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California FFA the Real Winners of Almond Leadership Program Golf Tournament
What do you get when you combine blue jackets, almond industry members and 18 holes of golf? You get the Almond Leadership Program’s inaugural golf tournament fundraiser, that’s what! On a sunny day at the tail-end of harvest, growers, handlers and allied industry members from throughout the Central Valley convened at Dragonfly Golf Club in Madera, California, to golf and raise funds for the California FFA Foundation. These funds are awarded to high school students participating in FFA who seek to study agriculture at the collegiate level. The tournament hosted 88 players and 26 sponsors, a solid turnout according to Leadership participant and lead organizer for the tournament, Josh Krueger. “Both the almond industry golfers and the FFA students really enjoyed getting together and having a great time while raising money for student scholarships,” Krueger said. Golfers from across the industry participated in the first-ever Almond Leadership Program golf tournament fundraiser. Early this year, the Almond Leadership Program set a goal of raising $20,000 for California FFA. By the end of the tournament, the group had raised nearly $15,000 for California FFA students. “As a former FFA member myself, I know the value of industry support, and it meant the world to me as a student to know that I made it through college all on scholarships,” said Jenny Nicolau, manager of Industry Relations at the Almond Board of California. “I couldn’t have done that without FFA, and now that I’m out of school and in a professional setting, I think it’s really important that the almond industry continue to give back to tomorrow’s leaders.” In addition to industry members, six FFA students attended the tournament, including the chapter president from Madera. FFA students assisted with registration and helped direct industry members around the course. Also in attendance was Katie Otto, development director for the California FFA Foundation. The foundation works to allow all California FFA students to have access to programs and opportunities available to them, an effort that relies heavily on fundraising. When Otto heard that the Almond Leadership Program would be hosting a golf tournament fundraiser for California FFA, she thought it was a fun opportunity for the industry to support the future of agriculture – an event she didn’t want to miss. “The Almond Board and the Almond Leadership Program have been incredibly supportive of FFA members,” Otto said. “I know a lot of the Leadership participants have worn the blue jacket, so it’s exciting to see them be so intentional about investing in the next generation of ag and giving back.” Krueger and Nicolau second that notion, stating that the almond industry, and agriculture as a whole, prides itself on a sustainable, long-term view of success that is fostered in programs such as California FFA. Come December, California FFA members from various chapters throughout the state will attend The Almond Conference in Sacramento. Students will assist as needed at luncheons and workshops and greet attendees as they arrive. These volunteers will also staff the California FFA booth, which is filled with silent auction items that Almond Leadership participants helped collect and that industry members are encouraged to bid on, with all proceeds going to the California FFA Foundation. With nearly $15,000 in the bank, this year’s Leadership class is well on its way to meeting its goal of $20,000 raised for high school students interested in pursuing degrees in agriculture. If you would like to support the future leaders in California agriculture, please consider donating to the California FFA Foundation through the Almond Leadership Program. If you’re ready to take the next step in your almond industry career and are interested to learn more about the Almond Leadership Program, visit the Almond Board website to learn how the program has evolved over a decade and to apply. For additional questions, email Jenny Nicolau. The Leadership program’s inaugural tournament raised more than $15,000 for California FFA.
