WEST COAST NUT
September 2022 ISSUE
RETURNS, RESILIENCY DRIVING PISTACHIO PLANTING
IN THIS ISSUE:
ALMOND GRADE SHEETS: END OF SEASON REPORT CARD SEE PAGE 20
SEE PAGE 24
BIOS HOLDS FIRST WALNUT FIELD DAY
SEE PAGE 38
PRODUCED IN THE HEART OF
INSULATING OPERATION THROUGH DIVERSIFICATION SEE PAGE 44
September 28th - 29th
See pages 4-5 BY REAL CALIFORNIANS
See page 33
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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
Contributing Writers & Industry Support
American Pecan Council Contributing Writer Vicky Boyd Contributing Writer Taylor Chalstrom Digital Content Editor Kathy Coatney Contributing Writer
Roger A. Isom President/CEO, Western Agricultural Processors Association Theresa Kiehn President and CEO, AgSafe Mitch Lies Contributing Writer Catherine Merlo Contributing Writer
UC Cooperative Extension Advisory Board Surendra K. Dara Director, North Willamette Research and Extension Center Kevin Day County Director/UCCE Pomology Farm Advisor, Tulare/Kings Counties Elizabeth Fichtner UCCE Farm Advisor, Tulare County
Steven Koike Tri-Cal Diagnostics Jhalendra Rijal UCCE Integrated Pest Management Advisor, Stanislaus County Mohammad Yaghmour UCCE Area Orchard Systems Advisor, Kern County
Katherine Jarvis-Shean UCCE Area Orchard Systems Advisor, Yolo and Solano
Award Winning Editorial By the Industry, For the Industry
IN THIS ISSUE 6
Skip on Short In-Season Nitrogen? What Happens Now.
BMSB on the Rise in Almonds
View From the Top: New Walnut Board and Commission CEO Wants to Reenergize and Refocus the California Walnut Industry
Almond Grade Sheets Provide End-of-Season Report Card
Returns, Resiliency Driving Pistachio Planting
The Dirt on Soil
California Proposes to Strengthen Certification and Training for Pesticide Applicators
Pistachios: ‘A Remarkable Success Story’
Biologically Integrated Orchards Systems (BIOS) Field Day Demonstrates IPM Strategies for Major Walnut Pests
Colorado River Water Supply Cuts Must Be Balanced and Provide Relief for Disadvantaged Communities
Insulating Your Operation with Diversification
The Five Best Reasons to Plant a Cover Crop in Your Orchard
The Importance of Two Pecan Industry Programs Working Together
In the Know: Harvest Safety Issues
View our ePublication on the web at www.wcngg.com
The articles, research, industry updates, company profiles, and advertisements in this publication are the professional opinions of writers and advertisers. West Coast Nut does not assume any responsibility for the opinions given in the publication.
SPOTLIGHT ARTICLE: Returns, Resiliency Driving Pistachio Planting Decisions to plant new pistachio orchards in California’s Central Valley often come down to three words: returns, resiliency and region. See page 24
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Skip on Short In-Season Nitrogen?
What Happens Now By CECILIA PARSONS | Associate Editor
Understanding how much nitrogen is in the soil and the tree will help with a decision on nitrogen applications (all photos by R. Kreps.)
or growers who may have skipped or shorted their trees on nitrogen last year, the question for many is, what are the implications for next year’s trees and what should they do about it. Leaf tissue analysis, considering all sources of nitrogen and an efficient irrigation system are all important considerations when deciding to short or skip in-season and late-season nitrogen applications in almond orchards. Sebastian Saa, associate director of research for Almond Board of California, said growers who have not applied a final N application this year should
also look at yields and how much N was removed at harvest. “It is important this year to apply N carefully. Growers knowing their yields being less than expected may have an opportunity to skip that final N application.” Saa said understanding how much N is in the soil and the tree will help with a decision on N applications. Making one fertilizer decision for multiple orchards can also cause lost yield and wasted N. Field variability compromises efficiency.
Almond Board of California notes that for instance, managing an orchard for the highest demand could result in 40% overfertilization. Managing for the lowest demand could deprive 50% of trees of adequate N. Managing to the average could waste 20% of applied N
and deprives 30% of trees of adequate N. This is an example of a situation where a grower is not following the 4R principle. Following the “4 Rs” for efficient nitrogen management remains a good practice, even in high-cost years. The right rate means matching tree demand with supply (all sources of N); the right time is timing N applications when they will be taken up by the tree; the right place is making sure the N fertilizer is placed where it can be taken up; and the right source to maximize utilization. Almond Board of California also notes that 80% of total N in fruit is accumulated by 130 days after full bloom. Rich Kreps, CCA with Ultra Gro, said many growers felt like they needed to skip or short their N applications this year with prices being so high. If tissue numbers were well above 3%
Continued on Page 8 6
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Continued from Page 6 in-season, he said, N could have been skipped or reduced and still have been fine in July tissues. If fertigation strategies were effective for uptake, he added, and the other nutrients were much more balanced, N levels may have been just fine this year. Growers often have different timelines for their N applications, too, Kreps said. Some like to be done by May 1, others by June 1 or 15. If a grower chooses later, this may have been a good year to experiment with being done by May 1, he said.
Applying less N this year does not necessarily mean trees will be deficient and yield a smaller crop next year.
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Kreps also said that he expects those who finish with their N applications early will experience fewer sticktights in their trees at harvest. Applications that were typically done in 40- to 50-unit slugs of N may have gone out in 25- to 30-unit slugs this year, and growers found their in-season tissues were still at levels they’ve had in previous years with heavier fertigations. Every year, harvested almond crops will remove N and potassium from the orchard roughly at the rate of 68 pounds for every 1,000 pounds of kernel yield for N and 80 pounds for every 1,000 pounds of kernel yield for potassium. The UCCE publication Sacramento Valley Orchard Source reports that these nutrients should not be neglected, and they will have to be replaced every year to maintain long term productivity. If these nutrients have been applied in amounts above that which is taken off in harvest, there may be reserves in the soil, especially if irrigation has not leached them below the root zone. Soil and leaf sample analysis can help to determine if N or K may be present in the soil or leaf tissues and available for uptake and use. At the very least, aim for replacement of removed N. Critical N levels for almond leaves sampled in July are deficient if less than 2%, adequate at 2.2% to 2.5% and excessive if over 2.7% percent. The most expensive N is the nitrogen that never benefits the tree because it has leached down out of the root zone. Irrigation water may also turn out to be an inexpensive source of N. Saa recommends testing to determine N levels in your water source.
Aim for Efficiency
“With high prices, you really need efficiency,” Saa said. That means applying N and water where uptake is maximized. He advises checking irrigation systems for leaks,
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distribution uniformity and any damage sustained to the system by equipment at harvest. If irrigations are planned, he said to make sure the applications are made carefully with no leaching below the root zone. The condition of the orchard after harvest is another consideration. If the trees are water stressed and defoliation is occurring or leaves are yellowing, uptake of any nutrients will be limited and the chance to make a nutrient application will be missed. Applying less N fertilizer does not necessarily mean your trees will be deficient and yield a smaller crop the next year as you may be supplying more than needed inadvertently. It is important to account for all sources of N first, Saa said. If you quantify all the sources of N and the total is less than what the tree needs to produce it’s potential, then lower yields will likely occur. Nitrogen is an essential element, not only for production, but to keep the tree working and capturing carbon dioxide to store energy. Trees will grow less, have fewer shoots, fewer spurs and fewer numbers of nuts in the long term, especially if trees experience a significant deficit. For more information and guidance on how to manage nutrients in almonds orchards, visit almonds.com/almond-industry/ orchard-management/soil-quality-and-nutrients/nutrient-management where you can download The Almond Board’s Nitrogen Best Management Practices (BMPs), which summarize years of ABC-funded research in the areas of nitrogen and nutrient management. A direct link to that resource can be found at the Almond Board website, almonds. com in the grower tools section.
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BMSB on the Rise in Almonds
Trapping recommended where pressures are mounting in the northern San Joaquin Valley. By MITCH LIES | Contributing Writer
alifornia almond growers, particularly those in the Northern San Joaquin Valley and some areas of Fresno County, are seeing an increase in brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) activity, according to a University of California area IPM advisor. And, going forward, they should monitor for the pest beginning in spring. Jhalendra Rijal, UCCE area integrated pest management advisor for the North San Joaquin Valley, said knowing the
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Identification through scouting and trapping beginning early in the season will be key to minimizing damage from BSMB in the future (photo courtesy USDA.)
presence and pressure of BMSB in spring is critical for minimizing feeding damage. “I encourage growers, at least in our area in the Northern San Joaquin Valley where we now have plenty of evidence that pretty much every corner of these counties has brown marmorated stink bug, to use commercially available lures and traps for the BMSB beginning in spring,” Rijal said. “Early detection is important,” he added. “When you start seeing gummy nuts, at that point, even though you spray, you won’t be able to save those damaged nuts. And when you see those nuts already on the ground, it is obviously too late.” Rijal said pest pressure is high this year, not only for BMSB but also for leaffooted bug. Even the green stink bug, which usually is not problematic due to its late-season arrival in orchards, has been a problem this year. “It can cause some damage, but usually it comes on later in the season,” he said. “This year, we saw it in the spring. “I would say that all together, we have had above-average plant bug and stink bug activity this year,” Rijal said. Rijal attributed much of this year’s increase in pressure to a mild winter and warm spring. “These insects, leaffooted bug and brown marmorated stink bug, and other native stink bugs overwinter as an adult,” he said. “So, whenever you have these mild winters, it is likely that we will start seeing activity of these bugs earlier. And that will trigger higher populations of these insects, and you can expect higher levels of damage.”
Difficult to Control
The brown marmorated stink bug can be difficult to control, Rijal said. “It is probably the most challenging hemiptera bug to control because they are active throughout the season and move back-and-forth from other hosts, such as trees of heavens, into orchards. And they overlap generations, so there are often a mix of nymphs and adults in the orchard. “We are seeing them establishing in newer areas, and once they establish, they can cause significant damage, and we
need to be aware of that,” he added. Also, Rijal said, the pest, which first was identified in a California nut orchard in 2017, appears to be adaptable to high temperatures. “Even at 100 degrees [F], the nymphs are underneath the canopy, doing their job, feeding.” Adding to difficulties, there aren’t many insecticides that are effective against it outside of pyrethroids, which can be harmful to beneficial insects. “The majority of the products available are broad-spectrum pyrethroids,” Rijal said, “and there aren’t many newer chemistries coming out. And, because of that, when you apply them early season, there are a lot of consequences you may have to deal with, such as mites. “So, that is a challenge. But, at the same time, when you have evidence of damage historically, and there is evidence of leaffooted and BMSB activity, you may not have a choice,” he said. “So, that is the challenge.” Further, despite that UC Davis researchers are working on developing treatment thresholds, there are none established at this point. “We are working to develop some sort of guidelines or a baseline that a grower can use to help determine when to spray, but that is still a couple of years out,” he said. Also, he said, hopes that resident predators would help control the BMSB have not materialized. “Unfortunately, there has not been enough evidence that the beneficial insect or the native parasitoid wasp is causing significant population reduction for either the leaffooted bug or the stink bug.” There is still hope on this front, however. Researchers from various agencies are partnering to test release a BMSB-specific parasitic wasp in the near future, Rijal said, and the non-native wasp has shown a high level of parasitism, approximately 70%, in different research studies.
Dropped nuts due to BMSB damage (photo by J. Rijal.)
