Almond Buyers Are Curious About The Farm

Buyers of Almonds Are Asking More Questions About Farm Practices

By Patrick Cavanaugh, AgInfo.net

Ben Goudie is membership development with Blue Diamond Growers, who move a lot of almonds around the word.

He noted that buyers of their products for distribution are interested in sustainability growing practices. “You know, in the past sales conversations have been pretty basic, with general questions about price and availability,” said Goudie. “Now, a lot of the sales meetings start with conversations about sustainability, start with conversations about corporate social responsibility and what we’re doing with our growers. What we’re also doing in manufacturing, looking at energy savings, looking at all aspects of sustainability on the corporate level,” h explained.

And the Almond Board of California’s Almond Sustainability Program (CASP) where growers fill out information on their growing practices is part of the information Blue Diamond Growers share where their buyers. “We are using the CASP survey as the basis for our grower information. We are also working on a full and comprehensive sustainability program with our sustainability manager, Catherine Campbell, and she has put together a full package that we supply to our buyers,” Goudie said.

Goudie noted that the in-house sustainability program they’re putting together is comprehensive. “It is pretty robust—everything from energy savings to looking at our distribution and supply chain, how we’ve made savings and looking at our carbon footprint,” he said.

Almond Pollination is Going Strong Throughout California

Keeping Bees Safe and Healthy During Almond Pollination

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

It’s always good to think about those working bees in almond orchards, said Becky Langer the project manager for the North American Bayer CropScience Bee Health Program.

“Bees continue to face multiple challenges and that’s not necessarily new information. I think what we see though as people are getting a better grasp of awareness that pest and diseases continue to be a huge problem in those beehives,” said Langer. “Beekeepers are working very hard to monitor and control those.”

“We know forage and habitat continue to be a huge challenge. We have climate change, which can affect those wild flowers blooming in California during the drought years and then we know that the beekeepers and growers have to continue to communicate with one another, and use all those products according to label.,” she said.

And for almond growers, it’s a good idea if you can the plant a variety of different forages around the orchard, different species of flowers for instance. “That can be a great idea because we know those bees have to eat, and if we can have something blooming year round, it’s the best way to keep the pollinators healthy,” said Langer

 

“They also like diversity in different plant species, different colors, different size flowers. You want them to pollinate your crop, but if you’re offering some alternative resources in the area that keeps them better fed and happier pollinators, which will make better pollinators for the crops,” Langer said.

Langer reminds growers to read those product labels. “This again is going to help to provide a much healthier environment for the pollinators and it’s going to keep the grower in the good graces of the beekeepers too,” she noted

Whole Orchard Recycling

Whole Almond Orchard Recyling is A Next Generation Farming Practice

By  Tim Hammerich with California Ag Today

The Almond Board of California recently announced their $5.9 million investment into next-generation farming practices. The Board is exploring some of these initiatives  as they offer insights into challenges faced by California growers.

Josette Lewis, Director of Agricultural Affairs for the Almond Board of California, says one area these investments have really paid off recently has been in something called whole orchard recycling.

“This is when an orchard gets to the end of its life and the trees are taken out. They’re chipped and deep-ripped into the soil, and then disced over to put that entire orchard biomass, which is a huge amount of woody material, down into the soil…

“We’ve been doing research for quite a number of years that shows that that can improve soil quality: things like water holding capacity, and soil organic matter. It does not seem to pose a particular problem for replant disease or soil-borne pathogens. But very importantly, that research this last year paid off in terms of the California Department of Food and Agriculture has decided to include whole orchard recycling in their healthy soils incentive program.”

Lewis says this incentive program will provide dollars to help growers with the costs of recycling their orchards, which also gives them this benefit of healthier soils long term.

Consistent Production is Key in Almonds

Keep Almond Farming Simple and to the Point

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

Franz Neiderholzer is a UCANR Farm Advisor based in Colusa County and he also works with  growers  farming almonds in Sutter and Yuba Counties.

He says consistent production is the key.“Once the orchard has been laid out and the pruning’s been selected, an you’ve grown trees to fill their space, how do you maintain good production year in and year out for a mature orchard? Consistent production is your goal,” Neiderholzer said

Neiderholzer explains the steps toward good production. “You provide the resources the trees need, set them up, but don’t try to force it,” Neiderholzer said.

