Pollination Issues on 2020 Pistachio Crop?

Possible Pollination Issues That May Affect the 2020 Pistachio Crop


By Patrick Cavanaugh as Reported on the AgInformation Network of the West

Richard Matoian is Executive Director of the American Pistachio Growers Association based in Fresno.

“I’ve heard from some growers that there appears to be some uneven growth in the pollenization aspect from the male trees. The females came out when they did, it was the males that some trees came out normally within the orchard and yet other trees were held back a little bit,” explained Matoian.

“And the question is, was that a lack of chill hours or was that just some seasonal or springtime abnormality as those trees were pushing out? And so that remains to be the question,” Matoian said. “And so as a result, what I’ve heard is that some orchards, particularly on the West Side of the San Joaquin Valley, do not appear to have as large a crop as they had expected them to have. The thinking is there was just maybe some cool weather, right when the trees were starting to bloom,” he said

He said there was a string of rainy and cold weather. “And maybe that through the trees back into a little bit of a shock of sorts and it’s just hard to tell what exactly it was,” Matoian said. “Everyone believes that going into the year there was enough chill hours.”

Will that affect a billion pound prediction of this year? Time will tell.

Pistachio Extracts Found to Have Anti-Viral, and Anti-Biotic Power

Antimicrobial Effects of U.S. Pistachio Extracts Shown to Prevent Growth of Bacteria and Viruses 

Initial findings point to extracts’ potential role in the development of novel medical treatments


Once just a snack, pistachios possess extracts that have been shown to stop the growth of Staphylococcus aureus, MRSA, Listeria and Herpes simplex virus (HSV-1) — important findings amid growing antibiotics resistance and the increased need for new medical treatments.

In a study published this month in Plants1, researchers at the University of Messina in Italy discovered that polyphenols, health protective compounds found in plant foods, from pistachios grown in the United States have antiviral effects on HSV-1 and can, at their highest concentration, result in the complete reduction of the virus in lab settings.

Given these results, researchers concluded that pistachio extracts could become great candidates for the development of novel topical or oral drug formulations for the treatment of HSV-1 infections either alone or in combination with standard antiviral therapies.

Previously, University of Messina researchers and researchers from the Institute of Food Research in Norwich, UK, also found that polyphenol-rich extracts from pistachios have a strong bactericidal effect against Gram positive bacteria, including many clinical strains of the disease-causing Staphylococcus Aureus, MRSA strains and Listeria monocytogenes2,3, which could prove helpful in food safety applications or as a topical treatment for S. aureus (MRSA).


Both Staphylococcus aureus and methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) are responsible for a range of skin, respiratory and bone joint infections, endocarditis, bacteremia and toxic shock syndrome. HSV-1 causes oral herpes and is generally responsible for cold sores and fever blisters around the mouth and on the face.


The Plants study highlighted that cultures were infected with the HSV-1 virus and treated with different concentrations of pistachio extract. The highest concentration of the extract resulted in the total reduction of the virus. In earlier studies, researchers prepared polyphenol rich extracts from roasted and raw pistachios. These extracts were tested on a number of bacterial cultures to determine their bactericidal strength. Staphylococcus aureus and L. monocytogenes were the most susceptible strains.

“Pistachio extracts could provide a novel topical or oral treatment against HSV-1 infections (Herpes simplex), as well as a novel strategy to overcome problems related to drug-resistant strains,” said University of Messina’s, Dr. Giuseppina Mandalari. “Researchers are optimistic that the bactericidal activity of pistachio extracts could be used to help control the growth of some microorganisms in foods potentially leading to improved food safety and as an application for the topical treatment of Staph. aureus.”

Further studies are needed to confirm that results from recent studies can be translated in a clinical setting with humans, and while this research continues to explore the potential for concentrated pistachio extracts in pharmaceutical applications, snacking on whole pistachios can make a beneficial contribution to health, since pistachios are high in copper and manganese, and a source of selenium, zinc, riboflavin and vitamin E, which contribute to the protection of cells from oxidative stress. Pistachios are also high in vitamin B6 and a source of folate and iron which contribute to normal function of the immune system.

