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New Ohio State University Research Confirms Importance of Almond Board’s Honey Bee Best Management Practices

New research published in the journal Insects confirms a key recommendation, and widely adopted farming practice, from the Almond Board of California’s Honey Bee Best Management Practices (BMPs). Designed to protect honey bee health, the Bee BMPs are a set of guidelines for everyone involved in the pollination process to ensure almond orchards are a safe and welcoming place for honey bees while balancing the need to protect the developing crop. With support from the Almond Board, study author and Ohio State University researcher Reed Johnson investigated the cause of reported hive losses in the spring of 2014, focusing on the interaction of pest control materials applied in almonds and bee health. “Honey bees are essential to almond production,” said Bob Curtis, pollination consultant and retired director of Agricultural Affairs for the Almond Board of California. “Every almond we eat exists because a honey bee pollinated an almond blossom so it’s in farmers best interest to keep them safe. Our livelihood depends on it.” The specific practices in question revolve around using insecticides during bloom, something the BMPs recommend avoiding as farmers can use alternative treatment timings to adequately control damaging pests outside of the bloom period. The newly published Ohio State research validates this practice, one that almond farmers began instituting well before the results of this research were in, as protective of bee health. In fact, according to data gathered from farms assessed through the California Almond Sustainability Program, 97 percent report following all BMP recommendations during almond bloom.[1] Widespread change like this does not happen overnight. Upon the BMPs publication in October 2014, Almond Board staff, beekeepers, researchers, and others launched a substantial communications effort including a wide array of presentations to farmers and other pollination stakeholders. The California almond community has funded more honey bee health research than any other crop group.[2] Since honey bee health was made a strategic research priority of the Almond Board of California in 1995, the California almond community has supported 120 research projects to address the five major factors impacting honey bee health – varroa mites, pest and disease management, genetic diversity, pesticide exposure and balancing the need to protect both bees and the almond crop, and access to forage and nutrition. Seven new bee research studies were funded in 2018 with a commitment of $579,000 to improving honey bee health. Given their essential role in pollination, almond farmers have a deep, vested interest in protecting honey bee health. The bees benefit from this partnership too. Just like almonds are a nutritious snack for us, almond pollen is very nutritious for honey bees, providing all 10 of the essential amino acids their diets require. Bee hives routinely leave stronger after visiting during almond bloom.[3] To learn more about how we’re supporting these essential pollinators, visit Almonds.com/Bees. [1] California Almond Sustainability Program. August 2018. [2] Gene Brandi. Vice President, American Beekeeping Federation. [3] Ramesh Sagili. Department of Horticulture, Oregon State University.
almond blossom
News Article
// About the Almond Industry

Josette Lewis Joins Almond Board of California as Director of Agricultural Affairs

MODESTO, Calif. — The Almond Board of California (ABC) welcomes Josette Lewis, PhD, to the organization as new director of Agricultural Affairs. In her position, Lewis will focus on the development, funding and strategy of ABC’s research program. Lewis most recently served as associate vice president of Sustainable Agriculture at the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). Lewis holds a PhD in molecular biology from the University of California, Los Angeles, and her career in agricultural research and policy spans the government, academic, nonprofit and tech-based corporate sectors. Prior to EDF, she was associate director of the World Food Center at the University of California, Davis. Lewis began her career at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). She currently serves on advisory committees for the James Beard Foundation and the International Life Sciences Institute, and has served on an advisory committee for the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. “My colleagues and I are thrilled to welcome Josette Lewis to the ABC team. She not only complements our existing skill sets and experience — she adds many new and valuable dimensions,” said Richard Waycott, president and CEO, ABC. “Her acumen and expertise will serve the California almond industry very well as we navigate the challenges and opportunities that lie before us.” Research is an important area of focus for the Almond Board as it fuels key initiatives like the Almond Orchard 2025 Goals, which set industry-wide targets in the areas of water efficiency, zero waste, environmentally friendly pest management and air quality. In her new role, Lewis will oversee ABC’s multi-million dollar annual investment in research projects exploring next-generation farming practices including optimal use of everything almond orchards grow. “My career has centered on the interface of research and action — interpreting research findings to create solutions that people can use,” Lewis said. “Building on the strong legacy of Bob Curtis, I look forward to advancing almond research that ultimately puts knowledge, tools and practices in the hands of growers, processors, policy makers and other important audiences. I am fascinated by almond production and excited to join the dynamic group at ABC.” Robert Curtis retired in 2018 after spending more than 45 years directing agricultural affairs at ABC. Since 1973, almond farmers and processors have invested $80 million in research through the Almond Board to improve understanding of almonds' impact on human health, ensure food quality and safety, and improve farming practices while minimizing environmental impacts.
Josette Lewis
News Article
// About the Almond Board

