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.”

Band Canker Affecting Younger Almonds

Almond Band Canker Becoming a Big Problem

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

Brent Holtz is a UC cooperative extension Pomology Farm Advisor for San Joaquin County. He recently told California Ag Today about how the fungus band canker on almonds is becoming more prevalent in the San Joaquin Valley.

“I’ve seen a lot more band canker, which is caused by a pathogenic fungus, Botryosphaeria dothidea, and we’re seeing it on young orchards, especially in in San Joaquin county,” said Holtz.  “We’ve seen that a lot out in the delta and we’ve seen it in eastern San Joaquin county where the soils tend to be a little heavier, maybe old dairy ground and richer and we don’t really know why.”

“We’re seeing so much more, but it’s a fungus that infects usually the trunk or the main scaffolds, and we call it band canker because sap balls will come out at the site of the infection and create a band that circles around the trunk or the scaffold,” Holtz explained. “That’s why we call it band canker.”

It’s starting to show up in the orchards that have not been shaken yet, as a wound needs to happen before the infection sets in.

“We think it’s showing up in a lot of orchards before we start shaking the trees and usually in most cankers, we would have to have a wound that would have to happen first before the infection would take place either through a wound or a wound from shaking the tree,” Holtz said.

“Some of these orchards with symptoms tend to be trees that are growing very vigorously, and we suspect maybe that they’re growing so fast, growth cracks are created that the fungus may have got in and caused the infection.”

Trees with band canker on the trunk may not survive. And band cankered scaffolds have to be removed, which affects the tree’s architecture and will reduce yields.

There is evidence that micro sprinklers hitting the trunk could also increase the start of an infection.

“It seems to be showing up a little higher concentration where it was on a micro sprinkler irrigation system, where the sprinkler was actually hitting the trunk,” Holtz said. “We don’t seem to see it as much in orchards with a drip irrigation, so we are advising growers to consider drip or to put a splitter in their micro sprinklers so it can avoid wetting the trunk repeatedly with each irrigation.”

Measuring Crop Protection Material Tolerances

Biological Tolerances May Be Needed

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

California Ag Today recently spoke with Gabrielle Ludwig, Director of Sustainability and Environmental Affairs for the Almond Board of California, about the issue of crop protection in almonds. Almonds are the number one specialty crop export. Almonds also remain the number one nut in global production and are California’s number two agricultural crop.

Ludwig explained that pesticides are used and necessary in today’s almond production. Pesticide residue is a concern for not only domestic production, but also for international distribution. And with biological products such as friendly fungi and bacteria, the biological industry noted that they are safe and free of residue tolerance.

“I would say for this industry, there’s a couple of things going on in parallel, and they don’t have exactly the same problems. So one is you have the sector where it is still a chemical that you’re applying, but it may not have very much toxicity or the residues are, for whatever reason, vanished,” Ludwig said.

“In the United States, we can get an exemption from a tolerance, where EPA has looked at and said there’s no health risk, and there’s no need to set a maximum residue limit. For those products then the question becomes: Do you have the same standards in other markets?” Ludwig asked.

“And again, one example is that the EU does have an exemption for tolerance process, but they don’t always have the same standards so EU is more likely to set a number than United States. And we have also seen examples where the United States is setting a number and the rest of the world says there’s no need to set a number because it’s a natural occurring compound.”

“So if you look at a pheromone, which falls into a natural occurring arena, there, you’re not even spraying the trees so it’s a totally different ball game,” Ludwig said.

“With biologicals, again, it’s a different ball game. You still need to have someone say, look at it, say it’s safe; because it’s going to be exempt from a tolerance.”

“But currently, there’s no testing for it,” Ludwig said. “With DNA technology, it probably wouldn’t be that hard to start testing for biological products’ lack of residue, especially ones that go on the produce that is eaten.”

“So again, what we’re saying here is, don’t rely on the fact you can’t be tested for it because we did that in the conventional pesticide arena and it’s caught up with us,” Ludwig said.

Almond Achievement Award Nominations Being Accepted

Deadline for Almond Achievement Award Nominations is Oct. 19

News Release

Since 2011, the Almond Achievement Award has honored an industry or allied-industry member who has added value to the California Almond industry through long-term service, contributions or innovations.

Nominations for the Almond Achievement Award are being accepted now. Winners must:

  • Be an individual with long-standing and direct involvement with the California Almond industry.
  • Demonstrate lasting impact on and commitment to the California Almond industry.
  • Have a record of proven service to the visibility and growth of the industry.
  • Contribute to California Almonds becoming a Crop of Choice and supporting California Almonds becoming the Nut of Choice.