Predator Stink Bug
When monitoring for BMSB, Rijal said it is important for growers and PCAs to distinguish between a predator stink bug, the rough stink bug, which is similar in size and color to BMSB, and
Continued on Page 12 September 2022
Interested in similar articles?
at progressivecrop.com/subscribe Continued from Page 11
Brown marmorated stink bug activity is on the rise in Northern San Joaquin Valley and some areas of Fresno County. Here, two advanced stage BMSB nymphs feed on almond fruit (photo by J. Rijal)
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the brown marmorated stink bug. “Although there are other stink bugs, like the green stink bug, the Uhler’s stink bug and the redshouldered stink bug that can also cause damage, the rough stink bug is not known to cause damage, and it is important to know the difference between it and the brown marmorated stink bug,” Rijal said. Two distinguishing characteristics that can help differentiate between the two bugs is to look for two clear, white bands on the antennae of the bug. “That is very clear on the BMSB but not so obvious on the rough stink bug,” Rijal said. Also, the shoulder of the rough stink bug has a spinelike rough structure, while the BMSB has more of a smooth shoulder, he said. Those unsure whether they have found a BMSB or a rough stink bug can take a picture of the bug and send it to their IPM advisor. “It is not difficult [to distinguish the difference] once you know how to identify the difference,” Rijal said. Rijal added that finding stink bugs and leaffooted bugs in an orchard through visual observation is not easy. “When you look in a tree and do the visual sampling, it is very difficult to find them,” he said. “We as researchers, we monitor every week in places where they are likely to be found, so we are trained to find them,” he said. “But that is not the case for the general public and growers. It is easy to miss them.” Still, he said, visual scouting in combination with trapping is important for early detection.
‘It is Spreading’
To date, researchers have yet to see large-scale BMSB activity in crops south of Fresno. “I think it is slow establishing down south because it is hot and dry. But in the Northern San Joaquin Valley and the Sacramento Valley, we have established populations in the urban and residential areas, and also in almonds in the Northern San Joaquin Valley,” Rijal said. “It is spreading.” Despite the lack of a treatment threshold for BMSB and the lack of an attractant for the leaffooted bug, scouting and trapping beginning early in the season will be key to minimizing damage from both pests in the future, Rijal said. “We don’t have any tangible lure that we can use for the leaffooted bug yet,” he said. “But for both the BMSB and the leaffooted bug, the main thing we can do is not only trapping, but also thorough scouting of the orchard, especially in the spring, and especially in areas where there has historically been damage. “Visual monitoring and putting traps out early in the spring are both important options,” Rijal said, “because early detection is important.”
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View from the Top New Walnut Board and Commission CEO Robert Verloop Wants to Reenergize and Refocus the California Walnut Industry Robert Verloop joins the California Walnut Board/Commission with new ideas to improve walnuts’ position in the global market (photo by California Walnut Board and Commission.)
By CATHERINE MERLO | Contributing Writer
West Coast Nut
hen Robert Verloop took the helm of both the California Walnut Board and the California Walnut Commission on July 11, he brought impressive credentials to an industry that produces the state’s 10th highest-valued crop. But even this seasoned agricultural executive acknowledges his first months on the dual job will be “baptism by fire” as he immerses himself in the industry’s inner workings and issues. Then he must find and execute solutions that will increase distribution, sales and consumption of California walnuts. And he must do that in an environment of increasing production, global competition, supply chain issues and slumping grower returns. The hurdles might seem daunting. But Verloop has led California agricultural businesses before. In 2017, he became chief operating officer for Coastline Family Farms, a Salinas-based vegetable grower-shipper. He served there for five years before accepting the connected positions of the CWB’s executive director and the CWC’s CEO. Before Coastline, Verloop was executive vice president of marketing and COO of new business development for Naturipe Farms, a grower-owned producer and global marketer of fresh berries. He had already spent seven years with Sunkist Growers, serving as vice president of global marketing and licensing, and nine years with the California Avocado Commission. Born in The Netherlands, where his family was involved
with produce, Verloop moved to California in 1965. He graduated from Cal Poly Pomona with a bachelor’s degree in citrus and avocado production. He then spent three and a half years in Yemen with the U.S. Agency for International Development working in citrus. After that, he returned to California to work for a Bakersfield-area citrus nursery. From there, he went to Brazil, working for Pandol Brothers in developing counter-seasonal grape production. He came back to the U.S. and worked in avocado and citrus production for a couple more years before moving into marketing and various leadership positions. Through those industry roles, Verloop gained hands-on experience, both domestically and internationally, in retail and foodservice sales, marketing, branding, packaging and new product development, food safety, strategic business development, issues manage-
Walnuts in the produce section? Yes, to capitalize on their health and nutrition benefits and help boost demand, Verloop says (photo by C. Merlo.)
Continued on Page 16
Hedging with Water Futures In December 2020, CME Group launched the Nasdaq Veles California Water IndexTM futures contracts (Product Code: H2O, or “Water Futures”), designed to serve farmers and commercial water users seeking to manage water price risk in California. The innovative product financially settles to the value of the Nasdaq Veles California Water IndexTM (NQH2OTM), which tracks the weekly price of water rights transactions across major markets in California. NQH2OTM tracks the USD price of one acre foot, or the amount of water needed to cover one-acre of land by a depth of one foot. Each H2O contract represents 10-acre feet of water and market participants may choose to trade any of the eight available quarterly contracts or two monthly contracts to best hedge their water price risk. Over time, a number of factors including prolonged drought conditions have led to higher water prices in California. The price of one acre foot of water as measured by NQH2OTM has increased over 36% since the beginning of the year. As a result, farmers and commercial water users face a higher
cost for this essential resource. By implementing a hedging strategy using H2O futures, food producers can protect against adverse water price movements in the future, which can result in cost savings passed on to the end consumers of food and agricultural products. For example, a farmer concerned about rising prices for water needed three months from now, can purchase the equivalent number of futures contracts that settle in three months’ time. As the futures are financially settled, no physical water changes hands. However, by using futures, the farmer locks-in a price today for water they will need three months from now. Any increase in the price of water three months from now will be offset by the gain the farmer makes on the futures contracts. Conversely, if the price of water is lower three months from now, the farmer will save money on water purchased in the spot market, while the futures position will show a loss. In either case, by using water futures, the farmer has eliminated their price risk and has certainty of price today for commercial water they will need in the future.
Continued from Page 15 ment, strategic planning and government relations. That experience will be vital in helping the industry veteran lead the two walnut groups. Two weeks into his new position, an enthusiastic Verloop shared some of his thoughts and plans with West Coast Nut.
Q. How did these two walnut positions come onto your radar?
The Commission and Board wanted to take a fresh look at senior leadership. They wanted someone with a different background to take a zero-based, bottoms-up approach, to look at things with new eyes and implement new ideas and solutions. They contracted with a highly respected executive search agency, and, as a result, I was contacted. I knew a little about the walnut industry and some of its challenges, many of which are shared throughout California agriculture; the disrup-
Although consumers typically find walnuts in the baking aisle, Verloop wants to expand sales beyond that (photo by C. Merlo.)
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tion of trade, customer and consumer confidence and economic pressures, weather changes, transportation and logistics bottlenecks and water restrictions. When I learned the two boards of directors desired real, meaningful change and understood the need for new leadership to move the industry forward in what arguably is a maturing competitive global marketplace, I became very interested. I believe walnuts have been an unspoken hero. There is a huge upside in doing some of the basic block-andtackling that commodity groups can do to make improvements in California walnuts’ distribution and consumption patterns. Having the opportunity to use my understanding of the challenges and opportunities, to help maximize returns and market penetration, all rolled up into a phenomenal opportunity to serve the California walnut industry.
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“I’m very much looking forward to refocusing the industry… so that we’re not repeating things that we’ve done in the past just to do them.”
Q. Among the many industry challenges, which is the biggest?
category. While California walnut growers and handlers are still the preferred source and provider, we have to work harder to ensure our high-quality standards until the moment of consumption. We need to be even more consumer-focused to ensure our customer service and responsiveness are world class. We need to have the courage to break free from the thinking of the past that got us where we are, to what is required to be successful in the new marketplace.
The biggest challenge the industry faces right now is complacency. If you look at where the walnut industry is today, a lot of things are not significantly different from how business was conducted for many years. Yet the marketplace dynamics have changed dramatically. This lack of internal change may be attributed to many successful years when grower returns were strong and consistent, global markets were expanding, CalQ. How do you plan to do that? ifornia walnuts set the gold standard, Part of that is re-defining what global competition was limited, and success looks like. We can’t just make growers were planting new acres with a sale or send product out without new varieties. thinking about what happens to Today, the competitive landscape our walnuts before they end up with has changed. The new acreage has a consumer. We have to be very come into full production, consumer thoughtful about the marketplace. trends have evolved and consumers I’ve always believed in the saying, have more options beyond the nut “We don’t sell to a retailer, we sell
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“The biggest challenge the industry faces right now is complacency.” – Robert Verloop, California Walnut Board and Commission through a retailer.” We inherently have a responsibility to make sure we have the right product at the right place in the right package at the right time at the optimal price.
Q. What will be your biggest push as you get started?
I’m very much looking forward to refocusing the industry through an enhanced and comprehensive strategic planning process that starts from a zero-base approach, so that we’re not repeating things that we’ve done in the past just to do them. I want to make sure it’s inclusive; that all voices can be heard in the planning stage. It needs to coalesce to a point where we have a very strong plan where everybody understands what we’re trying to accomplish, then execute against that on a yearly basis.
Q. What’s the timeframe of your strategic planning intent?
I will propose the complete process to the two boards of directors in the near future. My goal is to work with a cross section of the industry on a strategic-planning task force, starting this fall. The process will determine our ultimate timeline. We need to get this right. We may not be able to address every topic initially. However, my goal is to have a well-vetted program that can serve as a road map for reenergizing and refocusing
our industry. I would anticipate having the plan approved by the Board and Commission by spring of next year. That then leads into the annual program planning and budget process, incorporating our committees and always tying back to our strategic plan of overriding goals and objectives.
Q. What are you optimistic about?
We’ve got a vibrant industry that’s going through growing pains right now. We’ve got great people and a good foundation. The building blocks are in place for continued success on many different levels. It’s just hard to talk about that when you look at the amount of carry-in we will have and where grower returns have been over the last few years. We can’t underestimate the impact that COVID-19 has had in changing both consumer behavior and purchase intent, and then also the impact on the business practices of our trading partners like the retailers, wholesalers and distributors. There’s a myriad of issues that, in many ways, are short-term, and we will work through all those. We need to do a better job telling our story. My goal through the strategic planning process is to look at how we can improve that part of who we are. It’s not just about telling people to buy our products. You have to inspire them. We need consumers and trading partners to better understand what it means to have product coming from California and to create a connection to the people who stand behind our products, I think that’s crucial. It’s a point of differentiation we’ve always been able to drive home and will continue to do. Comments about this article? We want to hear from you. Feel free to email us at article@jcsmarketinginc. com
A Closer Look: The California Walnut Board and the California Walnut Commission
Verloop foresees new product development focusing on walnuts as a healthy snack (photo by C. Merlo.)
Although they’re separate, the California Walnut Board and the California Walnut Commission share the same executive management and office space in Folsom, Calif. Together, the two organizations represent over 4,500 California walnut growers and nearly 90 handlers. But the two organizations do have different roles. The CWB represents the state’s walnut growers and handlers. It’s funded by mandatory handler assessments and is governed by a Federal Walnut Marketing Order. The CWB promotes walnut use in the U.S. through advertising, public relations, retail promotions and educational programs. It also provides funding for walnut production, food safety and postharvest research. The CWC is funded by mandatory grower assessments. It’s an agency of the State of California and works through the California Department of Food and Agriculture. The CWC (www.walnuts.org) mainly focuses on health research and export market development activities.