“Mother Nature is going to give you the crop that the weather conditions at bloom will allow and whatever environmental conditions occur throughout the rest of the season. But there is no silver bullet. You need to maintain consistent practices and spend money on good bees, an adequate crop protection practices,” Neiderholzer

“Do the fundamentals and the rest of it should follow. So again you need adequate pollination and nut set, careful irrigation in nutrition and protecting the canopy through crop protection practices and adequate nutrition and irrigation,” he said.

Almond Growers Concern About Trade Issues

Farmer Joe Del Bosque Checks In Regarding Almond Season

 

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

Joe Del Bosque is a diversified grower in Western Fresno and  Merced counties.

He noted the almond crop was light this season mostly due to a wet spring that fouled up pollination. “Yes, I think the crop was a little lighter than normal, particularly in some varieties. Some did okay. Some did pretty normal and some were lighter.” Del Bosque said.

And del Bosque said that pest pressure was not particularly heavy.

“The few reports that I’ve seen on worm damage didn’t look too bad. So I think we’re, we’re going to come out okay with pests this past season,” he noted.

And trade issues, particularly with China, continue to be a big concern.

“For almond growers that’s probably our major concerns aside from water. So we hope that they will certainly solve this trade issue so that trade flows more freely,” Del Bosque said.

“It’s not that we haven’t been able to sell our almonds, because we have been able to sell them, but there have probably been some restrictions in the trade and maybe that might have been reflected in the prices,” he said.

“Maybe we should be getting higher prices than we have if we didn’t have these, these trade issues looming over us. And I think the, the worst part about the trade issues is probably the uncertainty of how long we’re going to go with these tariffs,” Del Bosque noted.

New Cost Estimates for Almonds Available

UC ANR Updates Cost Estimates for Growing Almonds

By Pam Kan-Rice UCANR Assistant Director, News and Information Outreach

UC Agricultural Issues Center has released new studies estimating the cost and returns of establishing an almond orchard and producing almonds for three growing regions of California.

“These cost studies are valuable for agricultural producers all along the continuum – growers considering entering into a new crop production business, less experienced growers, and those with decades of experience,” said Emily Symmes, UC Cooperative Extension integrated pest management advisor for the Sacramento Valley. “The information in these cost studies allows growers to evaluate their production practices and associated costs relative to an exemplary hypothetical orchard specific to their geographic region, and can help with development of business models, crop insurance and lending.”

In 2018, almonds ranked third among California commodities, with almond growers receiving nearly $5.5 billion in cash receipts.

The cost analyses are based on hypothetical farming operations of well-managed almond orchards, using cultural practices common to the region. Local growers, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisors and supporting agricultural representatives provided input and reviewed the methods and findings of the studies.

“The recent almond updates for the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys reflect costs associated with the continually evolving conditions facing agriculture,” said Symmes, who co-authored the almond cost studies. “Some of the notable updates include labor, irrigation and pest management costs – all integral to producing and delivering a high-quality crop.”

The researchers based one study in the Sacramento Valley, one in the northern San Joaquin Valley and the other in the southern San Joaquin Valley.

The southern SJV study is based on an orchard that uses double-line drip irrigation, whereas the other two locations use microsprinkler irrigation. All are multi-year studies, estimating costs from removal of the previous orchard, through almond orchard re-establishment and the production years. The economic life of the orchards used in these analyses is 23 to 25 years.

Navel orangeworm (NOW) is a major pest in almond production; Symmes and her co-authors describe in detail the pesticide applications and winter sanitation methods for each location for NOW control and include the costs.

The authors describe the assumptions used to identify current costs for orchard establishment, almond production, material inputs, cash and non-cash overhead. A ranging analysis table shows net returns over a range of prices and yields.

The new studies are titled:

  • Sample Costs to Establish an Orchard and Produce Almonds in the Sacramento Valley – 2019
  • Sample Costs to Establish an Orchard and Produce Almonds in the Northern San Joaquin Valley – 2019
  • Sample Costs to Establish an Orchard and Produce Almonds in the Southern San Joaquin Valley – 2019

The studies are available for free download at the UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics website at http://coststudies.ucdavis.edu. Sample cost of production studies for many other commodities are also available on the website.