Hullsplit Sprays: Use IPM and Resistance Management for Best Outcome
As the time for hullsplit sprays approaches, David Haviland, UC Cooperative Extension entomologist in Kern County, says growers should adopt an IPM and resistance-management approach to managing navel orangeworm (NOW) and spider mites. This approach includes monitoring to determine navel orangeworm treatment timing, monitoring of mites and natural enemies to determine the need for a miticide, using selective chemistries, and rotating among pesticide modes of action to minimize pesticide resistance. Navel Orangeworm “Nearly all growers spray for NOW at hullsplit and many spray a second application two or three weeks later,” Haviland said. “The most common insecticides for NOW are grouped into three chemical classes: growth regulators, ryanodine receptor agonists (diamides) and pyrethroids. Growers should rotate among these chemistries to reduce the risk of resistance.” Haviland explained that Intrepid is the main growth regulator used in almonds. It is most effective against the larval stage of NOW and inhibits its ability to molt. The two most common diamides are Belt and Altacor. These insecticides also have the greatest effects on larvae by causing muscle contraction so that the larvae can’t feed. The most common pyrethroids contain bifenthrin, lambda-cyhalothrin, or fenpropathrin (such as Brigade, Warrior II or Danitol, respectively). Pyrethroids are broad-spectrum pesticides often selected for their cost-effectiveness against navel orangeworm. However, Almond Board of California (ABC)-funded research has documented decreased efficacy as a result of increased levels of resistance. “So while pyrethroids may still be effective, they are not as effective as when they were first released,” Haviland noted. “A second concern for pyrethroids is their impact on beneficials, including those that prey on spider mites. Because of this, application of pyrethroids can lead to mite flare-ups, and they should not be applied prior to hullsplit.” In addition, because of resistance potential, pyrethroids should only be used once during the season at this ‘best fit’ hullsplit timing. Controlling the second generation of navel orangeworm is the key to protecting the new crop, he added. Traditional timing for the hullsplit spray is at the initiation of hullsplit as the new almond crop becomes susceptible and egg-laying of the second generation of NOW starts. If you use pheromone traps, egg-laying begins approximately one week after there is an upswing in male captures, indicating the start of the second flight. If you use egg traps, this timing is approximately 1050 degree-days from the April–May biofix, and is marked by a consistent increase in egg-laying on egg traps (See UC IPM link below for more details). If hullsplit begins prior to the start of second-generation egg laying — as indicated by degree-days or directly by inspecting fruit or egg traps — the hullsplit spray should be delayed until egg laying starts. In areas with moderate or high pressure or a history of NOW damage, a second application is made two or three weeks later, when Nonpareil nuts are completely split, pollinators are beginning to split and residues from first sprays are beginning to degrade. If making more than one spray, be sure to rotate among chemical classes. More information on treatment options and timing for NOW is available at the UC IPM site. Spider Mites Webspinning spider mites are a concern during the summer and throughout harvest. The hullsplit spray for NOW provides a cost-effective opportunity to apply a miticide if it is needed. Haviland said decisions about tank-mixing miticides with hullsplit sprays should be based on sampling for mites and their natural predators. In many cases, there are sufficient natural enemies present in the orchard to provide excellent late-season mite control. In other cases, he noted, it may be necessary to apply a miticide in a tank mix with a first or second hullsplit spray. “Decisions on the need for a miticide should be based on weekly sampling of spider mites and predators,” continued Haviland. “When monitoring for spider mites, PCAs should also be looking for six-spotted thrips, predatory mites, spider mite destroyers and minute pirate bugs.” If predators are present, UC recommends treatment if 50% of leaves sampled have spider mites present. If no predators are present, miticide applications should be made if 25% of leaves are infested. UC recommends sampling 15 leaves per tree on a minimum of five trees per acre. Information on mite sampling and a monitoring form are available on the UC IPM site.