Almond Board of California’s (ABC’s) Industry Services Sub-Committee will evaluate the candidates and make a recommendation to the Board of Directors. The 2017 recipient will be selected by ABC’s Board of Directors and recognized during the gala dinner at The Almond Conference by ABC President and CEO Richard Waycott.

The names of the award winners are placed on the wall of the Nonpareil Conference Room at the Almond Board of California office.

Nominating an almond industry professional for the 2017 Almond Achievement Award is easy. Simply email Jenny Nicolau (jnicolau@almondboard.com) and state your nominee’s name and company, as well as your reasons for the nomination. Applications must be received on or before October 19 for consideration.

Almond Board CEO Talks About Group’s Mission

An Ongoing Series on the Value of the Almond Industry

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

Because it takes a while to harvest more than one million acres, the 2017 almond harvest is still going strong. The Modesto-based Almond Board of California is a federal marketing order charged to market those almonds both domestically and globally. A board composed of 10 grower members oversees committees focused on production research, almond quality and food safety, nutrition research and the environment, just to name a few.

Richard Waycott is president and CEO of the Almond Board. He noted that he’s proud to be part of this massively growing industry. “It’s just been a wonderful pleasure for me, and it’s such a great career opportunity to be part of this industry and try and have vision and work with my board of directors on agreeing on that vision and then with the great staff and all of the industry volunteers we have to implement the vision,” he said.

Waycott is suitably biased toward the almond industry. “We do see almonds as being a crop that should be grown in California. It’s producing a product that should be consumed more by humans,” Waycott said.

“Our efforts to farm more sustainably in the future, than we do today, and to provide for more automation in the industry and better grower practices, et cetera, is what our mission is. I think we’re very much on a road to executing that in a very responsible and an innovative way,” he said

This is part of a series on the big value of the California almond industry.

Good Almond Branch Structure Leads to Healthier Trees

At the recent San Joaquin Valley Almond Symposium in the Fresno County town of Kerman, one speaker was Roger Duncan, a UC Cooperative Extension Farmer Advisor from Stanislaus County. Duncan talked about the very important training phase in Almond Tree structuring.

“It’s during the first one or two maybe three years and this is when we select the scaffolds in order to build the structure of the tree and make sure that we don’t have branches that break later in the life or are in the way of other operations.” said Duncan.

Main branches coming from the trunk of the tree are known as “scaffolds”.

“When we select scaffolds we want to make sure that they are staggered up and down the tree as well around the tree. Also want to choose scaffolds that are not too flat and not too vertical, Essentially we want to have good attachment so that we have good solid architecture of the tree.” said Duncan.

Duncan talks about a common mistake made by growers.

“I think probably the biggest mistake that growers make when their select scaffolds they like to choose the largest scaffolds which typically are right at the top of the tree, the problem is if we have all the scaffolds originating from the same vertical plane then they are very weak. So we eventually those scaffolds will split. We just have to make sure we stagger those scaffold up and down the tree as well as all away around.”

CALIFORNIA SUSTAINING GLOBAL ALMOND DEMAND

Domestic Consumption Greatest Source of Increased Almond Demand

 

Mark Jansen, President and CEO Blue Diamond Growers, issued a press release TODAY reporting that for the second consecutive year, domestic consumption of California Almonds is driving demand. U.S. shipments have grown 11% over a year ago, and in December they posted a 20% gain.  The U.S. is the most consistent, largest and greatest source of growth for California almonds.

Total global shipments for the month were flat to last year. Year to date, shipments exceed prior year by 6%.  We are now projecting a 2 billion pound crop, which should give the industry just enough almonds to sustain the current growth rate of 6%.

Prices are 25% higher than last year, so we are increasingly seeing which markets will pay premium prices for almonds. Sales weakness continued in two of the largest export markets, China and India. The total European region sits at 21% year to date over last year.  Spain had a particularly strong month receiving nearly 60% more volume than last year.  The Middle East is recovering, replacing last year’s losses with shipments up 28% over prior year for the month and climbing 39% year to date.
With demand for California Almonds firmly in place, prices are expected to remain solid as we progress into the bloom.

Mark Jansen currently serves on the Executive Council for the California Chamber of Commerce, is on the Executive Council for the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, is Director, International Nut and Dried Fruit Council, and is on the Board of Trustees for the Graduate Institute of Cooperative Learning.