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Almond Nutrition Studies Presented at Elite Meeting

Six new almond-related research studies were presented in late April in San Diego at the American Society of Nutrition’s (ASN’s) Scientific Sessions and Annual Meeting, held in conjunction with Experimental Biology 2014 (EB). Experimental Biology annually convenes scientists and researchers in the fields of anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pathology, nutrition and pharmacology to discuss the strides and contributions made to the field of science. The conference attracts an international audience of approximately 13,000 leading scientists specializing in various health disciplines.   The almond-related science presented revealed new insights into the effects of almond consumption on overall diet quality and health status, abdominal adiposity, measures of appetite and satiety, and cardiovascular risk factors.   “Presenting new research to this audience of scientists and health professionals is critical to turning the findings into practical application and recommendations,” said Dr. Karen Lapsley, chief science officer for the Almond Board of California. “These results help to advance the evolution of our understanding of almonds’ beneficial effects as part of a healthy diet.”   An Optimal Snack? In a satellite session on Sunday, April 27i, researchers explored the question “Are Almonds an Optimal Snack?,” a hot topic given that snacking has become a way of life for most Americans. In fact, 97% of Americans report eating at least one snack a day, with 40% of those surveyed consuming three to four snacks per dayii, so understanding and education about smart snacking is increasingly important.   The body of evidence presented at the conference suggests snacking can be a weight-wise strategy, depending upon the foods consumed. The nutrient profile of almonds — low on the glycemic index and containing a powerful nutrient package that includes hunger-fighting protein (6 g/oz.), filling dietary fiber (4 g/oz.), “good” monounsaturated fats (13 g/oz.)iii, and important vitamins and minerals such as vitamin E (7.4 mg/oz.), magnesium (200 mg/oz.) and potassium (77 mg/oz.) — makes them a satisfying, heart-smart snack choice that can help maintain your weight.   “The research presented [at Experimental Biology 2014] reflects the Almond Board of California’s strong commitment to the advancement of nutrition science,” Dr. Lapsley said. “To date, the California Almond industry has invested more than $15 million in nutrition research that has resulted in more than 100 papers published by internationally recognized scientists in peer-reviewed journals. The Almond Board of California is proud to present science at the elite level of Experimental Biology.”   During the conference in San Diego, representatives from the Almond Board of California’s Nutrition Research Committee also met with well-respected Korean research groups to discuss potential research projects, resulting in two accepted proposals for human research trials that are now underway.     i O’Neil CE, Mattes R, Kris-Etherton P. Are almonds an optimal snack? New research on the health effects of almonds. American Society for Nutrition Sponsored Satellite Program, Experimental Biology 2014, San Diego, CA, held April 27, 2014. iiPiernas C, Popkin BM. Snacking increased among U.S. adults between 1977 and 2006. J Nutr 2010; 140(2):325–332. iiiGood news about almonds and heart health: Scientific evidence suggests, but does not prove, that eating 1.5 ounces of most nuts, such as almonds, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease. One serving of almonds (28g) has 13g of unsaturated fat and only 1g of saturated fat.
Newsletter
Nov 07, 2017 // About the Almond Board

Almonds and Wellness – Mark Dreher, Chairman, Nutrition Research Committee

Since 1995, the Almond Board of California (ABC) has invested more than $15 million in sound science to better understand the human health effects of almonds and to correct misinformation that existed in the public arena. Almonds had long been defined by their total fat content of 50+%; however, it has become widely known that there are “good” fats and “bad” fats, and that there is a difference between the fat and cholesterol contents of plant- and animal-based foods.   Ongoing nutrition research in North America, Europe and Asia adds to the existing body of more than 100 published papers on almond science, which are utilized by the ABC in global marketing outreach programs to promote the consumption of almonds. During this past crop year, in strategic planning by both the Nutrition Research Committee and ABC Board of Directors, a longer-term goal was set to focus more on nutrition research, specifically wellness and vitality, than on health conditions (heart health, diabetes and weight management).   In response to that directive, the Nutrition Research Committee is very pleased to announce that it has selected two very well-respected research groups to initiate research trials to validate almonds as a nutritious snack in human clinical trials in Korea. These trials have just begun, and we look forward to reporting the results when they are complete in two years.   Sincerely, Mark Dreher, Chairman Nutrition Research Committee
Newsletter
Nov 07, 2017 // About the Almond Board