End-of-Season Report Card
Almond Grade Sheets Spotlight Pest Issues, Help Guide Next Season’s Programs By VICKY BOYD | Contributing Writer After shaking and before sweeping, collect a 500-nut representative sample and crack it out, looking for pest damage. This will give you an idea of your true pest pressure since about 50% of damaged nuts are removed during blowing, pick-up or at the handler before grading (all photos by V. Boyd.)
uch like teachers hand out report cards at the end information to address potential pest issues moving forward. of the school year, almond handlers share grade sheets And depending on the grades, growers may have left money with growers after harvest showing where they may on the table. need to improve pest programs. Even before the nuts make “A lot of growers think it’s all about pounds, but quality it to handlers, sampling shaken nuts on the orchard floor can is what sells,” said Mel Machado, vice president of member give a broad picture of pest issues. relations for Blue Diamond Growers in Salida, California. Although growers and their PCAs can’t go back and fix “Quality is what matters to the seller and the buyer. In the problems encountered the past season, they can use the almond world, you can earn more money per pound if you put out a better-quality product.” Franz Niederholzer, UCCE orchard systems farm advisor for Colusa, Sutter and Yuba counties, agreed. “You can’t do much about yield because it’s often largely based on bloom and bee flying weather, and you can’t do much about the overall market price, but you can pay attention to quality. If you’re looking at 1% to 3% damage from ants, you can do the math on the cost of that loss relative to the inexpensive cost of ant bait and application. It’s a place you can really improve your bottom line. The goal is maximizing net grower return per acre.” Through the federal almond marketing order, the industry has established 11 grades (seven for meats and four for inshell product) with corresponding quality standards. USDA Shipping Point Inspection personnel grade samples from each load at each handler and report the results. As an incentive to produce top-quality nuts, Blue Diamond offers quality meat and quality in-shell programs that reward grower-members for zero to very low levels of foreign material and rejects. For meat deliveries, the cooperative also considers levels of chipped and broken kernels and in-shell, which is the amount of in-shell product in the meats. For inshell deliveries, Blue Diamond also factors loose meats into its quality schedule. The Next Generation of Plant Health! The co-op’s standards for its highest meat and in-shell quality designations are significantly higher than those for Microbial Bio-Available Foliar Nutrients USDA’s top U.S. Fancy and U.S. No. 1 grades, respectively. Inoculants Micro Nutrients In years with low to medium prices, Machado said quality premiums become more important because they’re a larger Give Your Plant What it Wants, When it Wants it! Continued on Page 22
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Even if your navel orangeworm reject levels are low, don’t let up on winter sanitation like shaking mummy nuts during the winter. Almond industry leaders consider it the bedrock of integrated pest management.
If you have a medium to high reject percentage, ask for inspector sheets or a grade sheet breakdown to determine the pest or pests responsible for the damage. It will help focus your IPM program on the culprits.
Know Thy Enemy
Continued from Page 20 proportion of the overall grower price.
First Identify the Issue
Huron-based Woolf Farming Co. partners with Harris Woolf California Almond in Coalinga for hulling, shelling and processing. Matt Toste, Woolf Farming Co. farm manager for almond orchards in Merced County and north, said when he receives USDA grade reports, he first scans moisture levels. The USDA allows 5%, and Toste said they try to maximize harvest efficiencies. Chip & scratch, dissimilar, doubles and split and broken
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typically aren’t issues, either. But what he keys in on is the portion of inedible kernels compared to edible. When he first started at Woolf Farming, he said they averaged 1.5% to 2%. Now if anything comes in over 1% inedible, he asks for USDA inspector sheets, which break down the causes. “Those really give you the detail of what the insects were, whether they were pinhole, worms or some sort of ants,” Toste said. He provided an example of a load that had 45.5 grams of inedible kernels from a 2,000-gram (4.4 pounds) sample. The inedible portion was more than 2.2%. “We wanted to know what was causing this, so we got the inspector’s report,” Toste said. “Our worm was only 2 grams, or one nut. But we had 31.5 grams of brown spot. Leaf-footed plant bugs and some of the other true bugs cause brown spot when they penetrate the kernel later in the season. Actually, our NOW (navel orangeworm) problem has been OK, and we need to keep up on that program, but we also need to look after whatever bug is bothering us.” Without pinpointing the root of their problems, Toste said their pest management program could be wasting time and money. “If we’re sitting here focused on NOW but our problem is actually brown spot or ants, we’re putting our efforts in the wrong spot,” he said.
At Blue Diamond, growers can ask to have a sample broken down for reject causes. Although the percentage of growers who request the optional service is small, Machado said it is increasing. The breakdown report lists the proportion by percentage of each type of foreign material, such as the hull portion of sticktights. It also lists the proportion by percentage of rejects, such as mold, ants, NOW and brown spot. If a grower is sending in 10 loads, he recommended sampling two that are representative. If there are problem portions of an orchard, he recommended having a representative sample taken from that area, too. In addition, growers with neighbors who don’t use good sanitation or pest control measures may want to have samples pulled to document the problem. By asking for the breakdown, Machado said growers can focus their pest control efforts during the upcoming season. “Let’s say you’re treating for NOW because historically NOW has been a problem, but you have stink bugs and ants,” Machado said. “You’re spending money in the wrong area. How do you control something when you don’t know what it is? “If the foundation of NOW management is sanitation, the foundation of reject management is to know what the heck you have. You wouldn’t take a shotgun to hunt a deer.” Machado said some may argue about the importance of chipped and broken, but he considers them a pet peeve that can be greatly reduced by proper irrigation and timely harvests. For example, if you shake almonds too green before the skin has set, it may sluff during shelling and cause “peelers.” With the skin removed, Blue Diamond considers them
equivalent to chipped & broken. For its top-quality Q+ Nonpareil meat designation, the co-op has set a chipped & broken threshold of 2% or less.
Machado said he agreed with USDA-ARS Entomologist Joel Siegel, who recommended doubling the reject number on grade sheets to get a more realistic picture of orchard pest issues. “Depending on what the reject is, some will be blown out in the harvest, and the huller and sheller also will clean that stuff up,” Machado said. “Gravity decks, and if they have color sorters, they’re going to take more of that out.” To obtain a more realistic picture of nut damage, UCCE recommends collecting a 500-nut sample after shaking and before sweeping in each orchard. Collect nuts from multiple areas of the block and not just the top layer of the rows; in other words, make it representative. Crack them out and record pest issues. If the nuts can’t be cracked immediately, freeze them for later inspection. Niederholzer said most of the experienced PCAs he knows collect postshake samples to look for signs of pests. For growers who don’t want to take the time or don’t have the time to crack nut samples, a number of companies, such as Integral Ag in Chico, will do it for you and provide detailed results for a fee. Niederholzer compared post-shake sampling and postharvest grade reports to leaf analysis for fertility programs. Without first knowing your nutrient levels, you can’t develop a cost-effective tree nutritional program. And the same holds true for pests. “You have to know what your problems are first to really focus on developing an effective fix,” he said. For more information on how to collect post-shaking samples as well as color images of pests and the related damage they cause, visit UC’s Sacramento Valley Orchard Source at bit.ly/3J5Zlsb. Comments about this article? We want to hear from you. Feel free to email us at article@jcsmarketinginc. com
Growers and their PCAs can’t go back and fix problems encountered the past season, but they can use information on grade sheets to address potential pest issues moving forward.
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Returns, Resiliency Driving Pistachio Planting By CECILIA PARSONS | Associate Editor
ecisions to plant new pistachio orchards in California’s Central Valley often come down to three words: returns, resiliency and region. Research efforts are part of the picture to help make those new orchards profitable, particularly as they go into less-than-ideal ground.
Limits on groundwater pumping or surface water delivery require growers to think carefully about the crop they plant (all photos by C. Parsons.)
“Everyone wants their land to be productive with a good economic return,” said Bob Klein, manager of the California Pistachio Research Board. Returns is the obvious reason new pistachio orchards continue to be planted, said Zack Raven, grower services manager for Keenan Farms.
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The increase in pistachio plantings in recent years has the industry on target to increase production by 50% by 2027. Investment in land, trees and irrigation systems is being made with grower expectations of profitable returns. Pistachios are being viewed as a profitable tree nut crop, but, besides good returns, there are other considerations spurring pistachio production forward.
Costs a Consideration
Available capital to develop a new orchard is a critical consideration, Klein said, as pistachio orchard development costs are higher than other tree nut orchard development costs. Pistachios have a much longer juvenile period than almonds, and the training costs during that time are higher overall than almonds. Almonds begin bearing in two to three years, pistachios in five to six, adding three years of establishment costs. Klein said that due to the harvest equipment needed, pistachio growers are almost forced into using custom harvest operations, and many of those harvesters don’t want to harvest blocks smaller than 60 to 80 acres because of the transport costs. So, an almond grower can put in a 10-acre orchard and not worry about harvest, but a pistachio grower has to put in a 60-acre-or-larger orchard to make sure equipment is available for harvest. Cost per acre is greater due to juvenile period and total cost is greater due to
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Continued from Page 24 minimum orchard size. Another reason for choosing to plant pistachios, Raven said, is that the mature trees are very resilient in challenging environments. The trees can be planted in soils that would not support growth in other tree nuts, and they can produce a crop.
Tolerance Is a Plus
Mae Culumber, UCCE nut crops advisor in Fresno County, said that pistachio trees are salt-tolerant, with a higher threshold than other nut trees. Proper nutrition as well as monitoring the soil and irrigation water are key to keeping them productive, she said. Tree
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sensitivity does increase over time. Aside from salt tolerance, it is pistachio trees’ water use that attracts growers. Richard Matoian, president of American Pistachio Growers, said that it appears that water availability, either through drought, Endangered Species Act limitations on water movement in the state or implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, requires growers to think carefully about what they plant. Because pistachio trees do not require as much water compared to other commodities, and because they will continue to produce crops with less irrigation or with deficit irrigation, it is a crop that many growers consider, Matoian said, especially existing almond growers who have limited water supplies. Klein said if a given area does not have access to reliable surface water but can pump enough groundwater, high-cash-value crops are critical to afford the well and pumping costs. Raising most row crops with pumping costs reaching $1,000 to $5,000 an acre-foot is not practical. Newly planted pistachio trees use less water than almond trees during the first few years. Klein and Matoian said that this lower water need can be a significant factor in a decision to plant as SGMA implementation occurs. How much less water, however, is dependent on soil type and if there is a need for leaching fraction due to saline conditions.