Applying Nitrogen in Spring: Guidelines for Grower Success
When it comes to applying nitrogen fertilizer, the decisions almond growers make really matter — to the environment and their bottom line. “Nitrogen use efficiency is very important for growers,” said Patrick Brown, professor of Plant Sciences at the University of California, Davis. “You want that nitrogen you paid for to go into your crop, not be wasted, or lost to the groundwater.” Fortunately, decades of research and collaboration between the University of California and the Almond Board of California (ABC) have produced practical guidelines and tools to assist growers, increasing their chances for a successful crop while minimizing impacts to the environment. When almond irrigation and nitrogen applications are managed carefully, optimal yields can be achieved while still realizing 70% nitrogen use efficiency. Growers increasingly in spotlight While growers are always focused on efficient crop production, they should be also be aware of increasing regulatory attention to groundwater quality and pressure on all farmers to improve performance in the area of nitrogen use efficiency, said Gabriele Ludwig, director of Sustainability and Environmental Affairs for the Almond Board. In the Central Valley, growers are regulated under the Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program, which is beginning to set limits on the amount of nitrogen that can be applied to a certain area based on townships. While those limits are still being developed, now is a good time for growers to keep close track of their nitrogen applications and strive for greater efficiency to stay ahead, Ludwig said. “The spotlight on nitrogen management is not going to go away,” she said. A few simple rules Top experts state that nitrogen use efficiency can be achieved if growers follow a few key guidelines and pay attention during the peak nitrogen uptake season, from March through May. Among the most important of these guidelines: Determine your orchard’s expected demand using available tools (see below), then apply frequently and incrementally, adjusting during the season based on plant tissue testing to assure the right rate of nitrogen is applied at each key growth stage; Check your irrigation system to make sure everything is always working properly — nitrogen use efficiency requires irrigation uniformity; Add the nitrogen toward the end of the irrigation set when fertigating to keep more nitrogen from being moved deep in the rootzone, too far away from most of the active roots. Mid to -later in the irrigation set fertigation injections allow the fertilizer nitrogen to stay higher in the soil profile where the roots can get to it; Avoid early or late applications (before bloom or after harvest) because trees aren’t taking up nitrogen at those time; and Check the weather to avoid applying nitrogen right before a significant rain, which would likely flush some or all of the nitrogen below the root zone before the tree can use it. With more growers using fertigation, properly managed irrigation is more vital than ever for efficient water and nitrogen use. That means checking to make sure the system is evenly applying water throughout the block and that lines, pumps and sprinklers are all working properly. “I encourage growers to check for irrigation uniformity and apply nitrogen toward the end of the irrigation cycle to promote high efficiency,” said Sebastian Saa, ABC’s senior manager for Agricultural Research. And, especially earlier in the season, growers should keep an eye on the weather, Saa said. “Especially in sandy soils, if you know it’s going to rain the next day, that is not the best time to apply,” Saa said. “You want to try to avoid leaching; you want the nitrogen to go into the tree instead of wasting your money and losing it.” Not too early, not too late Experts say growers should be estimating their crop’s nitrogen demand as early as January, based on a five-year average of previous yields and fruit set. The California Almond Sustainability Program (CASP), which provides helpful tips and opportunities for growers to improve on-farm practices, includes a Nitrogen Budgeting Calculator that allows growers to input orchard specific data and then provides a total nitrogen fertilizer recommendation, along with recommended amounts by crop growth stage. Avoid early or late applications (before bloom or after harvest) as trees aren’t taking up nitrogen during those times. The Calculator, along with ABC’s Nitrogen Budgeting tool, also provides growers with the necessary paperwork for submitting nitrogen budgets to their Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program coalition. While planning is helpful, growers must ensure they do not apply nitrogen too early — it is wasteful and unnecessary. “You want to wait until the bees are moved out of the orchard and you are into petal fall,” said Franz Niederholzer, a University of California Cooperative Extension farm advisor specializing in orchard systems. Research has shown that prior to petal fall, mature trees provide their own nitrogen from inner storage to get growth started — and couldn’t use nitrogen even if it were available in the soil. Research has also shown that late applications of nitrogen — especially well after harvest — do not help the trees, are wasteful and likely will no longer be available in the soil by spring. “Limited trials suggest there is no yield benefit the following year from late nitrogen applications,” Niederholzer said. Adjustments needed, but timing important While nitrogen applications pre-bloom or post-harvest don’t help the crop, a lot can be done in-season to adjust applications to meet crop demand. Following the pre-bloom estimate, growers can use tissue sampling in April to assess nitrogen levels in the tree, and they can input a revised yield estimate to adjust remaining nitrogen applications, as needed. Niederholzer said additional leaf samples in July can help a grower determine whether they are running short on nitrogen in an orchard and therefore determine whether additional applications are needed. “Too much [nitrogen] isn’t going to help, and too little leaves money on the table,” Niederholzer said. When almond irrigation and nitrogen applications are managed carefully, optimal yields can be achieved while still realizing 70% nitrogen use efficiency — higher than many other crops, according to Brown. Tools for growers Tools, calculators and important information regarding nitrogen applications are available for free to growers at Almonds.com/Growers. A few key webpages dedicated to nutrients are listed below. Growers with questions regarding nitrogen management can email ABC’s Sebastian Saa at email@example.com. ABC’s Nitrogen Budgeting webpage ABC’s Nitrogen Calculator webpage Research funded by ABC, “Almond Early-Season Sampling and In-Season Nitrogen Application Maximizes Productivity, Minimizes Loss” Patrick Brown’s presentation from The 2016 Almond Conference, “Managing Nitrogen Efficiently”
Harvest Preparation Steps [with audio]
With harvest right around the corner, it's time to start taking steps to get orchards ready for this busy time. Fresno County grower, Dennis Jizmejian, shares some of these steps with his fellow growers, including everything from restricting domestic animals from orchards to timing for leveling the orchard floor, in a recent Almond Update. Staying current on the latest California Almonds news and tips is easy with Almond Board’s Almond Update, which airs every Thursday. Tune in to your local radio station each week and listen to the Specialty Crop News, or look for the Almond Update logo on the AgNet/West website to learn more about the latest in the almond industry.
