Sacramento Valley Crop Webinars Scheduled

UCCE Sutter-Yuba-Colusa Continuing Education Seminars:

Sept-Oct 2020

University of California Cooperative Extension Sutter-Yuba-Colusa will hold a series of webinars in September and October providing research updates on many of the major crops in the Sacramento Valley. The classes are relevant to growers throughout California and are primarily focused on pest management and pesticide safety.

October WalnutsThe September 9th webinar will feature Franz Niederholzer, Orchard Systems Advisor.

“We will be reviewing proven almond IPM practices with an eye to reducing input costs, where possible, while delivering effective pest control,” says Niederholzer. He has been working in almonds in the Sacramento Valley for almost 20 years.

Amber Vinchesi-Vahl, Vegetable Crops Advisor, will give her webinar on September 16th. She states, “I will be providing information on important pest issues in vegetables and the latest research updates on disease and weed management in processing tomatoes and cucumber beetles in melons.” Her research on tomatoes covers cultivator trials for within-row weed control and monitoring of soilborne fungal pathogens.

California-rice-field with Sutter Buttes in BackgroundWhitney Brim-DeForest, Rice and Wild Rice Advisor, will present September 30th. “The webinar will provide an opportunity for discussion and interaction about weed identification,” she says.

“We will also cover the latest research updates on specific weed species, resistance management, and new herbicides in rice.”

The information is relevant to both organic and conventional rice growers, so all are encouraged to attend.

The final webinar will take place on October 7, and will be given by Sarah Light, Agronomy Advisor.

“We will cover opportunities to decrease environmental risk through pesticide selection and application, accurate diagnosis, and reduction of loss to the environment,” said Light.

Enrollment is limited, so register early. The cost is $20 for 1, $35 for 2, $50 for 3, and $60 for 4 webinars. For more details or to register, visit

DPR CE credits are approved (4 “other” hours total, 1 per class), and CCA credits have been approved for IPM credits (4 hours total, 1 per class).

If you have questions, contact Whitney Brim-DeForest [ or call the UCCE Sutter-Yuba office at (530) 822-7515].


Is it Salt Damage or Almond Leaf Scorch

Salt Damage and Almond Leaf Scorch Look Similar

By Patrick Cavanaugh

Franz Niederholzer is a UCANR Cooperative Extension Orchard System Advisor based in Colusa County. In his area some growers are seeing symptoms on their almond leaves and they don’t know if it’s leaf scorch or chloride damage.

“Could it be salt damaged, take a sample for chloride and sodium. Just to check that box,” Niederholzer said.

He said to send those leaf samples to an agricultural lab. “If that comes back negative, there are labs that do test for the bacteria Xylella fastidios that causes almond leaf scorch. Answer that question,” he said. “The symptoms are similar, but not exactly the same. The chloride test is easier to do, but if it comes back that the chloride levels are low, then that leaves you with the option of testing for the almond leaf scorch bacteria, to be absolutely certain that that’s what’s going on,” Niederholzer explained.

And Niederholzer said, depending on where you’re growing your almonds in the Northern Sacramento Valley harvest could be starting about two weeks from now.

“I bet that’d be some people going in the next 10 days at the very earliest site. Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, but on the farthest West side where there are some gravelly soil, things happen early. So those are the earliest sites in the Sacramento Valley,” Niederholzer said. “I know the weather between now and then could alter things, but I wouldn’t be surprised that somebody was shaking first week of August.”

The 2020 Almond Crop Set to Be 3 Billion Meat Pounds



By Patrick Cavanaugh with the Ag Information Network

Three billion pounds! That’s the California almond objective measurement report done by the USDA and the National Agricultural Statistic Service. It’s up 18% from the 2019 crop.

Holly King is a Kern County almond grower and chair of the Almond Board of California. “I’ve always thought, boy, when the stars line up, we are going to blow the doors off the barn with production,” she said. “And this is the year with the acres we’ve got planted, it’s not a surprise that we could get to 3 billion. We just certainly got there a little sooner than we thought, an it’s a big jump from last year, for sure,” said King.

King noted that the crops were down in the last few years when there were pollination problems because of weather. “So this year we did not. It just was picture perfect and the trees are performing and you can sure see it in the numbers. I know the North got hit harder by moisture last year and the trees had a little bit of arrest and boy, you start looking at the nut, count on the trees in northern California, and it’s huge,” said King.