Region Affects Maturity
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Increase in pistachio acres planted north of Sacramento is being driven by two factors, said UCCE Farm Advisor Katherine Jarvis-Shean. Some parts of this northern growing region, particularly in Yolo County, are known for higher boron levels in the water and soil, which pistachio trees favor while the condition negatively affects almonds. Growers who already have land in
‘Although pistachios have been considered the ‘new kids on the block’ compared to almond and walnut production, which have benefited from decades of research in production methods, pistachio research has ramped up.’
this area, Jarvis-Shean said, are finding better economic returns with pistachios. The crop is still competing with almonds in new acreage, she said, but as SGMA restrictions on groundwater pumping come into play, even in the north, pistachios may make more sense. Some acreage, she noted, is being planted in heavier, former rice ground and without suitable rootstocks, which she would not recommend. She noted that northern growing regions also do not have as many degree days needed for nut development. Warm temperatures drive shell split, and the number of hours dictates kernel size. The result, she said, can also be lower split percentage. The earlier maturing Golden Hills variety, which has a higher split percentage, is often the choice when planting in that region. Processing capacity for the upcoming larger pistachio crop is a concern, said Jeff Gibbons, plant manager for Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella, but the industry can make it work. Pistachio processors handled 1.2 billion pounds of pistachio nuts last year. The 35-day harvest averaged 34 million pounds processed per day. Adding another 100
Newly planted pistachio trees use less water than almond trees in the first few years.
million pounds in the next five years with the same processing capacity will add another three days of processing, he said. Expansion of earlier maturing pistachio varieties will also help as there would be less incoming crop at the end. Growers like to wait and get their crop off with one shake, Gibbons noted, and that if too many try this, there are processing challenges. Although pistachios have been considered the ‘new kids on the block’ compared to almond and walnut production, which have benefited from decades of research in production meth-
ods, pistachio research has ramped up. The marketing order, California Pistachio Research Board, funded by assessments on pistachio production, lists numerous research projects that are underway. Research projects for 2022 include production of sterile navel orangeworm to improve management and prevent crop damage, strategies for saline irrigation, rootstock development and genetic improvements. Comments about this article? We want to hear from you. Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
THE DIRT ON SOIL By RICH KREPS | Contributing Writer
Manganese and aluminum are two nutrients often overlooked when calculating cation exchange capacity and base saturation of soils.
recently spent a few days with some great farmers, consultants, manufacturers and scientists at the Healthy Soils Summit in Sacramento. Lots of collaboration and discussion always changes your perspective. It’s a constant battle, this process of trying to manipulate the perfect soil for our trees in an intensive farming environment. Between mono-cropping, herbicides, pesticides, fertilizer, water management, physical soil manipulation and good ol’ Mother Nature, our attempts to solve problems often create many, many more. The emphasis was on data at the conference with many references to the phrase, “If we can measure it, we can manage it.” Which brings us to the question, do we measure our soils correctly, and what does that mean? Let’s look at the CEC and base saturation of our soils. To grossly oversimplify things, cation exchange capacity, or CEC, is a measure of how many negative charges exist in our soil that can grab on to those precious earth metals we so voraciously covet: calcium, potassium, magnesium and the snake in the grass, sodium. If the soil holds them, the plant will have a chance to eat them before they leach through the root zone. But often we overlook those other metals that also latch on to our soil colloids like zinc, iron, manganese, and an amazingly detrimental metal in aluminum. I have read published studies that refute our beloved CEC numbers as grossly overstated if we 28
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don’t account for aluminum in that test. So, is our measurement actually that accurate? And does that matter? If you are conducting your annual soil test at the same time, in the same places with the same moisture content year after year, you have a baseline you can measure, so you are ahead of the curve. Let’s focus on that and leave the AAc, Bray and Mehlic test arguments to the brainiacs that have the time to analyze them.
Measuring the Soil
I’ll start with my favorite, calcium. A typical soil sample on the west side of the valley in central California would show a 4000-ppm analysis of calcium in our soil after an ammonium acetate extraction method. What does that mean? Soil weighs on average two million pounds per acre every six inches. Let’s just assume feeder roots reach a depth of 12 inches into the soil. 4000 ppm x 2 (since soil weighs two million pounds per six inches, not one million) x 2 since we are a foot deep and not just six inches, that’s 16,000 pounds of calcium that should be in our soil to one foot deep! Let’s take that a step further to really blow your mind. That’s just the amount that was released when that sample of soil was put through the acetate extraction test. That is not the absolute number. Ron Helland of Sobec ran an experiment with hydronium acid where he rinsed soil 12 times with
a low-pH solution until he saw a significant reduction in the number of cations in the extracted solution. In speaking with Joe Mullinax at Denele Analytical, he told me the acetate extraction method was used to more closely mimic what the soil should release in a single year. And now for my favorite phrase when writing these articles for you folks is, “So what?!”
We can manage it, we can track it and we can adjust what we are actually trying to do about it. If there’s 16,000 pounds of calcium to one foot of soil, or on a 200-ppm test of potassium, 800 pounds K that should be released, why are we ever deficient? In the words of the late great Paul Harvey, “and now, the rest of the story.” Shouldn’t we be more interested in the soluble component coming out of the water? Don’t we irrigate with water? Not pure water (mind you) and ammonium acetate reacted with potassium chloride, we use water. Let’s change things up and look at it from a different perspective. After a glance at the CEC and base saturation of our soils, look at the water extraction portion in meq/l. That will give you a better idea of what is coming out of the water. The water is what the roots are trying to drink those nutrients from. Adjust the soluble portion of your fertilizers to manipulate what the roots are rinsed with when you feed them. If we have the potential
for 800 pounds of potassium to solubilize in a given season just from our soil, that tells me we are leaching a significant portion of it through the roots. Adjust your farming practices to fertigate differently than you irrigate. Shorter sets are critical when you are applying nutrients. Keep that liquid gold in the root zone as long as possible. When you “measure” your inputs, do the math as well. If a fertilizer is 32% nitrogen and it weighs 10 pounds per gallon, that’s 3.2 pounds N per gallon. A 15-gallon slug of fertilizer may not seem like a lot, with thousands of gallons of water per acre, for 150 trees per acre. However, CCA of the Year Keith Backman, after decades of experience and dedicated service to our farming community, will tell you his lab calculates those trees can only take up 10 units of N per acre per week. Why would we put on 48 pounds N in one shot? If those nutrients keep pushing lower at every irrigation, by the fourth week’s irrigation, how far is the potential remaining fertilizer below
the feeder roots where it can’t be absorbed? Do the same for the other nutrients we are calculating to match our trees’ demands at different growing periods. Does it take more work? Yes. Will it save us more money? Absolutely. Can we make higher yields with less? I am very confident of that and see it all the time with the growers I consult for. Measure it. Know what you are measuring and make your calculations. Apply it in smaller shots more often with shorter irrigation sets. Even an extra day in the root zone can make a difference in the amount absorbed. With less money spent on inputs and more money captured in yields and soil health, you’ll be able to measure that on your bank statements. Comments about this article? We want to hear from you. Feel free to email us at article@jcsmarketinginc. com
The better growers measure their soil, nutrients and water, the better they can manage them.
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California Proposes to Strengthen Certification and Training for Pesticide Applicators By ROGER A. ISOM | President/CEO, Western Agricultural Processors Association
By aligning state and federal requirements, the proposed regulations will also affect users above and beyond restricted use pesticides and restricted material use, to include those who may apply general use products (photo courtesy Peter Larbi, UCCE.)
have been working on regulatory and legislative issues in California for over 29 years now, and one might think businesses in California can’t be any more regulated than we are today. Well, this is California, and having the toughest pesticide regulations on the planet apparently just isn’t enough. The Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) is now proposing to adopt new requirements and amend several other sections of existing regulations to address concerns
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with pesticide certifications. This proposal will affect the certification of commercial and private pesticide applicators (“certified applicators”), development and submittal of continuing education (CE) courses for pesticide applicator license or certificate renewal and supervision of non-certified applicators. In summary, the proposed regulations will align California’s regulations with the revised federal regulations that were previously noticed in the Federal Register in 2017. According to CDPR, the proposed action will improve the competency standards for certified applicators using California restricted materials, which include federally restricted use pesticides (RUPs), improve certification standards for certified applicators, create additional certification categories for certified applicators, increase protection for noncertified applicators using restricted materials under the direct supervision of a certified applicator through enhanced pesticide safety training and standards for supervision of noncertified applicators, establish a minimum age requirement for certified and noncertified applicators using restricted materials under the direct supervision of a certified applicator and improve standards for CE courses. Overall, this could have a huge impact on private applicators.
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Restricted Use Pesticides (RUPs)
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the environment. Due to California’s unique regulatory framework, DPR’s Licensing and Certification Program licenses and certifies applicators of California restricted materials, which include RUPs, as well as applicators who perform pest control for hire regardless of whether they use restricted materials or not. By aligning state and federal requirements, the proposed regulations will also affect users above and beyond RUP and restricted material use, including those who may apply general use products. In addition, because a pesticide is designated as an RUP or restricted material for similar reasons, DPR proposes to extend many of the supervision requirements required by U.S. EPA for RUPs to all California restricted materials.
In 1974, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) adopted 40 CFR Part 171 “Certification of Pesticide Applicators” to ensure that pesticide applicator certification program standards adequately protected applicators, the public and the environment from risks associated with the use of RUPs. Since then, U.S. EPA has updated 40 CFR Part 171 to enhance and improve programs that certify applicators of RUPs. RUPs are pesticidal products that U.S. EPA has determined have the potential to cause adverse effects to the environment and have the potential to cause injury to applicators or bystanders if not used properly and according to label instructions. For these reasons, U.S. EPA requires RUPs to only be used by a Time to Study is Slim certified applicator or someone under The agricultural industry is conthe direct supervision of a certified cerned that there is not enough time applicator. The Director is authorized for all the commercial applicators to to adopt a list of restricted materials study and pass their examinations as based upon criteria including danger CDPR has indicated that the training of impairment of public health; materials and study guides will not hazards to applicators, farmworkers, be available until the regulation is domestic animals and crops from finalized, which could be as late as direct application or drift; hazards July 2023. related to persistent residues in the The requirements would go into soil resulting in the contamination of effect on January 1, 2024, leaving air, waterways, estuaries or lakes; or about six months to get thousands hazards to subsequent crops. Beof applicators educated and certified. cause U.S. EPA and DPR designate Furthermore, fumigants will now pesticides as “restricted” for similar have to be applied under the direct reasons, California statutes designate supervision of a certified commerany pesticide labeled as an RUP as a cial applicator. Previously, private California restricted material. applicators who were certified could For the tree nut industry, RUPs do it. Comments were submitted include methyl bromide, sulfuryl expressing these very concerns, but fluoride, phosphine gas, aluminum CDPR has not yet responded. So once phosphide and magnesium phosagain, California makes it just that phide. State law authorizes DPR to much harder and more expensive to regulate the use of restricted matestay in business by finding solutions rials and to ensure that restricted to problems that don’t exist. Please materials are only possessed or used stay tuned to see if CDPR changes by, or under the direct supervision of, their approach on this one. a certified applicator. This statutory scheme allows DPR to ensure individuals using or supervising the use Comments about this article? We of restricted materials have demonstrated a level of competency to do so want to hear from you. Feel free to email us at article@jcsmarketinginc. safely and in a manner that will not com result in harm to human health or
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PISTACHIOS: ‘A REMARKABLE SUCCESS STORY’ INGENUITY, RESEARCH AND MARKETING HELP INDUSTRY PROPEL PISTACHIOS FORWARD, ACCORDING TO RECENT REPORT. By MITCH LIES | Contributing Writer
The 2022 crop is again expected to top the billion-pound mark (photo by Demi Schmiederer, Legacy Farm Management.)