Almond Nursery Sales: 8.33 Million Trees

The results of the survey conducted by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) of nurseries that sell almond trees were released Aug. 1. The totals are only for those nurseries reporting. According to the survey, at least 8.33 million almond trees were sold between July 2013 and July 2014, representing a 25% increase from the number sold the previous year. Of those sold in the 2013–2014 crop year, 72% went into new plantings, 24% were in replanted almond orchards, and 4% were utilized to replace trees within existing orchards.    The survey was conducted at the request of the Almond Board of California to quantify the number of new almond trees being shipped by principal nurseries between June 2013 and June 2014. The results of this survey allow the industry to project new plantings and replantings — a vital tool for crop forecasting, market planning, technical and regulatory affairs input and research priorities.     Using the NASS Almond Acreage Survey planting average of 125 trees per acre, almost 67,000 acres of almonds were planted between June 2013 to May 2014 — 26,000 of these were Nonpareil variety.  Of the total 67,000 acres planted, 48,000 acres are categorized as new almond orchard plantings and 16,000 acres were replanted orchards that had previously been in almonds. The remaining trees sold were in-orchard replacements for trees that had been lost within existing almond orchards.     A 100% nursery participation is hoped for when the survey is repeated next spring. If you have any questions regarding the 2014 California Almond Nursery Sales Report, please contact Sue Olson.  
Newsletter
Nov 07, 2017 // About the Almond Industry

Almond Board at IFT 2014 — Part Science, Part Trend, All Almond

Trade Shows, specifically food expos, are important events for professionals involved in food science and technology. Many attendees return year-after-year because they know food expos are the best place to see and learn about the newest products, trends and technology as well as meet with the companies who provide them. This past June, in New Orleans, the Almond Board of California (ABC) participated in what many consider one of the most important food expos in North America — Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Meeting and Food Exp. It was ABC's opportunity to showcase California Almonds and educate some of the nation's most influential food scientists and foodservice industry leaders.   During IFT, ABC distributed the latest research and collateral material, conducted live culinary demonstrations, and held informational conversations with key target audience members. California Almonds were showcased in samples at ABC’s expo booth, one-on-one California Almond Solutions Sessions (CASS), in an ABC-sponsored “Cooking Up Science” demo by research Chef John Csukor, and in two poster sessions presented by ABC’s Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Karen Lapsley. While each event was well received, it was Chef John Csukor’s one-on-one CASS events that generated a lot of excitement. During these sessions, Chef John demonstrated the versatility and functionality of almonds and their many forms based on the specific interest and expertise of each attendee. A few of the on-trend almond recipes shared included Brewed Almond Tea, Almond Crème and the popular Savory Almond Spice Bar.   IFT 2014 was a successful event for ABC. Several hundred people visited the booth, and the California Almond Solution Session time slots were filled each day. IFT 2015 will be in Chicago next year and ABC will again showcase almonds and educate what is often a much larger audience than the 16,000 people who attended in New Orleans; in fact the estimated attendance will more than double. 
Newsletter
Nov 07, 2017 // About the Almond Board