And, globally consumers love almonds. “We are fortunate that they aren’t a very perishable crop, not like growing produce,” King said. And they are heart healthy. They’re nutrient dense. They’re portable, and they’re affordable. So we’re very fortunate that our product has that many attributes that are certainly more in demand. On top of that, people are asking not only is it good for them, but is it good for the planet? And we have a good story to tell,” noted King.

USDA-NASS Projects California Almond Crop Up 18 Percent to 3 Billion Meat Pounds

The California Almond Objective Measurement Report, published today by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), estimates that the 2020 crop will be 3.00 billion meat pounds, up 18% from the 2019 crop production of 2.55 billion pounds.[1] This estimate is even with the 3.00 billion pounds estimated in the California Almond Subjective Forecast, published in May 2020.

According to the 2020 Objective Report, the average nut set per tree is 5,645, up 21% from the 2019 almond crop. The Nonpareil average nut set is 5,621, up 27% from last year’s set. The average kernel weight for all varieties sampled was 1.51 grams, down 2 percent from the 2019 average weight.

“This year’s crop is proof that California is the perfect place to grow almonds,” said Holly A. King, Kern County almond grower and Chair of the Almond Board of California (ABC) Board of Directors. “Perfect weather during bloom, coupled with the steps almond growers have taken to ensure our orchards provide a healthy environment for honey bees and other pollinators, resulted in the abundant crop we are seeing on the trees up and down the Central Valley.”

Recent disruptions in global trade due to COVID-19, and ongoing trade disputes and negotiations with China and other key markets extending into the year, have caused some short-term challenges with the current crop, but the long-term outlook remains positive.

“As a shelf stable and nutritious food enjoyed by consumers around the world, we’ve weathered these disruptions in pretty good shape,” said Almond Board President and CEO Richard Waycott. “Domestic and export shipments are up year-to-date, and we expect global demand to be stronger than ever as we market this year’s record crop.”

While the Subjective Forecast provides an initial estimate of the 2020/2021 crop, the Objective Report is based on actual almond counts and uses a more statistically rigorous methodology to determine yield. In Dec. 2019, ABC’s Board of Directors approved a modified sampling protocol to further improve the accuracy of USDA-NASS’s reporting. From this year forward, the Objective Report will include measurements from 1,000 target orchards throughout the state (an increase of 150 samples from 2019) and provide nut counts on not one but two branches per tree. The Objective Report will also provide the weight, size and grade of the average almond sample broken down by growing region – no longer growing district – and variety.

USDA-NASS conducts the annual Objective ReportSubjective Forecast and Acreage Report to provide the California almond industry with the data needed to make informed business decisions, and thanks all farm operators, owners and management entities for their time in providing the information necessary to create these reports. These reports are the official industry crop estimates.

Bee Friendly Farming Promoted By Almond Board

Almond Board Launches Bee+ Scholarship to Promote Bee Friendly Farming


 The Almond Board of California (ABC) and Pollinator Partnership are proud to announce the alignment of ABC’s California Almond Sustainability Program (CASP)[1] and Pollinator Partnership’s Bee Friendly Farming (BFF) program to promote the importance of providing pollinators with nutritional forage. To further support almond growers in planting pollinator habitat, the Almond Board is simultaneously launching its Bee+ Scholarship, through which it will provide free cover crop seed to 100 almond growers through Project Apis m.’s Seeds for Bees program. The scholarship will also cover the cost for growers to register for the BFF program.

The CASP and BFF program alignment and Bee+ Scholarship expand on a commitment made in the Pollinator Protection Plan, announced in January, to promote pollinator health and biodiversity by encouraging almond growers to provide habitat for pollinators in or near their orchards.

“Protecting and improving honey bee health, not only during the short time that bees are in our orchards but year round, is critical to the success of every almond grower. By working with national organizations such as Pollinator Partnership and Project Apis m., we are expanding our focus to all pollinators, viewing working lands as part of biodiverse ecosystems,” said Almond Board Chief Scientific Officer Josette Lewis, Ph.D.

“Responsible farming is at the heart of what the California almond community does. ABC’s Bee+ Scholarship and the alignment between CASP and BFF allow us to increase our support to growers as they remain committed to growing almonds in better, safer and healthier ways, adding biodiversity to their farms, and improving outcomes for pollinators.”

Funding provided by ABC’s Bee+ Scholarship will allow growers to plant an estimated 3,500 acres of quality pollinator forage statewide – that’s in addition to the cover crop seed Project Apis m. typically distributes directly to almond growers through their Seeds for Bees program each year.[2] Currently, over half of almond growers participating in ABC’s California Almond Sustainability Program report allowing native cover crops to grow in their orchards.[3] This scholarship will help to convert more of those native cover crops to quality pollinator forage.

