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Control NOW this Management Season with These Four Tips

With the first flight of navel orangeworm (NOW) upon us and the second flight just around the corner, careful NOW management is critical to yielding a healthy almond crop in 19/20. It’s important to drive slowly and give the air from the sprayer time to reach the tree tops. Even a minor change in ground speed can have significant impact on pest control. Thanks to research-backed technologies and practices, growers can make sizable progress toward controlling NOW by implementing proactive management steps throughout the year. Practices such as winter sanitation and mating disruption, for example, enable growers to get a jump on a NOW problem. Still, even with a proper year-round IPM plan, spray applications may be needed to control NOW, especially in orchards with high levels of this pest. “Regardless of your management with mating disruption and winter sanitation, pesticides still play a role,” said David Haviland, entomologist and farm advisor for the University of California Cooperative Extension in Kern County. Haviland recommends growers work with their PCAs to determine if hullsplit sprays are needed, and to nail down the appropriate timing and number of hullsplit sprays to reduce crop damage due to NOW. Four application tips for controlling NOW For effective sprays, growers should keep four key factors in mind as they prepare to make spray applications. 1. Timing: UC Davis recommends growers only deploy spring sprays (late April to mid-May) for NOW if the orchard has a history of high NOW damage and high trap captures. For hullsplit applications, timing should coincide with the beginning of hullsplit and with the beginning of NOW’s second flight. It’s essential that the first hullsplit spray (if multiple are needed) is completed no later than 1% hullsplit. 2. Calibration: It’s important that sprayers are set up properly so that each application reaches the top level of the trees while also minimizing spray drift. 3. Speed: Growers and applicators need to go the proper speed — a recommended two miles per hour — to optimize coverage in the orchard. 4. Spray Volume: Decades of research shows that using 200 gallons per acre, with the rig traveling at the proper speed, will maximize effectiveness of the application. Research funded by the Almond Board and others shows that proper sprayer speed and spray volume are often overlooked during hullsplit even though the research repeatedly shows that slowing down improves spray coverage. This research should not be overlooked, especially since the focus for hullsplit NOW sprays is to reach the trees’ hard-to-reach nut sutures. The NOW challenge doesn’t stop after applying pesticides — the objective just shifts to getting ahead of NOW next season. Ultimately, strategic IPM practices all season long are essential in the almond industry’s effort to achieve the Almond Orchard 2025 Goal of increasing the adoption of environmentally friendly pest management tools by 25% by 2025. To learn more about NOW control using effective IPM, visit the UC IPM webpage dedicated to NOW damage, management and more.
Orchard sprayer used for controlling NOW
Newsletter Item
// Orchard Management

