Thursday, December 20, 2012

 Metal thieves are a major problem these days.  In their pursuit of copper (although they will steal anything metallic) they create thousands of dollars of damage for the few dollars they will receive at the salvage yard for their "take".

Sadly, we have to respond and make their activity more difficult.  Here are two cages we have had constructed.  One surrounding a pumping station with panel, pump, and filters all enclosed.  The other just protecting a pump motor.

Our Stanislaus County Sheriff, Adam Christianson, has spoken at community events where I have heard him repeatedly say, "Lock it down, nail it down, chain it down, weld it down, tie it down" etc. or risk losing it. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

When the ground is too wet for our regular weed sprayers we can pull a small tank with an ATV.  Here we are spraying the weeds along the tree row with a contact and a residual herbicide. These winter annual weeds would be taller than the trees before spring if not killed now.
These trees were planted in September and by now have had time to begin to grow roots into the surrounding soil and to grow some shoots.  They will be established and get off to a strong start in the spring.
Here we are applying potassium sulfate fertilizer.  Commonly referred to as "potash", potassium is an important nutrient for almond production.   For every 1,000 lbs of almonds that are harvested, over 50 lbs of potassium are removed with the crop.  A 3,000 lb crop removes over 150 pounds of potassium.  To replace that potassium, 300 pounds of potassium sulfate must be applied since the fertilizer is only 50% potassium.  Here we are applying 700 pounds per acre.

Our eastern Stanislaus soils are frequently deficient in potassium.  We apply the fertilizer in bands because potassium tends to bind with the soil and become unavailable to the trees.  By banding the application, we can saturate the soil immediately below the surface and make more of the potassium available to the trees.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

I have been very busy with farm work and I have been neglecting my blog postings.    One project since harvest has been to get "Blue Sierra" farms planted.  The soil here is a sticky clay on rolling terrain so we needed to get it planted before the rainy season.  After slip-plowing the soil we laid out the row and tree spacing to allow placement of the irrigation system.

The existing well had been tested a year earlier, but it was nonetheless a relief to finally fire up the new pump and see that the well is going to be more than adequate.  The initial water appears dirty, but it cleared up shortly after old rust and sediment from years of sitting idle were purged from the well.

 Here the trees are staged by variety at the head of each row.  Using potted trees allows us to plant at virtually any time of year.  In this case early fall to be ahead of the rain

 Each tree is placed near its new home just ahead of the planting crew.  The weather was cool and overcast which was nice for the trees since their only source of water was the limited moisture in the plastic sleeve it was grown in.

 After the trees are planted a protective cover, a "milk carton", is placed over each tree to protect the trunk from herbicides, sunburn, and rodents.

After planting, we immediately irrigate to settle the soil around the root ball and to be sure there is ample moisture for the trees.  Of course that germinates the weeds.  We followed the irrigation with a weed spray to control the weeds along the tree row.  We were very fortunate because the rain started just one day after completing the herbicide application and the ground has been too wet for equipment since then.