtandv.com) has not been examined. However, there is an analogue in annual cropping Resources systems: no-till agronomic crops. In cdfa.ca.gov/is/ffldrs/frep/Fertilizathese systems, soil-immobile nutrients tionGuidelines/ become concentrated in the top six Comments about this article? We want inches of soil. These are systems where to hear from you. Feel free to email us at manure (not always composted!) would email@example.com
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Before releasing a new variety, long-term evaluation is critical, according to UC Davis plant breeder Tom Gradziel (all photos courtesy T. Gradziel.)
Opportunities and Challenges in Using the Latest Breeding Technologies to Help the California Tree Nut Industry Evolve By MITCH LIES | Contributing Writer
indings of a recently released Rabobank report on the opportunities in tapping advanced technologies in fruit and nut breeding have merit, according to a UC Davis plant breeder. But, Tom Gradziel, a professor in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis, said obstacles identified in the report, such as the complexity and duration involved in breeding new nut varieties, are significant and will be difficult to overcome. And Cliff Beumel, president of Agromillora California Nursery, said the assessment that a crop’s production area is a major factor in driving breeding investments also will be a difficult obstacle to overcome, given that harvested acreage of fruits and nuts is about one-tenth that of grains. In the March 2022 report, senior analysts for Rabobank wrote that there are untapped opportunities for use of genetics in the expanding fruit and nut market and that the outlook for fruits and nuts is positive. “Genetics play a key role in sustainable and consumer-centric production by providing cultivars that are more input-efficient and/or offer a better eating experience,” the report states. Further, the authors state that in the coming years, breed-
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ing will evolve from traditional backcrossing to genetic-assisted breeding, improving efficiency and saving on resources. Gradziel said that the analysts’ assessment is true, to a point. “The statement is true in the sense that it [genetic-assisted breeding] will improve our ability to manipulate single genes or small numbers of genes that have enough expression to make it worthwhile to manipulate them,” Gradziel said. “And there will be improvements in terms of things like better disease resistance or in self-fruitful almonds. But having that single trait in no way makes it any more likely that it is going to be a success in the industry. “A lot of things, such as yield, involve interactions between huge numbers of genes, and there are things we don’t understand,” Gradziel said.
The Rabobank analysts address this in noting that the complexity and duration of the breeding process are two of the main obstacles in fruit and nut breeding. However, the report states that adopting new data-science-based approaches can help the industries overcome these obstacles by providing information early in the breeding process that can eliminate varieties with low potential without being grown. Here again, Gradziel said, the statement is true to a point, noting that in general, there is no replacement for long-term evaluation when it comes to bringing a new cultivar to market. “About the only way to test [new varieties] is to grow them out,” he said. “And when you talk about yield, when you talk about return on investment, you are talking about that entire 20-year life expectancy of the orchard. And the only way you will have that data is by 20 years of evaluation.” He added that there are several examples at this moment where new varieties of almonds, pistachios and walnuts have been released prematurely. “We are seeing a lot of varieties being released without adequate testing, and a lot of those are not fulfilling the expectations of growers,” he said.
In a table assessing the different obstacles to investments in fruit and nut breeding, the report notes that the harvested area for fruits and tree nuts globally is 78 million hectares, compared to 736 million hectares for grains. “The report makes a very good point that the scale and the diversity in fruits and nuts makes it hard for big biotech to invest money in doing this research,” Beumel said. Beumel added that he has talked to boutique biotech firms in Davis who are curious about opportunities in almond breeding. “Well, I say, ‘make Nonpareil a self-fertile almond,’ and I’ve given them other ideas, and it has never gone anywhere because they analyze it and realize it is going to take a lot of money. “Their investors want their little biotech firm to get bought out by Monsanto, and the almond industry isn’t that big,” Beumel said. “It feels big to us, but compared to the world market in corn and wheat and veggies, it isn’t.” Still, the report states that this
obstacle eventually could be overcome, given that the value of fruit and tree nut production is growing faster than any other crop category. Another challenge identified in the report is that certain varieties dominate certain markets, and it will be difficult to change consumer attitudes. Here again, Beumel said he agreed with the assessment. “Take the Hass avocado,” he said. “You can make a better avocado that tastes better and have a tree that is more disease-tolerant, but if it is not like a Hass, then nobody wants it. “For 100 years, they have been trying to replace Nonpareil with a variety that looks and tastes like a Nonpareil but is self-fertile, frost tolerant and things like that, but we haven’t,” Beumel said. “There is no reason Nonpareil almond is considered the best. It just happens to be what the world market expects an almond to look like.” Also, because the supply chain is built to meet the demands of those dominant varieties, it presents anoth-
er obstacle to bringing new varieties to market. But here again, the report states these obstacles can be overcome through cooperation among various industry sectors. The report also addresses regulatory and consumer concerns with genetic manipulation, particularly in European markets, noting, “Even if gene editing and/or GMO are allowed, consumers or large fast-food or retail chains may be reluctant because of potential reputational risks.” On the other hand, the report states, “Consumer acceptance may increase if gene editing can play a role in addressing major global challenges, such as producing sufficient food in a changing climate.”
The report concludes that “the challenges associated with fruit and tree nut breeding… will not completely vanish in the years ahead. Still, given the untapped opportunities and that the global value of the fruit and nut indus-
Continued on Page 12
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Continued from Page 11 tries are increasing at a more rapid rate than grains and vegetables, the outlook for the fruit and nut genetics business is positive. “Genetic improvement is needed to meet growing global demand and produce sufficient high-quality fruit in a sustainable way,” the report states. Overall, Beumel said, the report did a good job of touching on the challenges and opportunities for tapping into genetic resources that can help the California tree nut industry evolve. And he believes the industry should take heed. “Our industry has to do a better job of utilizing the financial resources we have to utilize the public and private genetics as well as other emerging technology to do more than test small, specific goals,” Beumel said. “Orchard systems of the future will only arrive when industry invests in modeling possible future orchard systems in totality. Otherwise, the leap is too far and too unknown for the vast majority of growers.
New UC Davis self-fruitful almond selections are being evaluated in high-density Agromillora plantings in Kern County.
“We’ve been setting lofty, comprehensive and paradigm-shifting goals for growers,” Beumel added. “But we need to do more ‘showing’ and less ‘telling’ in my opinion.” Gradziel agreed that it is important for the California tree nut industry to utilize advanced technologies and to work toward bringing forward traits that will meet its long-term needs. And he believes the industry is going in the right direction. “We have immediate needs,” Gradziel said, “but we also have a need within the next 5, 10 years, next 20 years to develop varieties with tolerance to more saline water. We are seeing warmer spring temperatures and the need to have something get its chilling requirements with a
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lot less cold than it has in the past. “We have things that we think can provide solutions, and we are getting those out to test, working with growers, working with processors, working with nurseries, working with fabricators,” Gradziel said. “And that is sort of the beauty of the California almond industry and the agricultural climate here. You have a very can-do group, a very well-organized and a very good extension, both within the university system as well as with private folks and chemical companies that work together to develop solutions.” Comments about this article? We want to hear from you. Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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WALNUT HUSK FLY CONTINUES TO PLAGUE WALNUT ORCHARDS By CECILIA PARSONS | Associate Editor
alnut husk fly, said PCA John Post, is a tough pest to control. Post, along with walnut grower Hal Crain and UC Entomology Researcher Bob Van Steenwyk, provided a grower, PCA and researcher perspective during a panel at the California Walnut Conference on why walnut husk fly is such a persistent pest in walnuts. A poll taken at the beginning of the presentation found walnut growers agreed with Post’s comment, and many listed WHF as a frequent pest in their orchards. Van Steenwyk, who has been researching walnut insect pests since 1982, said growers had access to materials for controlling codling moth in 1982 and those materials also controlled walnut husk fly. Those materials are no longer in use, and the shift to softer, more targeted insecti-
cides has led to the present control issue with WHF. Changes in WHF emergence timing was also noted as a factor in management challenges.
Walnut husk fly produces one generation per year. This walnut pest overwinters as pupae in the soil and emerges as adults. Timing of emergence has shifted and is now earlier in the summer, Van Steenwyk said. All WHF traps should be out by June 1 to capture flies that emerge in early to mid-June. “The population moved forward earlier; there is no later emer-
Continued on Page 16
Husk fly on a walnut. This walnut pest overwinters as pupae in the soil and emerges as adults (all photos courtesy J. Post.)
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Early sting underneath the surface of the hull. First signs of a WHF infestation are small, sting-like marks on the husk caused by depositing of eggs.
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and large canopy trees have the most market. Depending on the variety, that pressure. may not be a problem, Crain said. gence,” he noted. While Crain said he has not seen a Crain noted that emergence timing pattern in WHF infestation, Post said Monitoring Husk Fly is also earlier in northern growing reWHF seems to be a localized pest that UC IPM guidelines recommend gions; what was once a July 4 emergence does not travel distances. Pressure using baited yellow sticky traps with date is now June 15 at the latest. within an orchard can fluctuate. Older ammonium carbonate to attract adult The female walnut husk fly deposits varieties of walnuts seem to be affected WHF for monitoring and making treateggs in groups of about 15 below the more, Post said. Thicker hulls on variet- ment decisions. surface of the husk. First signs of a ies seem to be more attractive to WHF, Van Steenwyk said WHF trap WHF infestation are small, sting-like Crain said. “Fuzzy nuts” are also less placement in walnuts depends on the marks on the husk caused by depositing susceptible. orchard. Crop load and canopy cover of eggs. The marks will darken and ap“They didn’t like Chandler at first, are two of the factors. Traps in walnut pear as black spots on the husk, usually but they have adapted,” Post said. He trees near black walnut trees or riparian near the stem end and usually on the advised looking at pollinizer rows first areas will bear watching for WHF. shaded side of the nut. when scouting for WHF damage. “Know the tough spots and trap Walnut husk fly eggs hatch into Depending on the time of infestation, there,” he said. white maggots within five days. They damage can vary. Post said early stings Post and Crain also discussed feed inside the husk, enlarging the black can result in walnut mold and BOT strategies for monitoring, including area, which remains soft, unsunken and infections on the stem end of the nut. trap placement. Crain said he has a rope smooth. When stems are affected, that will cause system to hoist the traps up into the nut drop. If you control walnut husk upper third of the canopy. He also has Pest Pressure Factors fly, he added, that can decrease BOT a presence/no-presence system for trap Crain noted that the soil type in a damage. Late stings cause shell stainmonitoring. There is no right number walnut orchard can have an effect on ing. While the late-season stings may of traps per acre for this pest, he said. A WHF pressure. All soils harbor this pest, not impact kernel quality, the stained grower needs to learn the pest pressure he said, but orchards with sandier soils shells are not marketable in the in-shell patterns in their specific orchards and
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the same spray timing is another.
Knowing the stage of codling moth flights to possibly control both pests at the same spray timing is one of the factors in treatment initiation.
trap accordingly. Sheer numbers of traps necessary in the orchards he oversees make it difficult to place all traps high in the canopy, Post said. 20 feet up is sufficient. Placement and numbers are site-specific, he added. Post said trap lures are changed after four to six weeks. Humidity plays a role in the lure efficacy, Crain said. Trap catch numbers are one of the factors in treatment initiation. Post said knowing the stage of codling moth flights to possibly control both pests at
If you are catching 10 in a trap in one week, you need to treat, Post said. You can’t wait until you see stings. Crain and Van Steenwyk said finding female WHF with eggs is a treatment trigger for initiation of the first spray of the season. He said use of a neonicotinoid material will also give some egg control. You can have low trap counts for a time, Van Steenwyk noted, and the population can blow up. Choosing a material and application method must also take variables into account. Crain said a squirt spray with Imidan can be effective and can reduce the future challenges of mite infestation commonly caused by a full coverage spray. If you are seeing stings, Post said, you want to use Assail, but watch out for a mite flareup. Depending on trap numbers, Post said his spray treatment protocol is to treat every other row, especially early in
the season. With large trees, air delivery may be an option. Crain said his strategy is also to treat every other row using a squirt spray or air blast to reach the upper canopy. With a large flareup, coverage is important. “You can’t go off trap catch once starting a squirt spray program in the growing season,” Crain said. “Get on a program and repeat. Still monitor traps for large flareups weekly or every ten days.” How late in the season to spray? Post said three weeks before hull split. There may not be visible crop damage that late, Crain said, but you will knock them back for next year. Treating the soil was not a workable option for WHF control, Post said. Crain said he did not see that an as an opportunity for control. Though there could be some larval kill, Van Steenwyk said there is a short window for treatment. Comments about this article? We want to hear from you. Feel free to email us at email@example.com
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posing to put the most stringent limitations in the world on the use of neonicotinoids (neonics) in agriculture; so stringent that many worry it will severely hamper the efficacy of neonics on agricultural pests and increase resistance to other pesticides. The neonics being regulated include clothianidin, dinotefuran, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam. Ironically, neonics were developed to serve as a safer alternative to more toxic pesticides such as organophosphates and carbamates. But neonics are being attacked as a possible source of bee decline; therefore, they are under tremendous pressure by anti-pesticide activists. In January 2020, CDPR held some workshops on the use of neonics and potential mitigation measures to protect pollinators. Over 9,000 comments were received by DPR during and after those workshops. After reviewing the comments, CDPR has revised their proposed mitigation measures and recently released a new proposal for further public comments. In doing so, CDPR indicated the proposed mitigation measures would reduce the pounds of neonics applied by 43% and the number of acres treated with neonics by 45% from current use levels. The proposed mitigation measures are crop-specific and focus on application method and rate restrictions, application timing restrictions and seasonal application rate caps. In looking at tree nuts, pecans and pistachios are exempt as these tree nut crops are not attractive to bees. However, almonds and walnuts are included in the crops being targeted under the proposed restrictions. Targeted crop groupings include berries and small fruits, bulb vegetables, cereal crops, citrus, cucurbit vegetables, fruiting vegetables, herbs and spices, leafy vegetables, legume vegetables, oilseeds, pome fruits, root and tuber vegetables, stone fruits, tree nuts, tropical and subtropical fruit, and a “catch-all group” of coffee, artichokes, mint, hops and tobacco.