Partnerships Work to Best Serve Pollinators, Almond Industry

With the alignment of the CASP and BFF programs, almond growers who complete assessments in CASP specifically focused on bee health and pest management, and who meet certain BFF criteria, will qualify to register for the BFF program and become Bee Friendly certified. This certification will allow growers and their processors to use the Bee Friendly Farming logo on their product, and growers will be publicly recognized on Pollinator Partnership’s website as being a “Bee Friendly Farm” – in addition to receiving a BFF metal sign to display on their property.

The criteria to become Bee Friendly certified[4] are as follows:

  • provide cover crop forage in or near orchards
  • provide bloom of different flowering plants throughout the growing season
  • offer clean water for pollinators
  • provide habitat for nesting via hedgerows, natural brush and more
  • practice integrated pest management

“Pollinator Partnership’s Bee Friendly Farming program is a perfect conduit to increase pollinator benefits and to ensure protection and sustainability within the almond industry. Almond growers are terrific partners in best management practices, and we look forward to a close and growing relationship in support of pollinators and producers,” said Laurie Adams, president and CEO of Pollinator Partnership.

Because the CASP and BFF program alignment focuses on providing nutritional forage to supplement the diets of native pollinators in addition to honey bees, the decision to launch the Bee+ Scholarship and encourage greater forage planting among growers was a natural complement to the industry’s broader pollinator health initiatives.

“With a crop that relies primarily on honey bees for pollination, it is in almond growers’ best interest to ensure their orchards are a safe place for bees each spring,” said Billy Synk, director of Pollination Programs for Project Apis m.

Seeds for Bees aims to provide California farmers with a variety of seed mixes that bloom at critical times of the year when natural forage is scarce, but managed and native bees are active. While the mixes are designed to meet the nutritional needs of honey bees, they also provide habitat and nutrition for other pollinators and beneficial insects. Research supported by Project Apis m. and the Almond Board has shown that pollinator habitat is fully compatible with typical almond production practices and does not interfere with important growing activities like harvest.

“Working together with organizations like the Almond Board of California, Pollinator Partnership and many more, along with many researchers, almond growers and beekeepers, we can achieve far more collectively than we can separately,” said Project Apis m. Executive Director Danielle Downey. “These collaborations, focused on research and data, communication and forage, are a critical component to the long-term sustainability of beekeeping and almonds.”

Almond Leafout Problem Is Not Widespread


Leafout Problems In Almonds Not New

By Patrick Cavanaugh with the Ag Information Network of the West

The leafout problem in almonds has been around a couple of years, throughout Northern California, said Luke Milliron, a UCANR orchard system, farm advisor serving Butte, Glenn, and Tehama Counties.

Milliron explained that the leafout problem in almonds is not exactly new. “Some of these orchards have actually had the problem for a number of years now. Dani Lightle former advisor in Glenn County observed a number of orchards in Tehama County with the problem and going back to those same orchards this year, she said some of those growers say that it’s been getting worse in those blocks and the trees really don’t look good,” Milliron said. “But it’s certainly not something that’s affecting, for example, every Monterey tree, which is usually more susceptible to the problem.”

“There are orchards across the state that looked fabulous, so it’s highly variable between blocks and within blocks it might only be a low percentage of the trees being affected,” Milliron noted.

The reason for this disorder is not really widely known, but there are theories.

“Having warm winters and potentially this problem being in those varieties because of some genetic predisposition. Plus, why are we seeing it on some trees and not others? Well, maybe those trees had other stresses such as Anthracnose or mites or some other stressor at play that led them to be pushed into this stress, vegetative leaf failure state,” Milliron said.

Almond Board Election Underway

Voting Starts Today for Many Positions on Almond Board

 Voting will begin April 29 to select one independent grower member and alternate position and two independent handler members and alternate positions on the Almond Board of California (ABC) Board of Directors. These positions will serve terms beginning on August 1, 2020.