Almonds Are America’s New Favorite Nut

The Washington Post’s popular “Wonkblog” reported last week that “America has a new favorite nut,” citing USDA figures1 that the country’s appetite for almonds has grown by more than 220% since 2005 — much faster than demand for pecans, walnuts, macadamias, pistachios, cashews or peanuts.    In fact, the article notes, almonds have surpassed peanuts in popularity, as “in 2012 Americans ate more almonds per capita than shelled and unshelled snack peanuts combined (not including peanut butter)2.”   The article attributes almonds’ growing popularity to nutrition research and changing consumer perceptions of fat, falling demand for meat, an increasing interest in plant-based protein sources, and increasing demand for convenient, satisfying and nutritious snacks. It adds, “The Almond Board of California happily touts the nut's nutritional benefits prominently on its website. No wonder no other nut is considered as nutritious by consumers.”   The tone of the article is very positive, with the exception of a link to a recent Mother Jones article that says almond milk is inefficient, and it’s better to eat whole almonds. That Mother Jones article, by the way, has been hotly debated by other media sources such as Slate and Gawker, giving almond milk an increasing amount of attention as sales continue to climb.   Good news about fat. U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend that the majority of your fat intake be unsaturated.  One serving of almonds (28g) has 13g of unsaturated fat and only 1g of saturated fat. 1USDA Economic Research Service 2013 Fruit and Tree Nut Yearbook 2USDA Economic Research Service 2012 Food Availability Per Capita Data  
Newsletter
Nov 07, 2017 // About the Almond Board

New Protocol for Nitrogen Management: Hold Off on N Until Leaf-Out

Almond growers who regularly make their first nitrogen applications in February should wait at least a month until leaf-out occurs, according to findings coming out of major research on almond nutrient management funded by the Almond Board and USDA. That research, led by UC Davis plant scientist Patrick Brown, shows that almond trees do not take up applied nutrients from the soil until leaves are present to support transpiration through the leaf system. This means that growers applying nitrogen before leaf-out, particularly through fertigation, which targets the roots, are potentially wasting money and could be contributing to the risk that applied nitrogen will move off target through leaching, runoff or off-gassing before it can be absorbed by the tree. Brown’s research, which refines observations made by earlier researchers, demonstrates that mature almond trees rely on stored nitrogen to feed bloom and leaf-out activities rather than taking that nitrogen from the ground. Among other things, the trial examined how nitrogen accumulates in different parts of the tree at different times of the year, given various rates of applied N. It clearly suggests that nitrogen applied too early prior to leaf-out will be wasted if rain or irrigation moves that N below the root zone. “Given the high cost of fertilizers and increasing pressure to account for every bit of applied nitrogen, it makes sense for growers to make this small change to their standard practice, which can save money with no risk to crop yield or tree health,” says the Almond Board’s Gabriele Ludwig.
Newsletter
Nov 07, 2017 // Orchard Management

"Bee" Careful at Bloom

As bloom season approaches, growers should remember to use caution when applying bloom-time sprays and consider their potential impact on bees. As more data is being developed on potential impacts from specific fungicides, growers should avoid bloom sprays where possible when bees and pollen are present. When sprays are necessary, spray in the late afternoon or evening when bee activity is at a minimum. Avoid direct contact with hives, colonies and bees where possible. Bees that come into contact with agricultural sprays will not be able to fly due to the weight of spray droplets on their wings. If they fall to the ground, in the shade, they are likely to die of chilling. The Almond Board’s Bob Curtis, associate director, Agricultural Affairs, advises using extra caution when tank mixing insecticides with fungicides, as tank mixing can have unintended consequences to bees. The Almond Board, in 2013–14, is funding nearly $200,000 in pollination and honey bee research. This research will address honey bee health priorities, including fungicide applications as well as stock improvement, nutrition and supplemental forage, Varroa mite control and methods for transferring new technical information on these issues to beekeepers. These research areas are in line with priorities related to honey bee health cited almost universally by bee researchers, beekeepers and other experts during recent discussions and public forums on honey bee health. The focus of research and other efforts are to assure a sufficient supply of healthy bees for almond pollination and assure that almonds continue to be a good and safe place for bees through beekeeper and grower best management practices.
Newsletter
Nov 07, 2017 // Almond Bloom and Bees