Neonicotinoids are being attacked as a possible source of bee decline; therefore, they are under tremendous pressure by anti-pesticide activists (photo courtesy Western Agricultural Processors Association.)
For tree nuts (almonds and walnuts), the specific proposed neonic restrictions include the following limitations: The use of neonics is prohibited during bloom; An application rate cap of 0.2 pounds of total active ingredient per acre
per season is required. Several agricultural groups submitted comments expressing concerns with the proposed regulations, citing concerns with reduced efficacy due to reduced application rates, which could also lead to the increased use of alternative pesticides, such as the very ones CDPR sought to reduce or eliminate by the development of neonics. Neonics were developed not only as an alternative to more toxic pesticides, but to be an integral part of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs developed to reduce pesticide use overall. There is fear that severely limiting the use of neonics will actually run counter to growing IPM programs. There are significant concerns over the fact that neonics are targeted insecticides and very soft on beneficial insects. By limiting the use of neonics, we could be headed right back to using the more toxic, less selective pesticides. The public comment period on the proposed mitigation measures ended on April 26, 2022, and CDPR will be reviewing those comments and issuing final regulations most likely by the end of the year or early 2023.
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Hull Rot on the Rise in Almonds By MITCH LIES | Contributing Writer
H Because infected shoots and fruiting spurs often die, Aspergillus reduces productivity in future years (all photos by M. Nouri.)
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igher temperatures, increased acreage in almonds and a persistent soilborne pathogen may be contributing to an increase of Aspergillus hull rot in recent years, particularly in the southern Central Valley, according to a UCCE orchard systems advisor. “We know that Aspergillus thrives in warmer weather,” said Mohammad Yaghmour, UCCE orchard systems advisor for Kern County. “That is most likely why we are seeing it more in the south than other parts of the state. And maybe that is why we are seeing it more in the last few years because temperatures have been increasing.” Yaghmour noted that a plant disease requires three major components to infect: “You need to have the right environment, you need to have the pathogen and you need to have a susceptible host. If those components are all present, most likely you have more severe disease,” he said. Hull rot in almonds can be caused by one of four fungal pathogens, or in some cases by a combination of the pathogens. Initial research into the disease identified two fungi as causal agents, Rhizopus stolonifera and the brown rot fungus Monilinia fructicola. Recently, researchers have determined that some hull rot infections were being caused by Aspergillus niger, and a fourth fungus also has been implicated in hull rot: Neoscytalidium dimitiatum. Researchers discovered the latter causal agents after noticing symptoms of samples growers were submitting were different from what they were used to seeing when analyzing nuts infected with Rhizopus stolonifera and Monilinia fructicola. Researchers, for example, noticed neither the whitish cottony mycelia symptoms on the inner surface of hulls, which indicate the presence of Rhizopus stolonifera, nor the buff color sporulation on the inner surface of the hull or the beige-colored lesions on the outside of the hull, which suggests infection by Monilinia fructicola. They instead found black and shiny sporulation, infection associated with Aspergillus niger, and in some cases, they found a deep black sporulation inside the hull, which looked very different from the sporulation of the other fungal pathogens and which they determined was a member of the Botryosphaeri-
Continued on Page 22
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A key to successful disease management is leaving soil undisturbed during the critical period for infection, typically the final month before harvest.
Continued from Page 20 aceae family, called Neoscytalidium dimitiatum. Previous research, incidentally, showed that hull rot in almonds grown in the Sacramento Valley had high incidence of Monilinia, while hull rot in
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the rest of the state was mainly caused by Rhizopus stolonifer.
Hull rot has inflicted significant economic damage on the industry as of late, both in terms of treatment costs and in additional harvest costs as al-
monds infected with hull rot are harder to remove and may require a second shake in severe cases. Also, because infected shoots and fruiting spurs often die, the disease reduces productivity in future years. And the disease’s propensity to create sticktights has resulted in nuts remaining on trees during the dormant season as mummies, serving as sites for the overwintering of navel orangeworm, resulting in extra costs associated with winter sanitation. Almonds are susceptible to hull rot fungi from the beginning of hullsplit until the hulls dry, a period that can last from ten days to slightly before harvest, depending on fertilization and irrigation. The first indication of the disease usually comes before harvest when leaves on a shoot wither and die, according to UC Davis Almond Pest Management Guidelines.
Managing hull rot involves a combination of cultural practices and chemical treatments, Yaghmour said. A key to successful disease management is leaving soil undisturbed during the critical period for infection, typically the final month before harvest. “Dust management should be part of the cultural practices to manage this disease,” Yaghmour said. “Any major cultural practice that will result in dust reaching the canopy and that is not needed during that period should be avoided.” Yaghmour said activities like shredding pruned material during hull split is one of the worst things a grower can do when hulls are split. “By doing so, you are pretty much disturbing the soil and putting dust into the air, and if you have high populations of those pathogens in the soil, that means you will provide the opportunity for those spores to land on the fruit,” Yaghmour said. “If it is during split, you have a chance that those spores will go inside the split fruit, and you will have a higher opportunity of developing disease, whether it is Rhizopus or Aspergillus hull rot.” Yaghmour said growers also should consider practicing deficit irrigation as a means to potentially reduce incidence of hull rot, particularly when con-
cerned with Rhizopus. “Deficit irrigation by itself can significantly reduce the incidence and severity of the disease,” Yaghmour said. “And there are other benefits of deficit irrigation. It can help you synchronize hull split, which helps improve the efficacy of your protective spray because you have more of the fruit at the stage where it is most susceptible to the disease.” It is also important for growers to stick with nitrogen management guidelines, he said, and not overfertilize. “When a grower overfertilizes with nitrogen, that can increase the disease severity and incidence in an orchard,” he said. “Growers need to stick to the nitrogen management guides and give the trees what they need only.”
to open and the suture begins to split. Yaghmour said trying to reduce the presence of R. stolonifer or A. niger fungi in the soil may not be effective, noting that they survive on soil organic matter. It is only through the use of integrated disease management by using cultural practices and chemical treatments that the disease can be minimized, he said. “Trying to reduce dust disturbance is all about minimizing the opportunity of that fungi to reach the canopy, get
into the fruit at hull split and start the disease,” he said. “When we are dealing with protective applications of fungicides, we are also limiting the viability of those fungi to grow or minimizing their opportunity to grow and cause the disease.”
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Several fungicides have shown to be effective against hull rot, he said, including primarily fungicides in FRAC group 3 and fungicides containing a mix of FRAC groups 7 and 11. “Research has shown that fungicides in FRAC group number three and a mix of FRAG groups 7 and 11 significantly reduce disease incidence of Aspergillus niger,” Yaghmour said. To find fungicides that are effective against hull rot, growers can visit the UC IPM website or view the almond fungicide efficacy table, which was updated in 2022, for guidelines on the most effective fungicides against hull rot (ipm.ucanr.edu/PDF/PMG/fungicideefficacytiming.pdf) Fungicides in these FRAC groups include Inspire Super (difenoconazole + cyprodinil, FRAC 3/9), Quadris Top (difenoconazole + azoxustrobin, FRAC 3/11), Orbit (propiconazole, FRAC 3), Quash (metconazole, FRAC 3), Luna Experience (fluopyram + trifloxystrobin, FRAC 7/11), Pristine (pyraclostrobin + boscalid, FRAC 7/11), Luna Sensation (fluopyram + trifloxystrobin, FRAC 7/11) and Merivon (pyraclostrobin + fluxopoyroxad, FRAC 7/11). Yaghmour reminded growers to always follow the label when applying fungicides. Best timing for applying fungicides for control of hull rot is at the “Deep V” stage, he said, or when the hull starts
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A WORD FROM THE BOARD: THE ALMOND BOARD OF CALIFORNIA
Precision Irrigation Research: Sorting Through the Sensors By ALMOND BOARD OF CALIFORNIA | Contributing Writer
he number of new technologies for irrigation can be both exciting and overwhelming. Sorting through marketing claims can make it difficult to answer the question that most growers want to know: what is needed to get peak performance from an orchard with as little water as possible? UC Davis professor Ken Shackel believes the answer will come directly from the trees themselves. This represents an important paradigm shift for many almond growers. “I think where we’ve gotten off track is to think about irrigation as an engineering decision rather than a biology decision,” Shackel said. He has spent much of
An almond tree in a lysimeter for accurate measurement of water use, installed with commercial water stress sensors. The ongoing research to validate these commercially available sensors is an important step toward the Almond Orchard 2025 goal to reduce the amount of water used to grow a pound of almonds by an additional 20% (all photos courtesy ABC.)
his career researching viable ways for growers to irrigate based on early detection signals from the trees themselves. There are a variety of sensors that are marketed to provide this type of plant-based information for irrigation decisions. Shackel says most are theoretically sound, but he wants to evaluate their reliability in the diversity of orchard environments.
Measuring Up to the Pressure Chamber
This all started in the 1990s when researchers from the University of California demonstrated that stem water potential readings as a measurement of plant water status were a useful indicator to define irrigation decisions. This led to the promotion of the use of the pressure chamber as a basis for irrigation management in almonds for more than two decades. “Although the pressure chamber provides fundamental assistance to define when to irrigate, the adoption of the pressure chamber across the industry remains fairly low,” said Sebastian Saa, associate director at the Almond Board of California (ABC). “This is mostly due to constraints with labor, technical training and the limited time during the day to take readings of stem water potential, even though there is strong evidence to support the use of this valuable tool.” Despite these challenges, there have been no other tools to date that match its accuContinued on Page 26 24
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Continued from Page 24 racy and reliability when determining when to irrigate. But this may be changing.
Making Sense of the Sensors
ABC-funded research is evaluating more automated alternatives that can be fixed on trees in the orchard to provide continuous data to growers. In separate research experiments, Shackel and associate professor Isaya Kisekka have been comparing three
direct sensor types: micro-tensiometers, miniature stem water potential sensors (osmotic cells) and psychrometers. Each of these sensors are commercially available and designed to directly measure the water potential of the plant to determine tree water stress, similar to a pressure chamber. Embedded in the tree, the micro-tensiometer measures the water tension in the water-carrying tissue (sapwood). Ultimately, the sensor provides daily stem water potential readings that can be utilized for
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Micro-tensiometer installed on an almond tree. One thing to be aware of is that micro-tensiometer sensors will require drilling into the tree itself, so wounding responses such as gumming are a potential risk.
irrigation decisions. Both Shackel and Kisekka found the micro-tensiometer to be closest in accuracy with the pressure chamber. One thing to be aware of is that micro-tensiometer sensors will require drilling into the tree itself, so wounding responses such as gumming are a potential risk. “Luckily in almonds and other Prunus species, they have figured out an installation method that prevents the gumming from contaminating the sensor,” said Shackel. Miniature stem water potential sensors that are installed on the trunk have been less consistent. Kisekka said the sensors seemed to perform well in 2019, but some changes made to the product and installation process caused the 2020 results to be less accurate. Shackel observed that temperature sensitivity was a real issue with these miniature stem water potential sensors this year, which is a concern. Temperature sensitivity was also an issue with the psychrometer. Shackel evaluated temperature-compensated thermocouple stem psychrometers, which measure the humidity in a small cavity of vapor that is sealed to the sapwood. The high level of temperature instability is a challenge under field conditions.
“It’s even difficult for researchers to use this approach under controlled temperature conditions,” said Shackel. “It’s a sound approach to measure water potential, but most researchers eventually give up on it because field temperature is too variable.” Based on this research, the most encouraging results for a substitute for pressure chamber measurements is the micro-tensiometer. Like all management decisions in the field, growers need to evaluate their individual needs and remember to look at all the tools available in the toolbox. For more irrigation resources, visit Almonds.com/ Irrigation.
What’s The Deal with Dendrometers?
Dendrometers are sensors that indirectly measure tree water stress by measuring changes in the trunk diameter throughout the day. The technology then uses algorithms to convert mea-
surements into an indication of tree stress. In recent years, some almond growers have adopted this technology and have been happy with the results. Shackel has evaluated dendrometers along with the other sensors for the past two years. Overall, what he has observed is that the dendrometers have been very sensitive to tree stress in the early stages (three to four days) after irrigation events, but then not very sensitive at gauging stress as it deepens. “The dendrometers seem to show good recovery when the irrigation hits,” Shackel said. “But then it sort of falls off a cliff after a few days rather than tracking true tree stress over time.” This is a problem when a grower wants to tolerate an intermediate range of tree stress over time, such as when they are approaching harvest. These results were obtained on a sandy but deep soil and might be different on heavier soils. Dendrometers use proprietary algorithms, so Shackel admits he cannot say
whether this is a fundamental technical problem with the technology or if it can be remedied with revised algorithms in the future.
