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Web Tool Helps ID Herbicide Injury
Developed in part through Almond Board production research funding, a new UC Agriculture and Natural Resources web tool allows growers and PCAs to identify herbicide injury symptoms visually through an interactive photo database. Users can filter through search results by mode of action, chemistry, herbicide, plant (crop) and/or symptoms. The Herbicide Symptoms database can be accessed through the University of California.
Almond Grower Helps Provide Bees with a Well-Rounded Diet
Research shows that honey bees properly nourished with a diverse diet are better able to fend off stressors, such as pests and parasites leading to stronger hives. Almond grower Nick Edsall believes that improving the diet of pollinators by providing cover crop forage in his orchard middles also improves pollination. “The almond pollen provides good food for the bees, but it’s always good to have a balanced diet for bees as it is for humans, Edsall said. “If you can have other food sources out there it strengthens the colonies, so it helps crop pollination while helping improve the health of colonies at the same time. Edsall this year planted forage cover crops in about 5% of the 4,500 acres of almonds he manages for Bullseye Farms in Woodland, Calif. The trial went so well, he plans to expand that acreage next year to about 20% of the total acreage. He originally looked at cover crops to improve water penetration on challenging fields, planting triticale last fall to improve soil health on heavy clay soils. “In those fields, we had a lot of cracking and actually lost a lot of nuts in cracks at harvest and had a hard time making adjustments with our sweepers. We planted triticale and it made a big difference, so we were looking at expanding our use of cover crops,” Edsall said. After hearing about the Seeds for Bees program through Project Apis m. (PAm), Edsall decided this season to explore cover crop mixes that would provide the additional benefit of providing flowering forage for honey bees in the periods surrounding almond bloom – specifically before and after when there is a shortage of forage. PAm has identified low-moisture-requiring seed mixes, seed suppliers, and planting regimes for various California climates specific to bee habitat in almonds, including specially blended mustard mix for fall and winter bloom and clover mix and lana vetch for spring bloom. It works with seed suppliers in bee growing regions throughout California to provide specially blended bee forage mixes that match individual growers’ operations and objectives. PAm also provides technical advice for growers looking to get started on a bee forage cover crop program. One of Bullseye’s beekeepers provided the added benefit of discounting the cost of hive rental because forage was planted. “It all kind of worked together for us. We understand how important pollinators are for the almond crop, and this was an opportunity to plant crops for soil health and water penetration while also feeding bees when they arrive in late winter,” Edsall said. He planted about 100 acres of vetch and 60 acres of clover mix, along with a few rows of mustard-radish mix last October. Edsall said he wanted to trial the mustard on a few rows first to be sure excess biomass wouldn’t create problems interfering with orchard operations in spring or fall harvest. Even with all this year’s rain, by late July Edsall found that wasn’t the case. “We planted with a seed drill in October and got plenty of moisture to bring the crop up. Then we had a wet spring to keep the cover crops going,” he said. “We had plenty of moisture so we didn’t have to worry about the cover crops drying the soil, and actually saw a benefit in keeping the soil from getting too saturated so we could get our equipment on the ground a little earlier with the cover crop holding the soil together.” Edsall also saw distinct benefits in water penetration on those heavy clay fields and even after bees were removed he saw several wild bees continue to fly around those cover crop orchards. Bullseye Farms mowed the cover crops early in the season two to three inches above the ground to keep growth under control. The crop still pushed flowers in the spring. To terminate the annual crops, Edsall mowed a couple more times starting in mid-May very close the ground. “We had worried about competition of cover crop when almonds bloom, but we are seeing research that shows bees actually prefer the almond pollen so they are collecting almond pollen in the morning and forage in the afternoons once almond pollen has been worked,” he said. “Having cover crops out there blooming seems to help the pollination of the crop, whether colonies are stronger because of a balanced diet or bees are working harder.” This year’s crop went so well Edsall plans to increase plantings this fall with a cover crop rotation that includes alternate rows of triticale in one row and legumes or mustard on alternate rows. “We had a good experience and are excited this fall to try doing much more with cover crops in our almonds. It’s another crop out there so you have to take time to manage it, and it takes a little extra effort, but the benefits seem to be well worth it for us.” More information on resources for planting bee forage in almonds can be found on the PAm website at ProjectApism.org. Additionally, visit Almonds.com/Pollination for more ways that almond growers can benefit honey bees year-round.