Get Your Bid on at The Almond Conference Silent Auction

  In an ongoing effort to support California FFA, each year Almond Board of California (ABC) conducts a silent auction at The Almond Conference. The entire proceeds from the silent auction are given to the California FFA to fund scholarships for graduating FFA students. This auction is only possible with the help of industry members like you! If you would like to do your part to support these students, be sure to visit the silent auction area located in the exhibit hall A+B. The silent auction will be held two days during Conference with different items each day, Wednesday, Dec. 9 and Thursday, Dec. 10. Lastly, a huge thank you to the following companies who have already committed to supporting California FFA through their generous donations to this year’s silent auction. Check out these donors and the items you will see at the auction so you can be ready to get your bid on at Conference!   A + Dog Training – Thomas Lee:  One hour of in-house dog training Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers (Booth 818): Dean Gypsy acoustic guitar Andrea Ricci: Homemade aprons Baldwin Minkler Farms: Titleist Pro V1 golf balls Bank of the West: Almond gift basket Bays Ranch: One cord of cut, sliced and seasoned almond firewood Black Market Innovations, by Mark Konschak: Custom metal sign Blue Diamond: Gift basket Bratney Companies (Booth 737): Apple watch broadhead: Minnesota 3-Pack Burchell Nursery Booth 515): Fruit trees California Industrial Rubber: Deep fryer and peanut oil California Milk Advisory Board: Real California Milk gift basket California Sweet Potatoes: Locally grown sweet potatoes Capay Canyon Ranch: California almonds and raisins Classic Wine Vinegar: Specialty foods gift basket Cosyns Farms: Honey Duarte Nursery (Booth 1033): Gift basket and almond tree Flexicon Corp., (Booths 1227 and 1229): TBD Ghirardelli: Assorted chocolate gift basket Golden State Genetics: BBQ gift basket Hershey Company: Chocolate gift basket Hughson FFA: Smoker Hughson Nut, Inc.: Homemade quilt Hughson Nut, Inc.: 2 Almond gift baskets Hughson Nut, Inc.: Golf gift basket The Parks Group: Homemade toffee Krista Frelinger: $200 Massage Envy gift certificate Lance Heune Woodworking: Handcrafted wooden pen set M Parise Associates: TBD Mike Ratto: Day of shooting with Mike Ratto Mosaic Event Management: Two-night Stay at The Park Central Hotel in San Francisco,  $200 gift certificate for Epic Roasthouse and a two-hour cruise with the San Francisco Sailing Company Bella Pamella: Adult and child aprons and hair snug PBM Supply & Manufacturing., Inc. (Booth 602): Backpack sprayer The Pioneer Woman: The Pioneer Woman Cookbook Richard Waycott: Wine gift box Rodin Ranch Farmers’ Market: Gift basket Satake (Booth 719): Wine basket Solano County Farm Bureau: Local Solano-grown gift basket Sparrow Lane: Vinegar set Sue Olson: San Francisco Giants quilt Suterra, LLC (Booths 815 and 817): Beer and hunting gift basket The Prescott Family: California-grown oranges Timmy Nicolau: Ertl John Deere 1:16 scale toy tractor Turlock FFA: TBD Valley Paramedical Skin and Health: Winterize rejuvenation spa package Water Right Technologies, Inc.: Wine gift box Waterford Irrigation Supply (Booth 1108): Kindle Fire Western Farm Press (Booth 1205): $100 gift card to Sportsman's Warehouse Woodward Drilling Company (Booth 225): TBD Yosemite Farm Credit: Locally made vodka and whiskey basket Yosemite Farm Credit: Plush life-size teddy bear with Yosemite Farm Credit goodies   Want to commit to the future of the California ag industry and join these gracious donors? There is still time! If you’re interested in donating an item to the silent auction, please contact Rebecca Bailey by email or at (209) 343-3245.
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// About the Almond Board