Location, Location, Location
While the advantage of all these sensors is continuous autonomous tree water stress data, that also presents a challenge: selecting which trees in an orchard will represent an average for that block or zone is imperative. One approach is to use a pressure chamber to sample several trees over time and select whichever trees are closest to the average. If those trees are adequate representations of the block, then they should give you representative data, because all trees in the block tend to change in parallel. Another option for highly variable orchards is based on mapping soil variability. Kisekka is working with a grower who has implemented zone irrigation
Continued on Page 28
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Continued from Page 27 management. The grower mapped his soil based on electrical conductivity so that he could irrigate soils with similar infiltration rates together. Even without the irrigation set up this way, installing sensors in each of these zones could be beneficial to understanding the varying levels of tree stress that could be occurring at any given time rather than just irrigating to the average.
The Full Picture for Irrigation Decisions
Using new technology to determine when to irrigate is a critical question. But for the full picture, growers need to know not only when to irrigate, but also where and how much. Dr. Kisekka’s research is unique in that it’s looking to answer all three of these questions, with particular emphasis on the “where.” “If you have an orchard, it’s very
unlikely that you’re going to have unia large area. form yield everywhere in the orchard,” Shackel cautions against relying too said Kisekka. “So, precision irrigation heavily on soil-based measurements to management means raising the yields determine tree water stress. “Measurin poor producing areas, or if we can’t ing the soil moisture to tell if the plant raise the yields, then reducing inputs.” is stressed is a little like feeling the Through soil mapping, sampling hospital bed to determine if the patient and soil moisture probes, Kisekka can has a fever,” he said. Both researchers get a good picture of the reservoir of emphasize an approach that measures available water for the crop and its both the soil and the trees themselves. capacity in various areas of the field to Bringing these three areas of data take on more moisture. As he is collect- together is ultimately what growers ing this data, Kisekka is also experiwill need to answer the fundamental menting with a new type of neutron irrigation questions of when, where probe that can measure soil moisture and how much. “The soil, the plant and over an entire block, called a cosmic the atmosphere each help us answer ray. This is not something growers a different question,” said Kisekka. are using but could be very useful for “And that’s why our research is unique, measuring soil moisture across a large because we are looking at more of a area. Interestingly, Kisekka is observcomplete picture of irrigation manageing a correlation between the data from ment.” this cosmic ray neutron probe and stem Growers have achieved unprecwater potential. This may be another edented efficiency gains in recent potential indirect measurement for decades. To reach absolute peak perstem water potential in the future over formance, the next steps will require site-specific precision irrigation that is optimized to meet the needs of the trees themselves. The ongoing research to validate these commercially available sensors is an important step toward the Almond Orchard 2025 goal to reduce the amount of water used to grow a pound of almonds by an additional 20%. The purpose of this article is to share the results of ABC-funded research. This is for informational purposes only. Several other grower-specific factors should be considered before making purchasing decisions. Resources “Water Technology Spotlight: A Grower’s Perspective on Dendrometers” https:// bit.ly/3hzbaKh “Next Generation of Almond Orchard Irrigation System Designs” https://bit. ly/3hQ9lJj Almonds.com/Goals
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FIVE THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN PLANTING A NEW ORCHARD
By CECILIA PARSONS | Associate Editor
dds that a newly planted tree will have a long and productive life are much improved when nursery recommendations for planting are followed carefully. Ground preparation, care of trees when they arrive from the nursery, preparation and placement of trees in the ground, initial irrigation and trunk protection are most often listed as key factors in development of a uniform and healthy orchard. Nurseries noted there are differences in handling and planting of potted trees versus bareroot trees. Sierra Gold Nursery’s Reid Robinson said growers planting bareroot trees generally have more experience compared to growers choosing to plant potted or container trees. Still, he said, basic planting principles apply: Keep trees cool and moist until ready to plant; Plant early in the winter/spring seasons if possible; Dig a hole large enough to accommodate roots and plant at the right depth—soil in containers needs to be kept moist, he emphasized. Not letting the potted tree root ball dry out is the number-one rule, said Tom Burchell of Burchell Nursery. Planted into dry dirt, all the moisture will be sucked out of the root ball and make for a poor start.
1. Site Preparation
Karlene Hanf of Linwood Nursery in La Grange, Calif. said site preparation and irrigation set-up prior to arrival of
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Newly planted pistachio trees off to a good start with carton protection from herbicide applications and sunburn (all photos by C. Parsons.)
trees is a key part of the process when developing a new orchard. Soil and water testing will determine the suitability for the orchard site, Hanf said. Any amendments needed or deep ripping to break up soil layers is best done prior to planting. At a replant site, fumigation may be necessary pre-plant. When orchard site preparation is complete, the ground should be smooth and free of large dirt clods that can cause air pockets in tree holes. Having an irrigation system in place and operational is another must, Hanf said. “We see growers in a hurry to plant, but they don’t have the water in and spend time and money watering trees individually.” Soil variability across the orchard site should be identified and, if possible, adjustments made in water delivery. Use of low-volume irrigation can mitigate some undesirable soil physical characteristics. Building berms for planting is another recommendation, particularly in heavy soils. Burchell said properly built berms will keep irrigation water from pooling around the crown area. Ridge berms in the fall after soil preparation to allow for settling over the winter. The berms will settle over time, he said.
2. When Trees Arrive
If not going immediately into the ground, both bareroot and potted trees need to be protected from dry conditions. Bareroot trees can be held in damp soil or sawdust to prevent roots from drying out. In hot and dry conditions, Burchell said to place trees in the shade and keep potted trees watered. Roots of bareroot trees should not be exposed. “Potted trees are used to regular water, and that must continue,” Burchell said. Robinson said that potted trees should be at maximum moisture just prior to planting. Robinson said the Sierra Gold potted trees are in a biode-
The biggest differences when planting bareroot or potted trees lie in preparation and placement.
gradeable membrane, and extra care needs to be taken when handling the trees. The tree trunk is not a handle and should not be used to move the trees as handling can damage the bud union and the root system.
3. Preparation and Placement
This may be where some of the biggest differences are when planting bareroot or potted trees. “Tanking in” is the term used when planting bareroot trees. Burchell said after digging appropriate-sized holes (larger for bareroot trees), the tree is placed in the hole, water is poured in to settle the dirt and the dirt is then replaced. With potted trees, “don’t let the root ball dry out,” Burchell stressed. Robinson said UC studies show that crown gall incidence can increase through exposure to hot and dry conditions before and during planting. The safest choice, he added, is to plant from a reefer trailer. Potted trees, Robinson said, are not as tough as traditional dormant bareroot trees. The potting mix should be kept moist and be at maximum moisture just prior to planting. Linwood Nursery is offering a potted pecan tree option for customers this year, Hanf said, but the basic planting advice holds true for both container trees and bare root trees. The planting holes for a bareroot pecan tree need to be 30 by 24 inches to accommodate the larger root system.
Continued on Page 32 June 2022
Continued from Page 31 Holes should be filled halfway to the top with water before setting the tree in, then after setting the tree, the dirt is replaced, taking care to eliminate air pockets .
4. Initial Irrigations
Again, there are differences in bare root and potted trees when it comes to irrigation. Hanf said it is common for bareroot trees to be overwatered after planting. While still dormant, they do not use much water. She recommends using a shovel or soil probe to check soil moisture and to pay close attention to areas with sandy or heavier soils. “Timing irrigation is hard; you have to go out and look,” she said. If bareroot trees planted during the winter or early spring have been properly tanked in, Burchell said it is likely they will not need water until May. “Wait until you see them growing,”
he added. Robinson said potting mix will often be bone dry while field soil next to it will be moist. He said Sierra Gold recommends the ‘finger’ test at several areas of the new orchard to see if the potting mix is moist. The best way to keep the mix moist, he said, is short, frequent irrigation.
5. Tree Protection
Paint and cartons protect new trees from herbicide damage, vertebrate damage and sunburn. Staking helps new trees withstand wind. Keeping weeds from growing near new trees removes competition for water and nutrients. Painting trunks is also a good idea, especially later in the spring when temperatures are rising, Hanf said. Sunburn or sunscald can be prevented by painting trunks with a 50/50 water and white latex paint mix.
If bareroot trees planted during the winter or early spring have been properly tanked in, it is likely they will not need water until May, according to Tom Burchell of Burchell Nursery.
Bark on new trees is thin, and direct sun exposure can leave trees susceptible to wood-boring insects or disease. Carton trunk protectors are a standard for good reason. Not only do they protect trees from herbicide damage, they also shield the graft union from direct sun and provide protection from gophers. As long as the cartons are not holding moisture against the tree trunk, they can remain in place for the first year after planting. Hanf warned that trees should be allowed time to harden off after removing the carton before herbicides are applied in the tree rows. New trees should also be staked to help them withstand wind, Hanf said. A common mistake she sees is that the stakes are placed too close to the tree and tied too tight. “There has to be a little give. Closely tied trees won’t be as strong.”
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From Farm to Spoon Northern California nut grower diversifies with walnut butter, co-pack operation on the farm. By VICKY BOYD | Contributing Writer
bout seven years ago, almond and walnut grower Leon Etchepare was at a crossroads. He wanted to extend beyond just producing nuts, but to what? “I always wanted to do something more,” said Etchepare, a fourth-generation farmer near Maxwell. “You have all of these nuts; what’s the next step? You could be a handler. You
could sell international, but our domestic market is so light when it comes to walnuts and almonds.” There were so many large brands doing almond butter that Etchepare said they decided on walnut butter using their own walnuts. That was after they attended a California Walnut Board biennial meeting where walnut chili and walnut milk were showcased. Although walnut butter wasn’t displayed, the board had worked on a recipe and Etchepare began experimenting. But developing a walnut butter that tasted good, had the right consistency and was shelf-stable was easier said then done, Etchepare said. That was followed by the arduous task of finding a co-packer to produce it and then a company to market and distribute it nationwide.
The Four P’s Marketing Approach
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Shermain Hardesty, a University of California Cooperative Extension agricultural economist emerita, had a grower once tell her that growing a crop was the easy part; marketing it was much more difficult. “They’re used to dealing with producing a commodity, not with processing and marketing the food to add value,” she said. As a result, Hardesty recommends taking the four P’s approach to marketing a value-added agricultural product: price, product, place and promotion. Price is fairly straight forward. But she said growers who plan to market their products through a retailer must factor in the 40% to 50% mark-up a retailer typically takes. That doesn’t necessarily cover slotting fees either, which many larger retail chains charge as a kind of rent for shelf space. Product not only involves the actual value-added item but also the accompanying messaging, she said. This may include the brand name, packaging, logos and a personal story or farm history. Place addresses where the product will be distributed and
farmers don’t like to do.” Rather than diving into a full-scale processing operation, Hardesty said a grower may want to consider first processing small batches in a personal kitchen and marketing it locally to see if the concept is viable. Individuals can do so as a cottage food operation, Shermain Hardesty, left, with Margaret Collins made possible by the 2012 Califorand Kristin Reynolds during a 2008 Women in Agriculture workshop in Tulare, suggested a nia Homemade Food Act. Four P approach to marketing value-added ag Recently, the sales limit for a products (photo by Brenda Dawson, UC Davis.) Class B cottage food operation, which can sell directly or indirectly throughout the state, was increased to $150,000 annually. sold. Hardesty recommended starting One of the major caveats is the food locally, like at a farmer’s market, and production must be done in an individthen expanding. ual’s private home and not offsite at a As part of promotional efforts, procommercial processing facility, Hardducers must differentiate their products esty said. from other similar ones on the market. UC offers a myriad of cottage food “That’s so, so, so important because resources on its website (ucanr.edu/ what they need to do is distinguish sites/cottagefoods/). In addition, the themselves from the other products UC webpage “Starting a Food Business out there,” she said. “They have to talk —Resources for Processing Foods” (bit. to potential customers and stores, and ly/3rJrVIn) provides food safety and they really have to learn how to tell state and federal regulatory infortheir story. They have to make that mation for small-scale farmers and sales pitch, and that’s something that processors.
The Long Road to a Walnut Butter
Working with Mattson, a food technology and development company in Redwood City, Etchepare started with the Walnut Board’s walnut butter recipe. They continued to modify it until it met their requirements, with the end product hardly resembling the original, Etchepare said. “It was a very difficult process, and our butters have an 18-month shelf life,” he said. “It was hard getting to that 18-month shelf life and it took years.” Part of the challenge was due to walnuts’ composition, which includes α‐linolenic acid, a plant-based omega-3 essential fatty acid. Although it offers numerous health benefits, omega-3s also oxidize quickly when exposed to the air. As a result, walnuts have a much shorter shelf life and can become rancid much quicker than almonds, for example. Developing flavors was another challenge. All the walnut butters contain a small amount of cane sugar to take the edge off walnuts’ inherent
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Maxwell walnut producer Leon Etchepare took years to develop a value-added enterprise making walnut butter from the family farm’s walnuts (photo by V. Boyd.)
bitterness. Etchepare pointed out that 2 tablespoons of their walnut butter contain only 2-4 grams of added sugar compared to 19 grams for a well-known chocolate-flavored hazelnut spread. The walnut butters also contain small amounts of sunflower lethicin as a stabilizer, sea salt and natural flavors in the case of the flavored butters. Regardless of the type, all their walnut butters contain around 90% walnuts, he said. Developing a natural walnut-flavored butter was a no-brainer, Etchepare said. But determining other flavors was more difficult. “We were going to do honey instead of salted caramel, but honey didn’t seem to work well with the walnut on a consistent basis,” he said. “Caramel is consistent, and salted caramel was becoming a craze.” In fact, salted caramel is their best-selling flavor. They also have a
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maple walnut butter because Etchepare admitted he was partial to maple. The partners also wanted to develop a brand for their walnut butter that highlighted its wholesomeness as well as its main ingredient. After throwing around a number of names, including Nut Well, Etchepare said they came up with Wellnut Farms, a merger of wellness and walnut. “Wellnut just flows,” he said. Their tag line is “from our farm to your spoon,” which highlights consumers’ habit of eating the product out of the jar.
