Thursday, June 30, 2016

Valve controller box with 12 valves. Note the 8 risers at the head of each row 
Today I attended a field demonstration of "Variable Rate Drip Irrigation". VRDI is being developed by an Israeli company (Netafim) who are major suppliers of drip irrigation equipment around the world. They have been collaborating with E.&J. Gallo Winery to test the technology in vineyards. Our interest was to determine if this would be applicable to growing almonds.

Bundle of tubing along vine row.

 The concept is to irrigate small management areas, as small as 30 X 30 meters. Satellite imagery and ET (EvapoTranspiration) data are used to determine the appropriate amount of water to apply to each area. Soil moisture sensors and leaf stem water potential (aka pressure bomb) readings provide backup assurance that correct amounts are being applied.
The most challenging aspect is integrating the data collected and using the software to determine amounts to apply and then controlling the valve system.

In just one season, the vineyard managers were able to achieve much greater uniformity of canopy growth and uniformity of yields and juice quality. The results are very encouraging to pursue the application of this new approach to irrigation. I can see that major changes are coming to how we manage water. As dramatic as the changes over the last recent decades have been with the move to micro irrigation, I think the changes will be just as significant in the coming years.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

 28 April 2016
Yesterday afternoon the foothills experienced some thundershowers and hail. Valley locations around Modesto mostly had less than 1/10 of an inch. East of Waterford, some areas had well over an inch of rain.
The bruising caused by hail has caused some nuts to exude gum. Slicing with my knife reveals that the damage is very shallow in the hull. I think the nuts will be all right and make it to maturity.
Vineyards and Almonds
April 16, 2016

Such a pretty view in the lower foothills near Oakdale that I had to stop and capture it in a picture.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

 On the weekend of April 10 we received about 1.5 inches of rain. No one is complaining because every drop of water is counted as a blessing.  However, warm spring rains have their consequences. In mature orchards I am seeing a lot of spur die back. This is probably caused by Brown Rot fungus (Monilinia spp.) or Botrytis spp.
More rain is predicted for the coming weekend and possibly on and off through next week so in many orchards fungicides are being applied.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Most varieties have completed bloom and I've even seen a few jackets splitting. The bees are being removed to go work other crops that are just entering their bloom time.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

 20 February 2016

Well, that was fast! Bloom is winding up and petal fall is underway. The warmer-than-average temperatures during bloom created a shorter-than-average bloom.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Friday 12 Feb 2016
The recent warm weather, low 70's, has been ideal for the rapid development of bloom. These pictures were taken 3 days apart at the same orchard.

Generally, the foothill orchards are 2 or 3 days ahead of the flat land orchards.
Monday 15 Feb 2016

Monday, February 15, 2016

15 Feb 2016

Fog early this morning gave way to a sunny and warm day. It was a very good day for bee activity.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

 9 Feb, 2016

We spent the day exploring the World Ag Expo in Tulare today. There is a lot to see and take in. I was hoping to find help with some water quality issues we are facing, and I made several good contacts.

The range of exhibitors ranged from very traditional and "low tech" to very new "high tech" approaches to farming. I think these two pictures of vendors illustrate the point.

The falcons are used for pest bird control.  Drones, both fixed wing and quad "copters" are used primarily for imaging.

Monday, February 8, 2016

3 Feb 2016

8 Feb 2016
Here are two picture showing the progression of bud development over the most recent 5 days. These are Nonpareil variety, the first to bloom in most of our orchards.
Feb 3, 2016

Bee Colonies are being placed in the orchards. The annual migration of hundreds of thousands of colonies of bees from all across the nation to the largest pollination event in the world has begun.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Beautiful Sierra

El Capitan from 30,000 ft. Snow cover is the best in years. Thanks be to God! And more on the way. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Between rain storms.

No one is complaining about the regular rainfall we have received so far this winter. (But we will complain if it rains during bloom which is coming up soon!) That's human nature.
I guess I've been at this a while. I supervised the planting of this orchard in 1991. A typical almond orchards productive life span is between 20 and 25 years.

Friday, January 1, 2016


Mummies turn black from mold on the hulls but worms love the interiors

Mummies (nuts not removed at harvest) are the overwintering site for Navel Orangeworm, a primary pest of almonds. I think of mummies as Navel Orangeworm "hotels" where the worms live in comfort waiting to infect the new crop next year.
Winter shaking

Removal of the mummies by shaker, or by hand poling, is the most effective and important control for Navel Orangeworms. This cultural control is used by all serious growers as part of an integrated pest control program and allows us to reduce the need for expensive chemical sprays.
When I see a goat in the back of a pickup truck I am encouraged that there is still some "rural" left in Modesto (but I do remember when the intersection ahead was a one-direction stop sign).