European Pesticide Regulations Cause Uncertainty for U.S. Growers

The European Union has in recent years been implementing a piece of legislation from 2008 that makes it much more difficult for pesticides to remain registered for use in the EU. This legislation, commonly called the “cut-off criteria”, doesn’t allow any pesticide with certain characteristics, such as an endocrine disrupter or carcinogen, to continue to be used in the EU regardless of whether the levels of exposure are sufficient to warrant concern. In parallel, EU regulators are creating additional technical reasons not to continue pesticide registrations, reasons including a lack of data for a metabolite, which no other regulator has worried about before.  As one may imagine, the arbitrary nature of the EU’s regulatory process is causing substantial uncertainty for US growers whose products are exported to the EU.  “The problem is there is no good tool to predict which compounds are in trouble in Europe – until they’re in trouble,” said Gabriele Ludwig, director of Sustainability and Environmental Affairs for the Almond Board of California (ABC).  What’s more, whenever a compound’s registration ends in the EU, its associated Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) are lowered to the limit of detection about a year later.    “The EU is saying if a European grower can’t use a certain product, then they should set MRL limits to the default low MRL for imports, as well,” Ludwig said.  These lower limits can cause problems for California growers and handlers, especially with products like almonds that have a long shelf life: Most almonds in the market today were grown and harvested in 2018 – before some of the tighter rules took effect. This means an affected pesticide could have been applied more than a year before the lowered MRLs took effect.   Iprodione (Rovral) is an example of this occurrence. The EU registration for iprodione ended in March 2018, with a last use date of June 2018. Then the lowered MRL took effect on July 31, 2019. Iprodione is typically used during bloom and up to five weeks after petal fall (mid-February through mid-April). So, in 2018 it could have been used while it was also still legal for use in the EU. The issue is, however, that the date the lowered MRL took effect was when 2018 crop was still in market and being shipped to EU.  To make matters more confusing for US growers who need to know what products they can use, the EU doesn’t provide reasonable transition periods for foods with longer shelf lives. Whether it is lettuce, tree nuts, dried fruit, or wine, the new lower MRLs take effect on the same date regardless of when the food item was produced or imported. Almonds are typically sold into markets for about a year after they are harvested and can remain on the retail shelves for months after import.  Ultimately, this means that due to the timing of the EU’s quick changes in MRLs almond growers may need to stop using a compound well in advance of the actual MRL change in order for that product to be “out of market” by the time the MRL is put into effect.   In the 2017/18 crop year, the U.S. exported roughly 620 million pounds of almonds to Europe. That represents about 41% of all export shipments that crop year. Spain, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands are all among top 10 global destinations for almonds, most of which arrive in raw form and are processed into food products by European companies. Because the EU is a major market for California almonds, even though many almond growers don’t know exactly where their nuts will end up there is a good chance a portion will be destined for the EU.  As growers start to consider their pest management plans for the 2020 crop year, Ludwig advises growers to “pay attention to the EU.”  “Check in with your handler to make sure you do not use any compounds they’re anxious about, and then confirm that information with your PCA.” Staff at the Almond Board of California keep track of regulatory changes to MRLs in the EU and across the world.   “When the EU announces it has a problem with a compound, we look at how it’s used in almonds,” Ludwig said. “We look at our pesticide residue test results and what the levels are. If it’s not something that is widely used, it may not be a problem.”  The Almond Board is also working with other affected commodities to explore options to elevating concerns about this topic within the EU system.  Growers and handlers with additional questions about how EU MRL limits may impact their operations are encouraged to contact Ludwig at gludwig@almondboard.com. 
Spraying in orchard
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// Orchard Management

AIM Provides Path Toward Improved Water Management and Efficiency

  The Almond Board of California’s (ABC’s) newly adopted Accelerated Innovation Management (AIM) program focuses on the innovative almond farming practices that will be required to meet the future needs of the California Almond industry, as well as the consumer, the community and the planet (See “Almond Industry Leadership: Providing Next-Generation Solutions”). Water management and efficiency is a key component of the AIM program. One of AIM’s four key initiatives is accelerating almond grower transition to and adoption of research-based, commercially available and increasingly water-efficient irrigation management and scheduling tools. An Almond Irrigation Improvement Continuum has been developed in concert with UC experts to provide a pathway toward improved water stewardship and management. The continuum was introduced at The Almond Conference in December, and the full Irrigation Improvement Continuum and comprehensive background materials will be posted on the Almond Board’s website by March 1, 2016, providing “one stop shopping” for almond irrigation management at all levels. It will answer questions like these: What do I need to know? What are the key resources I need? How do I execute? The continuum describes three proficiency levels and provides a comprehensive program of irrigation management and scheduling practices in five key areas, and also explains how these practices can be effectively integrated at each level. The five key areas include: Measuring irrigation system performance and efficiency; Estimating orchard water requirements based on evapotranspiration; Determining the amount of water applied; Evaluating soil moisture; and Evaluating plant water status. Proficiency level 1.0 (minimum) outlines research-based irrigation management practices that are within reach of all California Almond growers. Proficiency level 2.0 (intermediate) and level 3.0 (advanced) advance practices to more sophisticated levels that attain even more “crop per drop.” ABC’s objective through this AIM initiative is to assist all almond growers in meeting level 1.0 proficiency. Beyond this, ABC will work with growers to help them progress along the continuum to proficiency levels 2.0 and 3.0. This will be done in partnership with the many trusted and respected technical experts and resources available to California Almond growers, such as through University of California Cooperative Extension.
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// Orchard Management

Whole Orchard Recycling: An Alternative to Burning, Cogeneration?

