Winter prep under way for 2008 almonds as growers eye water situation

Dormant sprays will start soon on almond orchards and continue through January in Kern County, according to Dale DeShane, PCA at Bakersfield.

“We’ll also be applying pre-emergence herbicides in January,” he says. “A lot of growers have gone to pre-emerge programs, especially if they have problems with resistant marestail and hairy fleabane. Almond prices have been pretty good, so growers are willing to spend a little more money on herbicide programs that are working better than some of the cheaper alternatives.”

Navel orangeworm sanitation work of removing mummies should begin as soon as fog or rains set in, although conditions have been unseasonably mild thus far. Irrigation water remains a huge concern as growers look to the coming season.

In other production issues, “lower limb dieback” is a disease/disease complex posing an increasing threat in almonds, according to Vern Crawford with Wilbur-Ellis at Shafter, Calif. It has also been noted in northern counties such as Stanislaus and Butte.

“There seems to be a complex that’s killing out the bottom growth,” Crawford says. “We used to think it was due to the upper canopy shading out the lower growth, but now we’re not sure. I’ve got growers who do an excellent job of pruning, and they’re still seeing limbs dying all the way back to the trunk.”

Researchers have not yet pinned down the problem, but they suspect it is caused by a combination of two different fungi. One of the suspected pathogens is an unidentified species of Phomopsis; the other is Botryosphaeria dothidea. UC researchers are continuing to conduct trials with various cultural practices as well as dormant and in-season fungicide sprays to try and come up with answers.

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