The Power of Three in Walnuts

Power of Three Highlights Increasing Walnut Consumption Increase Heart Health

By Patrick Cavanaugh on the AgInformation Network

It’s called the power of three and it’s part of a big social media campaign by the California Walnut board and Commission. Jennifer Olmstead is marketing director for domestic public relations for the California Walnut board and commission.

“We have a lot of research backing up the heart health benefits of walnuts,” said Olmstead. “We’ve been researching it for approximately 30 years now and there’s a lot of data to support that and that’s the reason why we have the heart checkmark from the American heart Association

“The Omega 3 in walnuts is actually one of the key messages in our global power of three campaign. There are three different key points to the campaign. One is the Omega 3 in walnut,” said Olmstead. “The other is that we’re encouraging people to eat three handfuls a week, so something simple that they can remember to do to get them closer to better nutrition. And then we also want them to share that message with three people in their own life,” she said.

And because a robust public relations by the Walnut Board and Commission, most people already know that walnuts are good for their heart health.

“Yes, the heart healthy message is starting to resonate for walnuts. Health is one of the top reasons that people are buying walnuts in general, and we want to continue that momentum throughout the year,” noted Olmstead. “We want people buying walnuts all year and even-out that season and not just have this tremendous spike around the holidays. We want to encourage people to think about other ways to use walnuts throughout the year.”The Power

Increasing The Shelf Life of Walnuts

Can Walnut Shelf Life Be Increased?

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

Abhi Kulkarni is Assistant Technical Director for the California Walnut board and Commission. Could an edible coating help increase the shelf life of walnuts?

“Traditionally we have faced some challenges in terms of shelf-life vis-a-vis other products. So one of the things we’re looking at is how can we extend shelf life through any edible coating of walnuts or through different technologies that can squeeze more shelf-life for the open market or industrial products,” said Kulkarni

Kulkarni said they’re getting some preliminary results, which look very promising.

“Especially the research we’re doing with Oregon State on the edible coating of walnuts. It does show some initial promise, but we’ll see how it goes,” he noted.

FSMA Inspections

We also ask Kulkarni about the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) with inspectors coming to large farms for inspection. “Starting in 2020 someone on each farm must be trained to meet the Food Safety Modernization Act standards,” he said.

“It’s not that complicated. Basically what you need to do is each farm is required to have one person attend the FSMA training, which is a one day about eight hour training, and it’s the one time, so you don’t have to take it every year,” he said.

“We offered complimentary training for walnut growers for the past three years, and that program has lapse. However, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is offering a low cost training program, which is about $35 and growers can find information on their website to where they can sign up at their nearest training programs, Kulkarni explained.

Search for CDFA Produce Safety Program.

Snacking On Walnuts US vs. Asia

Walnuts Everywhere in Many Asian Areas

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

Pam Graviet is the senior marketing director of the California Walnut Commission. She said snacking, all walnuts in the United States is quite different than other countries.

“When you think of here and you walk in the grocery store, where do you find walnuts? It’s usually in the baking section and it’s raw walnuts where you’re going to do something with them,” said Graviet.

But in Asia you’ll find walnuts everywhere. “You will find them in mixed nuts, single serve packs. You will find them flavored from honey butter to wasabi to maple brown sugar—every flavor, sweet and savory that you can dream of,” she said

The Asian culture is all about snacking on walnuts. “You can buy them at the grocery store, you can buy them in the convenience store. You can buy them at the train station or the bus station. It’s kind of crazy, she said.

“Walnuts have been part of their culture for centuries, but maybe not across the entire country. It may have been in regional pockets, but they have known about the benefits of walnuts for a long time and they naturally have become an easy go-to snack. And again, it fits that healthy eating,” noted Graviet.

And Graviet said walnuts fit in a secondary trend, which is growing globally. “People choosing to eat more plant based foods rather than animal products is good for the walnut industry,” she said.

California Walnuts Face Threatening Tariffs

Big Challenges For the Walnut Industry

By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor

It takes one glance at current news headlines to know that agriculture trade is a hot-button issue within the industry. Amongst countless exported crops being hindered by tariffs, the California walnut industry is no different. With California English walnuts making up two-thirds of the world’s trade, the California Walnut Commission is on high alert to ensure that growers are protected from tariffs that could damage their markets.

Pamela Graviet, the commission’s senior marketing director, spoke deeper on this issue.

Pam Graviet

“If you look at the three major markets—China, Turkey, and India—where we have tariff issues,” Graviet said, “that represents twenty percent of our total shipments … it’s over $300 million we’re going to lose.”

Thus far, the walnut industry has avoided paying the full tariff direct to China through the “gray market,” or the sales of walnuts through other countries that feed into China.

“But when you’re tariff constrained or in a trade war” Graviet explained, “they are also cracking down on those other routes, and the gray market has also suffered.”

The California Walnut Commission will continue their work to protect nearly 100 handlers and 4,800+ growers that make up the California walnut industry.

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.”