The Birth of Nutopia Foods
Initially, they worked with a co-packer to produce and package their walnut butter. Eventually, they parted ways, Etchepare said. In 2019, they bit the bullet and decided to produce the walnut butter on Etchepare’s family’s farm. That meant setting up a facility that met all the local, state and federal regulations for food manufacturing. To give his employees enough hours, he also began co-packing nut butters made from pistachios, pecans, hazelnuts, almonds and cashews for other small businesses under the name Nutopia Foods Inc. and other national brands. Going from a production farming background to food manufacturing wasn’t an easy transition either, Etchepare admitted. “It’s difficult, and it has a whole new set of challenges,” he said. “I knew nothing about manufacturing nut butters except going to the facility that we had co-pack our product. Dealing with all the food safety and paperwork isn’t easy.” They market their walnut butter through two distributors as well as selling directly on Amazon and on their own website, wellnutfarms.com. What Etchepare said was disheartening were the slotting and other marketing fees he has to pay just to get his product on a retail shelf. “This is the harsh side of things,” he said. “I guess it’s a dog-eat-dog world.” Comments about this article? We want to hear from you. Feel free to email us at email@example.com
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The Future of Pesticides in Walnut Production By CECILIA PARSONS | Associate Editor
here is no doubt that insect pests will continue to pose challenges for California walnut growers. What is uncertain is the future of one of the important tools needed for control of these pests and preventing crop damage.
The future of pesticides in crop production was addressed at the California Walnut Conference by a panel representing the industry, pesticide companies and farm advisors who are on the front lines, working with growers to protect their walnut crops.
Panelists discussed the impacts of losing certain pesticides, what is being done to get products available to the industry, and what federal and international decisions on regulation of pesticide products mean for California walnut growers.
Josh Rahm, director of technical and regulatory affairs for the California Walnut Board and Commission, said that products used to control walnut pests, specifically broad-spectrum insecticides, are being phased out. Crop protection companies continue to develop effective synthetic chemistries for pest control, said Paul Walgenbach, technical development representative for Bayer Crop Science. He added that challenges to new development are presented by environmental groups and that the date of product registration can be a moving target. He used neonicotinoid products that were hailed as a ‘miracle’ for insect pest control 30 years ago as an example. Now, those chemistries are being targeted domestically and internationally. Companies now need plans for new product development in order to not be blindsided by regulatory issues in the future (see related story in this issue of West Coast Nut.) “Softer and more targeted products present benefits and challenges,” Walgenbach said.
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At the federal level, Ethan Mathews, director of government affairs for Wilbur-Ellis, said that the risk-benefit analysis approach works well to preserve pesticide products for use in agriculture, in contrast is the EU’s hazard-based approach to pesticide regulation. He emphasized the rigors of the EPA approach to pesticide registration and noted that educating legislators about what the EPA is doing regarding pesticide regulations would help. Having predictability in the regulatory environment is necessary, he said. Mathews noted that the registrant program fee expires in 2023 and needs to be reauthorized.
there is not as much optimism about new bactericides. This is due to EPA reservations about chemistries used in agriculture that could affect resistance in human bacterial pathogens. Adaskaveg noted that in 2020, the EU member states voted to ban the use of the broad-spectrum fungicide mancozeb based on a hazard assessment. Maintaining the risk-benefit analysis approach to retain use of products in the U.S. helps growers, even if they are only allowed one application, he said. While efficacy of the fungicide/ bactericide mancozeb has lasted for 30 years, new products are needed, Adaskaveg said, so their use can be rotated with current registrations, and efficacy is preserved. Developing softer chemicals with different modes of action is the goal, he said.
IPM as a Solution
Need for More Tools
UCCE IPM advisor Jhalendra Rijal stressed that integrated pest management can help stretch the lifespan of pest management products as part of a long-term approach to pest control. This is not just about crop protection materials but also about all the other tools walnut growers can use to control insect pests. Cultural practices, including orchard sanitation, mating disruption and biologicals, are not the ‘silver bullet’ to pest control, but growers can integrate them into their pest management program for long term-benefits in the orchard.
“What we want is a good inventory in the toolbox,” Rahm said. Cost to develop and secure registration of new active ingredients is a big hurdle. Rahm said cost to develop a new product approaches $300 million and can take 10 years. He noted that California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation is offering a research grant program that awards projects up to 2.5 years to develop pest management tools and practices to reduce the use of high-risk pesticides. The 2022 Alliance Grants Program awards projects meant to increase use of proven integrated pest management systems. Funding for these amounts to $5 million. These amounts are not enough to Copper Under Review develop alternatives to chemical conUCCE researcher and Plant Patrol, Rahm noted. thologist Jim Adaskaveg noted that DPR has reported use of organoone of the essential walnut crop pro- phosphate materials is declining in tection tools, copper, is under review, agriculture, and groundwater contamiand the Environmental Protection nation continues to decrease. Use of biAgency has a goal to reduce use to ologicals to control pests is increasing. 20 pounds per acre annually, down “Pesticide use is evolving and adaptfrom the present 30 pounds. ing, but support from the regulatory “That’s where we are headed,” agencies needs to continue,” Rahm said. Adaskaveg warned. Mathews said it is important for agIn the short term, growers can be riculture to engage with the regulatory optimistic about targeted chemisagencies as opponents to pesticide use tries that are safe for consumers and certainly will. If there is no advocacy workers. Adaskaveg said, while there for pesticide use, expect to see more has been innovation in fungicides, policies limiting use, he said.
Walgenbach expressed a need for more UCCE advisor support and research about pesticide use. He also said the invasive species program needs improvement.
Walgenbach noted programs, including Spray Safe and BeeWare, have been developed by the agriculture industry to promote safe use of pesticides. California’s pesticide use reporting program statistics show a 92% compliance rate, evidence, Rahm said, of growers’ stewardship. The program is recognized as the most comprehensive in the nation, requiring full reporting of agriculture pesticide use. Growers are doing a good job at the field level, Rahm said, and the 92% compliance rate will only improve over time. Use of organophosphates has declined by 79% over the last 30 years, according to CDPR. In the last three decades, groundwater contaminants have decreased by 85%, pesticides linked to cancer and birth defects have decreased by 77% and the use of safer biological pesticide alternatives has increased by 72%. When it comes to volatile organic compound emissions, Rahm said, eight of California’s top 10 commodities in 2019 were also among the top 10 in 2018. Of these eight commodities, four increased emissions. Walnuts were among the four commodities that decreased emissions. Maximum residue levels (MRLs) determined by importing countries of California agriculture products continues to be an issue with pesticide use. The import MRL for mancozeb in the EU, Rahm noted, was delayed until fal 2022. Adaskaveg said it is important for the walnut industry to test and stay within limits. There is evidence that products can be used and not exceed current limits set by EU countries. If the import limits are changed to zero, then it will be difficult to use persistent products like mancozeb. Comments about this article? We want to hear from you. Feel free to email us at email@example.com
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FERTIGATING EFFICIENTLY IS STILL POSSIBLE EVEN WITH WATER SCARCITY By RICH KREPS | CCA, SSp., Contributing Writer
Pulse irrigating at night can save water as well as utilities (photo by Cecilia Parsons.)
ife isn’t always full of sunshine and rainbows. But sometimes it is, especially just after a rainstorm like the few quick storms some of us received in April. We received three quarters of an inch of rain in less than hour in Madera on April 16 on the east side of the county. Our pistachios loved it. God was looking out for us and trying to play a little catch up from all the water our politicians and unelected water officials released from our reservoirs into the supposed rising tides. But I digress. As farmers, complaining gets you nowhere, but good practices help keep the wheels on. So, let’s talk water. We have had moisture sensors on our farm since they were three years old. Last year was sixth leaf. When I tell people we only applied 17 inches of water and still made almost 1700 pounds per acre on those young trees, I get funny looks. But there’s more to the story. Collaborating with many of the farmers I consult for and learning from so many of those with volumes of knowledge far beyond what I will probably ever acquire, we have tried to take the best of the ideas that make sense to us. Lots of mulch and compost have been applied, six years of cover crops and diligent, meticulous water management have made it possible. But in today’s environment, with water scarce at best, prices down and fertilizer prices through the roof, we have to be better than good to keep farming. The 42
West Coast Nut
question then arises, does it make sense for everyone? Probably not, but maybe some things will work for most.
Savings at Night
We’ve discussed pulse irrigating, or applying multiple shots per week instead of one big shot. In Madera, PG&E has changed the rules to charging the premium electricity rates from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. It used to be during most daylight hours, making it almost impossible to check irrigation lines with the sun up without breaking the bank. Five to 8 p.m. is doable. I have heard of other counties having more stringent schedules. However, saving utility money is always worth it. And getting better water usage is certainly worth its effort. As we roll into summer, we will see daytime temperatures rising to 85 degrees F and above quickly. That’s when plants start their conservation process and reduce transpiration. At about 95 degrees F, we are shut down. I have read reports that say for every hour a plant has shut itself down, it takes two hours to recover. If we are shut down for eight hours in mid-day in June, July and August, 16 hours of needed recovery doesn’t lend itself to making heavy crops or even properly finishing them. If a plant shuts itself down during the day, I would propose we need to irrigate at night. With the sun down and heat dissipating, wouldn’t that also put more moisture into the ground instead
of evaporating during peak heat hours? More savings. Let’s say in the heat of summer, we are running 48-hour sets. Is it feasible to hypothesize that we may be able to run four 10-hour sets, save ourselves eight hours of electrical expense per week and greatly reduce the stress our trees experience between larger irrigation shots? And since our weeks are seven days, the next week we actually have three sets if we are watering every other day. More savings. I believe from my experience that we actually have many more benefits of irrigating this way.
When we continuously pulse water over our roots several days per week, we have noticed the ground doesn’t offer up the deep moisture as quickly. And without getting soaked, those feeder roots never experience multiple days in an anaerobic state. On our farm, we have also installed a fertigation unit that allows us to run smaller shots of fertilizer for most of every water run. Several of the farmers I consult for have purchased their own units as well. On our farm, with cover crops, that kept us below 30 units of applied nitrogen last year. We noticed a more balanced approach to the other nutrients being applied as well in the form of a microdose almost every week. Another benefit we believe we are seeing is how the nutrients are being
taken up. I used to subscribe to the practice of applying my fertilizer in the last half of irrigation sets to “keep the higher concentration of fertilizer in the top part of the soil profile.” That made me scratch my head when I installed my fertigation unit. I asked myself and other farmers, “Aren’t the trees in their most thirsty state when the water first gets applied to the soil? Why put it at the end?” I believe we get better uptake fertigating in a continuous stream so almost every drop has some love in it. By applying only as much as we have calculated a tree to use, we don’t leave a bunch of excess insoluble nutrients in the ground converting back to the rocks they were before they were refined to fertilizer in the first place. Here’s the beauty of the “stack”. We are finding being balanced and continuous, we use less. But don’t take my word for it; confirm it yourself with your tissue and sap analysis tests. If smaller shots still give you appropriate nutrient ppm numbers, the nutrients you are applying have to be taken up more completely. Then make sure you are adjusting for your crop and your nutrient demand curves. Check to see what nutrients are most needed at this phase of the crop. Sap analysis is like a blood test where traditional tissue tests are more of a total nutrient composition. A proper sap analysis test will compare old leaves to young ones and give you analyses as to how and what nutrients are moving through your xylem. It makes sense to know which mobile nutrients are moving and the immobile nutrients that are now deficient in young tissue. I totally understand farming more and more acres than our 40-acre farm make it very hard to irrigate in this style. For those with surface water that is only available at certain periods, it makes it even harder. But purchasing a fertigation system that allows every drop to have nutrition in it from the beginning to the end may change the ballgame for many. Having your own system will also allow you to buy fertilizer with that ever-increasing price tag from any company you choose. It will also allow you to mix and match different compounds that work better on your soil than a farmer in another
county. Pulsing your water and taking a “blood test” in sap analysis along with your traditional tissue tests will confirm what you are doing is both efficient and adequate without wasting much Purchasing a fertigation system that allows every drop of it. Making to have nutrition in it from the beginning to the end may your water change the ballgame for many (photo by R. Kreps.) and nutrition more efficient has to save you money in the become even more critical to producing long run while also giving you the adcrops. From what I see, the best farmers vantage to increase yields and orchard in the world are ready for it! health while you do it. Farming nut crops on the west coast has its challeng- Comments about this article? We want es. Managing water and nutrients have to hear from you. Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Using Beneficial Fungi for Control of Nut Crop Pests By DAVID SHAPIRO-ILAN | Research Leader, USDA-ARS Southeastern Fruit and Tree Nut Research Laboratory
ntomopathogenic (beneficial) fungi are safe biopesticides that are commercially available and used to control a wide variety of economically important insect pests in various cropping systems. Some of these fungi, including Beauveria bassiana and Cordyceps javanica, can kill pecan pests such as pecan weevil and pecan aphids. The beneficial fungi are usually applied to the crop just like chemical insecticides using standard spray equipment. In an alternate approach, some beneficial fungi, such as B. bassiana, can kill insect pests when living inside plants as endophytes. An endophyte is a microbe that lives inside a plant without causing disease. If the endophytic fungi protect a plant from insects or disease, then treatment costs may be lower compared to traditional spray programs. In research thus far, we discovered that two commercially available beneficial fungi, B. bassiana and Metarhizium brunneum, can established in pecan as endophytes. Once in the plant, we observed that the beneficial endophytic fungi can cause reductions in insect populations and disease severity. Additional field research is needed to explore the endophyte approach in pecan and other nut systems. Pecan productivity is limited by various insect pests and diseases. Some of the economically important pecan
insect pests include pecan weevil (Curculio caryae), three aphid species (black pecan aphid (Melanocallis caryaefoliae), blackmargined aphid (Monellia caryella) and yellow pecan aphid (Monelliopsis pecanis)) and stink bugs. Based on environmental and regulatory concerns as well as pesticide resistance and pest resurgence, research toward developing alternative control measures is needed. In this article, the use of beneficial fungi for control of nut pests is discussed. The research presented focuses on pecan, yet other nut crops may also benefit from the approaches discussed.
