Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Here is a tree surrounded by healthy trees that appears to be drying up. The leaves wilting as though they have no water.

Pulling the soil from the base of the trees it does appear dry, but a clue to the problem is a tiny gumball exuding from the bark.              

Crown Rot
Cutting away the surface bark reveals gummy brown (dead) wood at the crown of the tree. This is classic Phytophthora Root and Crown rot caused by a fungus. The top of the tree appears drought stressed because the fungus has cut off flow of water from the roots to the leaves.  The rot is a result of excess water that has caused the roots to become stressed from oxygen deprivation and unable to ward off infection by this ubiquitous soil fungi.

This tree happens to be in a low swale and water has accumulated in the soil around it. This is especially a challenge in the foothills where irrigating enough for the hilltops can cause problems for trees in the low spots.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Nonpareil harvest continues. Up the elevator the nuts go and into the trailer for a trip to the huller. So far yields are in line with expectations (good) and quality looks excellent. I have not seen a worm or ant damaged nut yet from our farms. The kernels are averaging smaller in size than last year and this is what I am hearing is the norm from the hullermen I have spoken with. Nonpareil harvest will continue for about another week for us.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

On Tuesday (8/13) we started sweeping nuts into windrows at our earliest maturing orchard.
Yikes! Our baby trees are getting a load of dust from our neighbors cultivation activity. Mites seem to thrive in a dusty environment. Fortunately we just finished treating these trees for mites so I think they will be OK. We need to continue to monitor for mites in all the orchards well into September.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

To my growers: This is NOT your orchard!!

This is an orchard next to one we farm. Ownership changed hands two years ago and that is how long it took to create an unmitigated disaster. Because of inadequate irrigation, these nuts stopped developing and should have been harvested weeks ago.  A random sample of Nonpareil nuts reveal a Navel Orangeworm infestation of 40%!!!  At a high point in the almond industry when there is money to be made, these owners apparently decided to "save" money on cultural costs and their result will be a huge economic loss.

Some of the obvious bad decisions in this situation are:

No winter sanitation program; We spend a lot of money every year destroying unharvested nuts, or "mummies", this is where Navel Orangeworm larvae overwinter. By destroying the mummies we begin each season with a smaller resident population.

Inadequate Irrigation;  The result is smaller, shriveled nuts that weigh less and will be hard to market.

Untimely harvest; The worm damage would be less if they had been harvested when ready two or more weeks ago.

Pre Harvest "Wind Falls" from lack of water

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Start of Shaking - 7 Aug 2013
We started shaking this years crop yesterday, Wednesday Aug 7.  Nut removal is very good and we may not need to follow with a poling crew here.  Due to variations in soil type, age, and location all the orchards do not mature at the same time.  Now that we have started, we will be shaking Nonpareil, the first variety to mature, for about the next two weeks.