Blue Diamond Almond Facts November-December 2021



Farewell to Franz Almond Facts would like to extend a big “thank you” to Franz Niederholzer for faithfully contributing invaluable orchard information for our “Time to Consider” section for the past three years. Thank you, Franz! We truly appreciate your strong work, and we wish you all the best in what ’ s next for you!

So far, so good. Chilling units are accumulating. Rain fall since October 1 is far above average for this date in many locations. There are a number of tasks that could be done as days shorten and cool. The following are some practices for your consideration.

Planning: The water year is way ahead of last year in many areas, but the rodeo isn’t over. The La Niña forecast is unchanged as of October ( and the November to January rain forecast gives equal chances of normal rain north of Merced, but 30–40% chance of less than normal rain south of there. Careful planning and execution will, again, be critical for success in the coming year due to concerns for good to decent water availability and quality, uncertainties around nut pricing and the rising costs of materials and labor. Given these concerns, consider making farming plans for next season that include a range of scenarios from rosy to bleak. Now is the time to put together the information needed to make tough decisions in 2022 as the operating conditions for the year are clearer. My suggestion is to trim costs in a number of big-ticket practices rather than eliminating one. This should require more management but maintain production and avoid losses that could come with a nutrient deficiency or pest outbreak.

In a Nutshell: • Get information together to plan for 2022. Uncertainties in water, nut pricing and costs will require planning for a range of scenarios from good to awful. • Line up strong hives for pollination this coming bloom. Prep your orchard (roads, drop sites, clean water sources) to support beekeepers delivering this key service. • Count mummy nuts in the trees and on the ground in every orchard. Decide if sanitation is needed. • Take spur or shoot sample(s) to look for pests controlled with dormant or delayed dormant sprays (scale, scab, etc.) • Survey winter weeds emerging in orchards and plan an herbicide program with your PCA. • Talk with your CCA about winter (dry) versus in-season (water run) potassium application.

Bees: Late fall is a very good time to line up strong hives for bloom and prep the orchard for their arrival. Signing a contract now secures quality bees for the coming bloom. It is highly recommended that 1) the contract contains a hive quality statement, 2) the contract includes language establishing hive quality evaluation by a third party at delivery, and 3) growers be prepared to pay a premium for strong hives. “Strong hives” contain eight or more frames covered on both sides with bees and deliver more pollination than weaker hives. For example, bees from strong hives collected 300% more pollen than those working from weaker hives (four to five

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