Nicolau, Bailey Receive Honorary State FFA Degree
The California Future Farmers of America (FFA) Association recently awarded Almond Board of California (ABC) staff Jenny Nicolau and Rebecca Bailey with the Honorary State FFA Degree. Nicolau and Bailey accepted the award at the 91st California FFA Leadership Conference in in Anaheim this spring. ABC staff Rebecca Bailey (left) and Jenny Nicolau (right) received the Honorary State FFA Degree this spring. Both Bailey and Nicolau participated in FFA throughout their high school careers, and both can speak to the formative experience the program provided them. “Having been an active member of FFA throughout my high school career, it is an incredible honor to receive this award. FFA is dedicated to promoting premier leadership, personal growth and career success. I can truly attest to this mission as this program helped me grow as a leader and professional, and to come full circle and receive this award from an organization I hold with high regard means so much,” Bailey said. The Honorary State Degree is the highest award presented to an individual or group of individuals by the California FFA Association, and the degree program aims to recognize those who have rendered outstanding service to California agricultural education and the California FFA Association. Both Bailey and Nicolau participated in FFA throughout their high school careers, and both can speak to the formative experience the program provided them. “My experience in the FFA program was second to none!” Nicolau said. “It was the highlight of my high school career and where I truly gained my deep love for California agriculture, leadership and serving our communities.” “As the FFA creed states in the opening,” quoted Nicolau, “‘I believe in the future of agriculture, with a faith born not of words but of deeds — achievements won by the present and past generations of agriculturists; in the promise of better days through better ways, even as the better things we now enjoy have come to us from the struggles of former years.’ The California almond industry has experienced incredible successes from our commitment to excellence, even as we’ve lived through challenging times. I am honored to have received this award and am committed, more than ever, to serving our industry and giving back to the program that truly helped shape who I am today,” Nicolau said. Since 2016, participants of ABC’s Almond Leadership Program have worked together to raise over $125,000 for the California FFA Foundation’s scholarship program. Fundraising efforts have consisted of silent and live auctions at The Almond Conference, as well as a Golden Ticket fundraiser. The 2019 Leadership class is well on its way to meeting its goal of raising $20,000 for high school students interested in pursuing degrees in agriculture, and this year, for the second year in a row, the class will host a golf tournament fundraiser. And, of course, the whole industry is invited to play and participate! If you’re interested in sponsoring this event or grabbing a few friends and hitting the links, click here to access the event flyer and learn more. “The Almond Board and the Almond Leadership Program have been incredibly supportive of FFA members. I know a lot of the Leadership participants have worn the blue jacket, so it’s exciting to see them be so intentional about investing in the next generation of ag and giving back,” said Katie Otto, development director for the California FFA Foundation. If you would like to support future leaders in California agriculture, please consider donating to the California FFA Foundation through the Almond Leadership Program.
