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Agronomist Update: Planning for 2019 CA Almond Production

October 25, 2018
This agronomic image displays the effect of different sprays on almonds.

Threats to almond crops occur both below and above ground, and we want to help you develop a well-rounded management program. At this year’s CAPCA Conference, we brought in our agronomist Garrett Gilcrease to provide key takeaways from 2018 almond season to be prepared for 2019.

What is the current state of the almond and nut industry, and what can we expect moving forward?
Almonds have a very confined growing area. Acres only have about a 25-30 year lifespan, so when the market drops, those older trees are pushed, as they are not as viable. This limits acreage and reduces overproduction, as well as outside competition. Other nuts, like walnuts or pistachios, can be grown anywhere. Walnuts and pistachios have a much longer lifespan, and this allows the market to stay saturated if no new outlets are found. Combine this with large outside competition in these 2 nuts, and you have less leverage than almonds do.

Almonds are much more versatile than walnuts and pistachios. They are also one of the cheapest, most shelf stable forms of protein you can buy, making it a good go-to for countries in need of protein.

There have been reports that naval orangeworm (NOW) could be an issue in 2019. What have you seen as almond harvest heads toward the finish line?

Almonds have been hammered with even the cleanest grower being around 1 to 1.5% damage, which is not good or acceptable. Pistachios have been clean though.

What steps can growers take after harvest to minimize this pest going into 2019?

Sanitize and spray pollinators. Don’t wait until 1% split inside the orchard to begin applications.

Syngenta offers the Soil Pathogen Assessment program. What are this year’s findings in terms of Phytophthora presence in our state’s orchards?

Very similar to last year, in that we took over 1,300 samples this year and are right around 80% positive. This stuff is all over the Valley, but it’s not an issue in some orchards and a very large one in others. I will say that the majority of rootstocks are on Nemaguard, and it is thought to be resistant to Phytophthora, but we have seen research showing susceptibility.

What key pieces of advice do you have for growers going into next season?

Navel orangeworm is a massive pest. If you weren’t hit last year you might have gotten lucky, or you might just be really good at sanitation. However, understanding this isn’t a one spray pest is something that needs to be budgeted for. Water is always an issue in California. We didn’t have a very wet winter last year and depleted a lot of reserves this year. Hopefully, we’ll have a wet winter this year to make up for that. Also, we had a lot of brown almond mites. Generally these aren’t a big problem, and can be taken care of with a good dormant spray in that fall timing around that scab application timing, to give you good fungal and insect protection well into the next season.

Including Besiege® insecticide and Minecto® Pro insecticide at hullsplit in a season-long management program delivers effective control of NOW at a critical timing. Besiege provides broad-spectrum lepidopteran control with excellent knockdown and long-lasting residual. Minecto Pro controls a wide range of lepidopteran pests plus mites with long lasting residual control.

Contact your Syngenta representative to learn more about soil sampling through the Soil Pathogen Assessment (SPA) that assesses Phytophthora infections on an orchard-by-orchard basis.

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