For additional information or an explanation of the calculations used in the studies, contact Donald Stewart at the UC Agricultural Issues Center at (530) 752-4651 or destewart@ucdavis.edu. To contact a local UC Cooperative Extension advisor, find the UCCE office in your county at http://ucanr.edu/County_Offices. The Agricultural Issues Center is a statewide program of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources.

UC Agriculture and Natural Resources brings the power of UC research in agriculture, natural resources, nutrition and youth development to local communities to improve the lives of all Californians. Learn more at ucanr.edu.

 

Almond Farm of Future Coming

Almond Board Fueling Farm of the Future with $5.9 Million Research Investment

California almond farmers continue a long history of using research as the catalyst to evolve their practices, continuously challenging themselves to do more.

On Tuesday, Dec. 10th The Almond Board of California (ABC) today announced an investment of $5.9 million dollars in 85 independent research projects exploring next-generation farming practices. With this commitment, the California almond community has invested $89 million in research since 1973 to build a foundation of knowledge on responsible farming practices, food quality and safety and almonds’ impact on human health.

 

A tangible example of the almond community’s commitment to continuous improvement, the Almond Orchard 2025 Goals, launched in January 2019, will leverage this research as farmers strive to meet measurable objectives with the goal of growing almonds in better, safer and healthier ways. The Almond Orchard 2025 Goals Roadmap, released today, outlines the almond community’s sustainability journey in four goal areas, as well as the metrics that the industry’s progress will be measured against.

“The California almond community takes a long-term view of success based on respect for the land and local communities. Earlier this year, the California almond community set four ambitious goals aligning with our vision to make life better by what we grow and how we grow,” says Holly King, chair of the Almond Board of California. “The Almond Orchard 2025 Goals build on decades of progress, fueled by research. Fulfilling these commitments will require hard work, dedication and resources, including funding independent research to test new technologies and sharing the results as these approaches are proven.”

Almond Alliance of California Works For Industry

Almond Alliance Releases the 2019 Advocacy Report

A successful advocacy organization relies on teamwork and collaboration. It takes all of us working together to get to a good place for your business.  Each year we are dealt a new set of challenges and each year we face them with new strategies and tenacity.  While our industry is diverse, we are bound by the commitment to succeed, educate and prevail in this ever-changing political landscape.

The 2019 legislative session was one of the most bizarre and active we have seen in recent years. Our advocacy team worked diligently and tirelessly to defend the industry against harmful legislation and promote logical and practical perspectives when implementing federal and state regulatory changes. 
The Almond Alliance continues to advocate for and defend programs that help in the advancement of our industry.  The Advocacy Report provides a summary of these bills, key policies and issues for your information and review. 
As always, we appreciate your support and invite you to contact us for any questions, comments or to discuss policy and legislation.
Click Here, for your copy of the 2019 Advocacy Report.
Click Here, to view our Advocacy Video.

Mating Disruption For NOW Works

Trials Show that Mating Disruption Works Well to Offset NOW Damage

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

Mating disruption for navel orangeworm works. David Haviland is a UCANR, farm advisor, Kern County. “We all know navel orangeworm is not a simple pest to control and it takes an integrated pest management approach. We know the base of that sanitation—getting rid of all the mummies in the winter to make sure that we reset the clock when navel orangeworm comes back in the spring,” noted Haviland.

“We know that the earlier you harvest, the better you’re going to be. So early and timely harvest is going to help. We know insecticides helped. They’ve been around a while and they’re effective and, certainly, people are using them,” said Haviland. “At the same time, those three things alone don’t always control the pest to the level you need. And that’s where mating disruption can come in as the other leg on the IPM chair.”

Haviland has tested the mating disruption products. Currently, there are three different groups of products registered. There are the aerosol products that releases pheromone throughout at certain intervals throughout the season. The second group, what we call the Meso emitter, that’s a rubber strip that’s hung in the trees that passively releases the pheromone all year and the third group, which is new, is as a sprayable pheromone. It’s one that you put in the tank and you spray it along with an insecticide or fungicide.