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rices for California pistachios are expected to hold steady in the next few years despite record and near-record crops, according to a projection from David Magaña, a senior analyst with Rabobank. This, combined with a pistachio tree’s adaptability to Central Valley environmental conditions and improved yields as new varieties begin to bear fruit, have put pistachios in an outstanding position, he said. In an interview with West Coast Nut magazine, Magaña, who has compiled an annual report on California pistachios the last four years, characterized recent developments in the pistachio industry as “pretty remarkable.” “This has been a success story, even in the presence of a lot of challenges,” he said, including drought in the Central Valley, logistical challenges for shipping and increasing input costs. “The industry has not only been growing fast, but also showing better profitability when compared to competing crops.” At the heart of the industry’s success
is a dramatic increase in production that that pistachios are already in destination is far outpacing other California tree markets ready for prime time.” nuts. Rabobank is estimating that bearing acreage of pistachios will increase Marketing Message from approximately 370,000 acres today Another key to its international to 470,000 acres by 2026. successes has been a marketing platform “It is the fastest-growing tree nut based on nutritional research that shows industry in California,” he said. “By 2026, pistachios are one of the only plant-based we are estimating that bearing acreage complete proteins available to consumers. of walnuts will be two times that of “Those marketing efforts by the indus2000, and almonds three times that of try have been quite relevant, particularly 2000. However, pistachio bearing acreage focusing on the [nutritional] quality will be almost seven times that of two of the U.S. pistachios,” Magaña said. decades ago.” “And also, food-safety continues to be a In addition, new varieties have recompetitive advantage for U.S. product duced the yield variability between ‘on compared to international competitors.” years’ and ‘off years,’ he said, providing a In his report, Magaña wrote that total consistency of supply that is attractive to U.S. pistachio exports are expected to buyers and shippers. keep pace with expanded U.S. supplies “One aspect of having these more in the years ahead, due in part to freer consistent supplies… is an ability for market access to key Asian markets and this industry to be shipping on time,” sustained growth to Europe. Magaña said. “For example, one of the He further noted that continuing biggest demand drivers in the internaefforts to increase demand both at home tional markets is the Chinese New Year. and abroad “will become increasingly So, the industry has been making efforts relevant as planted area continues to to send shipments early in the season so expand.” Continued on Page 36
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Severe drought and increased regulation will continue to challenge pistachio growers in the coming years (photo by Cathy Merlo.)
Continued from Page 35 “Given the planted acreage and age of trees and considering typical yield probability distributions, we expect overall record crops in 2022-23 and 2024-25, while we could see record highs for an ‘off-year’ crop in 2023-24 and 2025-26,” he wrote in the report. Magaña noted that he has since downgraded the projected size of this year’s crop after issues with pollination and early water restrictions put a question mark on the production outlook for the 2022 crop season. “It likely is not going to be larger than last year’s,” he said.
But he still expects a crop approaching the billion-pound mark, a mark the industry first attained in 2020 and topped again in 2021, which he said was a remarkable showing for what was supposed to be an off year. His report noted the average price expected to growers between now and the 2025-26 period to be around $2.69 a pound. “Overall, the average price outlook for U.S. pistachios is favorable,” he wrote, “while the relevant industry-wide challenges and opportunities lie ahead.”
Domestic Sales Up
In addition to a strong growth in international markets, Magaña wrote that domestic market growth for pistachios
International marketing has helped boost global demand for American pistachios (photo courtesy APG.)
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also has been successful in recent years. Projecting out, Magaña said he expects the pistachio in“As for domestic trends,” he wrote, “per capita consumpdustry to continue to enjoy a healthy expansion that includes tion has expanded at a compound annual growth rate of over increases in exports and domestic sales as well as steady 10% during the recent decade, surpassing the growth rate of prices. most fruits and nuts.” “In our price estimates, we are accounting for internation“The U.S. market continues to absorb higher volumes of al demand, domestic demand and also the availability of the pistachios,” Magaña said. “Now you can find pistachio preU.S. market,” he said. “And still, we are optimistic about the sentations in pretty much any convenience story and in any future for this industry. supermarket. That has also been a marketing success for the “We will see this industry continue as the fastest-growing industry in the domestic market.” tree nut segment in California agriculture,” Magaña said. He added that the relative youth of the U.S. pistachio Comments about this article? We want to hear from you. Feel industry gives it plenty of room for growth, but that the infree to email us at email@example.com dustry needs to continue to capitalize on its nutrition-based marketing platform. “Further innovation and strategic partnerships are needed to continue to capitalize on plant-based protein diets as well as the demand from health-conWE KNOW HOW TO HELP YOU INSURE IT. scious consumers for confectionary bars and gourmet products that can contain pistachio kernels. Research on and promotion of healthfulness will continue to be important demand drivers,” he wrote.
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Magaña identified several challenges in his report, including notably severe drought conditions, the effects of water and environmental regulations on pistachio production, increasing input costs and the effects of soil salinity on plant health. “A silver lining here is that pistachios tend to adapt better to different soil types and have relatively higher tolerance to salinity than competing crops,” he wrote. “Now that we have less availability of surface water, which is of higher quality, the growers need to be pumping more groundwater, bringing more minerals and more salinity to the soil, and some crops are more sensitive in terms of yield this salinity,” Magaña said in the follow-up interview. “A pistachio tree is a true desert tree, and so it is more resistant to salinity.” Also, he said, it will be interesting to see if U.S. international market shares in pistachio sales continue as strong as in the recent past if Iran and Turkey come on with big crops in coming years. Both had relatively poor crops the last two years, which has helped boost U.S. market share in several foreign markets. “We will truly see how strong the global demand for pistachios really is when the U.S. has an on year at the same time as Iran and Turkey,” he said.
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BIOLOGICALLY INTEGRATED ORCHARD SYSTEMS (BIOS) FIELD DAY DEMONSTRATES IPM STRATEGIES FOR MAJOR WALNUT PESTS By TAYLOR CHALSTROM | Digital Content Editor
project focusing on integrated pest management (IPM) in walnut orchards that uses the entire orchard system is in its second year of demonstrations and trials in Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys. The project, funded by CDFA, incorporates a Biologically Integrated Orchard Systems (BIOS) approach and focuses on walnut production systems targeting codling moth, navel orange-
worm (NOW) and webspinning spider mites, three key pests in California walnut orchards. As was noted in an article for the May/June 2021 edition of Progressive Crop Consultant magazine that introduced the project, Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF) has worked closely with UCCE and participating growers and PCAs on six walnut farms (three in the Sacramento
The Biologically Integrated Orchard Systems (BIOS) project focuses on integrated pest management in walnut orchards (all photos by T. Chalstrom.)
Valley, three in the San Joaquin Valley) since 2021 to set up the project’s BIOS demonstration sites. At these sites, alternative pest management practices, including mating disruption for codling moth and NOW and biological practices for spider mites, are being implemented along with robust monitoring programs, UC IPM models and action-based thresholds. In mid-July, CAFF held a demonstration for the BIOS for Walnut project at one of its six sites at Blossom Farms in Stockton, Calif. Here, local PCA Mike Devencenzi, UCCE IPM Advisor Jhalendra Rijal and CAFF researcher and Project Lead Hanna Kahl spoke about what they’re seeing regarding the whole-system approach to IPM.
Mating Disruption Aspect
CAFF and project participants anticipated at the start of the project that mating disruption will effectively manage codling moth and NOW at its six demonstration sites with little to no use of broad-spectrum pesticides. Mating disruption for codling moth has been proven in previous UCCE research but is still being demonstrated for NOW. At the Stockton site, Devencenzi said mating disruption dispensers are dispersed one per acre throughout the orchard. Rijal said that low codling moth rates are undeserving of treatment, especially given current walnut prices. Kahl said the orchard might have been getting benefits from neigh-
Continued on Page 40 38
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The BIOS project has three research and demonstration sites that focus on managing webspinning spider mites using the release of predatory mites and increasing habitat for beneficial insects through the planting of cover crops.
Continued from Page 38 boring orchards with codling moth mating disruption before the trial began. Standard monitoring methods are being used at the site. Devencenzi recommends to not use traditional pheromone lures with mating disruption as the numbers might create a false sense of security for growers. Instead, he recommends kairomone lures or kairomone lures with pheromone.
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Rijal said pheromone and PPO lures for NOW should not be near each other to reduce interference. 200-foot spacing is recommended. PPO lures are not permitted in organic orchards. Comparing infestations in walnut and almond orchards, second flights for codling moth in July are always lower in walnut than in almond. That number will go up for walnuts in third and fourth flights and is recommended to be kept in mind when monitoring. When hull split and codling moth flights are synchronized, higher damage can be expected. While there are no mating disruption dispensers for NOW at the Stockton site, dispensers have been implemented at other BIOS sites in the Northern San Joaquin Valley. Data taken from all five sites with NOW mating disruption show reduced mean numbers of NOW moths per day between April and July compared to no mating disruption, and at two sites, mating disruption reduced the proportion of harvested nuts infested by NOW. Kahl said that even with only codling moth mating disruption used at the Stockton site without the presence of mating disruption specifically for NOW, a reduction in harvested nuts infested by NOW was seen. This could be because codling moth can provide earlier entry to the nuts by NOW.
Biological Control of Mites
In addition to mating disruption for codling moth and NOW, the BIOS project also has three research and demonstration sites that focus on managing webspinning spider mites using the release of predatory mites and increasing habitat for beneficial insects through the planting of cover crops. At this Stockton site, increased minute pirate bugs, which also feed on spider mites as well as aphids and psyllids, were found on sticky cards in the cover crop treatment, particularly in the early season before the cover crop was mowed. It is important to note that a specific cover crop mix was planted in the trial to attract different predatory arthropod species.
Standard monitoring methods are being used at the site in combination with mating disruption.
When monitoring for spider mites in the orchard, the biggest thing, according to Devencenzi, is water. He recommends scouting with a soil auger to check soil wetness as drier soils are more conducive to spider mite activity. Also, predatory mites prefer humid conditions to establish, so an irrigation before and after release is recommended, Kahl said.
Other Whole-System Strategies
There are a number of other alternative IPM strategies being investigated outside the BIOS for Walnut project. Devencenzi, Kahl and Rijal mentioned a few during the field day in Stockton. There is evidence that cover crops can help with controlling Phytopthora, Devencenzi said. Phytopthora attacks plant roots; it is possible that because cover crops can improve soil penetration, they can mitigate negative effects of the disease. Note that like the attraction of certain predatory insect species to cover crops, the ability to mitigate Phytopthora likely would depend on the specific cover crop mix. Kahl pointed to research looking at the possibility of mummy nuts being decomposed faster on the ground with cover crop, possibly allowing some reduction in overwintering NOW. Growers have attested to and observed this, she said. However, walnut decomposition is slower compared to almond or pistachio due to the nut’s thicker shell, so shredding mummies will al-
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ways be faster for eliminating infested nuts regardless. Research into walnut husk fly biologicals is being worked on as well. Since husk fly pupate on the ground for half the year, a control strategy for the ground involving applications of pathogenic fungi is being investigated. The idea is that the fungi will release toxins in husk fly larvae in the soil, killing the larvae. Results are promising thus far, according to Rijal.
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The BIOS for Walnut project will continue at each of the six California sites through 2023, focusing on disseminating knowledge through field days. Thus far, multiple field days have been held and will continue to be held in the Sacramento and Northern San Joaquin Valleys to share findings and hear from participating and experienced growers. The project is continuing to develop a wide range of extension resources, project updates and results (biological, pest and economic analyses); technical information highlighting up-to-date research and IPM recommendations; pest management decision-making tools and perceived risks and strategies for mating disruption and biological control; and grower perspectives of benefits and tradeoffs of the BIOS approach. Comments about this article? We want to hear from you. Feel free to email us at email@example.com
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Colorado River Water Supply Cuts Must Be Balanced and Provide Relief for Disadvantaged Communities By MIKE WADE | Executive Director, California Farm Water Coalition
here is a connection between water resources, farmers who know the land and the consumer who trusts in our safe, domestic food supply. But that connection is at risk from the threat of lopsided policy, and once grocery store shelves are empty, it will be too late. There is also a connection between what happens at the regulatory level on
one major source of irrigation water, such as the Colorado River, and other rivers and tributaries that feed irrigation water to farms in the Central Valley.