Additional Chinese Tariff on Ag is Disruptive

Growers Concerned Over Added Tariff into China

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

Trade to China is so important to California, and for that reason, the 15 percent added Chinese tariff on ag products is devastating. It’s due to the retaliation of the Trump administration tariff, which he put on steel and aluminum exported by China.

Jeff Colombini with Lodi Farming Co.

It’s worrisome for growers such as Jeff Colombini, the president of Lodi Farming, with partners that grow cherries, apples, walnuts, and olives. He noted that apples and walnuts are an essential crop to China and he’s concerned.

“Trade is significant to the apple crop for California apples, but particularly for Washington state. Apples in Washington state is the largest producer of apples. They export greater than 25 percent of their crop,” Colombini said.

“Both China and Mexico take apple varieties that have fallen out of favor for U.S. consumers. So really, it’s a match made in heaven,” he said.

Colombini said growers have made decisions over the last 10 to 15 years on planting orchards based on these growing export markets.

“Then when the markets slam shut, what do we do with all this excess production/ This becomes disruptive to the markets … not to mention it significantly affects the farmer’s bottom line,” he explained.

Colombini said apples require a lot of labor—a big economic boost to many communities—and disruption in getting that crop to China is not good.

There’s a lot of people employed in the apple industry throughout the United States, and so a trade war can have a significant impact on many thousands of families.

Colombini said it took many years to get that China market open, and when it finally got opened in 2015, it has grown to be their sixth largest export market.

“Similarly, the export disruptions for walnuts is extremely concerning to that industry,” he said.

Walnut Blight Protection is Important

Disease Prevention in Walnut Orchards

By Brianne Boyett, Associate Editor

California Ag Today recently spoke with Jim Adaskaveg, professor of plant pathology at UC Riverside. He’s a plant pathologist, microbiologist and epidemiologist. He discussed the importance of protecting walnut trees from walnut blight.

Adaskaveg explained how walnut blight is problematic due to the higher rainfall in the northern part of the state.

“We’ve been working on this for a number of years, and overall, the northern part of the state is always higher at risk because of the higher rainfall in Glenn County,” he said. “There is much higher risk for disease in Northern California, so a lot of the growers have planted later blooming varieties such as Chandler to avoid the blight infections.”

“Rick Buchner [at UC Cooperative Extension] Tehama County and his group called that the prayer stage, which is when the female flower becomes exposed as it emerges from the bud. Those two timings would be for high disease pressure. If you had a history of the disease and you know that the disease is in your orchard, then we would suggest that timing,” Adaskaveg said.

“If you don’t have disease, and you still want to protect yourself, we say just spray at the pistillate flower emergence or the prayer stage. That sets a good way to initiate the spray program,” Adaskaveg explained.

Growers must keep in mind canopy expansion when applying materials.

“Walnuts are big trees, and as they go through bloom, all the leaves started emerging almost weekly. The tree canopy in that first three weeks of the season is doubling in size. By the time you get three or four weeks after that, the catkin flowering trees in full canopy will require a reapplication of materials,” Adaskaveg said.

Navel Orangeworm Control Critical

Orchard Sanitation is Critical This Season To Lower NOW Numbers

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

Emily Symmes is the area Integrated Pest Management farm advisor for the Sacramento Valley in the statewide IPM program. She recently spoke to California Ag Today about the high level of Navel Orangeworm (NOW) damage in nut orchards throughout California this past season.

“We had a lot of unique circumstances. The amount of rainfall we got in late 2016 into 2017 was pretty unprecedented and really led us into a really bad navel orangeworm year because we couldn’t get out and sanitize our nut crops,” she said.

Emily Symmes

“NOW is ubiquitous, and there is an increased nut crop footprint in California, with more than one million acres of almonds, plus pistachios and walnuts,” Symmes explained. “All play host to NOW, as well as a host of natural plants. This thing isn’t going anywhere. And it was pretty bad in 2017 in terms of harvest damage.”

One of the key factors for higher navel orangeworm damage was not being able to get into the fields because of the standing water.

“There were a couple of other factors as well. Typically, rainfall and moist conditions can help NOW mortality in the winter. We tend to think that it can help rot the nuts and do us some favors, but we have to be able to get out and get the nuts shaken or get pulling crews in and get those things on the ground. And then them being on the ground is not always a sure thing. Sanitation was huge in terms of NOW problems this year,” Symmes said.

Heat units also played a part in the development of more NOW pressure. There were a lot of moths flying around longer and laying eggs.

“It got hot in mid to late June, and it seemed to just not let up. What that meant was, in terms of our degree-day models or the heat unit that drive insect development, it ended up getting pretty far out ahead of what is typical, if there is anything such as typical. But certainly ahead of the last couple of years,” Symmes explained.

By September, we were about two weeks ahead in degree-days and that means that the moths were out earlier. They’re flying around. They’re laying eggs on the nuts when they’re still on the trees.

Symmes stressed that the importance of sanitation is to minimize the site where the NOWs mature.

“It’s really important to remember that sanitation efforts aren’t just directly killing any worms that are over-wintering in your orchard. Yes, it does that. But it also minimizes those sites where your first and second generations are going to develop next year,” she said.