Use in Pecan
One alternative approach to the use of chemical insecticides is beneficial, insect-killing entomopathogenic fungi. These fungi kill by penetrating directly into the insect cuticle and then reproducing inside the pest. The fungus then sporulates on the insect’s surface (Figure 1). Several insect-killing fungal species are mass produced by commercial companies and can be applied using the usual spray equipment that is employed for chemical insecticides. In pecan, commercially available formulations of fungi, including Beauveria bassiana and Metarhizium brunneum, have been shown to cause significant reduction in pecan weevil populations (Shapiro-Ilan et al. 2008; 2017). B. bassiana, M. brunneum and Cordyceps
Figure 1. The beneficial fungus Beauveria bassiana infecting a pecan weevil adult (photo by Louis Tedders, USDA-ARS.)
javanica (= Isaria fumosorosea) can also kill pecan aphids (Shapiro-Ilan et al. 2008). For control of pecan weevil, the fungi can be applied to the soil surface when adult weevils are emerging or in the fall when larvae are burrowing into the soil. Another option is to apply the fungi to the tree trunk so weevils become infected when they crawl up the trunk. B. bassiana is the most effective fungus tested thus far for pecan weevil; applications have provided high levels of pecan weevil control when applied at 2 x 1010 conidia spores per square meter or 3 x 1012 per tree. In some orchards in the Southeastern U.S., high levels of native fungus, such as B. bassiana, can provide up to 50% pecan weevil mortality without the grower having to apply any fungus at all (Shapiro-Ilan et al. 2003).
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Recently, the ability to introduce the beneficial fungus, B. bassiana, into pecan seedlings was demonstrated (Ramakuwela et al., 2020). The fungus was introduced to seeds by rolling them in fungal powder or by soaking them in a fungal suspension. The endophyte can also be introduced to pecan seedlings via soil drenches. In greenhouse experiments, aphid populations (black pecan aphid and blackmargined aphid) were reduced when exposed to endophytic pecan seedlings compared to non-endophyte seedlings
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(Figure 2) (Ramakuwela et al. 2020). Moreover, in laboratory/greenhouse tests, the plant pathogenic fungus Phytophthora was also reduced in B. bassiana endophytic plants relative to non-endophyte plants (Figure 3). Endophytic fungi have potential
Number of aphids
Number of aphids
4 2 0
Figure 2. Survival of (A) black pecan aphids (Melanocallis caryaefoliae) and (B) blackmargined aphids (Monellia caryella) five days after exposure to pecan leaves with the endophytic fungus (Beauveria bassiana) or without fungus (control).
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Relative to chemical insecticides, spray applications of beneficial fungi tend to be costly. Another option to using beneficial fungi in nut crops that may be more efficient could be to incorporate the fungi into the tree as an endophyte. An endophyte is a microorganism (usually fungus or bacterium) that lives inside a plant without causing it harm. Some of the beneficial fungi, such as B. bassiana, have been reported as endophytes in various crops, including corn, bananas, beans, cacao, cotton, coffee and wheat. As endophytes, beneficial fungi contributed to insect pest suppression, such as controlling aphids in cotton and weevils in banana. Additionally, endophytic fungi (e.g., B. bassiana) were reported to reduce certain plant diseases, including those caused by pathogens in the genera Fusarium and Pythium.
100 80 60 40 20 0
Figure 3. Percentage Phytophthora cactorum lesion area on pecan leaves containing endophytic fungus (Beauveria bassiana) versus control leaves (without the fungus).
for control of pecan aphids and other pecan pests as well as potential other insect pests and diseases in other nut crops. However, additional research is needed to explore this approach. The impact of beneficial endophytic fungi on pest and disease populations under field conditions must be investigated. The potential for other beneficial entomopathogenic fungal species to colonize the tree as endophytes should be also investigated. Thus far, in addition to B. bassiana, we have achieved endophytic inoculation using M. brunneum in pecan. In other crops, endophytic fungi (e.g., B. bassiana) had additional physiological benefits to the plant such as increased growth. Therefore, the potential for beneficial fungi to enhance plant growth should be explored in nut crops. This article reports the results of research only. Mention of a trademark or proprietary product is solely for the purpose of providing specific information and does not constitute a guarantee or warranty of the product by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and does not imply its approval to the exclusion of other products that may also be suitable. References A. Acebes, Hudson, W., Sawyer, A. 2022. Commercial pecan insect control (bearing trees). In L. Wells [ed.] 2019 Commercial Pecan Spray Guide. University of Georgia Extension Bulletin 841. Ramakuwela, T., Hatting, J., Bock, C., Vega, F.E., Wells, L., Mbata, G.N., Shapiro-Ilan, D.I. 2019. Establishment of Beauveria bassiana as a fungal endophyte in pecan (Carya illinoinensis) seedlings and its virulence against pecan insect pests. Biological Control 104, 104102 Shapiro-Ilan, D. I., W. Gardner, J. R. Fuxa, B. W. Wood, K. Nguyen, B. Adams, R. A. Humber, and M. J. Hall. 2003. Survey of entomopathogenic nematodes and fungi endemic to pecan orchards of the southeastern US and their virulence to the pecan weevil (Coleoptera: Curculionidae). Environmen-
tal Entomology. 32: 187-195. Shapiro-Ilan, D. I., T. E. Cottrell, M. A. Jackson, and B. W. Wood. 2008. Virulence of Hypocreales fungi to pecan aphids (Hemiptera: Aphididae) in the laboratory. Journal of Invertebrate Pathology. 99, 312-317. Shapiro-Ilan, D.I., T. E. Cottrell, C. Bock, K. Mai, D. Boykin, L. Wells, W.
G. Hudson, and R. F. Mizell III. 2017. Control of pecan weevil with microbial biopesticides. Environmental Entomology 46, 1299–1304. Comments about this article? We want to hear from you. Feel free to email us at email@example.com
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View from the Top ‘We Have to Keep Upping Our Game’ Diamond Foods Executive Chairman Gary K. Ford is driving innovation at the 110-year-old tree nut company. By CATHERINE MERLO | Contributing Writer
Gary K. Ford is leading Diamond Foods to greater market share with several new culinary and snacking products (photo courtesy Diamond Foods.)
ICE HIL N E
ary K. Ford is on a mission. The executive chairman of Diamond Foods, LLC is determined to create greater demand for walnuts through a new culture of innovation at the 110-year-old tree nut company. Since he took on Diamond Foods’ top position in January 2017, Ford has led efforts to upgrade the company’s Stockton-based processing plant, invest heavily in technology and expand product offerings. And despite grappling with the same challenges every California ag company faces, from port congestion to inflation to labor availability, Ford is heartened by the gains Diamond Foods has made. “We’ve had some success,” he says. The same could be said for Ford himself, now in his second stint as an executive at Diamond. The Mississippi native began his career in the late 1970s at Frito Lay.
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Nut-based pie crusts, flavored nut coatings and unique walnut snacks are part of Diamond Foods’ innovation drive (photo by C. Merlo.)
He joined Diamond Walnut Growers, as it was then known, in 1998 as chief operating officer. But medical issues forced him to retire in 2008. Once his health was back on track, he returned to work, this time for the food company Eckert in Escalon, Calif. Ford spent seven years there. Then Ford connected with Blue Road Capital, an agricultural-focused private equity investment firm looking to enter the pecan industry. Helped by Ford, who had joined its board of directors, Blue Road Capital invested in pecans. Meanwhile, Diamond Foods, Inc. had been transitioning into a snack company. In 2005, its grower-members had voted to convert the 93-year-old cooperative into a publicly traded company. It soon launched the Emerald snack-nut brand. In 2016, the company was sold to Snyder’s-Lance, a large U.S. snack-food maker. But walnuts and pecans were still largely known as
Continued on Page 50
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Continued from Page 48 culinary products and weren’t quite aligned with Snyder’s-Lance’s core business. Walnuts were, however, compatible with Blue Road Capital’s investments in pecans. In January 2017, Ford said, “we were fortunate enough to buy Diamond of California.” Ford became executive chairman and CEO, thus returning for his second stint at what is now Diamond Foods, LLC. Today, walnuts remain Diamond Foods’ largest commodity, sourced from 600 California growers. The company also handles other tree nuts, including its own from 8,000 acres of pecans in Georgia and Arizona. It employs 1,000 people, most at its Stockton facility. Its retail customers include grocery chains like Albertson’s, Walmart, Save Mart, Stop & Shop, H-E-B, Publix, Target and Kroger. Under Ford’s leadership, Diamond Foods has increased its retail SKU count by about 30% from when he became executive chairman five years ago. Diamond Foods’ drive to innovate and create new products emerged as Ford and his team looked into the future. “We knew walnut crops were going to get larger, not just in California but in China and other parts of the world,” Ford says. “We knew we needed to spend a lot of time, energy, money and effort to create additional demand for walnuts. And we will continue to focus on that.” In April, Ford spoke with West Coast Nut about innova-
Diamond Foods’ plant at Stockton has undergone major reconstruction in the last five years (photo courtesy Diamond Foods.)
tion and change at Diamond Foods.
Q. How is Diamond Foods expanding demand for walnuts?
We’ve launched a lot of new items in the last five years and have a robust pipeline of new products in the works. Most notably, our Nut Pie Crust, a ready-to-use nut-based pie crust, had a very successful launch in 2019. The product continues to perform well enough that we have launched additional flavors like Chocolate, Pumpkin Pie Spice and Peppermint Chocolate. The success of our Nut Pie Crusts gave us the courage to continue to innovate. Since then, we’ve launched a line of Snack Walnuts in eight flavors, which we think is very important for the industry. Walnuts have historically been considered a cooking and baking nut, but they’re a very versatile and healthy product that we know can stand alone as a delicious snack. Our Snack Walnuts launched in 2020 during the pandemic, so it was a bit of a slow start. But we’re getting a lot of momentum with that product now. That’s a big part of our business going forward. It’s very important to Diamond and to walnut growers in general that walnuts become more of a snacking staple rather than just a culinary nut.
Q. What’s changed most at Diamond Foods since Blue Road Capital acquired it in 2017?
We had to build our executive team as well as our sales, marketing and innovation functions from the ground up. That began in January 2017, when we went about building the right team. The key to our success has been making the right hires for those roles. When we bought the business, we also identified that our biggest capital priority was to make significant updates to our Stockton facility. It had been under-invested in for years, which affected the overall yield and productivity. So, when the deal closed in January 2017, we were ready to issue purchase orders for a major reconstruction of our shelling operations in Stockton. Since the renovation and our investment in better technology, we have seen a significant uptick in our yield when we shell. And we’re doing that with less labor. Finally, we have a renewed focus on culinary nuts, particularly at the U.S. retail level. We’ve invested heavily in packaging equipment and doubled our packaging capacity 50
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since January 2017.
Q. Where do you see opportunity for growth?
At Diamond, we have a large international business, and while that’s important, our sweet spot and focus is on North America. We’re committed to gaining additional distribution for our retail products and growing food service. We see that as our role for the entire industry, to grow consumption in North America, especially with the rise of plant-based diets. We’ve got a lot to be optimistic about as we have a great plant-based product that we continue to innovate. But we have some serious challenges to deal with in the short term that are having a drastic impact on farm-gate income. Although it will be higher than last year, it’s still not at great levels for growers. We’re going to see slow to no growth in walnut plantings in the next five years as some of the legacy varieties, trees that are 50-plus years old and substandard quality-wise, are going to be removed. Also, until we get some stability with supply chains and international tariffs, we’re not going to see a lot of growth in walnut plantings. The most serious challenge that all California agricultural crops are struggling with is the lack of availability for shipping containers and the ability to get those containers on ships.
ber. We’re also buying better packaging materials and using rosemary extract, a natural preservative to keep our product fresher. With these changes, our consumer complaints are down almost 80% from that timeframe. That’s very satisfying because that was a clear and present danger to our brand. Now our brand is growing again and we’re very pleased. But we’ve got a long way to go.
We’ve got a lot of good competition, so we have to keep upping our game. Part of the value we’re trying to bring to retailers around the country is our innovation. There has not been a lot of innovation in the culinary nut space, and we’re proud of the new products we are bringing to the table. Comments about this article? We want to hear from you. Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Q. Does Diamond Foods have the leading share in the U.S. branded walnut market?
We’re in line with another brand, Fisher, but we’re continuously gaining market share as we did pre-pandemic and during the height of the pandemic.