Traditional medicines based mostly on medicinal plants have been used for the treatment of various diseases by mankind for centuries, but plants can also be rich sources of biologically active compounds. The antibacterial properties of plant-derived compounds continue to be explored, mainly in view of increased antibiotic resistance both in community-acquired infections and those acquired in hospitals and healthcare settings. As more disease-causing bacteria become resistant to usual treatments, researchers will continue to look to new sources for medicines.


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.

Orchard Sanitation Will Reduce Navel Orange Worm

Sanitation is Foundation of Navel Orange Worm Pressure

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

Now that almonds and pistachios are harvested there is needed break on the farm. But soon it is recommended by experts that orchard sanitation is needed to remove any mummy nuts from the trees to reduce to reduce Navel Orange Worm next year

Joel Siegel is a USDA ARS entomologists and Parlier in Fresno County

“Yes, and again, in a perfect world, if everybody could sanitize perfectly, you could argue there’d be very little need for spraying because there wouldn’t be any navel orange worm,” Siegel said. “The reality is far uglier than that. We’re dealing with difficulties and getting into the orchard because of weather. And again, people have to make that commitment towards sanitation and the cost has gone up. So I’m hearing talk of $300 per acre and higher. So again, people have to factor that their worlds has changed,” he said.

Sanitation is a numbers game. The higher the population at the beginning of the season, the higher the damage expected at the end of the season. The most effective way to reduce overwintering populations of navel orange worm is sanitation. For every mummy left on the tree, that’s equal to its percent damage. One mummy nut, 1% damaged, five mummy nuts per tree, that’s 5% damage. So the ultimate goal is to leave less than one mummy nut per tree, and then those nuts must be removed from the orchard or disced into the ground.

Nichols Farms Launches New Packaging

Nichols New Design Focuses on Family Heritage and Premium Quality Pistachios

 Now four generations strong, Nichols Farms announced today that the family-owned company is introducing a new packaging design, rolling out this fall to stores across the country.

The new look is unmistakably different than other package designs in the category, featuring a signature brown bag with an artisan style. In addition, Nichols Farms has created matching free-standing displays to support incremental sales for retailers.

“A passion for farming runs deep in our family,” says Chuck Nichols, owner and second generation at Nichols Farms. “My father started farming decades ago in the heart of California’s farmland, and I’m so proud that the company has remained true to its roots – putting people first and taking good care of the land. This new packaging design reflects that commitment.”

Caring for people is engrained in the company’s culture. Some of the highlights every year are the Nichols Farms Scholarship Program and the many community outreach initiatives, which include a food drive for the local Food Link organization. “Our team members are the heart of our community outreach,” says owner Susie Nichols. “When there’s a need, they rise to the occasion. I’m very proud to call them our extended family.” This past year, the company’s 400-plus team members donated more than 9,000 cans of food.

Environmental stewardship is also a key priority for the Nichols Family:

  • A six-acre solar farm provides power to the production facility.
  • 100% of the water used during the pistachio harvest is recycled.
  • Pistachio hulls are used for natural compost and fertilizer.
  • 100% of Nichols Farms’ orchards use drip irrigation, helping to conserve a significant amount of water.

Generic Promotion of US Pistachios is Powerful

New Analysis Points to the Power of US Pistachio Industry’s Generic Program

American Pistachio Growers’ (APG) efforts to reduce or eliminate trade barriers in several key overseas markets have been a significant boon to pistachio exports and to growers’ bottom-line. A new study, “An Analysis of the Effects of the American Pistachio Growers’ Program to Reduce/Eliminate Tariffs on U.S. Pistachios,” has quantified, for the first time, the direct benefit to the U.S. pistachio industry from APG’s strategic program to vanquish trade barriers.

The analysis from Dr. Dennis H. Tootelian, an emeritus Professor of Marketing, sought to determine what shipments of U.S. pistachios would have been if tariffs had not been lowered or eliminated in Israel, Mexico, China and Hong Kong, and the European Union which are the export markets prioritized for focus by APG. Many of his analyses centered on the period from 2009 through 2017 — the period in which tariffs were reduced in all five geographic areas.