Almond Board of California Election Underway

For More Information: Bunnie Ibrahim (209) 343-3228 bibrahim@almondboard.com Almond Board of California Election Underway MODESTO, Calif. — (Jan. 31, 2019) — Voting will begin Jan. 31 to select two independent grower member and alternate positions and one independent handler member and alternate position on the Almond Board of California (ABC) Board of Directors. These positions will serve terms beginning on March 1, 2019. Candidates for the independent grower position are:   Position One, Member (One-year term): Brad Klump, Escalon (petitioner)   Position One, Alternate: Mike Mason, Wasco (petitioner) Position Two, Member (Three-year term): Brian Wahlbrink, Waterford (incumbent) Dave DeFrank, Fresno (petitioner)   Position Two, Alternate: Bill Harp, Bakersfield (incumbent) Candidates for the independent handler positions are:   Position Three, Member (One-year term): Micah Zeff, Modesto (incumbent) Position Three, Alternate: Jonathan Hoff, Denair (petitioner)             Ballots and instructions have been mailed to all independent growers whose names are on file with ABC. The Almond Board must receive ballots by Feb. 16, 2019 for them to be counted. If any independent grower or handler does not receive a ballot, one may be obtained by contacting Bunnie Ibrahim, senior analyst, Government Affairs, ABC, at (209) 343-3228. As a governing body for the industry, the ABC Board of Directors is comprised of five handler and five grower representatives who set policy and recommend budgets in several major areas, including production research, public relations and advertising, nutrition research, statistical reporting, quality control and food safety.  
almond orchard in bloom
News Article
// About the Almond Board

When Almond Trees Have To Go, It's Not As Bad As It Looks

BY JOHN COX   When he's at work in local almond orchards, passers-by often stop to ask Hank Gorman whether the property owner know he's knocking over their trees. And every time he gives the same answer: "The farmer called me."   No doubt it's a confusing sight to people unfamiliar with almond-growing. But there's a good reason he's there behind the wheel of an excavator pushing down tree after tree for acres on end.   It turns out almond trees have a relatively short productive life. After 20 to 25 years, they are typically removed and replaced with saplings that start producing nuts within about three years.   Compare that with pistachio trees that can yield nuts well past their 70th year. Citrus trees outlast almonds, too, sometimes giving fruit for 100 years or more.   This week, Gorman and his partners at Bakersfield-based orchard-removal and tree-grinding service Ignis4 were at work taking down an 80-acre almond orchard at the intersection of Coffee and Snow roads. Clearing 10 to 11 acres per day, the company has a few more days of labor before moving on to the next in a long list of waiting customers. Gorman said the property's owner has indicated he intends to replant with almonds.   The tree removals are entirely routine, especially in the almond capital of Kern County. But what's not as well-established is what to do with the downed trees.   In decades past, farmers simply burned the trees in place or chopped them up for firewood. A lot less of that happens now that air quality has become a top priority in the Central Valley. But generally speaking, many of the trees still do not end up in landfills.   Until a few years ago, many dead almond trees were sent to nearby biomass power plants and co-generation plants that burned them to create energy for use in local oil production. But while co-gen facilities still operate in Kern, the biomass plants have largely faded away as their underlying economics lost out to other renewable energy sources such as wind farms and solar power plants.   Many farmers now grind up the trees instead of burning them. Often the resulting wood chips are mixed with dyes to create a visually pleasing urban ground cover. Or, untreated chips are spread across an orchard as a means of weed control.   Increasingly, though, ground-up trees are recycled back into an almond orchard's soil. Ongoing research supported by the Almond Board of California trade group discs the chips into the ground, where the release of carbon dioxide is slowed and nutrition is put back into the orchard. Studies suggest the chips can improve water infiltration and storage.   Orchard Systems Advisor Mohammad Yaghmour, a consultant with the University of California Cooperative Extension in Kern County, said the process increases organic matter inside the soil, which improves its quality without hindering tree growth.   "In the near future, this is going to be the norm, grinding up the orchards and reincorporating them into the soil and replanting," he said.   Gorman considers the wood chips more of a renewable source of energy that is, for some farmers, a nuisance they usually just want to get rid of.   He tries to explain this to uninformed observers.   "It is a rotated crop, believe it or not," he said. "It just takes 15 or 20 years for it to run its course."
In The News
// About the Almond Board, About the Almond Industry

