Monday, December 21, 2015

I am seeing a lot of Band Canker (Botryosphaeria spp.). Not many years ago it was uncommon. Now it seems I can find it in any young orchard. The moisture held by tree protectors (cartons) may contribute to the ability of the fungus to invade. We removed the cartons in this orchard but the gum caused by the canker made it difficult to remove the carton from this tree.  You can see the white remnants of the carton that stuck to the gum balls. I have always been an advocate of removing the cartons as soon as possible because they shelter scale insects and overwintering Peach Twig Borer.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

My work gives me access to some beautiful properties. The hill on the left is Picnic Hill. We went there recently to fly drones. Here is a link to a short (1.5 minute) video taken by a quad-copter as it followed the fixed wing drone. Very cool video and a beautiful day in the country!  Chasing the Bixler

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Storm clouds moving in? No. Smoke from the big fires in the Sierra moving West from the mountains. The smoke is mixing with surface air making for poor air quality. Our car parked outside overnight is covered with ash.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

There is a lot going on in this picture. Once again, lacewing eggs are evident (the little white dots suspended above the hull). The leaves on this fruiting spur are drying up. The culprit here is "hull rot" which is caused by several fungi that thrive on the fleshy moist hull and create a toxin that kills the spur, and often the wood several inches back from the spur. A close look at the shell below the open hull shows a split in the shell that an ant can walk through to the meat, or a newly hatched NOW larvae could walk through to gain access to the meat. Nonpareil, the most popular almond, is notorious for having a poorly sealed shell. I think I see rust fungi forming on the underside of the dying leaves.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Here is a nut at early hull split. I was happy to see that many of the nuts had one or more lacewing eggs on them. Lacewing larvae are generalized predators and I expect they would eat the egg of a navel orangeworm or a newly hatched worm.  The lacewing egg is laid at the tip of a very fine stalk.
Wednesday evening I attended a "Water Summit" at the Gallo Center for the Arts. The event was sponsored by the Modesto Bee newspaper. Each of the five panelists brought knowledge of lifetimes spent dealing with water issues in California,  I had ideas about many of the topics discussed, but the information shared expanded my understanding of the complexity of the issues. The event was very well attended with a "full house". At the end of the summit, the panelists agreed that we need to pursue an "all of the above" effort in solving our water supply issues including conservation, additional large and small scale surface storage, underground storage, recharging aquifers, more efficient and extensive transport and desalination. Here is a link to a story in today's Bee about the event. Valley Water Summit

Saturday, July 4, 2015

It is the 4th of July and I am organizing the many photographs I have taken over the last several months. These pictures were taken last January.  As we endure the 100 + degree days of a typical valley summer, it is with some longing that I remember the cool winter day when this train passed by a pumping station under construction.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

These nuts are at the early stages of hull split. I can find an occasional open hull, but mostly on the edges of orchards. Very hot days are predicted for the next week so I expect hull split will progress rapidly.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

These fifth-leaf almond trees are looking good. The subjective crop estimate (essentially a phone survey of growers guesses) is due out in about a week. My opinion of the crop is that it is good, but not as good as last years. The subjective estimate is always highly anticipated and makes for interesting conversations and market reactions once it is released.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

HAIL! Two weeks ago, on April 7, we enjoyed the gift of about a half inch of rain, a blessing in this very dry year (more on that later). Sadly for a few growers, the rain came in the form of hail.

Hail is very random in nature and fortunately it did not hit any of our orchards. In this picture, sent from a friend, the hail on the ground looked like snow.

 A young vineyard shows the effects of hail, scarring of the young shoots and tattered leaves. These pictures were taken two weeks after the hail storm so there has been some regrowth, but the signs of the earlier damage are evident.

I heard that a few almond growers suffered losses to the hail, but not widespread.

Friday, February 6, 2015

From whence our water cometh. NOT! The view of the Sierra crest from the valley would typically be all white with snow in February. This year the view is mostly of exposed granite. So sad. "Big" rains are forecast to hit us this weekend. I hope the meteorologists are right this time.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Nonpareil flower buds on Monday Feb 2, 2015
Most of the Nonpareil in our area are at the early green tip stage of development at this time. A few extra-early varieties such as NePlus and Sonora are in pink bud.