Tootelian’s study showed that actual shipments of U.S. pistachios after the tariffs were reduced or eliminated for each export market were more than 2.3 billion pounds greater than what would have been expected had the tariffs remained in place. Equated in economic terms, the boost in export volume after the trade barriers had been removed amounted to nearly $3 billion greater value than what would have been expected had the tariffs remained in effect.

While Tootelian did not have any prior expectations of what his study would show, he was surprised by the findings.

“To see this kind of an increase in shipments on a before and after basis with the tariffs did surprise me. I did not expect this kind of result in the marketplace. These are not small numbers,” Tootelian said.   “What the data tell me is that there is latent demand for U.S. pistachios and once the tariffs come down, foreign markets want to buy them.”

Tootelian said the projected economic boon to U.S. growers is even more profound if the fluctuations in prices in China and Hong Kong were eliminated from the analysis.

“If you take the price fluctuations in China and Hong Kong out, the increase in value of pistachio shipments amounts to nearly $355 million more dollars per year — nearly $4.5 billion in total from the time when tariffs were in effect to after they were reduced or eliminated,” said Tootelian.

Data from the analysis estimated that more than 1.7 billion pounds of U.S. pistachios in total, or an average of more than 192 million pounds annually, may have gone into storage if they were not diverted to other markets. While the effect of the projected added supply on the world market is unknown in terms of lower prices, Tootelian said that it would surely have had a detrimental impact on U.S. growers.

“It is unknown what that would have done to the price,” he said. “In order to divert from storage and into other markets, prices probably would have had to come down considerably and whether they would have been able to market that much supply is an unknown.”

Underlying Tootelian’s analysis is the fact that price is not the sole determinant of the volume of U.S. pistachio exports. He said when tariffs are lowered or eliminated, traditional economics would dictate that increased shipments would lead to lower prices, but his data show demand for U.S. pistachios in some key markets remained high in the post-tariff era.  Several factors, he said, appear to be in play.

“One is the reputation of U.S. pistachios, which carries a very positive market image with consumers and importers. Second, it could be the quality of the product is better or more consistent, or both, for what consumers can buy from other countries,” said Tootelian. “And third, there are a lot of reputable health studies that show nuts are healthy and nutritious.  APG has invested considerable resources raising consumer awareness of the healthful attributes of pistachios, and consumers appear to be willing to pay a higher price. That is pretty clear from the data.”

APG has aggressively worked in the halls of Congress, with U.S. trade officials and with foreign governmental bodies to alleviate burdensome trade barriers and create a more open market for U.S-grown pistachios.

“Quantifying the value of APG’s efforts to growers has been difficult up to now, but this new study gives us some tangible answers to the importance of the work we are doing on behalf of the U.S. pistachio industry,” said Richard Matoian, APG’s executive director. “Frankly, we were quite surprised at the magnitude of these numbers.  It’s our strong belief that whenever and wherever trade barriers exist to the free flow of American-grown pistachios around the world, we will confront them vigorously.”

In a postscript to his analysis, Tootelian added, “If I were a grower, I would be encouraging APG to be doing this more in other markets because the greater the demand there is for the product, the less goes into storage and that helps boost the price.”


Madera County Ag Economy is Booming

Madera County Has Big Ag Job Base

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

Madera County’s financial future is booming. David Rogers, a Madera County supervisor, is excited to know that Madera County is the fastest and number one growing ag economy in the United States.

“I represent most of the farming, and Madera County, which is the fastest growing our economy in the U.S. and has been for the last three and a half, four years,” Rogers said.

Madera County
David Rogers, Madera County Supervisor

Madera  is a business-friendly county.

“We’ve been number one in small jobs, manufacturing growth for the last nine years in a row, and all of that is ancillary to agriculture,” he said.

Pistachios and almonds have aided in Madera County’s financial growth.

“Some of those orchards that were planted five years ago are going to mean big revenue,” Rogers said.

Expansions to the Triangle T System have aided in the conveyance.

“The expansions were in wide areas, and conveyance is so critical to that,” Rogers explained.

There is also a new tunnel system that goes under the river for delivery.

“There was a lot of money that went into developing their system, and it’s paying off big time. I believe it’s almost 50,000 acres. It was 30,000 originally, I think, and it’s expanding more all the time,” Rogers said.