Q. What are some ways you’re increasing market share?
When I came back to Diamond in 2017, I was not happy with our consumer quality. That was measured by consumer complaints, which had increased significantly. The No. 1 complaint in the walnut industry is rancidity. Our product has a long shelf life, but it’s still perishable. So, we fixed that immediately by changing the quality of our input material. We get to market with the new crop fast by mid- to late-OctoJune 2022
A WORD FROM THE BOARD: AMERICAN PECAN COUNCIL
RETAIL-BASED DATA HIGHLIGHT EFFORTS TO PROMOTE TASTE, NUTRITION AND VERSATILITY OF PECANS By AMERICAN PECAN COUNCIL | Contributing Writer
n this article, we’ll be highlighting three major successes for the American pecan industry with data pulled from Information Resources, Inc. (IRI). You may be wondering, “What is IRI data?” IRI is retail-based scanner data that is collected from a large sample of grocery stores across
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Data pulled from Information Resources, Inc. highlights growth in sales of pecans in the snack aisle.
the U.S. Through our subscription purchase of this data, we are provided with insights into household food purchases and retail food sales based on category. Let’s dive into some of the results we’ve seen and what it means for our industry.
Pecans Are #1 in Baking Aisle
According to IRI data for March 2022, pecans were the No. 1 nut reached for by consumers in the baking aisle. Pecans continue to dominate the baking aisle, representing 40% of all nuts purchased there. While this is encouraging to hear, it may not come as a surprise. Pecans have traditionally been thought of primarily as a baking ingredient or dessert nut. No one can deny pecans’ sweet and savory flavor profile makes them a delicious addition to any delectable dessert, so naturally pecans possess top-of-mind awareness in this category. Knowing health and nutrition is a top priority for many consumers, the APC has worked to broaden the public’s perception of pecans beyond the baking aisle by unifying our messaging around three core pillars of pecans’ superb taste, nutrition benefits and versatility. According to IRI Scanned Data and a consumer research survey, consumers love hearing about pecans, with flavor being the No. 1 reason. We are getting the word out to consumers that they don’t have to sacrifice great taste for nutrition. By keeping pecans top-of-mind for consumers when it comes to nutrition and
Continued on Page 54 52
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Summer Application Yield Increases 3 Year Trial Increases Yields 350 lbs Annually Bisabri Ag Research - ‘Gold Hills’ Pistachio - 2017-2019
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Continued from Page 52 differentiating them from other tree nuts based on their pleasing flavor, we’ve not only been able to remain #1 in the baking aisle, but also increase domestic consumption by 32% since APC launched in 2016.
Growth in Snacking Aisle
Pecans have made notable headway in the snacking aisle in recent years with unit gains up 7% in 2020. In fact, an article recently published in Candy & Snack Today (candyusa.com/ cst/pecans-drove-snack-nut-growthin-2021/) reported that pecans drove snack nut growth in 2021. This is a huge win for our industry! When we conducted our Strategic Plan with Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in 2019, one of the key elements in the proposed framework for growing pecan demand was expanding consumption occasions by targeting health-oriented snacking consumers. Through a consumer survey we conducted, we found that ‘snacking’ consumers of pecans eat them a few times a week, with the health-motivated snacking segment consuming them even more frequently. In contrast, ‘ingredient’ consumers of pecans eat them less than once a month and are generally not health-motivated. In addition, we compared category growth of non-snacking ingredient categories with snacking and health-forward categories. Non-snacking ingredient categories (i.e., cooking ingredients & baked goods), which made up 85% of
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Growth efforts have focused on pecans’ versatility, nutrition and taste.
global pecan consumption, had seen stable to moderate 1% to 2% growth over the last five years at the time the survey was conducted, whereas snacking and health-forward categories were extremely fast-growing. It was clear we needed to move into this space by positioning pecans as a nutritious alternative to unhealthy snacks. The trend toward snacking has only continued to grow in the years since we conducted the Strategic Plan. Today, 98% of consumers report that they snack daily and 48% say they are snacking more since the start of the pandemic. Consumers are increasingly looking for wholesome snack options, driving strong interest in snack nuts. According to IRI data, snack nuts, excluding seeds and corn nuts, generated $5.2 billion in sales in 2021. This is an increase of 2.2% versus 2020 and
5.3% versus 2019. Not all nuts enjoyed equal popularity with macadamia nut, almond and peanut dollar sales all down. Pecans, however, reached more than $62 million in sales in 2021. This was an increase of 12.2% versus 2020 and 16.9% versus 2019 with an equally strong performance in volume, up 11.6% versus 2020 and 18.2% versus 2019. There’s still substantial room for growth within the snacking aisle category, but we want to celebrate that this made pecans the fastest growing snacking nut last year!
With the success of marketing programs overseas and unification of the industry’s effort through the Federal Marketing Order, APC has seen an increase in Market Access Program (MAP) and Emerging Market Program
(EMP) allocations received from USDA each year. Recently, the American Pecan Council obtained a record total of $1.175 million dollars in EMP and MAP funding for international market development activities for the 2022 calendar year after much collaboration with USDA. This is an increase of over half a million dollars compared to 2021! As mentioned in our previous article, in 2018-19, APC conducted an in-depth international market analysis on opportunities for expansion in current top foreign markets as well as for pecan exports. During the evaluation, several markets rose to the top of the list. Thanks to the increase in allocations APC is receiving from USDA, the industry has the opportunity to tap into these other markets the research concluded to be top-tier potential markets for the industry. These include the UK, the third largest EU market for pecans behind the Netherlands and Germany, and India. The UK has significant potential to expand its current pecan consumption since ]there is an increase in healthy living and a known love of food. Pecans, being a high-tier-priced nut, can be marketed as the premium nut for the UK consumer by providing both health benefits and exceptional taste. Currently, there has been little marketing of pecans in the UK, but once consumers learn about pecans, this market presents a great opportunity. Meanwhile, with the decrease of market in China, the
APC has received an Emerging Market Program (EMP) grant to study India and the opportunities for American Pecans to grow pecan demand and consumption in this untapped market with over one billion consumers! The largest challenge is the current tariffs on nuts into India. However, having a market program ready to go will be crucial once these tariffs are lifted. India is the great unknown for American Pecans, and further market research needs to be conducted on tackling trade barriers, supply chain hurdles and Indian consumers’ perception of pecans. The American pecan industry has a considerable opportunity with this market. India has a large middle class and could very well become an important trading partner. The APC also continues to further develop the China inshell market with the 2022 allocations. Overall, these are exciting times for the American pecan industry and great opportunities await. We look forward to continuing to build awareness and demand for American Pecans, not only stateside but around the globe in untapped markets in 2022 and the years to come!
Comments about this article? We want to hear from you. Feel free to email us at email@example.com
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Crown Gall: Rootstocks, Treatments and Strategies By CECILIA PARSONS | Associate Editor
Sunburn, cracks in the bark and pruning wounds all can be openings for crown gall infection inbwalnut trees. Management options for this disease depend on tree age, vigor and extent of galling. Most common recommendation is tree removal and replanting (photo courtesy Growing the Valley podcast.)
resence of crown gall in young walnut orchards is a concern of growers due to its effects on tree vigor. Dr. Kari Arnold, a UCCE area orchard and vineyard systems farm advisor in Stanislaus County, explained that crown gall develops in a conducive environment, one that contains moisture, susceptible wounds or openings and the pathogen Agrobacterium tumefaciens. In her presentation at the California Walnut Conference, Arnold said the gram-negative soilborne bacterium infects a wide range of dicot host plants, causing tumors or galls to develop on tree trunks above and below the soil. The bacterium survives in the soil and gall tissue. The UC IPM management guidelines describe the galls
West Coast Nut
as rough growths. They are not hard, but soft and spongy. Centers of old galls decay. Infected young trees can become stunted. Sunburn, cracks in the bark and pruning wounds all can be openings for crown gall infection in walnut trees. Early infection symptoms can include stunting, excessive ground cracking around the trunk, ground ‘heaving’ around the trunk, poor leaf color or early fall coloration. Crown galls on tree crowns and below the soil can be difficult to see before growth appears above the ground. Management options for this disease depend on tree age, vigor and extent of galling. Most common recommendation is tree removal and replanting.
Focus on Prevention
Prevention includes choosing tolerant or resistant rootstocks, careful handling of trees at planting to avoid injury and sanitation of pruning tools. Unfortunately, traditional paradox seedling rootstocks are highly susceptible to crown gall. Crown gall in older orchards is not as detrimental, but low incidence of crown gall at planting is imperative to a healthy walnut orchard. Early infection can lead to stunting, low vigor and poor yields as the trees struggle to grow. Funding provided by tree nurseries through an assessment paid to the California Fruit Tree, Nut Tree, and Grapevine Improvement Advisory Board led to the development of improved nursery management practices. The industry standard for rootstocks has been seed-propagated Paradox seedlings, a cross between Northern California black walnut and English Walnut. Traditionally, seed was shaken and collected from the ground then planted into fumigated fields. Via the assessment, nurseries funded Dr. Dan Kluepfel, a USDA/UC Davis crown gall expert, and his laboratory team to compare nuts collected from the tree canopy and nuts collected from the orchard floor. They tested the nuts and found the causal organism Agrobacterium tumefaciens present only on seeds collected from the orchard floor. This research led to a change in seed collection practices. Arnold said that because of this research, Paradox seeds are harvested onto tarps or catch frames to avoid contact with the inoculum in the soil. Furthermore, clonal rootstocks now available are associated with lower incidences of crown gall, she noted. The rootstocks RX1, VX211 and Vlach are all susceptible to infection, but are grown in the absence of the pathogen. This is because they are propagated in a tissue culture laboratory or greenhouse. This is an example of
Continued on Page 58
Continued from Page 56 avoidance, one of the six traditional principles of disease control. The traditional principles of Plant Disease Control (PARTEE) include Protection: prevent infection by means of a toxicant or some other barrier to infection; Avoidance: prevent disease by selecting a time of year or a site where there is no inoculum or where the environment is not favorable for infection; Resistance: utilizing cultivars that are resistant or tolerant of infection; Therapy: cure plants that are already infected; Exclusion: prevent the introduction of inoculum; Eradication: eliminate, destroy or inactivate the inoculum. Arnold explained that traditionally it has been difficult to clone walnut rootstocks. Recent options for clonal rootstocks include UC releases RX1 and VX211 and private industry Vlach and Grizzly.
RX1 and VX211 were developed from the Paradox Diversity study initiated in 1996. This study was designed to examine variability among families of commercially available Paradox seedlings and controlled crosses between different black walnut species and Juglans regia. Nurseries donated 3000 seeds over two years that were screened for lesion nematode, crown gall and Phytophthora sp. resistance. Certain individual seedlings became apparently superior, Arnold said. These superior seedlings included RX1 and VX211, which were clonally propagated and field tested. Additional seedlings have been clonally propagated and are currently being studied in the field for future release. RX1 and VX211 do tend to cost slightly more than traditional paradox seedlings. This additional cost is returned to the Walnut Improvement Program at UC Davis to assist in funding the breeding and development of future California walnut varieties and
GET EVERY NUT
UCCE Farm Advisor Kari Arnold planting a walnut rootstock trial testing for crown gall resistance. The rootstocks RX1, VX211 and Vlach are all susceptible to infection, but are grown in the absence of the pathogen (photo courtesy K. Arnold.)
rootstocks. The UC IPM Guidelines for crown gall management note that clonal Paradox RX1 has moderate resistance to crown gall. Clonal Paradox Vlach and VX11 have low resistance to crown gall. That said, tool sanitation is still necessary when handling these rootstocks. Management guidelines for crown gall recommend careful handling of new trees, making sure the roots are not allowed to dry out before planting. Injuries or openings in the bark can leave them open to infection. The strain Agrobacterium tumefaciens K-84 is available as a preventative treatment but does not affect galls. It is used as root dip or spray before heeling in or planting. This biological control is marketed as Galltrol A, Norbac 84C, Nogall or Diegall.
To Treat or Replant
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Orchards should be scouted for crown gall development during the growing season when the orchards are not wet. Tree removal and replanting are most often cited as the best options for crown gall in young, infected trees. Small galls on young trees not exhibiting signs of stunting can be removed; however, there may be extensive galling on the crown area below the soil. In older trees, treatment may be ef-
‘Crown gall in older orchards is not as detrimental, but low incidence of crown gall at planting is imperative to a healthy walnut orchard.’ fective. The decision to remove or treat will depend on tree vigor, severity of galling and the cost to treat compared to replant. Treatment involves removal of soil away from the crown and roots, exposing the gall. This can be done with an air compressor. If the area is dry, treatment can be performed at that time.
Treatment consists of flaming with a propane cylinder or torch. A red-hot one-inch zone around the margin of the gall is needed. Removing the main part of the gall is best to access all parts of the gall margin. Following the surgery, all tools used should be sterilized before moving to another infected tree. The treated areas should be left uncov-
ered through the summer and re-treated if gall growth returns. Treatment success is listed at about 89%. UC IPM guidelines strongly advise not using this treatment method on very young trees. When infected trees are removed and replanting is planned, guidelines recommend the removal of as many tree roots as possible. A grass rotation crop can be planted to help degrade remaining host material and reduce pathogen levels. Fumigation with Telone C35 is recommended. New trees planted should be offset from the previous tree spacing to reduce contact with inoculum. Keeping the tree crown dry can also reduce disease severity.
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Consumers will have fewer food choices and higher prices if Western water supplies remain inadequate and unstable.
Abandoned orchards are one of the consequences of state and federal water policies that do not make domestic food production a priority (photo courtesy California Farm Water Coalition.)
