the following years. Heavy mite pressure leads to early defoliation, which leads to reduced photosynthesis, resulting in reduced flower production the following year. • Ants are what I like to call “The Silent Pest” at harvest time. In many cases, growers do not believe they have an ant issue, but they might not be able to see the damage. Ants are capable of consuming the entire kernel, leaving only the skin of the almond. This skin is then lost through the pickup machine or at the huller, and the damage never shows up as a reject. Even though it may not be showing up as reject, it still creates a financial impact for the grower. A simple way to scout for ants is to take an empty water bottle with the cap off, place a few plain almonds, potato chips, or a hot dog inside, and set it in the orchard. Check the bottle 24–48 hours later and see if any damage has occurred. This easy scouting method, along with a discussion with your PCA can provide guidance on treatment. I am sure there are enough growers who get trash dumped in fields, so don’t forget to remove the bottle when you’re done! • Weeds , a grower’s never-ending nightmare. I know there must be some growers out there, like me, who feel that we don’t control weeds, we just manage them. A pre-harvest herbicide application along with a close mowing of the orchard floor is one of the best options. The reason this works well is healthy weeds die easier. I know it sounds backwards but if a weed is stressed it hardens off and weed spray materials tend to be less effective. Mowing after the weed spray also helps breakdown the dead weeds prior to harvest. This will allow for a more efficient harvest. • After all the prework is done, it’s finally time to harvest. But when should you harvest ? This photo shows the stages of Hull Split . In early shake situations, where growers may be trying to avoid Navel orangeworm damage, they may be looking at shaking at 2c. Growers who may be delivering inshell, will be looking at 5 or 6. Independence variety growers might say they have all those stages on a tree at one time! In the end it depends on the orchard, and what works well for its specific situation. • Dust is another hot topic at harvest time. It is important for growers to take steps to help reduce dust. Controlling equipment speed, monitoring sweeper head height, and making sure to blow dust into the field rather than into
roadways are all ways to help reduce dust. The Almond Board of California has some great information on dust reduction that can be found here: almonds.com/almond- industry/orchard-management/harvest/dust-reduction. • After the grower has shipped the harvested material to the huller, it will more than likely be stockpiled . This is quite common and has increased in recent years due to the sheer size of crops being delivered. Again, the Almond Board of California has some Best Management Practices for Stockpiles that can be found here: almonds. com/almond-industry/orchard-management/harvest/ stockpiling-harvest. The main takeaway is to make sure the almonds are dry before stockpiling. Best practices stipulate no more than 12% hull moisture AND no more than 6% kernel moisture. Another informal measurement is, “If you have to ask, they’re too wet.” If dry weather is present, have stockpiles open so moisture can escape. In the event of wet weather make sure the stockpile is covered and not placed in a low spot where water could accumulate. Once harvest is complete, it is time to start preparing for the next season. It is recommended to have tissue samples taken in July to check the nutrition of the trees. A hull sample should also be done. This is separate from a tissue (leaf) sample, because it will give accurate results for boron levels. If boron levels are low, post-harvest is an excellent window to eliminate the deficiency. Soil samples can also be taken at this time and will provide you information on if you need any soil amendments in the post-season. It is best to go over this information with your PCA/CCA and a plan can be set forth. Lastly, the field staff at Blue Diamond Growers is here to help during this busy time. If you have any questions about delivering, concerns about wet deliveries, or just need some information, please contact your Regional Manager. Good luck and have a happy harvest!
Trent Voss Regional Manager Blue Diamond Growers
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