Groundwater Management Meetings Offer Opportunity to Learn, Comment
Almond growers should be aware that groundwater basins and subbasins targeted for management by Groundwater Sustainable Plans (GSPs) under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) are located throughout the state’s almond growing regions (see map). For this reason, it is important that industry members follow the process by which GSPs are developed by local Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) and stay involved as much as possible. The first step to meeting the law’s requirements is for the Department of Water Resources (DWR) to adopt regulations to revise basin boundaries. This must be done by Jan. 1, 2016. DWR has released draft rules for these boundaries; public comments are now closed. An informational meeting and webcast on the Groundwater Sustainability Plan Draft Regulation will be held on Sept. 21. Other important dates: June 1, 2016: DWR must adopt regulations for evaluating the adequacy of GSAs and GSPs June 30, 2017: GSAs must be established Jan. 31, 2020: GSPs must be established for high/medium priority basins in critical overdraft Jan. 31, 2022: GSPs must be established for all other high/medium priority basins
Grants Available to Experiment with New Irrigation Practices
Grants of up to $25,000 are available to fund experiments on your farm to see if new irrigation practices could fit in your operation. The grower-led projects are supported and guided by a technical advisor — either a University of California irrigation specialist or other technical expert. Individual growers may apply for up to $20,000, and a group of three or more growers may apply for up to $25,000. Both your operation and the environment can be improved through these experiments. Results are shared with other producers. Applications are being accepted through Dec. 2, 2015, from growers applying for Farmer/Rancher Research and Education grants through the Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (WSARE) program. Grants last one to three years, and funds will become available in the summer of 2016. Given concerns about drought and water use, almond growers with a knack for research are encouraged to apply for projects to improve irrigation efficiency. WSARE Farmer/Rancher grants are for on-farm research, education and outreach. Programs primarily for equipment cost-share include the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP) by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), the Water Energy Technology program (WET) by the California Energy Commission and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) by USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Templates for these cost-share programs may be developed later. Interested growers should see Almonds.com/Grants for 1) an overview of WSARE and Research and Education grants, and 2) a template with draft language for a project that compares basic to advanced irrigation approaches. A key element is the monitoring of water and associated energy use, yield and costs. Draft language can be adapted for your project based on consultation with your technical advisor. Grower-applicants will benefit from working with their technical advisor in accessing the latest irrigation technology and cutting-edge methods. If funded, they will benefit from measuring differences in water use, energy use and cost between irrigation approaches. Statewide, growers will benefit by viewing and discussing the irrigation-efficient methods at field days. Almond Board of California can assist by helping coordinate logistics for field days and with outreach.
New Air Quality Regulations Expected
Air quality regulations continue to percolate as local, state and federal regulators work to comply with new and existing standards for particulate matter and ozone. The state is also focused on reducing greenhouse gases. Combustion engines burning fossil fuels are the drivers of ozone, PM2.5 and greenhouse gas emissions. Thus, there is a concerted effort to rapidly move California’s economy away from fossil fuel energy, shown by the recent passage of the requirement that 50% of all energy in California must come from renewable sources by 2038. Federal Ozone Standard The San Joaquin Valley Air District and state Air Resources Board are in the midst of developing regulations to meet a federal standard of ozone set in 2008 of 75 ppm for an eight-hour average. The deadline for meeting the standard is 2016. In addition, EPA recently lowered its standard for ground-level ozone to 70 parts per billion. Compliance for the San Joaquin Valley will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to achieve. With the new standard, most of the Sacramento Valley will be out of compliance, though the exact regions and extent of noncompliance will not be known until 2017. From there, measures will be developed to bring those regions into compliance with the newer standard. PM10 Compliance The state is expected to start working on a maintenance plan for PM10 emissions under the federal Clean Air Act to meet a 2016 deadline, which could lead to some adjustments to existing rules, or even wholesale changes, to ensure compliance. The San Joaquin Valley has been out of compliance in recent years for PM10, although regulators are still working to determine the drivers surrounding the issue, which may include drought, forest fires, construction sites near air quality monitors and/or increased almond acreage. PM2.5 Implementation Plan The state is also in the process of developing a State Implementation Plan for PM2.5, to bring those emissions in the San Joaquin Valley also into compliance with the Clean Air Act. The Air Resources Board claims that “geologic dust,” or dirt dust, contributes 14% of annual PM2.5 averaged emissions. What is not clear is whether EPA has revised its assumptions that 10% of agricultural dust is PM2.5, contrary to findings in Almond Board and other research. Given the evolving standards and compliance rules around air quality issues, there are likely to be a number of public meetings on proposed regulations on both PM2.5 and ozone precursor emissions reductions. We will keep you posted in future issues of California Almonds Outlook.