Candidates for the independent grower position are:

Position One, Member (One-year term):
Paul Ewing, Los Banos (petitioner)
Louie Ott, Modesto (petitioner)
Mike Mason, Wasco (petitioner)

Position One, Alternate:
Joe Gardiner, Earlimart (petitioner)
Brad Klump, Escalon (petitioner)

Candidates for the independent handler positions are:
Position One, Member (Three-year term):
Terry Boone, Modesto (petitioner)
Alexi Rodriguez, Caruthers (petitioner)
Micah Zeff, Modesto (petitioner)

Position One, Alternate:
Ron Fisher, Modesto (incumbent)

Position Three, Member (One-year term):
Jonathan Hoff, Denair (petitioner)
Darren Rigg, Le Grand (petitioner)

Position Three, Alternate:

Chad DeRose, McFarland (petitioner)
Dave Phippen, Manteca (petitioner)
Ballots and instructions have been mailed to all independent growers whose names are on file with ABC. The Almond Board must receive ballots by May 27, 2020, for them to be counted. If an independent grower or a handler does not receive a ballot, one may be obtained by contacting ABC’s Bunnie Ibrahim, senior analyst, Government Affairs, at (209) 343-3228 or a governing body for the industry, the ABC Board of Directors is comprised of five handler and five grower representatives who set policy and recommend budgets in several major areas including production research, global market development, public relations and advertising, nutrition research, statistical reporting, quality control and food safety.

Almond Board Wants More Efficient Irrigation

Almond Board Goal: More Crop Per Drop of Water

By Patrick Cavanaugh, with the AgInfo Network 

Jossett Lewis has Chief Scientific Officer with the Almond Board of California. And this is a big goal of the Almond Board more efficiency in water use for almonds.

“We’re tackling this from two directions. One is to improve irrigation efficiency and to get more crop per drop,” said Lewis. “So our goal of decreasing the amount of water by 20% needed to grow a pound of almonds is our Orchard 2025 goal in this area. And we’ll focus attention on how to improve the efficiency of operating irrigation systems. We’ve had really great adoption already of high efficiency systems like micro sprinklers and drip,” she said.

And the almond board is funding research and doing grower outreach to find out when an almond tree actually needs the water.

“We have a goal of more precise timing of the application of that water, which can pay off, particularly in getting more yield for the same amount of water,” Lewis said. “A large part of achieving that goal is actually improving the efficiency of how we time irrigation so that it matches up closely with the needs that the tree, so we can get more yield for the same amount of water. So that’s an area of continued work and a lot of outreach,” Lewis explained.

Patience on Irrigating Almonds

When To Start Irrigating Almonds


By Tim Hammerich, with the AgInfo Network

When to start the irrigation on those almond orchards? Most growers want to get out there early to get the trees the water they need and to apply nitrogen through fertigation. However, there are risks associated with starting irrigation too early. This according to Dave Doll, who spent 10 years as a UC Farm Advisor in Madera County and is currently managing a farming operation in Portugal.

“The risks you have about starting the irrigation season too early is that you apply too much water that reduces the amount of oxygen within the root zone that depletes the ability for the tree to develop feeder roots or find feeder roots, which help with nutrient and water uptake,” said Doll. “So as such, what we would recommend and what still is a recommendation from my perspective and what we’re doing on an operation here, is to evaluate these trees for water demand in the spring before we start our application.”

“And this can be done through the use of a pressure chamber, which measures stem water potential, or even watching soil moisture probes to make sure that you’re getting a depletion in your top two feet of in soil moisture before you start applying in irrigation,” noted Doll.” And this in essence, will help you have better water management or more resiliency in your water management as a tree continues to grow and the temperatures pick up.”

Be Aware of Yield Robbing Ants in Almond Orchards

Late April and May Are a Crucial Time to Survey Orchard for Ants

By Patrick Cavanaugh, with

Ants potentially can be a serious problem in almond orchards said Kris Tollerup a UC Cooperative Extension Area Wide IPM advisor based at the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension center in Parlier, southeast or Fresno. “Ants can be a very serious problem,” Tollerup said.I’ve had growers get up to 12% damage, but the interesting thing is that there’s only a couple of ant species that are really important.”


And Tollerup said that’s the Southern fire ant and the pavement ant. And we asked Tollerup how a grower would go about identifying these ants. “You can go out and collect some ants using corn chips in vials and put out several vials into the orchard and collect them in the morning and throw them in the freezer and the next day, put them out on a plate and look at them with a hand lens. And there’s some very good resources on the University of California IPM website that’ll help identify those ants,” he said.

Tollerup noted sampling should be done anytime through April and May.It gives you plenty of time to get out there, identify those ants, and see what you got,” he said. “And the interesting thing is that you don’t have to sample, but just one time a year or maybe even one time every couple of years because ants don’t reinvest orchards very, very quickly.”

And if you have an ant issue, go to the UCI PM website on ants where they also have recommendations on control products. Again, over the next six weeks is a good time to be looking for those yield-robbing ants.