Almond Board Announces New Goals to Sustainability

By Bob Highfill   The Almond Board of California announced new goals to substantially improve sustainable farming practices in key areas by 2025.   Almond Orchard Goals 2025 focuses on reducing the amount of water to grow almonds, achieving zero waste in the orchards, increasing environmentally friendly pest management tools and reducing dust during harvest.   The goals are voluntary for farmers to adopt, and the almond board will evaluate progress on a continual basis. The goals build on past sustainable farming initiatives meant to ensure the future of an industry that has multi-generation families at its core.   “We’re an industry of family farmers,” said Holly King, chair of the Almond Board of California during a conference call Thursday. “Ninety percent of our almond farms are family farms, so we are vested in the communities in which we live.”   Almonds are big business in the state and especially in San Joaquin County.   California produces 80 percent of the world’s supply of almonds, and in 2017, San Joaquin County had 74,200 bearing acres of almonds worth $362.7 million, according to the county’s agriculture commission. The California Almond Board’s 2017 annual report states nearly 75 percent of California almond farms are 100 acres or less. King said large or small, California’s almond farmers have taken a long-term view of success based on their respect for the land and local communities.   “We believe it’s important to do the right thing and be conscious about how we’re using and managing resources,” King said.   For instance, over the past 20 years, California almond farmers have reduced the amount of water used to grow one pound of almonds by 33 percent through improved production practices and micro irrigation, according to cited reports from the University of California, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Almond Board of California. The new rules seek to decrease water usage an additional 20 percent.   The 2025 rules call for innovation in finding higher value uses for almond byproducts, such as hulls, shells and woody branches, so that everything grown goes to optimal use. The new rules call for a 25 percent increase in the use of environmentally friendly pest management tools, such as beneficial insects, habitat removal, mating disruption and, when necessary, pesticides, to further protect orchards, employees and communities. And the rules call for farmers to reduce dust during harvest by 50 percent.     “We try to be a good steward of the land by doing more with less — less inputs, less applications, less trips into the field, obviously less water,” said Brian Wahlbrink, chair of the Almond Board’s Harvest Workshop and an almond grower in Stanislaus County. “These goals will help drive us to substantive improvements, building on past achievements and sharing our progress as we work toward 2025. I am very confident in where we are going.”   California almond farmers continue to support research in other areas critical to success, such as investing in seven new projects focused on honey bee health this year alone. The board has adopted a comprehensive set of Honey Bee Best Management Practices that are widely adopted and evolving to ensure the safety of honey bees during pollination and beyond.   “By working collectively toward the Almond Orchard 2025 Goals and key areas, such as bee health, we are ensuring that we can farm here in California for the long haul,” Richard Waycott, Almond Board of California president and CEO, said. “That means taking care of the land to the best ability we can and farming responsibly.”
In The News
// About the Almond Board, About the Almond Industry