EQIP Incentives Available for Cleaner Almond Harvest Equipment
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is offering up to three years of financial incentives through its Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) to almond and walnut growers who adopt harvest equipment shown to reduce particulate matter (dust). Eligible equipment is limited to specific harvesters proven through peer-reviewed demonstration trials at Texas A&M to reduce particulate matter by at least 30%. Trials were supported by a USDA NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) and the San Joaquin Valley Air District, and build on years of Almond Board-funded research on reducing dust emissions at harvest. The Almond Hullers & Processors Association worked closely with NRCS to develop this funding opportunity. Growers may receive $10.52 per acre for up to three years for use of qualified harvesters. Check with your equipment dealer for information on specific models of harvesters currently covered by the program. More information about the program is available at local NRCS offices. Growers can find their nearest NRCS office by visiting the Almond Board’s Industry Resource Map and filtering for the category “NRCS.” Applications for the EQIP California Air Quality Initiative program are accepted year-round through local NRCS offices and are approved according to five yearly funding cycles. However, growers interested in this opportunity with an eye toward this year’s harvest should contact their local NRCS office as soon as possible. Listen to a recent Almond Update with NRCS’s Johnnie Sileznoff as he talks about the application process. Staying current on the latest California Almonds news and tips is easy with Almond Board’s Almond Update, which airs every Thursday. Tune in to your local radio station each week and listen to the Specialty Crop News, or look for the Almond Update logo on the AgNet West website to learn more about the latest in the almond industry.
New Resource for Managing Young Almond Orchards
Are you new to growing almonds? Did you just replant an orchard? A new publication, the “Young Orchard Handbook,” developed by University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) farm advisors and Extension specialists, looks at issues confronted in the early years of an orchard’s life and pulls together the latest in research and recommendations. Proper management of an orchard in its first five years of life is essential to optimizing orchard health, growth and yield over the life of the orchard. Tools for Informed Decisions Developed for both almonds and walnuts, this new resource gives growers the tools to make informed decisions about irrigation, fertilization, pruning and training and weed management in young orchards. Also included in the “Young Orchard Handbook” are links to additional resources for more detailed information by topic area. Katherine Pope, farm advisor for Sacramento, Solano and Yolo counties, developed the handbook with input from fellow farm advisors. “There is so much information scattered over the Web these days, that finding resources to care for a young orchard can be overwhelming,” stated Pope. “This handbook pulls together a lot of that information in one place to give growers a solid grounding in the basics of early orchard management, based on decades of UC research and experience.” Other authors include Allan Fulton and David Doll, farm advisors for Tehama and Merced counties, respectively, as well as Bruce Lampinen, UCCE almond and walnut specialist, and Dr. Brad Hanson, UCCE weed specialist. The new “Young Orchard Handbook,” can be found online through the UCCE Yolo website. Several video recordings of presentations on young orchard management are also available. Topics include several of those covered in the handbook as well as management of vertebrate pests, cover crops, and pests and diseases. A 2016 revision is planned to integrate these video topics into the handbook. Funding from ABC The development of young-orchard educational materials for almond growers is supported in part by ongoing funding for local farm advisor projects from the Almond Board of California (ABC). In addition to the “Young Orchard Handbook,” other farm advisor projects supported this year include research on insect pest dynamics (Tehama); mechanical pruning and training of young trees (Stanislaus); bloom disease control trials (San Joaquin); brown marmorated stinkbug studies (Glenn/Butte/Tehama); fall nitrogen applications (Colusa/Sutter/Yuba); sodium, chloride and boron accumulation in almonds (Kern); and navel orangeworm monitoring (Sacramento Valley). Bob Curtis, ABC’s director of Agricultural Affairs, noted, “Each year, the ABC provides funding for farm advisors to conduct research and outreach projects of prime importance for the areas they serve as well as the whole almond community. ‘The Young Orchard Handbook,’ which farm advisor Katherine Pope spearheaded, is a wonderful example of the benefits of this ongoing support to Extension programs and California Almonds.”