In June, the commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation, Camille Calimlin Touton, testified to the Senate
Cuts to growers on the Colorado River will result in a large ripple effect through the food system and communities built around agricultural businesses. Federal funding should help soften the blow for areas hardest hit by the western drought.
Committee on Energy and Natural Resources that water users on the Colorado River would have to voluntarily decrease their usage by two to four million acre-feet in 2023 or face mandatory cuts. If water users were unable to adopt a voluntary plan by mid-August, the Bureau of Reclamation would act unilaterally and cut supplies to both junior and senior water rights holders
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(a voluntary water reduction plan had not yet been adopted as of this press deadline.) The Bureau of Reclamation is ordering these cuts as part of an effort to protect dwindling water supplies in Lake Mead as a result of two decades of drought and to protect power generation at Hoover Dam. Ripple effects from policies like this also impact the urban populations of Southern California but also might trickle down to policies for other irrigation sources.. The Imperial Irrigation District has been engaging in enormous water conservation efforts for almost 20 years, providing millions of Californians nearly 500,000 acre-feet per year of conserved water, which supports water supply reliability in Los Angeles, San Diego and other parts of Southern California. These existing programs would be jeopardized if the long-standing legal framework of the priority system, collectively known as the “Law of the River”, consisting of numerous compacts, federal laws, court decisions and decrees, contracts and regulatory guidelines, is bypassed by the Bureau of Reclamation. The public will see increased costs, reduced inventories or even bare shelves at grocery stores. These actions will also result in an even larger environmental and public health crisis at the Salton Sea. Drastic water cuts would expose thousands more acres of bare soil to the surrounding disadvantaged communities. Winds blow the dust throughout the region, affecting air quality for these communities. The Colorado River serves seven Western states (Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming), and large reservoirs were built to provide water supplies and generate power for millions of people across the Southwest. However, the Colorado is in the grips of a two-decade drought, which has strained the water supply that flows to our communities and grows our food. California’s Imperial Irrigation District is the largest Colorado River user and holds senior water rights along with other agricultural districts, such as the Palo Verde Irrigation District
and Coachella Valley Water District, which are used to grow much of the country’s winter vegetables, fruits and alfalfa. Alfalfa is critical to the region’s dairy and beef cattle producers and feeds the cows that produce cheese, milk, ice cream and other products that make the foods so many of us love, such as pizza and hamburgers. These and many other products start with water, and there’s no better place to grow them than in an area with almost endless sunshine. These farms are also the economic foundation for rural communities that have no other employment options when the fields dry up. Lopsided water cuts to meet the Bureau of Reclamation’s demands would not only impact our food supply, but they would also devastate the communities built around agricultural businesses, particularly in the Imperial Valley, which has no other water source and would be left to wither away.
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We can avoid this scenario if the Bureau of Reclamation’s cuts adhere to existing laws, are spread throughout the river’s seven basin states and include a plan to offset water supply losses and the associated community impacts at the local level. We must, to the greatest degree possible, protect the future production of California farm products and viability of rural communities and avoid years of litigation that aren’t conducive to solving the problems on the Colorado River. A balanced approach on the Colorado can help meet the goals of reduced water demands and protect the food, water supply, jobs and power generation that millions of Americans depend on. At the time this article was submitted for publication, legislation had passed the Senate and was awaiting action by the House that would allocate $4 billion to help farms reliant on the Colorado River weather this crisis. Comments about this article? We want to hear from you. Feel free to email us at article@jcsmarketinginc. com
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Insulating Your Operation with Diversification By KATHY COATNEY | Contributing Writer
New plantings of Manzanillo olive trees (all photos courtesy Musco Family Olive Company.)
hat can growers do to insulate themselves not just what is my revenue, or my net profit per acre, and against water shortages, increased input costs and you start looking at what is my profit per unit of water, olives decreasing nut prices? Diversification into crops that look very, very good right now, maybe better than any of the are less water- and input-intensive could be a safety net for big crops,” Beumel said, adding olives compared to nuts are growers. probably making more money. The standard for determining profitability used to be how much per acre a crop produced, but that may not be the Table Olives gold standard any longer. Making the most money per acre, Dennis Burreson vice president of field operations and regardless of how much water and fertilizer the crop requires, industry affairs for Musco Family Olive Company offered might not be the most profitable when growers look at their several benefits for growing table olives: bottom line. ▶ They use less water
Looking at the net profit per unit of water, olives might be the most profitable right now, especially with limited water. The better method to calculate profit might be by the acrefoot of water required to grow the crop and the amount of other inputs. Cliff Beumel, president of Agromillora California Nursery, believes olives have the potential as a diversification crop, and he said there’s opportunities in orchards for both olive oil and for table olives. Olives also have minimal inputs for pests and diseases when compared to other tree crops, and they require less fertilizer than nuts crops as well. “Drastically less fertilizer,” Beumel said, adding olives require much lower inputs across the board. “When you start analyzing crops from that perspective,
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▶ They grow well in a wide range of soils ▶ They have minimal pests and disease ▶ They are mechanically harvested, pruned and topped Compared to almonds, walnuts and pistachios, which have several pests and diseases, olives have minimal problems. Olive Fruit Fly (OLFF) is the main pest, and there are chemical treatments for controlling it. The main disease is olive knot, which is managed with copper treatments. Musco is offering free Manzanillo trees to growers interested in planting a minimum of 40 acres configured for mechanical harvest, and long-term contracts.
Continued on Page 46
Continued from Page 44 “We’re suggesting, tighter plantings, 18x10, 18 feet between rows, 10 feet between trees. That’ll give you 242 trees per acre. But there’s flexibility in that, depending on your soils, and depending upon the lay of your land, 18x12 works or 20x10,” Burreson said, adding they feel it’s important to get the tree count over 200 trees per acre. About half of Musco’s trees are either in the ground or committed. “So, we’re moving along and feel good about it,” Burreson said, adding our goal is to make table olives the crop of the future in California. For more information go to milliontrees.com or contact Burreson directly at 530-624-4475.
Reduced water consumption is usually the first thing that attracts growers to olives; half as much water is generally the rule, Beumel said. “If you’re using two acre-feet of water to grow super high-density hedged olives for oil, you’re probably wasting a half an acre-foot of water. Some of the best growers are able to use 1.5 acre-feet of water and get excellent yields on oil olives.” Olives aren’t finicky with soil or salt content. Some of the largest olive oil orchards have been in ground so marginal that no other crops grow there, Beumel said. Olives will grow well in all soils, too, but they will need
Mechanical shaking of table olives. Table and oil olives are mechanically pruned with some hand pruning and mechanically harvested.
even less fertilizer and water because of the natural benefits of the soil. Too much water and fertilizer will result in no crop, Beumel said. “Oil olives require very, very minimal water and fertilizer in order to get the highest yields,” Beumel said.
Giulia Marino is an extension specialist in orchard systems at UC Davis and Kearney Agriculture Research and Extension Center, and she’s conducting irrigation research on water usage for table and oil olives and how much water stress they can withstand. In the north, there are two orchards in the project in Corning and Orland. The third site is close to Stockton. Each orchard has different types of soil and management. “I think this project will help growers to improve their irrigation management by developing precise and updated information on olive orchard water use. It also explores the possibility to manage irrigation measuring tree water status. Each orchard is different, and for a precise management of irrigation, you want to know the value of the stress of your trees,” Marino said. “The best method to do this is using stem water potential, which is a very good indicator in olive,” Marino said. Marino is also testing some new sensors that were released a couple of years ago that are providing very promising results in almond and other crops. “We are using sensors that can measure stem water potential and are placed directly in the trunk of the trees,” she said, adding this sensor would be an alternative for having to go into the orchard to take stem water potential readings. Marino is in the first year of the research, and she will have more definitive findings next year.
Mechanical Harvest Research
In the past, a major drawback for growing olives has been hand harvesting and pruning. That has changed. Table and 46
West Coast Nut
oil olives are mechanically pruned with some hand pruning and mechanically harvested. Oil olives have shown the benefits of higher-density planting, according to Louise Ferguson, extension specialist in the Department of Plant Science at UC Davis. Ferguson has been doing mechanical olive harvest research for over 20 years. Last year, she did research using a trunk shaker on table olive trees pruned for trunk shaking, 15- and 20-year-old trees. They were topped at 12 feet and hedged at four to six feet from the trunk, every other year, and topped every year. “We got 80% removal with the trunk shaker,” Ferguson said. If there’s a five-ton crop and the shaker removes four tons, it makes financial sense to send a hand crew in to harvest the last ton because it shouldn’t take more than a step
California supplies less than 10% of the olive oil used in the U.S., and as olive oil use continues to increase, more and more olive oil will be sold domestically.
Continued on Page 48
Continued from Page 47
Oil olives require less water and other inputs compared to tree nuts (photo by K. Coatney.)
stool to reach the remainder, Ferguson said. “The pistachio style double-sided trunk shaker is doing an effective job if you can shake at the appropriate time on table olives. We are still working on an efficient [abscission] agent to increase that efficiency,” Ferguson said, adding an abscission agent would be applied to loosen the fruit prior to harvest. Conceivably, a pistachio grower interested in diversifying with table olives could use the same harvest equipment on olives and pistachios, Ferguson said. “And actually, you can use the same mechanical pruning too, because I have worked with hedging and topping of oil and/or table olives, and you can use the same topper and hedger, and it’s basically almost the same schedule as for pistachios,” Ferguson said. It’s important to top every year, especially for table olives because the fruit at to the top of the tree ripens earlier, which puts more overripe olives in the bin. Those olives are downgraded as overripe for the California black ripe processing, Ferguson said. Ferguson and Professor Reza Ehsani, at UC Merced, are doing research on a canopy contact shaker. “We’re working on a canopy contact plus trunk shaker combined,” she said, adding this shaker would only work with new plantings. The bottom line: for new plantings of olives, mechanical harvesting equipment is available and effectively removes the fruit, Ferguson said. While table olives are using trunk shaking of some type, oil olives in super high-density hedges have been harvested with “over-the-row” harvesting machines for more than two decades now, Beumel said. These machines are well-proven and used across the globe. Similar harvesters are used to harvest wine grapes, blueberries, coffee and other major crops, he added.
Arbosana, Arbequina and, to a lesser extent, Koroneiki, have been the go-to oil varieties for super high-density plantings. But Lecciana, a new hybrid oil variety (a cross of Arbosana 48
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and the famous Italian variety Leccino) from University of Bari in Italy, is being widely planted in Spain and around the Mediterranean. Lecciana has good vigor, improved agronomic traits like cold tolerance and resistance to disease, and excellent oil quality. “In the south of Spain, we have growers who are dry farming Lecciana,” Beumel said. They are using water from winter and spring rains and getting 60% to 70% yields of conventionally grown oil olives by taking advantage of the Lecciana variety’s vigor and growing them in a hedgerow.