Financial Aid Available for Irrigation System Improvements
A new round of funding is currently available to California growers who implement measures to improve their irrigation system efficiency and/or reduce energy used by their irrigation systems, resulting in lowered greenhouse gas emissions. The deadline to submit requests for co-funding is June 29, 2015. The State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP) will provide up to $150,000 to a farming operation to install water distribution systems that save water and reduce greenhouse gases. The funding can support a broad range of irrigation-related projects, such as pump improvements, equipment to facilitate water-saving measures, and other practices that reduce water use and greenhouse gas emissions. Past projects funded include: Installation of soil moisture sensors with electronic data output and flow meters; Electronic weather stations linked to irrigation controllers; Use of evapotranspiration-based irrigation scheduling, such as the California Irrigation Management Information System (CIMIS) with installation of flow meters; Modifications to water-pumping systems that either reduce energy use or change the type of energy used, such as converting the pump from diesel to electric, solar or wind; installing variable-frequency drives, which enhance both energy and water use efficiencies; and Conversions from flood to micro-irrigation systems. The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is accepting applications for the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP). The new round of funding is authorized by emergency drought legislation. An estimated $10 million will be available for competitive grant funding to provide financial assistance to implement irrigation systems that save water and reduce greenhouse gases on California agricultural operations. The funding is made available through the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, the proceeds of California’s greenhouse gas Cap and Trade program. Prospective applicants must access the “Application Guidelines” for detailed information on eligibility and program requirements. To streamline and expedite the application process, CDFA is using the online state government “Financial Assistance Application Submittal Tool” (FAAST). All applicants must register for a FAAST account. Applications and all supporting information must be submitted electronically using FAAST by Sunday, June 29, 2015, at 5:00 p.m. PDT. CDFA will hold five application workshops to provide information on program requirements and the FAAST application process (see below). There is no cost to attend the workshops. Individuals planning to attend should an email with their contact information, number of seats required and workshop location. The same email can be used for general program questions. SWEEP Application Workshops: Sacramento – May 28, 2015 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. California Department of Food and Agriculture 1220 N. St., Auditorium Sacramento San Martin – June 1, 2015 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Santa Clara County Agricultural Commissioner's Office 80 W. Highland Avenue, Building K San Martin Tulare – June 2, 2015 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Tulare County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office 4437 S. Laspina St. Tulare Ventura – June 3, 2015 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Ventura County Cooperative Extension 669 County Square Dr., Suite 100 Ventura Oroville – June 9, 2015 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Butte County Farm Bureau 2580 Feather River Blvd. Oroville
The UK's Almond Board Public Relations Team Takes Home Top Evaluation Prize
The Almond Board public relations team in the UK was awarded the Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA) Award for Evaluation (“Going Nutty for Measurement”) on behalf of the “Snack Happy” consumer campaign. This award recognizes the standards the Almond Board uses to measure the success of its programs. Measurements include business results, media measurement and attitudes, and awareness scores. An evaluation report is created quarterly as a guide to the effectiveness of public relations campaigns. Messages and strategy are frequently refreshed to ensure that the target audiences are being influenced in the desired way. Top agencies, in-house teams and individuals competed for the awards in 32 categories. The PRCA is Europe’s largest PR association and has more than 12,000 members. The Almond Board of California and its public relations partner, Porter Novelli, bested competition that included Häagen-Dazs, the London 2012 Paralympic Games and Energy of the Nation. The Almond Board’s Snack Happy public relations campaign was also nominated for a European Excellence Award. The Snack Happy campaign encourages the target audience to snack on almonds for 21 days to form a new snacking habit that will ultimately make a big impact on their overall wellbeing.
Booth Spaces Still Available for The Almond Conference
The Almond Conference, in its 43rd year, will take place Dec. 8–10, 2015, at the Sacramento Convention Center. Registration for The Almond Conference is free and currently open to all industry professionals, and booth space is open for any company interested in being an exhibitor. Trade show booths sell out every year, but there are still spaces available! If your company would like to connect with growers at The Almond Conference, choose a location on the exhibit floor map, and follow the steps online to purchase exhibit space. Preregistration is higher than ever for this premier event dedicated entirely to almonds. All records indicate that we’re on track to surpass the 3,000 attendee mark. For questions about purchasing an exhibit booth, contact James Raycraft.
Governor Signs Legislation to Put Water Bond Before Voters
Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation to put a comprehensive $7.5 billion water bond before voters in November. The bipartisan legislation, AB 1471 by Assemblyman Anthony Rendon (D–Lakewood), passed the Senate 37–0 and the Assembly 77–2. It will appear as Proposition 1 on the November ballot, replacing the current $11.1 billion water bond, which was passed in 2009. Rendon, chair of the Assembly’s Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee, held a series of hearings throughout the state earlier this year to discuss the 2014 water bond. One of those hearings was held in Modesto and attended by almond industry members. Jim Jasper of Stewart & Jasper Orchards told the committee, “I’ve been through a couple of droughts in the past, and I assure you that this one is unprecedented.” He spoke of a neighbor’s winning bid of $2,100 per acre-foot for 975 acre-feet at a closed auction, saying this “gives you an idea of the pressure some farmers are under when they have a permanent crop and are trying to save it.” Jasper also talked about additional storage to help capture water during wet years. Kelly Covello, president of the Almond Hullers & Processors Association, also commented on the water bond, telling the committee, “Our water system is inadequate and antiquated and in need of upgrades. Without a water bond and a reliable water supply, California’s future is uncertain.” The bond, totaling $7.545 billion, provides for water use efficiency and recycling as well as groundwater cleanup and management. There is also $2.7 billion for additional water storage, which has continuous appropriation — in other words, there is no need to go back to the Legislature each year for funding. The bond calls for investments in safe drinking water, particularly in disadvantaged communities, and provides for watershed restoration and increased flows in some of California’s most important rivers and streams. One of the more contentious water projects, the “twin tunnels,” is specifically precluded from funding through this bond measure. Below is an outline of the final bond. Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014 Regional Water Reliability – $810 million Integrated regional water management – $510 million Storm water capture – $200 million Water conservation – $100 million Safe Drinking Water – $520 million Provide clean, safe and reliable drinking water to all Californians. With minimum to leverage federal funds for safe drinking water and clean-water programs and for disadvantaged communities. Small-Community Wastewater Program – $260 million Drinking water public infrastructure – $260 million Water Recycling – $725 million Statewide water recycling projects and activities Groundwater Sustainability – $900 million Prevent and reduce groundwater contaminants – $800 million Provide sustainable groundwater management planning and implementation – $100 million Watershed Protection, Watershed Ecosystem Restoration, State Settlements – $1.495 billion Conservancies – $327.5 million Wildlife Conservation Board – $200 million (restoration of flows) Department of Fish and Wildlife – $285 million (out of delta; no mitigation on Bay Delta Conservation Plan) Department of Fish and Wildlife – $87.5 million (in delta with constraints) State settlement obligations including CVPIA – $475 million Rivers and creeks – $120 million Storage – $2.7 billion Continuous appropriation for water storage projects Statewide Flood Management – $395 million Statewide flood management projects and activities – $100 million Delta levee subvention programs and delta flood protection projects – $295 million General Provisions Funding eligibility requires urban or agricultural water management plans and compliance with 2009 Water Conservation Act Bay Delta Conservation Plan neutral Protects existing water rights and reaffirms area-of-origin protections Assumes repurposing of $105 million from Prop. 84, $95 million from Prop. 50, $86 million from Prop. 13, $25.5 million from Prop. 204, $13 million from Prop. 44, $100 million from Prop. 1E and $7.120 billion of new debt
Learn What’s Buzzing at the Bee Pavilion
Curious about what it takes to get honey bees ready for the almond bloom? This year’s Almond Conference will take attendees through the yearlong journey from a beekeeper’s perspective. Growers will also have a chance to learn more through a highly visual exhibit about steps being taken to ensure honey bee health.
Watch for News Impacting Almonds on New Farm Bill Website
The House Agriculture Committee has launched an online resource to provide updates to growers, handlers and other industry members on the 2018 Farm Bill. Every five years, the U.S. Congress establishes its policy for food and agricultural programs. The Farm Bill impacts all Americans as it provides funds to grow safe and healthy foods for consumers and creates jobs in all segments of the food industry. “The Farm Bill website includes information about the upcoming legislation as well as weekly blogs and a few videos that growers will find interesting,” said Bunnie Ibrahim, government affairs specialist, Almond Board of California. “It will continue to grow with new information.” Following the launch of the site, House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conway (R-Texas) said he’s “committed to completing a Farm Bill on time.” “We recognize what’s at stake,” said Conway. “We’re working on getting the policy right and will use this site as a resource as we advance the next Farm Bill.” The Farm Bill sets the course of our nation’s food and farming system through programs covering everything from crop insurance to research in support of sustainable farming practices. There is no better reason to get involved in the process than to make sure the Farm Bill reflects the needs of the California Almond industry to confront new challenges and ensure continued success for generations to come. The current Farm Bill, the Agricultural Act of 2014, expires Sept. 30, 2018. Visit the website at agriculture.house.gov/farmbill.
Be a Leader for the California Almond Industry [with audio]
Jenny Nicolau, Almond Board manager, Industry Services, gives an overview of the California Almond Leadership Program and the value it provides to participants and the industry at large. 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.
European Port Authorities Learn About the PEC Program
During the week of Feb. 26, Almond Board of California (ABC) hosted a group of European Port Authorities for a Pre-Export Checks (PEC) seminar. The authorities came from the European Commission, Spain and Romania. The focus of the seminar was to educate port authorities about the almond industry with a deeper look at the Pre-Export Checks program. ABC hosted a group of European Port Authorities for a Pre-Export Checks seminar in February. The seminar included a field tour of a hulling and shelling facility, a handling facility, a USDA-certified laboratory and, of course, multiple opportunities to take in almond bloom. Authorities started the week with presentations by ABC staff Beth Van Meter, Bryce Spycher and Tim Birmingham. The seminar continued in the north valley by taking the port authorities on a field tour of a hulling and shelling facility, a handling facility and a USDA-certified laboratory. The authorities were walked through the entire almond growing and handling process with emphasis on PEC-certified consignments. About halfway through the week, the group visited the Almond Board office in Modesto and participated in a handler seminar. Each port authority was given the opportunity to present port operations at their respective ports. Handlers had an opportunity to ask questions of the various authorities and gain clarification for different situations that arise during the import process. Spain specifically stated that consignments with a PEC certificate will be inspected at less than 1%, while consignments without a PEC certificate will be inspected at 8%. The last day of the PEC seminar consisted of meetings with Port of Oakland, Customs and Border Protection and FDA, and a tour of Port of Oakland. Delegates became acquainted with operations at Port of Oakland as well as the responsibilities of each of the respective government agencies. Delegates left the seminar satisfied and with an increased confidence in the Pre-Export Checks program.