He also commented on the need for proper forest management that will allow more water into the system.

“One of the most important things that we can do right now is continue to emphasize forest management because that is a source of more water,” he said. The better the management, the faster the forests can return to a healthy state. With a healthier forest, that means more water in the system and more water in our ground.

Navel Orangeworm Prevention Critical

High Navel Orangeworm Numbers Statewide

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor
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.

Orchard Sanitation is Critical This Season

Orchard Sanitation to Push Back on NOW Underscored

By Mike Stevens, Associate Editor

We are completing our coverage of the importance of orchard sanitation to push back on Navel Orangeworm (NOW) pressure for 2018.

We recently spoke with David Haviland, UC Cooperative Extension entomologist and farm advisor for Kern County. He spoke about how sanitation is the most important practice that needs to be implemented.

David Haviland on Pyrethroid Review
David Haviland

“Yes, 2017 was a really interesting year on NOW. It was a bad year overall. Several things led up to that. The first one was sanitation was an issue,” Haviland explained. “There is not much of an excuse in the southern half of the almond industry, but with all the rain up north and the flooded orchards, yes, it was very difficult to get in and do sanitation, and we know that that is the absolute backbone of navel orange worm programs.”

Pistachios were also a concern when it comes to NOW.

NOW was right on schedule in pistachios. The pistachio crop was a little behind and so it was common to do a normal monitoring, normal spray program, and set up for a normal harvest. But then the crops sat out there for another 10 days or two weeks, which, of course, makes it very vulnerable to NOW worm damage.

“The longer you get away from your insecticide sprays, the more damage that’s going to occur, and a lot of the crop was harvested after the fourth flight occurred,” Haviland said. “When you put in the concerns with sanitation this year, and with the increased degree day accumulation, there were plenty of moths and then the crop got delayed. The overall effect was that this was a worse than normal year.”

At the same time, the industry is full of examples of growers that had very acceptable damage.

“Growers that did follow in greater pest management practices … did get their sanitation done. They documented that those things are really important, they are very effective, and the growers that weren’t able to get that sanitation done hopefully got a case study, personal experience in the value of sanitation,” Haviland said.

Every grower needs to do their part by incorporating sanitation, noted Haviland. “Obviously, if you’re the only one sanitizing amidst a bunch of growers that aren’t, that’s a concern,” he said.

Almond and Pistachio NOW Sanitation Critical This Winter

Joel Siegel on NOW Sanitation

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

Last year was a bad year for navel orangeworm (NOW) mainly in pistachios, but also in almonds. If left in the trees, infested nuts become a great reservoir for more NOW to inhabit them.

Joel Siegel, NOW research entomologist, USDA Agricultural Research Service
Joel Siegel, research entomologist, USDA Agricultural Research Service

Joel Siegel, a research entomologist for the USDA Agricultural Research Service based in Parlier, stresses the importance of having a good sanitation plan in place to remove those NOW mummy nuts. “When we talk about sanitation, it should be the foundation for everyone’s nut program. That’s something that you control.”

“In almonds, it’s absolutely essential. Where we’ve taken a look at it in the south, every infected mummy per tree is good for 1 percent damage. So going from one mummy to two mummies, your damage on average increases another 1 percent.”

“It’s also important to destroy the mummies on the ground. You figure, for every eight or nine mummies on the ground, that’s good for about a half a percent increase in damage. Get them off the tree and shred the almonds.”

Siegel noted that while pistachio growers can clear mummy nuts off the tree, the industry has not been able to shred the fallen pistachios effectively. The hard, rounded pistachio shells just bounce around in the shredder machine.

Almond Mummies

“What you can do is shake them off the tree as soon as possible so they’re on the ground where they can start rotting. You get those weeds growing around them. It has been shown that they break down faster in the weeds,” said Siegel.

“Growers disc them in. But if you’re going to disc them in, you have to disc them twice. Again, you’re not destroying the nuts, you are burying them so that NOW cannot lay eggs in the spring,” he said.

The risk of poor sanitation is high. Considerable NOW damage can prevent pistachio and almond growers from earning the premium paid for nuts that are pest-free.