Posts Tagged: almonds
The warm, dry late winter weather in California has been good news for almond farmers who were concerned about a bee shortage during bloom, reported Capital Press.
"It looks good right now," said Rich Buchner, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Tehama County. "The bees are out working like crazy. It's going to be warm and dry over the next 10 days, so it should be about perfect for almond set."
Almond growers are enjoying a vibrant blossom season even though California only had about 500,000 bee colonies available as of mid-February to pollinate this year's crop of 800,000 acres, according to Eric Mussen, UCCE specialist in the Department of Entomology at UC Davis. Typically, as many as 1.6 million are needed to provide two colonies per acre.
The favorable weather for bee activity comes with a catch, however. Precipitation totals are behind seasonal averages.
A honey bee on an almond blossom. (Photo: Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Los Angeles Times.
Even the cleanest kitchens can teem with harmful pathogens - on cutting boards and in salad spinners, on knives that just sliced raw chicken, on damp, well-used cloth towels.
"In brief, consumers don't wash up very well and may contaminate produce due to dirty hands and dirty sink," emailed Christine M. Bruhn, director of the Center for Consumer Research at UC Davis. That's especially a problem with salad greens, since they never get cooked.
Schoch spoke to food experts from Kansas State University and the University of Maryland who also recommended pre-washed greens not be re-washed.
California apprenticeship building future producers
Amy Trinidad, Sheep Industry News
The American Sheep Industry Association is teaming up with the state sheep associations to expand the Let’s Grow initiative to include mentor programs for beginning sheep producers.
“There is a real movement as far as people wanting to get back to the land. In some ways, it’s like the 1960s and 70s, only with a whole bunch of bigger challenges,” says Roger Ingram, University of California Cooperative Extension farm advisor.
Shepherds need to know how to run animals in a variety of environments, be able to identify common and uncommon pasture and range plants, know range nutrition, identify potential poisonous plants, be able to quickly asses the health of the flock and be able to take the appropriate steps in field conditions to fix problems, Ingram said.
Mild winter shifts the start of the growing season
Heather Hacking, Chico Enterprise Record
The lack of rain has meant some Butte County almond growers have already irrigated twice, and some are starting a third run with the water. They would rather not water at all, and often don't need to this time of year, said Joe Connell, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor.
It can cost about $40 to apply 12 inches of water to one acre, he said. Growers will think carefully before pumping if it looks like another storm is on the way. The most recent rain provided water to the first foot of soil, depending on the soil conditions. But almond growers will want the soil irrigated 3 to 4 feet down by bloom time.
Almond trees in the area will likely begin to bloom around Valentine's Day this year, about a week earlier than normal.
Yuba-Sutter beekeepers abuzz on research
Jonathan Edwards, Orland Press Register
Losing bees to colony collapse disorder is not good for Yuba-Sutter. Beekeeping brought in about $3.9 million to area beekeepers in 2010, the last year for which data is available. On average, beekeepers have lost nearly one-third of their colonies each year since 2006.
That number likely skyrocketed last year as dwindling colonies drove higher prices. A shrinking supply of vibrant hives nearly doubled the price of a colony, from $33 to $58 between 2009 and 2010, according to the Sutter County Crop Report. The price nearly tripled again and is holding at about $150 a colony, said Eric Mussen, an apiculturist with UC Cooperative Extension at UC Davis.
"It just shot up," he added.
The almond industry's dream of hitting the two billion-pound mark has come true, according to an article by Cary Blake in Western Farm Press.
“We once believed achieving a 2-billion-pound California almond crop was a distant dream but now it’s a reality,” said Bob Curtis of the Almond Board of California at the 2011 Almond Industry Conference.
The conference included presentations by John Edstrom, UC Cooperative Extension emeritus farm advisor, Colusa County; Mario Viveros, UCCE emeritus farm advisor, Kern County; and Walt Bentley, UC IPM entomologist. Combined, these UCCE specialists have nearly 100 years of experience in the California almond industry
Edstrom tied the monumental yield increases in recent decades to precision irrigation, high-density tree planting, minimum and machine pruning techniques, and soil modification and amendments.
Improved cultural practices, better varieties and integrated pest management have contributed to increased almond yields.
"It's remarkable," said Daniel Sumner, director of the UC Agricultural Issues Center.
"There are two things going on," he said. "We have improved the nature of the orchards, both in the way that we plant them and the varieties and the like. And there's a lot more acres."
In the last decade, low cotton prices prompted many farmers in the southern San Joaquin Valley to plant almonds on former cotton acreage, the article said. A growing world demand for nuts, especially from China's emerging middle class, is helping sustain strong commodity prices and driving production gains.
Winter is the ideal time to buy, plant bare root fruit trees
Debbie Arrington, The Sacramento Bee
Now is the time to plant bare-root fruit trees. UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor Chuck Ingels said some are easier to grow than others and each fruit comes with its own challenges.
"For beginners, cherries are out; don't even think about it – just too hard," Ingels said. "Peaches and nectarines are really good, except for the leaf curl issue (caused by a fungus). Apples and pears are great except for blight and codling moths. People tend to live with those problems or cut down the tree.
"More and more, I think plums and pluots (a plum-apricot hybrid) are the best choices for backyard orchards," Ingels said. "They're the easiest to grow with wonderful fruit. Pluots especially are the way to go."
- Almond growers expect to meet an early estimate of 1.95 billion pounds statewide, which would be a record
- Pistachio growers in the San Joaquin Valley are enjoying their second-largest crop ever after last year's record yield
- Walnut growers expect this year's yield to be 485,000 tons, slightly lower than last year's 503,000 tons
"The rumors I've heard is that guys are still complaining about the quality" of walnuts, said Rick Buchner, a University of California Cooperative Extension farm advisor in Red Bluff. "We're getting a lot of black husks on them, so there's a suggestion that we may have some husk breakdown and husk fly problems. It's probably too soon to tell yet."