Today’s World is Full of Uncertainties; Our Food Supply Shouldn’t Be One of Them
By MIKE WADE | California Farm Water Coalition, Contributing Writer
he war in Ukraine and the unrest it is causing around the globe has focused America’s attention on just how uncertain a world we inhabit. Here at home, inflation is sapping consumers’ purchasing power, gas prices have skyrocketed and food prices are higher every time we go to the store. Russia and Ukraine together supply more than a quarter of the world’s wheat, and with no end in sight to the fighting, that supply is in jeopardy and prices are almost certain to spike. But it’s not just wheat that is a problem. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, world food prices in March surged nearly 13% from February and almost 34% from the previous year, reaching their highest levels ever. While cereals, oils and meats are at their all-time high, the prices of many other crops are surging as well as global competition for essential inputs like nitrates and potash from un-sanctioned countries grows. The World Bank reports that we are in the largest shock that commodity markets have seen in nearly 50 years, with economists expecting high commodity prices to persist and grow for at least two more years. Experts at the World Bank now warn that continued disruptions will pose major threats to global food and nutrition security. In times of crisis like these, we count on our government to act responsibly to secure America’s domestic food production and reduce our reliance on foreign sources. Unfortunately, that is the exact opposite of what is happening. Federal and state governments are not treating the coming food shortages and price hikes with the seriousness they deserve. Through out-of-balance regulatory policies and a failure to prioritize water for domestic food production, our government is putting us all at risk, and worsening the strain on global food systems. In California, farms have seen surface water supplies drastically cut, in some cases to zero. And farms are also being squeezed when it comes to groundwater supplies as some SGMA restrictions are starting to take hold. Over 80% of our country’s fruits, nuts, and vegetables are grown west of the Rockies and production simply cannot be moved elsewhere. In California, the crop-friendly climate is a significant factor. Other states have weather extremes, oppres60
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sive humidity and, in some cases, too much rain to produce what comes out of the West. When you make a salad, have fruit for breakfast, eat a hamburger with cheese, onions and French fries, roast a chicken or put tomato sauce and garlic on a pizza, every one of those products and hundreds more are grown on Western farms. Without the food supply that comes from Western farms, Americans will see shortages at the store, ever-higher prices, be forced to rely more heavily on increasingly unstable foreign sources, or all of these at once. But without a reliable water supply, that farmland simply cannot produce what our country needs. It doesn’t have to be this way. In California, we must move more quickly to build and repair infrastructure that will help us store more water in wet years for use in dry ones. Much of the water funding from Proposition 1, passed in 2014, remains unspent. The Legislature passed, and the Governor signed, additional emergency funding for water projects, but we’re not seeing it in action. And at the federal level, a significant infrastructure bill was passed in 2021, but those projects are not moving at the speed required to meet the current critical need. In addition, government water policies often work against the need to protect our food supply. Federal and state water policy in some areas has become unbalanced in ways that penalize the farms trying to produce our food supply. This is happening right now when that production counts most for American families. In March, the Consumer Price Index rose 8.5% from the previous year; the biggest jump in more than 40 years. Without urgent changes in water policy, America’s consumers can expect to pay even more for their food. In a world of global uncertainties, we can’t afford to take the farms that produce our food for granted. Now more than ever, we must protect our domestic food supply by finding ways to ensure that Western irrigated agriculture continues to play a vital role in feeding our nation, while keeping our rural communities and the environment healthy. Comments about this article? We want to hear from you. Feel free to email us at email@example.com
NITROGEN MANAGEMENT IN WALNUTS
Cover crops can provide quite a bit of nitrogen depending on the current nitrogen content in the soil and species selection. (photo courtesy Rex Dufour, NCAT.)
By KARI ARNOLD, PH.D. | UCCE Area Orchard and Vineyard Systems Advisor, Stanislaus County, PHOEBE GORDON PH.D. |UCCE Area Orchard Crops Advisor, Madera and Merced Counties, KATHERINE JARVIS-SHEAN PH.D. | UCCE Area Orchard Systems Advisor, Capitol Corridor, MOHAMED NOURI PH.D. | UCCE Area Orchard Systems Advisor, San Joaquin County and JANINE HASEY | UCCE Tree Crop Emeritus Advisor, Sutter and Yuba Counties
he following is a summary of a previous publication “Guide to Efficient Nitrogen Fertilizer Use in Walnut Orchards” written by Kathy Kelley Anderson, Joseph Grant, Steven A. Wienbaum and Stuart Pettygrove. It appeared in the UCCE’s April 2022 issue of The Scoop on Fruits and Nuts in Stanislaus County, Vol. 27, Issue 2. Reprinted with permission. As the growing season approaches (and fertilizer prices rise), many walnut growers are asking the question, “How much nitrogen do I need to fertilize my orchard and when?” Although walnuts, a proteinaceous crop, need more nitrogen than some stone fruit, nitrate, being negatively charged, leaches easily in the soil. Compost, organic fertilizers, urea and ammonium-containing fertilizers are all eventually converted to nitrate by soil bacteria, so regardless of form, leaching can occur at one point or another. Therefore, the right rate, time, place and type become increasingly important as environmental concerns, regulatory restrictions and nitrogen prices increase. The best way to manage nitrogen applications is to first estimate orchard nitrogen requirements (based on your yield estimate), then determine your nitrogen need (yield estimate minus other sources of nitrogen), determine your applied nitrogen for the season Formula 1. 1. Formula
= 33 lbs. of N per acre per application
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(nitrogen needs divided by application efficiency) and determine the timing of nitrogen applications based on the phenology of the crop (during the growing season, nitrogen is taken up by the tree at a relatively even rate throughout fruit development, nothing needed after harvest, nothing needed during dormancy.) This is referred to as nitrogen budgeting.
Growers can send samples to a lab to determine the amount of nitrogen present in the water. This amount can then be calculated on an acre-feet basis and subtracted from the initial estimate of nitrogen needed which is based on the five-year average yield estimate. The resulting amount of nitrogen needed for the season is then divided into how many times you plan to apply nitrogen during the season. The Right Rate number of times you choose to apply Let’s first discuss the right rate. nitrogen should be partly determined Nitrogen management plans require based on the leaching capability of estimating the orchard nitrogen rethe soil (sandier soil is more likely to quirement based on yield estimates. It allow nitrogen to pass through it) and is suggested to determine this value by the form of nitrogen used (nitrate averaging the previous five years (while will leach more readily than ammoexcluding very low-yielding years.) nium.) Furthermore, walnut trees Nitrogen can be present in irrigation take up nitrogen steadily through the water; therefore, testing your water growing season, so applying smaller source is necessary for determining amounts more often is better for your your application amount for the comcrop. Unfortunately, even at our best ing season. Nitrogen in irrigation water attempts, not all the nitrogen applied has been demonstrated to be taken up and/or present is taken up by the plant. by trees, so we can incorporate this Research shows approximately 70% is nitrogen value into our nitrogen budget, taken up by the plant, so we also incorsaving money and water resources. porate an efficiency factor of 0.70 into In rare cases, these resources have our budgeting estimates. Don’t worry, been found to contain as much as the we will circle back to this later. In the equivalent of 100 to 200 lbs. of nitrogen meantime, please see Table 1, see page in three acre-feet of water. More often, 64, for ppm nitrate present in irrigation some irrigation water sources are found water and how that converts to lbs. of to contain the equivalent of 20 to 40 lbs. nitrogen applied per acre in volume of of nitrogen in three acre-feet of water. applied water per acre. So, how much nitrogen is taken away from the field at harvest and how do we determine the right rate from
Continued on Page 64
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Continued from Page 62 that? Research shows that for every ton of nuts/hulls removed per acre, approximately 29 lbs. of nitrogen are removed per acre. With an additional few pounds for limb and leaf growth, the CDFA assumes 40 lbs. of nitrogen is needed per one ton of walnuts removed, per acre (for current information, please see their website at cdfa.ca.gov/is/ffldrs/frep/FertilizationGuidelines/). We’ve covered quite a bit of ground here, let’s run through an example. If my previous five-year yield average is three tons per acre from my orchard, I could assume I need to replenish this much nitrogen: 3 tons per acre multiplied by 40 lbs. nitrogen per ton equals 120 lbs. nitrogen per acre. Divide this value by the efficiency factor of 0.70, and now the seasonal application becomes approximately 171 lbs. per acre. Furthermore, if my water sample reflects approximately 40 lbs. of nitrogen per acre in my annual irrigation, I can remove 40 lbs. of nitrogen from that
Nitrogen concentration in irrigation water
Pounds of nitrogen applied per acre in volume of applied water per acre
ppm N as NO3--N
Note: Agricultural laboratories report results of water analysis as either ppm N (NO 3-N) or ppm NO3-. Multiply ppm NO3-N in the water by 2.72 to calculate the pounds of nitrogen applied per acre foot of applied irrigation water. Multiply ppm of NO3- by 0.614 to obtain pounds of nitrogen.
Table 1. Amount of nitrogen applied in irrigation water as a function of nitrate-N (NO₃--N) or nitrate (NO₃-) concentration and the amount of irrigation water applied. Source: Guide to Efficient Nitrogen Fertilizer Use in Walnut Orchards, UCANR publication #21623.
total, thus my application needed for the season becomes 132 lbs. of nitrogen per acre. Furthermore, I do not want to apply all that nitrogen at the same time because the trees need it throughout the fruit development process, so depending on my application method I could apply this amount of nitrogen across four to several applications until August,
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In general, trees can take up nitrogen when leaf-out begins, but they don’t need it until nut development begins to a greater extent. This is because early nitrogen needs are supplied by nitrogen remobilization in the tree. Therefore, applying nitrogen after harvest, during the winter or even early spring, in the case of walnuts, is just a waste of money and resources and can be an environmentally destructive action. That said, research has shown that walnuts take up nitrogen steadily during the fruit development period; therefore, “spoon-feeding” nitrogen gives you the best bang for your buck. We suggest applying frequent small doses during the growing season. This will provide better nitrogen use efficiency. As is demonstrated in Formula 1 applying 33 lbs. of nitrogen once a month from May to August is ok, but applying 16 lbs. of nitrogen every two weeks from May to August is better.
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thereafter, walnut trees are no longer utilizing nitrogen for nut development. So, if I decide to apply four times during the season, my application rate would then become 33 lbs. of nitrogen per acre. Please see Formula 1 for details:
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Depending on the application form, certain measures can be taken to reduce leaching even further. If fertigating, add the nitrogen during the last half or third portion of the irrigation set. This al-
Continued on Page 66
THE BEST WAY TO MANAGE PATHOGENS BEFORE THEY BECOME AN ISSUE.
TriClor is chloropicrin based and can be used as a standalone or as a complement to Telone® depending on your orchard redevelopment needs. When targeting soil borne disease and nematodes, TriClor and Telone® can be applied in a single pass. This reduces application costs, promotes early root development, and improves soil health. For more information about TriClor and Telone or to schedule an application contact TriCal, Inc.
www.TriCal.com Authorized distributor for Telone® *TriClor and Telone are federally Restricted Use Pesticides.
Equivalent acidity or basicity (lb. CaCO3/100 lb. N) Acid Base 62 --
Leaching Volatilizati on Risk* potential
a 24-hour set, much of the applied nitrogen will be carried too far into the soil depth, wasting money and risking environmental ammonium NH NO 33.5-34.0 M L, M*** nitrate detriment. ammonium (NH ) SO 21.0 110 -L L, M*** Knowing more about your soil and sulfate Ca(NO ) ·NH NO 17.0 calcium9 -M L leaching capacity can help determine which ammonium forms of nitrogen you could use to reduce nitrate solution leaching, although all forms will convert calcium Ca(NO ) 15.5 -20 H L to nitrate eventually, so don’t assume any nitrate form of nitrogen is “safer” than another. As urea CO(NH ) 45.0-46.0 71 -L M UAN-32 57 -M L NH NO ·CO(NH ) 32 a reminder, more frequent, smaller applicasolution** tions of nitrogen are more likely to keep the (ureaammonium nitrogen in the rootzone where the roots can nitrate) access it. One big nitrogen application in *L=Low, M=Medium, H=High. These terms are relative. All ammonium forms will leach after being May and July reduces the available nitrogen converted to nitrate form. This takes place in 2 to 4 weeks in most soils Nitrate leaching can be severe on sandy soils and moderate on silt loams and clays. **UAN is often inject through low volume irrigation. for the crop in June and August when the ***If not incorporated or banded below the soil surface, volatilization losses can be high on soils with a pH over 7.0. crop still needs it for production (not to mention, this practice increases leaching Table 2 . Components of various nitrogen (N) fertilizers and their characteristics. risk). Keeping nitrogen in the rootzone Source: California Plant Health Association 2002, Cramer et al. 1986 and Guide to Effiwith more frequent applications at smaller cient Nitrogen Use in California Walnut Orchards (UC ANR Publication 21623). application rates provides for a better crop in October (cha-ching!). Formula 1.from Page 64 Continued As we progress into the growing season (late June/July), we should start thinking about tissue lows water to flush and move the nitrogen into the soil and samples. This helps determine how much nitrogen is needed rootzone. If fertigation occurs during the first four hours of based on the plant status and allows for rate adjustment in the following year. We collect samples in June and July because this is when leaf nitrogen content tends to stabilize. Collect four terminal leaflets per tree from spur leaves that are fully expanded at approximately six to eight feet above the ground around the outside of the tree. To assess the entire orchard, make these collections from 29 randomly selected trees within the orchard. Submit the samples to a nutrient analysis laboratory. If leaf concentrations are below 2.3%, the trees are deficient and need additional nitrogen. If nitrogen leaf concentrations are between 2.3% and 2.7%, this orchard is adequate and needs no more nitrogen than previously assessed. If the concentrations are above 2.7%, this orchard is in excess of nitrogen and savings can be taken advantage of by reducing or even eliminating nitrogen applications for a year or more depending on soil type (sandier soils are more prone to leaching). In other words, if your sampling numbers are above 2.7%, you can save money by not buying nitrogen when nitrogen is expensive and walnut prices are low. This is because of the stored nitrogen in the plant. If you go this route, be sure to follow your sampling next year to help determine the following year’s application rates. This nitrogen savings is only good for about a year or two, and you don’t want to short yourself in yield when the prices go back up. The current year’s tissue samples will guide next year’s nitrogen decisions and maybe save you some cash. So, we’ve made it to August. By now, we have a pretty good handle on our nitrogen budgeting. As a reminder, don’t apply nitrogen after August; not only is this a waste of money and time since the tree is no longer using nitrogen for nut development, but this also makes trees more prone to freeze damage in the fall due to the unnecessary encouragement 4
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of new growth. September is best thought of as a slowdown month where we allow the trees to develop dormant buds and dormant tissues. Any nitrogen inputs during this time delay dormancy, furthering the risk of fall freeze damage. Take this moment to pat yourself on the back. Farming is hard.
