Almond Export Diversification Helps During Tariff War

Overseas Markets are Vast for Almond Industry

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

Diversification is a strength, Richard Waycott, president of the Almond Board of California, told California Ag Today recently. The Almond Board of California is a nonprofit organization that administers a grower enacted federal marketing order under the supervision of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. When it comes to any losses due to a tariff war in China, the almonds can be redirected to other countries.

“It’s fortunate to be as diversified as we are. Always a strength of this industry is the diversification of our overseas markets,” Waycott said. “I think whatever volume we ultimately do lose—if we do lose volume to China—can be redirected and absorbed by other markets.”

The USDA has opened up a direct payment program to the almond industry if growers were to lose any money in a tariff war.

As those programs were announced, by far the largest piece of the pie, $6 billion, initially was directed to the soybean and corn growers and livestock, while the specialty crops were completely left out of it.

“We got together with the Almond Alliance of California and some of our industry members made a very concerted effort while there was still time to do so before the rules around these programs and those that got to participate were set in stone and were able to convince the powers that be … to open up to the direct payment program to almonds, and the sweet cherry industry did the same,” Waycott explained

Waycott also commented on the epic frost that hit almonds this past spring. And he is not sure of the impact on the crop.

“We realized that we don’t understand the impact of frost on almonds all that well because we saw one side of the street there was quite a bit of damage, while on the other side there was no damage. So I think there’s mother nature at work here that, you know, we don’t necessarily completely understand,” Waycott said.

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Lessening Negative Feelings Over Trade War

Walnut Processors Maintain Optimism

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

California Ag Today recently spoke with Paul Wenger, past president of the California Farm Bureau Federation. He farms 700 acres of almonds and walnuts in Stanislaus County. He said that California Farmers and other stakeholders of the industry need to be less negative about the current trade war with China.

Almond and Walnut Grower Paul Wenger

“The more we talk negatively, the more that negative things are going to happen,” he said. “As I talked to walnut processors. They’re optimistic. That’s good news. I’ve talked to some walnut processors and said, ‘Well, what’s going to happen this year?’ We shouldn’t expect much as far as prices.”

“Marketing is always a self-fulfilling prophecy and it’s more psychology than it is anything,” Wenger said. “We are one of the largest producers now. Certainly, China is the largest producer. But China had a terrible crop and so they need walnuts, and so strange things can happen and the Chinese are always one that can bend the rules when they need.”

“We know that’s why President Trump has been going after China supposedly over some of these intellectual properties. Certainly, those aren’t the things that hurt agriculture, but we in agriculture are paying the price as we look at these countervailing tariffs that are coming on,” Wenger said.

Wenger explained that the Chinese know that, throughout the Midwest, it was the farm vote that helped and the rural states that helped bring home a victory for the president, so they’re going to go after President Trump.

A large amount of product was sold last season at a low price.

“We just go through the Affordable Care Act and then the port slowdown on the 2015 crop, which went into the 2016 crop, which was a little better We got a little bit better than 2017 crop was a good year for us,” Wenger said. ‘So you’re looking at a pretty good ’18 and now this happens.”

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Irrigation Improvement Continuum Part of Almond Board’s CASP

California Almond Sustainability Program Offers Big Help to Growers

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

The Almond Board of California has an Irrigation Improvement Continuum, which is part of the California Almond Sustainability Program (CASP). California Ag Today recently spoke with Spencer Cooper, senior manager of irrigation and water efficiency with the Almond Board of California, about the program.

CASP
Spencer Cooper, Almond Board

The Irrigation Improvement module allows growers to move through from the most basic to the most advanced.

“We’re key on growers understanding the fundamentals and foundation of irrigation management practices,” Cooper said. “The more we can get out there with growers understanding the basics, the more we can advance and continue to be progressive and leaders in the industry.”

Cooper said if growers sign up for CASP at SustainableAlmondGrowing.org and complete all nine modules, growers will receive a copy of the Almond Irrigation Improvement Continuum, a 154-page of soup to nuts on irrigation management that has taken more then 40 years of research that almond growers have funded.

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Navel Orangeworm Pressure Could Be Increasing in Almonds

Lack of Good Sanitation Leads to High Navel Orangeworm Numbers

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

It could be another heavy year for Navel Orangeworm (NOW). David Haviland, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor for Kern County and entomologist told California Ag Today that sanitation in almond orchards over the winter was not as good as it could have been.

“Everything right now is about trying to prevent a repeat from last year, and it is a little tricky so we know that sanitation wasn’t as good this winter as it generally should be,” he said. “The best time to shake NOW mummy nuts from an almond tree is after a rain when the nuts are heavier.”