Walnut Farmer Talks Family’s Founding of Crows Landing

Walnut Farmer Norman Crow has Deep Roots in Stanislaus County

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

California Ag Today recently had the chance to interview Norman Crow a walnut grower and owner of Orestimba Walnut nursery in the Crows Landing area of Stanislaus County.

We asked him about his walnut harvest. “I think everything is going to be late this year. But it looks like a good crop,” Crow said.

“It’s very interesting because the market for the first time in several years is good. There’s no carryover from last year, so, we’re going to see maybe a 25% increase in price,” Crow said.

Crow explained that walnut plantings are not out of control compared to almonds and pistachios. “So we are very optimistic. Plus the dollar is weaker, there is no carryover and there is strong demand for walnuts

Crow is a descendant of Walter, Crow who came out to California from Missouri in 1849 – obviously, for gold. And he had eight children.

“I’m the descendant of one of his eight children, which is John Bradford,” Crow said. “He was my great-great grandfather.”

“And soon after arriving, my family bought Orestimba Rancho, which was a Spanish land grant. It was about 5,000 acres along Orestimba Creek that goes from the San Joaquin River, up the canyon, to the west of I-5.

Orestimba is a Yokut indian word for “the meeting place”.

“My family began farming barley, and they needed to get it to the buyer,” Crow explained.

The Crow’s built two riverboats, which pulled barges, loaded with sacks of barley. The landing was a warehouse on the San Joaquin River. That’s how it was eventually named Crow’s Landing.

“And then, a good family friend of ours, Jack Grisez took care of the ranch for many years, but they actually had a bean warehouse here that’s called Grisez Warehouse,” Crows said. “ Jack Grisez supplied all the dry beans to the GIs during WWII. He was one of the primary packers of beans. So, WWII came along and people started growing – there was a need and a demand and there was money to be made growing row crops. So some of them grew beans, tomatoes and other crops. And others operated dairies in the area.

In 1865, the Crow family began planting walnuts using seeds that the family brought from Missouri. They were from black walnuts, and today there are still may black walnut trees in the area.

And while walnut plantings were expanding throughout California, Norman Crow established a commercial walnut nursery on his ranch and named it Orestimba Nursery, which lies on Orestimba Creek.

Besides farming walnuts and operating a nursery, Crow noted that his family operates two walnut hullers in the area.

CDFA ACCEPTING CONCEPT PROPOSALS FOR 2015 FERTILIZER RESEARCH AND EDUCATION GRANTS

The California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Fertilizer Research and Education Program (FREP) is currently accepting concept proposals for the 2015 grant cycle. FREP’s competitive grant program funds research that advances the environmentally safe and agronomically sound use of fertilizing materials.

The 2015 Request for Proposals (RFP) includes several initiatives put forth by the department to help effectively manage nitrogen fertilizers in agriculture. New this year is a call for integrating different aspects of nutrient management, including fertigation, irrigation, crop development and soil fertility into easy-to-use decision making tools and concepts that can help improve management practices. Additionally, the FREP seeks concepts and proposals to provide strong education and outreach opportunities on effectively and efficiently managing fertilizing materials.

Proposals for research projects are requested to fill gaps in nitrogen management information for specific crops, including corn, pima cotton, processing tomatoes, walnuts, citrus, and deep rooted vegetables such as carrots. Furthermore, the FREP is encouraging the development and submission of concepts that will demonstrate effective nutrient management practices that have been developed through experimental research trials (e.g., prior FREP research findings).

These demonstrations should implement practices at the field scale in organic and conventional fertilizers. Other priority research areas are developing Best Management Practices (BMPs), along with evaluating strategies and potential technologies to increase crop nitrogen fertilizer uptake; reduce nitrogen movement off irrigated agricultural lands, including nitrate leaching below the root zone; and minimize nitrous oxide emissions from nitrogen fertilizers.

Applicants are invited to submit two-page concept proposals to the FREP by Friday, January 16, 2015. Concepts submitted should be in line with at least one of the program’s identified priority research areas. Further information on the 2015 FREP request for concept proposals, including timelines, application criteria, priority research areas, and examples of successful proposals are available at: www.cdfa.ca.gov/is/ffldrs/frep/CompetitiveGrantProgram.html

In addition to the FREP’s regular RFP, CDFA is preparing a special RFP as part of its nitrogen initiatives. The priority areas for this special RFP are scheduled to be announced early January 2015. 

All concept proposals will be reviewed by the FREP’s Technical Advisory Subcommittee (TASC). Concept proposals that are selected by the TASC will be invited for development into full project proposals.

Applicants may also send e-mail inquiries to FREP@cdfa.ca.gov

Since 1990, the Fertilizer Research and Education Program has funded more than 160 research projects focusing on California’s important and environmentally sensitive cropping systems. A database of completed and ongoing research is publically available at: www.cdfa.ca.gov/is/ffldrs/frep.html

In collaboration with the University of California Davis, FREP is developing fertilization guidelines for major crops grown in California. The guidelines are uploaded on a flow basis and are available to growers and crop advisors through this web-based platform: http://apps.cdfa.ca.gov/frep/docs/guidelines.html