ing assumes a 50% recovery if the cover crop is only mowed. Further information on cover crops in walnut orchards can be found in Cover Crops for California Agriculture (UC ANR publication 21471, 1989) and Cover Cropping in Vineyards-A Grower’s Handbook (UC ANR Publication 3338, 1998). Although we expect all forms of nitrogen to become nitrate (leachable) at some point, different forms of nitrogen have different levels of leaching risk and volatilization potential. Additionally, different formulations consist of different percentages of nitrogen. Please see Table 2, see page 66 for a quick digest of this information. With rising prices related to nitrogen and increasing concerns related to nitrogen ground water contamination, we hope this article helps in deciphering your best nitrogen management practices. Young trees are different in their needs; if you have specific questions on young trees, please contact your local UCCE walnut advisor.
Although we made it through the growing season, there is more to consider when it comes to nitrogen management in the orchard. For instance, certain forms of nitrogen and certain soils are more prone to nitrogen leaching. Ammonium is positively charged and held to clay soil particles, whereas nitrate is negatively charged and not held in place by clay soil particles. Sandier/siltier soils are at greater risk for nitrogen leaching and nitrate-based fertilizers are more prone to leaching. That said, ammonium will convert to nitrate at some point, so using only ammonium-based fertilizers does not put you in any “safe” zone, it just slows down the process Resources a little bit. Additionally, since water moves nitrate through cdfa.ca.gov/is/ffldrs/frep/FertilizationGuidelines/ the soil profile, high rainfall and heavy irrigation are also growingthevalleypodcast.com/cures/2020/12/31/managing-nisituations more prone to leaching. Therefore, as stated trogen previously, fertigation is recommended to be done at about anrcatalog.ucanr.edu/Details.aspx?itemNo=21623 halfway or one third of the way through an irrigation set as Comments about this article? We want to hear from you. Feel opposed to the beginning. This will keep your money spent free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org on nitrogen in the root zone, not below it. Organic amendments, such as manures, composts, blood meal, feather meal and fish waste do contain nitrogen, but the amount varies drastically based on the source and batch. Furthermore, some composts and manures contain potentially detrimental levels of other salts than what they may be worth for nitrogen content. Quality Agricultural Spray Equipment, Parts and Supplies Since 1969 www.pbmsprayers.com www.pbmtanksupply.com Frequent chemical analyses of the compost sources are strongly encouraged before use. -Sprayers- -Tanks- -Liquid Delivery Trailers- -Parts & AccessoriesCompost and manures must be incorporated Chico - 530-345-1334 8-1334 To into the soil soon after application to avoid 324 Meyers St. Chico, CA 95928 Call 1-800-68 ear You! loss due to volatilization. Yuba City - 530-671-0068 d A Dealer N in F 955 N. George Washington Blvd. Yuba City, CA 95993 Cover crops can provide quite a bit of Fowler - 559-834-6921 nitrogen depending on the current nitrogen 3732 S. Golden State Blvd. Fowler, CA 93625 content in the soil and species selection. Murrieta - 951-696-5477 41648 Eastman Dr. Murrieta, CA 92562 Vetch, clover and other legumes can provide as much as 150 lbs. of nitrogen per acre, but these species do not fix nitrogen when adequate levels of nitrogen are present for plant growth. If these cover crops are not fixing nitrogen, they are demanding it and in turn reduce available nitrogen for the trees. Thus, careful nitrogen management is necessary when growing cover crops for nitrogen production. To estimate the amount of nitrogen available in the cover crop, collect a small area, such as a square meter (three feet by three feet) of mature cover crop, and submit CLOSED MIXING SYSTEMS PBM’s Tier-1 closed mixing system will drain, triple rinse, and cut chemthe sample to a laboratory for nitrogen analical containers while they are sealed inside a stainless steel mixing box. ysis. After cutting, weigh the sample (fresh Available on PBM’s Batch Mixing Trailers, Mixing Stations, or Sold Indiweight), place it in a plastic bag and immedividually to adapt to your existing mixing equipment. ately drop it off at the lab. Nitrogen budget-
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Soil Does Much More than Hold Up the Tree Recent Soil Summit Highlights the Physical, Chemical and Biological Traits of a Healthy Soil in Almonds By TAYLOR CHALSTROM | Digital Content Editor Soil’s overall physical, chemical and biological properties were discussed at the almond industry’s Soil Summit in Chico, Calif. in March (all photos by T. Chalstrom.)
t a recent Soil Summit in Chico, Calif., organized by Almond Board of California, Western Region Certified Crop Advisors and Chico State’s Center for Regenerative Agriculture and Resilient Systems, almond
industry experts gathered to explain in depth the characteristics of a healthy soil as they relate to growing almonds. At the backbone of achieving healthy soils in almond orchards (and in general) is measuring and quantify-
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ing soil metrics. “You can’t fix what you can’t measure,” said Bill Brush, a panelist at the Summit and owner of B&B Ag Consulting. Many of the industry experts in attendance agreed more growers to look down at the soil first instead of up at the trees for improving yield. The soil’s overall physical, chemical and biological health contribute to the health and yield of a plant. Physical properties include aggregate stability and soil compaction as well as water capacity and water infiltration rate. Chemical properties include cation exchange capacity and quantification of infiltration. Biological properties include soil protein and active carbon for the plant as well as respiration and direct microbe counts. Healthy soils store water, resist erosion, sequester carbon, improve profitability, optimize land use and improve nutrient use.
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Measuring a soil’s chemistry helps growers realize their soils’ cation exchange capacity, which is the ability to bind onto positively charged ions of necessary nutrients. Lab tests can also measure soil salinity and the soil’s sodium adsorption ratio (meq/l), which is a close estimate of soil exchangeable sodium percentage, or soil ESP. Industry experts on the soil chemistry panel at the Summit couldn’t stress enough the need for sampling soils and testing their chemistries before planting. “Spend the money, get the samples,”
Panelists, from left, Tom Bottoms of Timothy and Viguie Farming, Jerome Pier of QualiTech Plant Nutrition and WRCCA, Blake Sanden of UCCE, Danyal Kasapligil of Dellavalle Laboratory and WRCCA, and moderator Sebastian Saa of ABC, explain soil chemistry as it relates to growing almonds.
said Jerome Pier, QualiTech senior agronomist. “Get the full analysis; what was the previous crop? If you cheap out, you’re starting blind.” Sampling properly with enough representative samples to accurately depict the soil across the orchard, was
also stressed. “If a good representative sample isn’t collected, everything is downhill from there,” said panelist Danyal Kasapligil of Dellavalle Laboratory, Inc. “Smart sampling is key.” “Pick a spot, measure it annually,” said panelist Dr. Karl Wyant of Nutrien
Ag, noting that this becomes even more important once biological components are introduced to the soil. Fertigation also influences soil chemistry. Panelists noted that fertigation has evolved in the almond industry over the years, especially this past year with record input prices. Smaller, more frequent doses of water and fertilizer are being applied. Transpiration drives how much nutrients the tree is taking up, and more frequent applications of nitrogen help reduce overall use in the long run. Yield estimation can help with narrowing down inputs even more in addition to saving money. “This year in particular, we really need to estimate yield,” said Tom Bottoms of Timothy and Viguie Farming.
Soil physical content is a measure of aggregate stability and soil compaction as well as water capacity and water
Continued on Page 70
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A soil’s cation exchange capacity signifies the soil’s ability to bind onto positively charged ions of necessary nutrients.
Poor soil physical quality can contribute to poor distribution uniformity. Zone irrigation can be used to counter this variability.
Continued from Page 69 infiltration rate. One practice gaining traction in almonds that can improve structure and infiltration is whole-orchard recycling (WOR), which incorporates wood chips from ground almond trees back into the soil. It also increases soil organic matter, a critical piece of soil biology for encouraging microbial activity and soil chemistry for improving cation exchange capacity. “Whole-orchard recycling is the single best way I’ve seen to increase soil organic matter,” said panelist and UCCE Orchard Systems Advisor Luke Milliron. Variability in orchard soils can reduce efficiency of irrigation sets and runtime, and improving soil physical content can reduce variability. Panelists at the Summit agreed that zone irrigation is the best way to work around this and save money long-term. Zone irrigation is best accomplished when an orchard’s distribution uniformity, the percentage of which water is distributed evenly, is measured and understood. “Don’t just measure distribution uniformity and say, ‘Yeah, that’s pretty good,’” said Wilbur-Ellis Technical Nutrition Agronomist Matt Comrey. “Incorporate those measurements into your decision-making.”
trying to figure it out,” said Wyant. Improving soil biology by boosting growth of microbes, such as bacteria and fungi is easier in permanent crops like almonds as opposed to annual crops, according to the panelists. Wyant noted that there is a direct link between these living components in the soil and soil structure. Fungi and bacteria secrete byproducts that hold particulate matter together and create better aggregation. Fungi secrete hyphae in the form of small threads that create ‘webs’ in the soil and bacteria secrete extracellular polymeric substances that also act as a sort of glue. Both types of secretions also benefit each microbe specifically. Encouraging the secretion of these substances and overall growth of populations can be accomplished in different ways. Microbes can be ‘feed’ by applying composts, manures or other biological products like biostimulants to soils. Cover cropping is another great way to feed microbes and improve soil biology as roots will secrete carbon substances called exudates to microbes during instances when the tree cannot. If cover cropping can’t be afforded in an orchard, other carbon sources combined with mineral fertilizers can also facilitate microbial growth.
Disease Management and Soil Quality
“[Soil] biology is the new kid on the block, and everyone is
Panelists at the Summit also discussed the effect that good soil quality can have on managing certain diseases in almond orchards, specifically Prunus replant disease and Phytophthora. Changing the soil environment to negate a viable environment for disease was the key message. Prunus replant disease can be managed using soil amendment-based approaches that influence microbial and nutrient mechanisms as alternatives to soil fumigation. Phytophthora can be prevented from developing and infecting trees in orchards with good soil water saturation management. Panelists advised not to let single or dual drip lines ride up directly against the tree base to reduce saturation. Comments about this article? We want to hear from you. Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
West Coast Nut
Suterra's Sprayable Pheromone Helps Control NOW Populations
The demand for a responsive, preventative navel orangeworm management was clear when growers treated over 100,000 acres with CheckMate® NOW-F when it was introduced in 2019. The number of treated acres more than tripled by 2021 because of clear evidence on the farm that it drove down pest populations, reduced damage and increased marketable yield.
from ever existing, stopping damage before it breeds. Reducing NOW population density with mating disruption maximizes the impacts of other in-season inputs like insecticides simply because there are fewer larvae to kill. With an average material cost of around $30 per acre per application, CheckMate® NOW-F offers an affordable and ﬂexible option to reduce NOW damage. It is uniquely designed to be tank mix compatible with many common agrochemicals and is an easy addition to spray programs. Performance should be evaluated relative to other sprayable materials like insecticides, with these key differences in mind:
Until recently, navel orangeworm management lacked a mating disruption option that could be applied reactively based on in-season conditions. CheckMate® NOW-F, the ﬁrst and only sprayable pheromone speciﬁc to navel orangeworm, offers exactly that. Instead of requiring up-front investments before the season’s pest pressure is known, sprayable pheromone provides PCAs and growers the ﬂexibility to apply precisely when and where needed.
• Controlled-release microencapsulated pheromones are longer acting than most insecticides. • Species-speciﬁc active ingredient is safe for all non-target species like bees. • Mechanism of action does not require thorough foliar coverage, so it can be efﬁciently applied at lower volumes and higher speeds than insecticides. • Minimal REI allows for easy integration into operational schedules. • Exempt from MRLs with zero pre-harvest interval. • Provides protection for all varieties and multiple shakes up until the day of harvest and beyond.
PCAs and growers know that prevention is the foundation of the “IPM Pyramid” for any pest. Applying Suterra’s sprayable pheromone at any point during the season effectively prevents a signiﬁcant portion of the next generation of pests
To learn more about this innovative IPM approach, ask any grower who uses CheckMate® NOW-F or visit www.Suterra.com/CheckMateNOW