As more cogeneration plants are shutting down, growers are being forced to consider alternative methods for dealing with tree biomass upon orchard removal. The question is: Are there alternative uses for the woody biomass from orchard removals and prunings? One idea is to incorporate that biomass back into the soil; however, that leads to another question: How does the additional organic matter (OM) affect the soil, and more important, how would it affect the health of a subsequent almond orchard planted into those soils? This was the subject tackled by farm advisor Dr. Brent Holtz, UC Cooperative Extension, San Joaquin County, in a session on soil quality at last December’s Almond Conference. The initial years of this research were funded by Almond Board of California. Dr. Holtz reported on a shredding-of-prunings trial conducted in Madera County beginning in 2003. At the start of the trial, shredded prunings were left on the orchard floor, leading to chips being picked up at harvest. “Every year, more chips were being picked up and going to the processor,” Holtz said, leading to his decision to shred and incorporate into the top inch or two of soil. After 11 years of the shredding trial, Holtz found that the soil had: More wood-rotting basidiomycetes fungi; More bacterial- and fungal-feeding nematodes; Increased soil nutrient levels; Lower pH; and More organic matter and soil carbon. Significantly, the organic matter in the soil was binding up the sodium such that in a leaf analysis, sometimes half the amount of sodium was present compared to the control. Higher Wood-Chip Ratio But Holtz, wondering if more organic matter could be added to the soil, began a new experiment in which he mixed one-third part wood chips and two-thirds part soil placed in 35-gallon containers, and then planted almond trees in them. No fertilizer was added to the containers. After two years, the nutrients in containers with wood chips started to become available to the trees, and all nutrients in the soil were significantly higher in the wood chip–amended containers than in soil in containers with no wood chips. Water infiltration was significantly faster in containers with wood chips, and trees showed less water stress, as the chips were holding water in the soil, according to Holtz. In addition, organic matter increased from less than 1% to 5%, and carbon levels increased from 0.5% to almost 3%. “This gives us a new vision,” Holtz said. “Can we remove whole orchards and incorporate the organic matter without significantly affecting the next orchard? I don’t want to see these wood chips go to cogeneration or be burned; I’d like to see them returned to the soil. When we remove an orchard, we’re going to take 25 to 30 years’ worth of carbon accumulation and photosynthesis and haul it away, locking out about 30 tons per acre of organic matter from the orchard.” Iron Wolf To see if whole orchard incorporation was feasible, Holtz began a project at the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center, where a 4-acre stone fruit orchard was about to be removed. The researchers used an Iron Wolf, a 50-ton rototiller that the Forest Service uses to clear fire breaks, to grind the entire fruit trees and incorporate the chips into the soil. The Iron Wolf pushes the trees over, grinds them up, and then reverses direction to incorporate the chips into the soil. Two treatments were established: The Iron Wolf was used to shred and incorporate whole trees in several plots; in other plots, the trees were burned and the ashes spread on the soil surface. Almond trees planted in both plots were fertilized normally. In the first year of the study, most of the nutrients were significantly less in the grind plot compared to the burned plot; however, the young trees grew the same in both plots. But these differences became less in the second year; and by the third year, the nutrients were significantly greater where trees had been ground and incorporated, a trend that continued through three more years of the trial. Beneficial Trends Leaf analysis showed a trend for significantly increased levels of potassium and a decrease in sodium in the grind plot. Yields tended to be greater in the grind plot compared to the burned plot; however, there was not a significant difference between the methods as of 2014, Holtz explained. The researchers also found that when measuring water stress through stem water potential, the grind plot experienced significantly less stress, evidence that the organic matter is increasing the water-holding capacity of the soil. In addition, they found that bud failure was less in the grind plot. In essence, the whole orchard chip incorporation treatment resulted in increased organic matter, soil carbon, nutrients and microbial diversity, including beneficial fungi. “Fungal decomposition of the organic matter may be contributing to available nutrient levels, which would be gradually released as the woody aggregates are decomposed,” Holtz said. “Added to these benefits is evidence of an increased water-holding capacity of the soil, which may be important in holding applied nutrients in the soil, thus preventing leaching into the groundwater,” he said, adding that he is hopeful growers may eventually be able to get carbon credits for incorporating whole orchards. While this research trial provides a potential solution to the decreasing availability of cogeneration, there is additional work needed about its impacts under variable orchard and soil conditions to prove its feasibility for all California Almond orchards. ABC will continue to invest in research opportunities to prove this technique. Growers interested in learning more about this research are invited to attend a UC Cooperative Extension field event on Tuesday, Feb. 16, in Chowchilla. Researcher and farm advisor Dr. Brent Holtz will be on hand to discuss his research on the effects of whole orchard recycling on second generation tree growth, soil carbon and fertility, and attendees will see a live demonstration of an Iron Wolf pushing, grinding and incorporating whole almond trees.
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// Orchard Management

