Sunday, December 10, 2017

Merry Christmas!

Here is a link to a fun holiday video presented last week at the annual almond conference.  Hope you enjoy it, Merry Christmas!

Happy Holidays greeting from the Almond Board of California

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Recently I had the privilege to host a visit from a French organization called Club DEMETER ( at the regional variety trial. This is an organization of upper management individuals from a range of agricultural companies with operations in France. They meet regularly in Paris and exchange ideas for promotion of agriculture and addressing long term challenges of production and sustainability.

They also take regular excursions to regions around the world to see how challenges are being met elsewhere. With the help of a translator, I tried my best to answer their questions about almond production and challenges the industry faces from a farmer's perspective.

At the end of our discussion session, I was delighted to discover that they had set up an area in the orchard where we enjoyed eating nuts and drinking some excellent French Champagne.  It was a real pleasure to spend some time with these very friendly people.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

We are now sweeping the mid-season varieties, in this case Wood Colony. Once they are picked up, we will move on to the Monterey. The last variety will be Fritz in two or three weeks (hopefully not longer).

Nonpareil yields have come in highly variable. The wet conditions at bloom time suppressed yields in orchards that bloomed early, mostly in the foothills. Other ranches suffered from "wet feet" due to the prolonged rain in the spring. Orchards that bloomed a few days later, between rains, on well drained soils, have done very well.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Almond Leadership Participants and Mentors
Current participants in the Almond Leadership Program visited the Regional Variety Trial yesterday. Participants in the Almond Leadership program come from a range of backgrounds and have a variety of connections to almonds. All will leave the program with a better understanding of the industry, a great network of associates, and skills to articulate the great story of our industry.

Giving an overview of the variety trial
Besides discussing the particulars of the variety trial, we talked about the private / public / industry / University cooperation that enable research efforts. In the case of the variety trial, this includes the Salida Union School District which owns the property, industry support such as Duarte Nursery that donated trees and Landmark Irrigation that donated the irrigation system installation, the University of California and Cooperative Extension who collect data year round from the trial, and the Almond Board of California who support a portion of the costs of running the trial.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

 Yesterday I had the opportunity to share some thoughts about blossoms, bees, pollination and irrigation of almonds with a group of high school students from the Big Valley Christian School Ag Club. They visited me at the Salida Teaching and Research Farm which is the site of the University/Almond Board regional variety trial.

They were attentive and their questions demonstrated that they were engaged and thinking about what I was sharing. They are an impressive group of young people and I was encouraged that we will have bright leaders for the future.

We talked about how almonds need cross pollenation and how vital bees are for, not only almonds, but all of agriculture. It was a good time for them to observe the various stages of bloom.

I showed them the infrastructure that is in place for irrigation. Currently the only source of water is a well. Utilizing surface water from the canal which borders the orchard would lower pumping costs and help preserve the aquifer. I challenged them to tackle the question of what needs to be done to utilize water from the district canal for irrigating the orchard.
Will They or Won't They?
Will these nutlets split their jacket?  Often, even non-pollenated flowers will fill the jackets to this point. They will either split the jacket and continue to grow, or they will stop at this point and, in a few days, fall off.

It is too soon to evaluate the crop, although it is clear that the Nonpareil and any early blooming varieties were adversely impacted by the rain.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Half Dome, Yosemite

On a clear day with the right light one can see Half Dome at the head of Yosemite Valley from some locations in the Central Valley. The top of Half Dome stands at 8800 feet.  The top of El Capitan (7570 feet) can also be seen in this photograph rising just above the foothills to the left of Half Dome, directly above the truck exhaust pipe. And yes, the snow pack looks good this year.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Stepping up to the Challenge

Foothill Orchard Wednesday 2/15/2017
Yours truly has served on the Production Research Committee of the Almond Board of California since some time in the 1980's. I have always been proud of the commitment our industry has made to discovering the most efficient methods of farming and educating the nearly 7 thousand almond growers in the state of the latest information.

As the industry has grown, and the demand for resources within the state have grown, the challenges continue. Here is a link to an important announcement from the Almond Board of a continuing and growing commitment to being responsible farmers.

Also a couple pictures of the bloom status.

Almond Board of California commits big bucks to innovation fueled future

Valley Orchard Thursday 2/16/2017

Monday, February 6, 2017

Mummies swept to the middle
Mummy removal has been a major activity over the last 6 weeks when the weather has allowed. After being put on the ground we sweep the mummies to the middles so they can be chopped up by the mower.
Mowed Middle with chopped Mummies

In this block we are only mowing every other middle. This preserves some forage for the bees that are being placed in the orchard. Although it just looks green, within the vegetation is blooming chickweed and shepherds purse.

We want to do all we can to have healthy bees!