“You can actually grow olives, world competition, it brings the shipalmost dryland, even in the south of ping, logistics, the ports, the exchange Spain, which is just as dry as California, rate from a weak dollar, a strong dollar, and get yields. And so, if you’re looking all that stuff.” at buying water versus not buying water, In comparison, California supplies which is how growers have to think less than 10% of the olive oil used in now, you can think very far out of the the U.S., and as olive oil use continues box,” Beumel said. to increase, more and more olive oil will be sold domestically, Beumel said. International Sales Therefore, by diversifying with table Another key piece of diversification and/or oil olives, growers don’t have all that growers don’t consider are interthe concerns and risks that come with national sales, Beumel said. “Every nut international sales. And that is another grower knows that a big part of their important aspect of diversification. returns come from the international Comments about this article? We want sales of the nuts. But that brings in to hear from you. Feel free to email us at email@example.com
Comments about this article? We want to hear from you. Feel free to email us at article@jcsmarketinginc. com
The Five Best Reasons to Plant a Cover Crop in Your Orchard By CECILIA PARSONS | Associate Editor
ill more California tree nut growers adopt a practice that many believe has management challenges but has been proven to have production benefits? Cover cropping, the intentional planting and managing of a crop to cover the soil, is not a commonly adopted practice in the semi-arid Western States. According to the Soil Health Institute, less than five percent of farmland in the west has
Bee health and pollination productivity were listed as a priority by almond growers in a survey (photo courtesy Mel Machado, Blue Diamond Growers.)
been planted to a cover crop, potentially due to uncertainties about water use and costs. There are no recent reports on cover cropping in California tree nuts. California is ranked eighth in total cover crop growth from 2012 to 2017 with 6,198 farms using this practice, up from 4,899 reported in 2012. Rory Crowley, director of Habitat Programs for Project Apis m. said he believes 2% to 3% of tree nut acreage is intentionally planted, which is still behind California planting rates and well behind national percentages. Considering the real or perceived challenges that come with a managed cover crop planted in orchards, it is understandable that growers have been hesitant in adopting this practice. Water use, residue management and frost damage are three reasons growers give for not planting a cover crop in their orchards. California’s varied growing environments and the many different management goals of growers and crop managers also present some specific challenges to cover cropping. However, preliminary research and cover crop trials are showing benefits of planting cover crops in tree nut orchards. A survey conducted by Project Apis m. (PAm), an organization that funds research and efforts to improve honeybee health, found a major concern of almond growers is bee health. Soil health came in a close second. Crowley, in his article published in the July edition of West Coast Nut, said that even with the grower concern, survey data reveals growers are on the fence about cover crops in their orchards. Myths about water use and frost need to be challenged, he said.
1. Bee Health and Pollination Productivity
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Almond growers in a survey chose this benefit as their number-one reason for planting cover crops in their orchards. They realize, Crowley said, that their production depends on healthy hives. Preliminary research by Almond Board of California shows that flowering cover crops can support bee health by providing nutrients and a natural
Almond Board research suggests that a cover crop planted in an orchard does not lead to decreased yields due to competition for pollination (photo courtesy Kris Melgard.)
habitat before, during and after almond bloom. Proper seed mix selection, planting timing and management are key to getting the most out of a cover crop. Cover crops in an orchard do not compete with almond blooms for pollination. Almond Board-funded research suggests that cover crop presence does not lead to decreased yields due to competition for pollination between almond trees and cover crop. Most of the honeybee colonies that arrive in California almond orchards for crop pollination are moved in January and have not had access to forage after overwintering. Project Apis m. reports that when foraging bees bring the first pollen of the year back to the hive, the bees inside the colony begin to rear larvae. The larvae emit a pheromone that stimulates bees to forage. Research also shows honeybee colonies reared in pollen limited conditions produce workers that forage less often and are less efficient at communicating, which could have a significant impact on pollination activity and crop yield.
2. Soil Health and Productivity
A study by researchers from UC Davis, Riverside and Berkeley looked at soil health components including physical,
A UC Davis study found that a planted cover crop can contribute more nitrogen to the soil than resident vegetation (photo courtesy Kris Melgard.)
chemical and biological across three seasons of cover cropping in almond production. After a first cover crop season, soil analysis showed improved aggregate stability trends, particularly where a pollinator mix was planted at the Kern County trial site, which was heavily compacted. The study also found that a seeded cover crop can contribute more nitrogen to an orchard soil than resident vegetation. Compared to bare orchards, the N contribution of the cover crop amounted to 82 pounds N per acres in Merced County trials and 126 pounds N per acre in the Kern County trial site. Higher almond yields were found in the mature orchards after one year of cover cropping. In Merced County, yields increased by 225 pounds per acre compared to resident vegetation and 217 pounds per acre compared to bare soil. In Kern County, the yield increase was 94 pounds per acre compared to bare soil. It is important to remember that this yield and N research is in its initial stages and more work is being done. The study noted a need to identify sustainable agricultural practices that reduce the environmental impacts of farming
Continued on Page 52
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Continued from Page 51 without complicating other farm management choices. The results of the study suggest that growers can potentially benefit from soil health advantages associated with winter cover cropping with minimal water use by cover crops and without having to change their spring-summer irrigation plans and water management decisions.
3. Pollination and Food Security
As one of the crops with the most acres that rely on pollination for production, almond growers are in the unique position to ensure honeybee health by planting cover crops to provide nutrition sources for the pollinators in their orchards. Crowley said that it behooves almond growers to support and take care of both managed and native pollinators. When beekeepers nationwide were losing high numbers of their hives each year due to colony collapse, Project Apis m. recognized pollination security as a threat to a sustainable food supply. “Almond growers get that and are becoming a huge part of protecting pollinators; it’s demonstrated by data.” Crowley said.
4. Water, Carbon Sequestration, Biodiversity
Keeping the ground covered with living plants has been shown to increase water infiltration, increase soil carbon and increase soil biodiversity. Amelie Gaudin, a UC Davis plant scientist and endowed professor of Agroecology, lead a multi-year study of winter cover cropping impact on soil moisture and evapotranspiration suggesting that almond growers can adopt cover crops without changing irrigation practices. She said a documented benefit of cover crops is improved water infiltration. Cover crop roots, she said, open the soil and increase water transport in the soil matrix. One or two years of cover cropping in an orchard with heavy clay soils improves water infiltration, helping with the shrink and swell that creates cracks in soil. Roots of legumes, grasses and brassicas work in different ways to help water infiltra-
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Cover crops contribute to the soil food web, improving habitat for soil microbes (photo courtesy Ken Rapp.)
tion. The study showed a 40% higher water infiltration rate in cover cropped orchards. Water use by cover crops is a valid concern of growers, Gaudin said, but fallow land also consumes water. Continued research will quantify the water balance, but management of the crop also plays a role. Carbon sequestration by the biomass generated by a cover crop may not have a direct benefit to orchard health, but Gaudin said it does provide an environmental benefit. Stacking practices like biomass accumulation and compost use does contribute to carbon sequestration. Soil, Gaudin said, is a reservoir of biodiversity with bacteria, fungi and mycorrhizae being keys to well-functioning soil. Cover crops contribute to the soil food web, improving habitat for soil microbes, which are important in nutrient cycling. The UC Davis study noted a need to identify sustainable agricultural practices that reduce the environmental impacts of farming without complicating other farm management choices. The results of the study suggest that growers can potentially benefit from soil health advantages associated with winter cover cropping with minimal water use by cover crops and without having to change their spring-summer irrigation plans and water management decisions.
Financial incentives to plant a cover crop in your orchard are available, and they are substantial, Crowley said. These incentives are not just from the state or federal agencies, but also from private industry and non-profits. Government grants are available from CDFA and NRCS. Non-profits grants are available at Pam, Monarch Joint Venture, Monarch Watch and Pollinator Partnership. Handlers and processor grants are Blue Diamond Growers’ Orchard Stewardship Incentive Programs (OSIP). Comments about this article? We want to hear from you. Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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A WORD FROM THE BOARD: AMERICAN PECAN COUNCIL
The Importance of Two Industry Programs Working Together By AMERICAN PECAN COUNCIL | Contributing Writer
The American Pecan Council (APC) approved in 2016 and the American Pecan Promotion Board (APPB) share some of the same authorities, including research and marketing (photo courtesy American Pecan Council.)
he American Pecan Council (APC) approved in 2016 and the American Pecan Promotion Board (APPB) approved in 2021 are very similar programs. They both utilize industry assessments for marketing and research purposes. They are both mandated programs that are regulated by the Agricultural Marketing Service of the USDA. They are both voted on by growers. However, as directed by the USDA, both programs must remain separate. This creates collaboration difficulties between the two programs. USDA wants to protect each program and therefore both APC and APPB must not comingle proprietary information. This creates a quandary for staff and membership of both programs. One of the most important responsibilities of a member sitting on the Board or Council is to be a good steward of the pecan industry’s investment. Through the Committee process, both programs ensure that every dollar utilized is vetted accordingly. Marketing dollars are segregated amongst various partners possessing expertise in the firm’s area of marketing prowess. Research dollars are granted to univer-
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voluntary) • If mandated, enforce grades and standards on incoming pecans from other countries • Audit handlers to ensure they are in compliance with the marketing order
Thanks to APC, the industry is in its final phase of providing a tool for growers and shellers to use that will satisfy these requirements (photo courtesy Diamond of California.)
sities that propose studies that investigate ways of discovering differentiators possessed by pecans but not other nuts. Research studies must abide by strict payment policies to ensure the work gets done in a timely manner. The pecan industry’s two programs place it in a very unique position. Pecan
is the only tree nut to have two USDA-mandated programs. Between the two programs, the industry can: • Assess pecans coming into the U.S. • Implement mandatory grades and standards (although they are
• Apply for grant funding through Foreign Ag Service for international marketing • Provide detailed data on shipments, imports, exports and inventory • Invest industry dollars into various marketing campaigns to increase pecan awareness and consumption • Invest industry dollars to ensure members of both programs have a
Continued on Page 56
Continued from Page 55 clear understanding of how pecan dollars are invested to increase consumption. The two programs share some of the same authorities including research and marketing. This is where it’s vital that the two programs work together to ensure efforts and costs for those efforts are not duplicated. What was once controlled solely by the Council now must be segregated between two programs. For instance, with marketing, APC invests in social media influencing, nutritional relations and international marketing. APPB invests in domestic public relations and omnichannel advertising. Furthermore, APPB has chosen to invest industry assessments in Mexico to market pecans and grow consumption in Mexico. As you can see, there’s an awful lot going on between the two programs, and keeping things separate and efficient requires collaboration between the two. Speaking of what’s going on, the following are a few of the items that were discussed at both the Board and Council meetings in late July.
American Pecan Promotion Board Approves Budget
On July 26, 2022, the American Pecan Promotion Board (APPB) held its meeting to set the budget for the 2022-23 Fiscal Year. The APPB approved their budget totaling $12 million. During the meeting, the Board approved Weber Shandwick as the Public Relations Firm that will be handling all the marketing strategies for the industry. The $5.5-million program will begin on October 1, 2022. Additionally, APPB
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approved $500,000 to promote pecans in Mexico. This move will assist in promoting nuts to Mexican consumers, providing an opportunity to increase consumption in Mexico. To date, importers have paid $700,000 in assessments, which accounts for 36% of the total anticipated imports into the U.S. It is anticipated that the APPB will receive between $1.5 to $2 million in import dollars. Currently, APPB is working with USDA and Customs to enforce the collection of the assessments.
APPB approved $500,000 in research for FY 2022-23. Proposals will be called for soon, and the Committee will then begin to look into approving research projects for FY 2022-23.