Berkeley Lab Joins Almond Industry’s Groundwater Recharge Research

As part of the Almond Board of California’s (ABC) larger Accelerated Innovation Management (AIM) program, ABC has partnered with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) to focus on better understanding subsurface water storage, quality and movement in relation to almond orchard groundwater recharge test sites. This research will join the ongoing efforts by University of California, Davis and others to understand the potential of using California’s Almond orchards for groundwater recharge. The new Berkeley Lab partnership expands ongoing Almond Board–funded work underway to identify which orchards are suitable for recharge; gauge groundwater recharge efforts’ effects on almond trees; and conduct advocacy work to ensure groundwater storage is a policy priority. Current partners include University of California, Davis; the environmental nonprofit group Sustainable Conservation; and the agricultural sciences and private research firm Land IQ. While groundwater is coming under management by the state of California through the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, research and data are critically needed to fully understand the dynamics of groundwater recharge under a variety of conditions. Recharging groundwater returns water to underground aquifers, collectively California’s largest water storage system, through managed flooding using seasonal floodwater. “The potential for using almond orchards for groundwater recharge is an increasingly important research area for us to understand as California’s precipitation begins to shift from winter snow to rain, which is more difficult to time and store,” said Gabriele Ludwig, Ph.D., director of Sustainability and Environmental Affairs at the Almond Board. “Preliminary analysis of almond acreage indicates that nearly 675,000 acres are moderately good or better in their ability to recharge groundwater, and the new research with Berkeley Lab will bring even more insight into the progress to date.” While this year’s El Niño storms provided some short-term relief, the ongoing drought continues to impact all Californians. “The California Almond community is committed to weathering this storm, or lack thereof, by continuing its nearly half-a-century of investment in research and improved production practices, with the goal of responsible and sustainable1 use of California’s valuable natural resources,” Ludwig said. Through more than 100 innovative Almond Board–funded research projects since 1982, California Almond growers have incorporated state-of-the-art, research-proven irrigation practices that have reduced the amount of water needed to grow each pound of almonds by 33%.2 All project partners believe on-farm groundwater recharge has great potential to help manage California’s vital groundwater resources sustainably. In the longer term, the results of the research may pave the way for a portion of California’s more than 1 million acres of almond orchard to be used as on-farm recharge sites, a potentially valuable tool for the Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) (created by the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act) to use in developing and implementing their Groundwater Sustainability Plans.   1. What defines California Almond sustainability? Sustainable almond farming utilizes production practices that are economically viable and are based upon scientific research, common sense and a respect for the environment, neighbors and employees. The result is a plentiful, nutritious, safe food product. 2. University of California. UC Drought Management. Feb. 2010. Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN. FAO Irrigation and Drainage Paper 66 – Crop yield in response to water. 2012. Almond Board of California. Almond Almanac 1990-94, 2000-14.  
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// Orchard Management
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