Harvest Issues: Stockpiling, Moisture Content, Quality Problems and Aflatoxin

Orchard management activities continue after harvest to protect the crop from contamination and loss of quality. It has been shown that certain conditions during stockpiling can lead to concealed damage and mold growth that can reduce kernel quality and lead to food safety issues. Studies led by Bruce Lampinen (UC Davis Extension specialist, Plant Sciences) from 2007 to 2012 and supported by the Almond Board of California show there are clearly stockpile conditions under which the Aspergillus mold can grow with resulting aflatoxin contamination. Other quality problems can also occur that are associated with high moisture content. Further studies show that stockpiling at a total fruit (kernels + hulls) moisture content greater than 9% is problematic. This amount of moisture within the pile can result in a relative humidity greater than 65%, which is the maximum rH for almond storage. Storage Guidelines As a practical guideline, do not stockpile if any one of the following moisture content/level conditions exist: Either 1) the total fruit (kernels + hulls) moisture content exceeds 9%; 2) the hull moisture content exceeds 12%; or 3) the in-shell kernel moisture content exceeds 6%. A quick reference guide, “Stockpile Management and Aflatoxin Potential,” and chart, Moisture Level Guide for Stockpiling, have been developed by the Almond Board. Most critical is the outer portion of piles, where there can be significant temperature fluctuation, condensation on tarps and moisture accumulation. Of particular concern in these outer portions are the “green molds,” which include the Aspergillus mold that produces aflatoxin. In addition, there are several other associated quality problems, such as black molds on hulls and appearance of concealed damage in kernels. This is not a uniform problem throughout high-moisture-content piles because the equilibrium rH within the piles comes to a steady state below maximum limits recommended for storage. Orchard Sampling Prior to Stockpiling Crop moisture should be gauged while the crop is on the orchard floor, either before or after sweeping. Harvested nuts and stockpiles should be sampled to account for variability in drying on the orchard floor and in windrows. Light, temperature and canopy cover will influence that variability. Prior to sweeping, representative samples should be taken across the orchard floor and along the tree row. Keep in mind that the north side of the canopy adjacent to the trunk can have moisture content 2% higher than the crop in drive rows and middles. In windrow samples, moisture at the bottom of the windrow is also typically 2% higher. Therefore, “worst-case sampling” is on the north side of the canopy along the tree row and at the bottom of windrows. Managing Piles The orientation and shape of the pile can also play an important role in minimizing mold growth potential. If possible, orient the long axis of the pile in a north/south direction. Condensation and mold growth tend to be worse on the north side of piles with the long axis oriented east and west. Smooth tops on the pile help minimize the concentration of condensation and resulting mold growth. Tarp type and color can also play a role in minimizing temperature locations and condensation. Consider a white-on-black tarp, particularly for piles with higher moisture content. If piles are stacked too wet, it is important to open them up in the daytime, when the relative humidity is lower, and close them at night, when it is high. Stockpiles should be formed on a firm surface, preferably raised slightly to avoid water puddling around edges. Listen to Bob Curtis discuss new guidelines for harvest and stockpiling of almonds. Concealed Damage Concealed damage can significantly impact quality and reduce grower returns in years with late harvests and/or early rains. Following roasting, the kernel interiors turn darker than undamaged nuts, and flavor can be bitter. In extreme cases, kernel internal color and flavor are altered before roasting. Prolonged moisture at both elevated temperatures (above field temperatures) and even at ambient temperatures can create this condition. Current ABC-funded research led by UCCE farm advisor Franz Niederholzer in Colusa County is helping us better understand the field conditions that contribute to concealed damage as well as mold and management practices in the field that can reduce these risks. If untimely rain at harvest is anticipated, this new information can help determine when growers and handlers should take action to prevent mold development and concealed damage, particularly in more vulnerable late-harvest varieties or under other scenarios for delayed crop maturity. Harvest Guidelines Among other things, the research is establishing a threshold for the specific kernel moisture content, temperature, and the various time and field management scenarios that will lead to the appearance of concealed damage, and refine guidelines for when action should be taken under different field, handling, temperature and moisture scenarios. Some Key Guidelines: If rain is forecast, don’t shake. After a rain, wet nuts dry faster on the tree than on the wet orchard floor. If rain is forecast and nuts are harvested but too wet to pick up, blow them away from the tree trunks but don’t windrow. Rain-wetted nuts on the orchard floor often are very difficult to blow, as they tend to stick to muddy soil. Condition (“Drop chute”) windrowed nuts, certainly after, and even before rain. Removing leaves and other trash helps the nuts dry faster. Current research shows conditioning the crop even before rain and under normal dry conditions facilitates drying. A newsletter article written by Niederholzer (Sacramento Valley Almond News, July 2012), “Coping with Rain at Harvest,” contains a table illustrating grower options across a range of harvest conditions. This newsletter article and table can be viewed on the ABC website. Trials in 2011 and 2012 looked at five conditioning treatments — before rain and three, five and eight days after simulated rainfall at various levels of kernel and hull moisture. This research found that conditioning the crop both before and after the simulated rain produced the most rapid drying. The take-home message is that conditioning works. Conditioning prior to rain can help facilitate drying after the rain occurs, and if that rain doesn’t come, conditioning in and of itself can help dry the crop and put you ahead of the game.  
Newsletter
Nov 07, 2017 // Orchard Management