In just 10 months, the Research and Promotion Board has collected over $5 million. In just the last three months, importers have paid $700,000. USDA compiled a list of all importers and delinquent notices have been sent out. Additionally, APPB has begun sending delinquent notices to the domestic industry for those that have not paid the mandatory assessment. It should be stressed that these assessments are mandatory and not voluntary. USDA and Customs will begin enforcing the delinquent payments. Recent Marketing Campaign In late June, APPB began its marketing campaign efforts to promote pecans. Going into the month of July, the pecan industry was at 11% to 12% Top of the Mind Awareness (TOMA) for consumers. This was a significant drop from the 42% last fall when the APC launched its fall campaign. However, due to the new program, marketing efforts were suspended for several months until staff, contractors, a new website and PR companies were selected. On June 25, 2022, APPB launched its first marketing campaign in 11 markets. The results were instant! After only three weeks of marketing, pecans went from 11% to 12% to 28%, coming in second place behind almonds (34%) in TOMA levels based on Adcellerant and Fusion Analytic studies. Over 15,000 ads were seen, and the newly created website saw 1000 to 2000 website visits daily. This shows that campaigns are working and are having an impact on consumer awareness. These activities, coupled with the American Pecan Council’s efforts, will provide a great opportunity for the two organizations to work together and raise consumption, awareness and educate consumers on the health benefits of pecans.
American Pecan Council Approves Budget
On July 26, 2022, the American Pecan Council (APC) held its meeting to set the budgets for the 2022-23 Fiscal Year. APC approved their budget totaling $5,910,000. 45% of the budget is focused on international marketing. Thanks to the APC’s efforts, the pecan industry received $1.175 million in Market Access Program and Emerging Market Program dollars. The two major campaigns focus on China and Germany. Additionally, APC received dollars to start exploring the
market in India. Last year was a record year for exports for the American Pecan industry. However, this year, with a smaller crop, exports have been smaller. Nevertheless, without the export markets, domestic markets would feel greater pressures, having an impact on returns. Lastly, APC has applied for dollars to promote in the United Kingdom (UK). The UK continues to be an important market for pecans. At the peak of China, the industry was exporting 80 to 100 million pounds (big crop year). Last year, the industry exported over 120 million pounds, with only a small amount going to China. It is important that APC continues to focus on the international marketing efforts for American Pecans in order to maintain consumer awareness and consumption when the large crops are produced.
Grades & Standards
Recently, USDA published the Grades & Standards updates that the
industry requested in 2018. After a detailed analysis and early comments by the industry, USDA published additional clarification on the proposed grades and standards. The two supporting documents are in alignment with the industry proposal. APC, with approval from the USDA, commented on the proposal and supported the changes with supplemental documentation along with minor edits to the published standard. APC will continue to monitor the situation and update the industry as USDA prepares the final publication.
Quality Assurance Program
APC has begun its next phase of the Quality Assurance Program. With pressure from consumers, the European Union and several buyers demand for quality, sustainability and an independent third-party verification tool. Thanks to APC, the industry is in its final phase of providing a tool for growers and shellers to use that will satisfy these requirements. This program is designed by the industry and is
a voluntary, not mandatory, program. Comments have been received by the industry, and the working group is now going through the comments and updating the draft document. Once approved, the industry will begin several pilot programs that may be used to measure the program.
APC continues to improve its data collection. This is a very important piece of the Federal Marketing Order. Without data and the power to audit handlers, the industry would not have a mechanism to check the numbers published. The power of the APC to audit handlers keeps everyone honest and is showing in the numbers that are being reported. As you can see, these two programs are fighting for you to tell the Story of Pecan. Comments about this article? We want to hear from you. Feel free to email us at email@example.com
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In the Know: Harvest Safety Issues By THERESA KIEHN | President/CEO, AgSafe
ut harvest coincides with a time of year which can create some safety challenges for agricultural operations. During the fall months in California, our days are getting shorter and much of our state is under wildfire watch. Because of these circumstances, Cal/OSHA requires special safety measures to protect our agricultural workforce when working in the dark or in areas impacted by varying degrees of wildfire smoke. In this article, we will discuss these issues and the regulatory requirements you must know to be in compliance.
Wildfire Smoke Protection
It’s no secret that California’s dry, hot climate from spring to late fall, coupled with our recent drought conditions, create the optimal environment for wildfires to emerge across the state. In recent years, the length of the wildfire season has expanded, the fires have grown, and they are encroaching in on our fields and orchards. In 2021, there were over 8,800 fires which burned more the 2.5 million acres of land in California. These conditions have led the Department of Industrial Relations’ (DIR) Occupational Safety and Standards Board in February 2021 to adopt a safety standard to protect outdoor workers. This regulation applies to outdoor worksites where the current Air Quality Index (AQI) for airborne particulate matter (PM) is 151 or higher, and where employers should reasonably anticipate that employees could be exposed to wildfire smoke. The following are the essential elements of the regulation and steps for implementation. 58
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Employee washing hands with vest and headlamp. Ensure to equip your employees with the correct PPEs as they work during hours of darkness (photo courtesy AgSafe.)
#1: Have A Plan and Reduce prior to the shift beginning and Exposure throughout the workday. The AQI As with many of the other measures the level of pollution in Cal/OSHA regulations, the the air. The index ranges between Wildfire Smoke Prevention 0 to 500. An AQI between 0 to Standard requires employ50 is good, 51 to 100 is moderers to develop an emergency ate, 101 to 150 is unhealthy for action plan. The plan must sensitive groups and 151 to 200 is include emergency evacuation unhealthy. The PM measurement routes for all work locations, accounts for solid particles and and the plan should be comliquid droplets in the air. PM 2.5 municated to your employees. consists of fine inhalable particles, It is also important to have with diameters that are generally alternate plans in place. If it 2.5 micrometers and smaller. A The new emergency regulation protecting workers from is suspected that the air quality measurement of 2.5 micrometers wildfire smoke exposure requires employers to provide respirators, such as N95 masks, for voluntary use once the will reach the unhealthy range, is about 30 times smaller than the AQI reading is in excess of 151 for more than an hour or more consider adjusting the crew’s diameter of a human hair. While during a shift. work schedule, move them to incredibly small, these particanother worksite where the air ulates can cause damage to our quality is better or to an indoor posed evacuation routes prior to an hearts and lungs. The AQI meaworksite. A best practice would include incident occurring. sures the PM 2.5 in the air. or instance, contacting emergency services in your #2: Monitor Air Quality if the AQI is at 30, then the levels of PM area. Discuss your plan details with It is essential that the person respon- 2.5 are in the healthy range; however, emergency personnel, provide worksite sible for your crews working outdoors if the AQI is 201 or more, the PM 2.5 locations and your communication is checking the Air Quality Index (AQI) has reached dangerous levels for people plan, and ask for their input on proParticulate Matter (PM) 2.5 forecast Continued on Page 60
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Standard lighting chart (dir.ca.gov/dosh/dosh_publications/Night-Agriculture-fs.pdf). Lighting is measured in candle feet, which defines the amount of light in a 360-degree circle from where someone is working.
Continued from Page 59 working outside. Information on the AQI and PM 2.5 specific to your area can easily be found on several websites, including U.S. EPA AirNow, U.S. Forest Service, California Air Resources Board and your local air pollution district. It is also important to note that the AQI and PM 2.5 levels will fluctuate throughout the day, usually getting worse in the afternoon hours, so it is critical that the individual responsible for the implementation of this plan checks the levels on a regular basis. #3: Have Respirators Ready The Wildfire Smoke Prevention Regulation requires employers provide respiratory protection equipment that filters out fine particles. Respirators must be labeled N-95, N-99, N-100, R-95, P-95, P-99 or P-100 and be approved by the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). If the AQI is 151 or higher but does not exceed 500, respirators must be made available to employees for voluntary use. If the AQI is 500 or greater, then respirators are required
Continued on Page 62 60
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Continued from Page 60 to be worn. As a best practice, ensure you have an ample supply of respirators in your inventory for your employees throughout the season. #4: Train Employees One of the most essential elements of your Wildfire Smoke Protection Plan includes training your employees. The regulation requires the following topics be covered in your training program: • The health effects of wildfire smoke. • The right to obtain medical treatment without fear of reprisal. • How employees can obtain the current AQI (provide them with the website.) •
Share your two-way communication system with workers on how you will keep them updated on changing conditions.
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• Provide compliant respirators, show them how to use and maintain them and encourage them to use them (they can refuse to wear one, and if someone does, there needs to be a waiver where they sign off that they were offered a respirator and declined to use it.) The employer must require employees to use respirators when the AQI for PM 2.5 is greater than 500. • The importance, limitations and benefits of using a respirator when exposed to wildfire smoke. • What you will do to protect them from smoke (when you will stop work, when you will move them to another location, etc.)
Outdoor Hours of Darkness Standard
During the early fall months, nut growers, farm managers and their crews aim to start work before the sun
comes up and save additional tasks for after sunset in order to beat the heat. While some level of additional lighting has been the norm during those early morning/late evening hours, as of July 2020, the State of California began enforcing a regulation that specifically governs how much lighting is required and the kinds of reflective clothing needed to protect anyone working at night in an agricultural environment. The rule, Outdoor Agricultural Operations During Hours of Darkness standard, was developed by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) with input from multiple ag industries including nut growers. There are three specific areas within the rule that growers must be aware of: • Lighting • Personal protective equipment • Training
Lighting Requirements Vary by Task
The rule includes a matrix detailing how much lighting is mandated depending upon the task. Lighting is measured in candle feet, which defines the amount of light in a 360-degree circle from where someone is working. Cal/OSHA specifies that light measurements are recorded 30 inches off the ground. For growers and applicators, some jobs may require 10 candle feet of light while some maintenance duties may specify 20 candle feet of light. Lighting can be provided through a combination of stationary lights brought into an orchard, headlights on vehicles and personal lighting such as headlamps on hard hats. It is highly recommended that you invest in a light meter and ensure the steps you’ve taken to mitigate this risk are working. Cal/OSHA has approved the use of light meters provided by three different companies: Davis, SPER and Extech.
hundred dollars per violation per worker, per shift, meaning they could add up quickly for growers out of compliance. To help growers understand and comply with these rules, AgSafe created training videos, resources and forms that are available on their website. If you need assistance with creating your safety programs, trainings or have additional questions, please contact AgSafe at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209-526-4400.
AgSafe is a 501c3 nonprofit providing training, education, outreach and tools in the areas of safety, labor relations, pesticide compliance and human resources for the agricultural community. Since 1991, AgSafe has educated over 100,000 employers, supervisors and workers about these critical issues. Comments about this article? We want to hear from you. Feel free to email us at email@example.com
Reflective Clothing a Must
The rule also requires growers to provide workers with any personal protective equipment they need when working at night. Such equipment may include hardhats with lamps and Class 2 high visibility reflective clothing such as shirts, vests and jackets. Ensure to equip your employees with the correct PPEs as they work during hours of darkness. Any vehicles that will be used at night, such as trucks, tractors, forklifts, sweepers, ATVs and UTVs, must have proper headlights and taillights.
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Nightly Safety Training Mandated
Training is a major component of the nighttime regulations. Before each work shift begins, employers are required to ensure that employees know where drinking water is stationed; what areas are designated for hand washing, rest and meal breaks, and parking; and what hazards exist (canals, irrigation equipment, roads and areas where trucks and equipment might be as well as their traffic patterns.) Cal/OSHA has the authority to make unannounced inspections of workplaces to see if these regulations are being followed. Fines start at a few
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