“In 2017 trials the big take-home message this that all three of the aerosol products were effective. They all work well, as does the Meso emitter, so all those work about the same,” noted Haviland.

In 2017/2018 Haviland had larger trials that confirmed their previous results. “The earlier trial showed a 40 to 50% reduction in damage, while the later trial on larger acreage showed a 60 to 70% reduction in damage, which was a positive return on investment to the grower,” he said.  In 2018, Haviland conducted the first UC trial on sprayable pheromone products.  They did not work very well.

Almond Board Selects Winner of Mummy Shake Contest

 

Amber Scheel Steals the Show in Mummy Shake Video Contest

The Almond Board of California (ABC) is proud to announce the winner of this year’s Mummy Shake Video Contest – the Scheel family!

The Scheels are third-generation almond growers in the Ripon/Manteca area. In their video, Amber Scheel dances along to the Mummy Shake while donned in typical mummy garb, with interludes of a side-to-side sway with her mother, Karen, and an appearance from her father Dave, who manages the family’s farming operation.

“When we received a flyer in the mail about the contest, we were so excited to make a video,” said Amber. “I dance professionally, and the contest called for singing and dancing, which is right in my wheelhouse.

“I really wanted to be true to the era of music that the Monster Mash, which inspired the Mummy Shake, came from. I watched 1950’s dance videos and old movies with monsters in them to get inspired. But, of course, in some cases the lyrics told me what to do, like doing ‘The Worm’ to represent ‘navel orangeworm spouses.’”

The Almond Board created the parody song “The Mummy Shake” to help remind growers to break the link between Navel Orangeworm (NOW) and mummy nuts. Now finished with its second year, ABC’s Mummy Shake Video Contest encourages industry members to gather up their friends and family, don their Halloween costumes and dance along to the song in the spirit of both Halloween and the need go back into the orchard postharvest to remove mummy nuts. Participants had from Sept. 16 to Nov. 4 to submit their fun video entries.

Winter Sanitation Should Not be Ignored…

Winter is the time to remove and destroy mummy nuts that harbor NOW larvae, which can hatch in the spring and wreak havoc in the orchard. By removing the nuts, growers are eliminating both a shelter and food source for these overwintering pests. This practice falls in line with the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program for NOW, established by the University of California with support from ABC, which includes different tactics to combat this pest depending on the time of the year.

“Winter sanitation is the core of IPM programs,” said UCCE farm advisor David Haviland, whose family won the contest last year. In their video, Haviland’s sons dressed in super hero costumes and used their super powers to remove mummy nuts from the trees.

…Let’s Follow Tips from the Almond Board!

Growers should keep these key tips in mind when preparing to remove mummy nuts from their orchards and do the “mummy shake”:

Growers should knock all mummies off their trees no later than Jan. 15.
To note: Winter sanitation is most effective when dew has formed or after it’s rained because mummy nuts will have absorbed some moisture, making them heavier and more likely to fall. In addition, a wet orchard floor helps to increase NOW mortality rates.
Both hard- and soft-shell varieties can harbor overwintering NOW, so growers must be sure to remove mummies in both types.
Growers should aim to have fewer than two mummies per tree before bud swell (around Feb. 1). However, growers in the San Joaquin Valley should aim for less than one mummy per tree.
Once on the ground, mummy nuts should be swept into windrows and destroyed either by flail mowing or disking them into the soil, by March. 15.
“We’ve been stressing the importance of winter sanitation for many years, but with increased levels of insect damage in recent crops we decided to shake things up to get growers’ attention,” said Daren Williams, senior director of Global Communications at the Almond Board. “A parody of the Halloween classic ‘Monster Mash’ seemed like a perfect fit given the timing, coinciding with the end of harvest, and the video contest is a fun way to engage growers and their families to spread the word on a serious issue.”

The Scheel family’s winning video, shown below, will be featured at The Almond Conference 2019, held Dec. 10-12 at Cal Expo in Sacramento, among all other submissions in a fun video mash up. There’s still time to register for this premier industry event – visit AlmondConference.com to RSVP for luncheons, book a hotel and check out this year’s agenda.