David Haviland on Pyrethroid Review
David Haviland

However, rains came late this season, and by the time the rains left, there was only a few weeks before spring.

“This left a very short window to get any shaking done, and some people did an excellent job during that window to sanitize and other people just couldn’t get around all their acreage,” Haviland said. “On average across the whole industry, sanitation was not up to where it should have been, and it gave growers a difficult start to the season.”

NOW could be early this year, but the crop is on time.

“With all of this prolonged hot temperatures, particularly high night-time temperatures, the trees are shutting down a little bit at night compared to what they would do if the nighttime temperatures were cooler,” Haviland explained.

As a result, harvest is not coming as quickly as people would like.

“The problem is that the longer the nuts are in the orchard, the greater chance there will be NOW damage,” he said.

Timely crop protection sprays are recommended.

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Navel Orangeworm Prevention Critical

High Navel Orangeworm Numbers Statewide

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor
mycotoxins
Bob Klein

Almonds are deep into hull split, and it is absolutely critical to control any damage from navel orangeworm (NOW), the number one pest in almonds and pistachios. California Ag Today spoke with Bob Klein, manager of the California Pistachio Research Board, about the issue.

“One of the big control strategies for NOW should have happened many months ago during the winter, such as cold sanitation,” he said.

Pest programs start with orchard sanitation. Many growers are lax on sanitation or spend low amounts.

“Those who do stringent jobs are spending $200-$250 an acre on sanitation. And so growers need to be prepared to pay that as far as insecticide applications,” Klein said.

Critical questions that need to be addressed are what you are going to choose to apply and how you are going to time it. When growers are gearing up to put on protective sprays, there are things to remember to increase efficacy. There are always ways in which application can be improved.

If you have a ground rig with fan sprayers, you can get a high kill rate on the lower canopy. You may have to make multiple applications to be able to penetrate the higher portions of the trees.

“You need to look at where your NOW is and maybe make multiple applications. So you can cover both the lower two-thirds of the tree and the top third,” Klein said.

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A Plan of Attack for the Dusty Almond Harvest

Reducing Almond Harvest Dust Keeps Neighbors Happy

By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor
Jesse Guadian

Dust management is an issue that almond growers and their surrounding neighbors face annually. With almond harvest fast approaching, dust control is crucial to keeping our air clean. Jesse Guadian with D & J Farm Management of Kern County knows first hand the steps it takes to cut down on dust.

“We’re in the San Joaquin Valley, where dust is a problem, especially if you’re close to schools and homes,” Guadian said.

Reducing air particles is a year-round job for D & J Farm Management, thinking about excess plant material in the air before weeds even begin to present an issue. This allows for fewer passes through the field when it comes time to mow, ultimately reducing the amount of decomposed plant content in the air.

“We’re reducing all that plant material that stays on the surface … to try to eliminate some of that dust,” Guadian said.

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Almond Industry is Strong at 1.3 Million Acres

Almond Industry’s Vision is Continued Strength

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

The vision and the overall business model of the almond industry in California are looking very strong. Richard Waycott, president and CEO of the Almond Board of California, expanded on these strengths in a recent interview with California Ag Today.

“One way that the almond industry has achieved success is the fact that we are very resource rich, and the Almond Board of California is blessed by very strong support financially and strategically for the industry,” Waycott said.

Richard Waycott, Almond Board
Richard Waycott, Almond Board President and CEO

“We have the ability to work on very serious projects and programs for California agriculture and because of our size, just over 1.3 million acres, we can have a tremendous impact on the ecology of the state, on environmental practices, on ag practices that can then obviously be disseminated and taken advantage of by other California agriculture,”  Waycott explained.

Waycott said the almond industry’s role is to produce this wonderful food product for human consumption.

“The hulls and shells [are used] for other purposes, and we’re working very hard on that to determine new applications for those co-products, but then again to use the financial and the talent and treasurer of the industry and the size of the industry to innovate more rapidly and provide for constructive change,” Waycott explained.

Excellent business practices is a part of the Almond Board of California’s mission.

“We do see almonds as being a crop that should be grown in California, and it’s producing a product that should be consumed more by humans,” Waycott said. “The industry strives to farm more sustainably in the future than we do today and to provide for more automation in the industry, better grow our practices is what our mission is, and we’re very much on a road to executing that in a very responsible, in an innovative way.”

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Elaine Trevino to Head Almond Alliance of California

Trevino Chosen After Big Search

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

The Almond Alliance of California (AAC) has named Elaine Trevino as its new President and CEO. Trevino will provide oversight of the organization’s operations, communications, government relations and overall advocacy efforts on behalf of California’s almond industry.

