Friday, June 29, 2012

Good Growth with a Good Crop
The Objective Crop Estimate of the 2012 almond crop released today;

2.1 Billion Pounds  

This would be a record crop, but up only 3% from last year.  It is 5% more than the Subjective Estimate that was released in May.

What does it mean for almond prices?  Time will tell, but it is not a figure much larger or smaller than was anticipated.  I do not expect a large price change in either direction.  As an industry we have been able to sell these large crops at prices that are affordable by consumers and provide growers a fair return.

Today's picture shows an almond tree with a good crop and nice new growth.  A large crop demands a lot of resources from the tree and can result in limited new growth.  We help the tree by providing adequate water and nutrients.  This tree shows good vigor and will be ready for a repeat performance next year.

Peach Silver Mite effect
Friend or Foe?  Frequently a very tiny mite called the Peach Silver Mite will establish itself in an almond orchard.  Their feeding activity causes the leaves to have a silvery appearance.  When I see the discoloration I use my 14X lens to verify their presence.  I also look for the presence of Predatory Mites because their population can increase by feeding on the Silver Mites.  When I see silver mites I immediately think "Predator Food". Sometimes the predators will build up a large enough population to control the very destructive two-spotted and Pacific spider mites (Tetranychus spp.) which can cause defoliation of almond trees.  Very seldom, if ever, is it necessary to treat for Silver Mites.  Determining the need to spray for mites involves regular checking to monitor the population dynamics of the destructive Tetranychus mites, the predator mites, and the more benign Silver Mites.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Bucket Auger & Power Auger
The hot weather season has arrived and we are very busy with irrigation.

Water management and irrigation have a greater impact on production than anything else we do as farmers. Efficient use of water can enhance production while conserving a precious resource.

I use several technological tools to determine the water needs of the trees.  Two companies, PureSense and ClimateMinder, have established sensors in our orchards to measure the  moisture content of the soil at several depths and climatic information.  The real-time information is available via the internet.  At another ranch, we use Neutron Probe technology to measure soil moisture content at various depths.  That information is gathered weekly and sent to me by email.

Because the sensors are at fixed locations, I use the tools in the picture to verify what the sensors are saying and to see how their information relates to other locations in the orchard.  I have used my bucket auger for years and it is an excellent tool.  However, it requires a lot of time and effort so fewer samples are taken.  The power auger was the suggestion of my friend Floyd Perry from Butte County.  It is faster and easier so allows me to look at several locations in a short amount of time.

These two basic tools see a lot of use during the irrigation season.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Verticillium Wilt is a soil-borne fungal disease that sometimes affects young almonds. The fungus grows inside the tree and can result in death to part or all of the tree. The first two pictures here show the classic external and internal symptoms of this disease. On this 40 acre block about 15 trees are affected so far.
2nd leaf tree with Verticillium wilt

Most of the infected trees are in a small area that was too close to buildings to be fumigated with Telone prior to planting. In the first picture, you can see in the distance that most of the orchard is doing well. The last picture shows part of the non-fumigated area where the trees are weak or have died. These two pictures illustrate the importance of preplant fumigation in orchard replant situations.
Internal brown necrotic area, symptom of Verticillium Wilt

Regulations or restrictions that would prevent us from performing preplant fumigation could have a devastating impact on our ability to establish new orchards.

Area not fumigated prior to planting