“At the end of the long season, unfortunately there is plenty to, do,” he says. “The days are getting shorter, everybody’s tired, it’s been a long season, but there are things that are really important to do for the next year. Take that time and energy and focus on those things.”
MEET TREES WATER NEEDS — Irrigation is a vital part of setting a proper crop load next year. Niederholzer suggests “nothing in excess, but not walking away from water. Adequate moisture in the orchard postharvest is critical to a profitable crop next year.”
PAY ATTENTION TO NUTRITION — While a fall nitrogen application may not be a necessity, it is important to pay attention to your trees’ potassium, boron, and zinc levels. Summer leaf sample results will also tell you whether or not you need to make a late-season nitrogen application if your trees carried a large crop.
“Fall applications of foliar zinc and boron are often necessary in areas where boron is low, especially the East side of Sacramento and the San Joaquin Valleys. Check the hull analysis results to see if boron is needed.”
SURVEY WEEDS — It’s a good time to also look at your orchard floor with the help of a postharvest weed survey by a PCA and see what weeds have started to emerge and what you missed this past season.
“Some growers will put on a pre-emergence herbicide in November and hope for rain because for some orchards, depending on the soil type, getting into the orchard is difficult once the rain comes,” he says.
CONTROL NOW, NOW — Niederholzer says this was a particularly bad year for navel orangeworm (NOW). Removing and disposing mummy nuts becomes your first line of defense against a strong spring emergence. As you’re collecting the mummies to dispose of, he also suggests you look at your mummies to get an idea of the NOW populations (percentage of infested mummies) in your orchards.
PLANT YOUR COVER CROPS — “Now’s the time to be planting cover crops, or weed pastures, or buffer strips and those can be all one and the same,” he says.
GET INFORMED — Above all, Niederholzer says attending winter meetings such as the Almond Board of California’s Almond Conference is a good place for continuing education, meeting up with PCAs and growers throughout the state, and hearing about the latest research. The ability to exchange information in one place is a vital way to help you improve your operation and growing practices.
“It’s a great place to get a snapshot of the industry,” he says. “It’s a good conclusion to the season and good preparation for the next one.”