In addition, she will manage the organization’s various industry strategic partnerships, initiatives and memberships across the state of California. Based in Modesto, Trevino will report directly to Brad Craven, Chairman of the Almond Alliance of California, and general manager of Superior Almond Hulling of Cantua Creek, CA.

“We are excited to have Elaine be part of our team,” Craven said in a news release. “She brings a wealth of experience, statewide relationships, extensive community outreach, public policy, government affairs and strategic partnerships. We look forward to having her contribute to the continued advocacy efforts of California’s almond industry. In looking for a new president of the Almond Alliance, we knew that the almond industry has enjoyed a lot of success, making this position attractive to a large pool of candidates. In order to enjoy continued success, our organization will also need to take on any challenges or threats head-on, with integrity and confidence. This is what Elaine brings to the Almond Alliance.”

Most recently, Trevino was President of California Strategic Solutions, a consulting company focused in business development, community outreach and delivering comprehensive strategies for complex issues. Trevino has diverse experience in both the public and private sectors in the areas of agriculture, transportation, community development and technology. She is a recognized leader in the Central Valley and understands the importance of strong bi-partisan relationships. Equally important, Elaine understands the value of communication and outreach to all segments of the California almond community.

Chairman Craven praised Interim President Andrea York for her efforts over the past few months.

“The board deeply appreciates Andrea stepping up from her busy role as Government Affairs Manager and taking on the additional responsibilities as Interim President,” he said. “We look forward to Andrea working closely with Elaine on the broad range of issues vital to the almond community.”

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Freeze Damage Could Be Wide Spread

Deep Freeze May Have Caused Significant Damage to Almonds, Tree Fruit

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

Editor’s note: Photo shows freeze damage to almonds ovule. On right is healthy ovule. On left, ovule died due to deep freeze. (Photo: Kern County Farm Bureau.)

While possible  freeze damage is still being calculated, we know that many areas of almonds and tree fruit have been damaged from recent hard freeze across the state, with temperatures as low as 23 degrees.

Daniel Jackson of Family Tree Farms, based in Reedley, reported that at least one block of peaches on sandy ground was lost.

“The sandy ground could not hold water to protect the roots from the freeze,” he said.

Jackson explained that the five-generation operation is waiting to see if more damage was suffered by the trees.

Significant almond damage could be widespread as the freezing temperatures struck the trees in full bloom.  If there is significant losses, it could result in higher almond prices around the world.

A report from Joel Nelsen, President 0f California Citrus Mutual, based in Exeter, noted no damage to the state’s citrus crops.

With California growers, ranchers, producers, and rural landowners experiencing recent freezing temperatures sweeping the state, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has multiple agencies that provide financial and/ or technical assistance to recover from natural disasters, such as freeze.

Listed below is an overview of applicable programs provided by the Farm Service Agency (FSA).

  • Tree Assistance Program: Provides financial assistance to replant or rehabilitate eligible trees, bushes and vines damaged by natural disasters. Forests are not eligible.
  • Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP): Provides compensation to producers who grow uninsurable crops and have purchased NAP coverage by the crop signup date.
  • For more information, visit http:// difsa.usda.gov

Please contact your local FSA County Office as soon as possible. Your local FSA specialists are available to assist you with the programs listed above and more.

 

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ReTain Increases Yields

ReTain Now For Aerial Use in Almonds, To Extend Bloom Time

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

ReTain plant growth regulator from Valent is now registered for aerial use in almonds.

“ReTain was registered for use on almonds this past growing season, and this past winter, California Department of Pesticide Regulation registered it for aerial use, so now it can be applied by air as well as a ground applications,” said Pat Clay, a field development manager with Valent USA.

“It really helps with making a timely application across large acreage.  ReTain works best when applied at 30 to 60 percent bloom and being able to go by air allows for more ground to be covered as well as target those applications to that specific bloom time,” he explained.

ReTain extends the viable bloomed time in almonds.

“ReTain reduces ethylene production on the almond flower,” Clay said. “Ethylene is responsible for senescence (aging) of the floral organs, particularly the stigmatic surface. So by applying ReTain, it’s extending the viability of the flower by about a day-and-a-half to two days.”

“With aerial applications, we’ve seen the yield increase greater than 300 pounds per acre on Nonpareil almonds,” Clay said.

Other crops have been using ReTain with great results.

“It has been used in apples for harvest management and cherries for very similar use to what we’re using it for in almonds. It has also been used widely in walnuts for pistillate flower abortion,” Clay explained.

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