Wednesday, May 23, 2012

As the nuts fill out they become heavier.  The limbs bend over and fill the space between the rows.  Tractor work becomes difficult and hazardous.  This is no time for inexperienced drivers.  Here we are applying a spray which includes a fungicide (target: rust, scab, and alternaria), insecticide (target: Peach Twig Borer and Navel Orangeworm), and a miticide (target: mites). My hope is that this will be the last spray necessary for this season.  Besides the risk and discomfort to drivers, traveling through the orchard after the beginning of hull split (late June) knocks a lot of nuts off the trees.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The process of solidification of the nut meats continues to advance from the tip of the almond toward the base.  This is visible as the gelatinous material becomes opaque.  As this process continues the nuts become heavier.  This is an early-harvesting Nonpareil nut.  Interestingly, the later-maturing Monterey and Woods Colony nuts are just as far along in this process.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Here are our young Candycot trees.  They are trained to a "V" trellis.  Growing the limbs at just the right angle increases fruitfulness and assures penetration of sunlight for even ripening and better fruit color.  Like almonds, Candycots are not self fertile and so we plant two varieties together to pollinate one another.  In this orchard, Anya and Yulia are planted in alternating rows.  Anya leaves are a darker green and the trees are a little less vigorous.
Oat Hay Ready to Load

More Oat Hay
Hey, look at all that, uh, hay!

Each bale about 900-1000 lbs.  Ready to be delivered to cows to be turned into milk.

Growing oat hay has been interesting, much more passive than nuts and fruit, but kind of fun for a change.

Now it is time to get this field ready to plant to almond trees this fall.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Chandler Walnut Nutlets
Walnut bloom is wrapping up and the nutlets are expanding.  It is way to early to guess at crop size.  Even later in the season walnuts are difficult to estimate because of the size of the trees and the nuts are similar in color to the leaves.  This is a triple cluster in the center of the picture.  Lots of doubles and triples will generally mean a better crop, but it is too early to know how many are there.  (Pretty picture though!)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

4th Leaf Almonds
Freeze Damage on young Tulare Walnut tree
The cold dry December we had in 2011 caused freezing damage on some young walnuts.  This is a walnut entering its' second leaf.  The lowest buds are OK but the upper part of the tree will need to be removed.  If left behind, the tree would grow around the dead wood and create a weak trunk.  The roots are unaffected and the tree will regrow vigorously. The interesting thing is that the freeze damage happened seemingly at random to only 11 trees on 30 acres.  Good soil moisture during the cold winter months, and not pruning too early are freeze-prevention measures for young walnuts.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Subjective Crop Estimate Released Today

The results of this years subjective crop estimate were published today.  This is a telephone survey of a few hundred almond growers asking their estimate of crop size.  The resulting estimate for this year’s crop is 2 billion pounds of almond meats (shelled nuts). The survey is conducted by the National Agricultural Statistics Service.  If the estimate is correct, that would put the crop at slightly less that last years production of 2.03 billion pounds.  Last year the subjective estimate was 1.75 billion pounds, so the growers underestimated last years crop.  Judging from what I see in my little part of the world, I think the crop will be higher than the estimate once again.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Cutting Oats

Cutting oats today. They will need about 10 days of drying before they can be baled and sold. Then we can begin getting this field ready to plant almonds this fall!

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