Managed Deficit Irrigation

A plant-based strategy for managed deficit irrigation (MDI), also known as regulated deficit irrigation, or RDI, targeting stress levels at specific crop stages can effectively manage hull rot and potentially reduce water use without impacting crop productivity. Prior Almond Board–funded research and a five-year study published in California Agriculture in 2011 found that well-timed deficit irrigation, using midday stem-water-potential readings to measure tree stress, can substantially reduce irrigation requirements with no long-term effect on yields. Depending on rainfall, location and orchard conditions, MDI can potentially result in water savings of 10–15% for shallow soils and up to 50% in deeper, well-drained soils, annually. Follow-up research has demonstrated that MDI will reduce hull rot by 60–90%, depending on region and other factors. In addition, the practice can provide more uniform maturity and an earlier harvest for improved navel orangeworm control. Hull rot is managed most effectively through deficit irrigation at hullsplit and a balanced nitrogen program. The goal of a managed deficit irrigation program is to maintain tree stress levels between –14 bars and –18 bars from the onset of hullsplit until 90% hullsplit, typically a period of about two weeks. The onset of hullsplit will vary according to orchard conditions; stress levels vary with soil type and other factors. In shallow soils where trees may dry down quickly, initiate stress when blanks start to split, usually about a week before the onset of hullsplit. On deeper, well-drained soils, it can take up to 20 to 30 days to reach mild to moderate stress levels. Growers in this case may want to use the UC Almond Hull Split Prediction Model available on the UC Davis fruit and nut website, to determine when to initiate water stress. The most accurate way to practice MDI is with a pressure chamber to accurately measure plant stress. Farm advisors and researchers recommend growers use a pressure chamber to measure actual plant stress through stem water potential throughout the season. Understanding how an individual orchard responds to water use can help guide how long it will take for trees to dry down to –14 to –18 bars. Information about the pressure chamber is available on the UC Davis Fruit and Nut Research and Information website, and a video demonstrating its use is also available. Growers who do not rely on pressure chambers, particularly those with a history of hull rot and a visual baseline from which plant stress can be observed, may achieve similar results by irrigating at 50% of normal tree demand, using crop evapotranspiration (ETc) calculations during hullsplit. Dr. Ken Shackel of the Plant Sciences Department, UC Davis, emphasizes that as a start, “normal demand” should be based on calculated almond evapotranspiration (ET). Methods for this calculation can be found at the California Irrigation Management Information System (CIMIS) website and on the Almond Board’s website. From that 50% of normal tree demand, adjustments can be made based on observed levels of disease and stress. Brent Holtz, San Joaquin County farm advisor, noted that in a water short year in which growers may be limiting irrigations already, hull rot pressures may be lower than average, and managed deficit irrigation practices should be adjusted accordingly.
Newsletter
Nov 07, 2017 // Orchard Management
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