Focused on Growing Good, the California Almond Community Commits to New Goals

(MODESTO, Calif.) Producing 80 percent of the world’s supply of almonds, California’s almond farmers and processors have always been about growing good—managing resources responsibly for current and future generations. Today, the almond community is publicly committing to four new goals that build on decades of previous achievements and further demonstrate the industry’s commitment to growing almonds in better, safer and healthier ways, while protecting local communities and the environment. The Almond Orchard 2025 Goals set industry-wide targets in the areas of water efficiency, zero waste, pest management and air quality. “We’ve always been focused on minimizing our environmental footprint and being good neighbors—and we have the track record to prove it. But for the first time, we are publicly setting goals for how we will farm in the future and committing to transparently reporting on the progress we are making,” said Holly King, chair of the Almond Board of California. “There’s no doubt these goals will be challenging, but that’s a responsibility that comes with leadership and a commitment to innovation. We’re excited to be embarking on this journey.” The Almond Orchard 2025 Goals focus on four key areas: Further Reducing the Water Used to Grow Almonds Over the past two decades, California almond farmers have successfully reduced the amount of water used to grow a pound of almonds by 33 percent[1] via improved production practices and adoption of efficient microirrigation technology. By 2025, the California almond community commits to reduce the amount of water used to grow a pound of almonds by an additional 20 percent.   Achieving Zero Waste in Our Orchards Almonds grow in a shell, protected by a hull, on a tree: products traditionally used for livestock bedding, dairy feed and electricity generation. Changing markets for these coproducts are spurring innovation for higher value uses, both economically and environmentally. By 2025, the California almond community commits to achieve zero waste in our orchards by putting everything we grow to optimal use. Increasing Adoption of Environmentally Friendly Pest Management Tools Responsible almond farming requires protecting the crop and trees from bugs, weeds and disease through an integrated pest management approach. This means using tools and techniques like beneficial insects, habitat removal, mating disruption and, when necessary, pesticides. To further protect our orchards, employees and communities, by 2025, we commit to increase adoption of environmentally-friendly pest management tools by 25 percent. Improving Local Air Quality During Almond Harvest California almonds are harvested by shaking the nuts to the ground where they dry naturally in the sun before being swept up and collected, a process that can create dust in our local communities. To address this nuisance, the almond community is taking short- and long-term steps to reimagine how we harvest and, by 2025, commits to reduce dust during harvest by 50%. “We try to be a good steward of the land by doing more with less—less inputs, less applications, less trips into the field, obviously less water,” said Brian Wahlbrink, almond farmer in Stanislaus County and chair of the Almond Board’s Harvest Workgroup. “These goals will drive us to substantive improvements, building on past achievements and sharing our progress as we work toward 2025. I am very confident in where we are going.” In addition to the 2025 goals, California almond farmers continue to support research in other areas critical to success, investing in seven new projects focused on honey bee health this year alone. This effort builds on a legacy of $3.2 million invested in 120 research projects since 1995 addressing the five major factors impacting honey bee health. As part of its ongoing commitment to bee health, the Almond Board has also developed a comprehensive set of Honey Bee Best Management Practices for California almond farmers. Widely adopted, these best practices are constantly evolving to ensure the safety of honey bees during almond pollination and beyond. “By working collectively towards the Almond Orchard 2025 Goals and key areas such as bee health, we are ensuring that we can farm here in California for the long haul. That means taking care of the land to the best ability we can and farming responsibly. This commitment is based on a history of improving growing practices and will truly impact how we farm in the future,” said Almond Board of California president and CEO, Richard Waycott. The California almond community is a collection of family-run farms dedicated to making life better through innovation and responsibly producing a healthy food accessible to people around the world. For over four decades, almond farmers and processors have funded $80 million in scientific research, making significant advancements in the areas of water, nutrient management, air quality, honey bee health and more, increasing farming efficiencies while minimizing environmental impacts. [1] University of California, 2010. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2012. Almond Board of California, 1990–94, 2000–14.
almond orchard
News Article
// About the Almond Board
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