Thursday, March 27, 2014

Just 2 days ago I mentioned hail as a potential threat. At 5 PM yesterday (3/26) hail came down heavily in the Ballico area. This morning I went to evaluate an orchard we tend in that area and found that the storm missed us by 1/4 mile. This is hail still present on the ground 15 hours after the storm. Neighbors say the hail was peanut sized and covered the ground like snow. A peach orchard was badly damaged, but the almonds I saw looked like they were probably OK.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Monterey varitey

8th leaf trees
It is early in the season. Drought, frost, hail, insects, mites, diseases, and surprises nature may throw at us, have yet to take their toll, but at this point, I have to say the crop looks very good!
4th leaf trees

With the weather forecasters giving us good hope for some badly needed rainfall, we are applying fungicide (in many cases for the first time this year) to protect the trees, and nuts, from an array of diseases that can afflict them. Serious threats in the early season come from Shot Hole, Jacket Rot and Scab.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Here is a young block of Tulare walnuts ready to be pruned. While we are already guessing at the production of almonds, which are well past bloom, the walnuts (and most other plants) are just beginning to stir from their winter sleep.  This explains why almonds, very susceptible to frost during and immediately after bloom, can be grown here and not many other places. Our early warm springs (most years) make almond growing possible.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Anderson Nascimento of Spensa Technologies was on hand today to help install their "Z-Trap" which is designed to provide real-time insect trapping data. When insects attracted by a pheromone enter the trap they are electrically "zapped" and a count is recorded. The data is accessed via the internet. My hope is we will have more timely information for setting biofix dates which will enable better spray application timing. We will continure trapping by traditional methods (sticky traps) to compare to this new technology.
At this time, Nonpareil nuts that have not yet split the jackets are likely going to fall off.  With the number of nuts that are sizing up my guess is the crop in our area will be a good one. Frost is the biggest threat which could change that outlook.  No cold nights are in the immediate forecast.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Every year I am amazed at how quickly the nuts begin to grow after bloom. Bees are still active with blossoms to forage on, yet there are also nuts that have split and shed their jacket (the calex).
This is their most frost-sensitive period. Fortunately, cold nights are not in the forecast...for now.

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Party's Over! Time for the bees to go home. The rain which began last Friday (2/28) brought an abrupt end to bloom. Some late varieties are hanging on, but the weather has not been conducive for bee activity. Locally we received about an inch of rain which fell over three days. The South state received more rain, but much of it arrived in heavy downpours.