Online Irrigation Calculator Streamlines Decision-Making for Almond Growers
A new Irrigation Calculator is available to the California Almond industry that aims to help growers irrigate more efficiently. Supported by Almond Board of California (ABC) and designed in partnership with University of California irrigation experts and consulting firm SureHarvest, this online calculator ensures that grower irrigation schedules are based on local growing conditions by integrating a number of variables, including weather and orchard conditions, with irrigation system type and efficiency. The free tool is available through the California Almond Sustainability Program (CASP) website at SustainableAlmondGrowing.org.
To use the Irrigation Calculator, growers will need to enter information about their orchard, such as row and tree spacing, age and percent canopy cover, along with optional inputs such as soil texture and rooting depth. The calculator automatically obtains weather data for the calculations from the nearest California Irrigation Management Information System (CIMIS) weather station, based on zip code. Some basic information about a grower’s irrigation setup is also required, including whether it is a drip, microsprinkler or solid-set sprinkler system; average gallons-per-hour rate; and distribution uniformity. Once this information is entered, the calculator will provide amounts to irrigate based on the weather and orchard inputs, and run times based on the irrigation system inputs.
Guidance for obtaining some of the required inputs is provided through hover text and pop-ups, saving growers the effort of researching this information on their own.
The Irrigation Calculator accesses local weather data from CIMIS. Growers select the CIMIS weather station closest to their operation or orchard to receive the most accurate information. The time needed for individual irrigation systems, as defined by the grower, to replace the water lost due to evapotranspiration in a specific time period will be calculated and provided through the tool.
“The beauty of the Irrigation Calculator is that growers can enter all the basic information from their orchard in one place, and the tool will calculate how much irrigation water is needed based on those specific conditions using the seasonally relevant almond crop coefficient [ETc],” said Gabriele Ludwig, Ph.D., director of Sustainability and Environmental Affairs at Almond Board of California. “The goal is to make some rather lengthy calculations simple in order to obtain a basic calculation of irrigation demand specific to characteristics of the orchard.”
The information can be cloned and modified for different orchard blocks, saving the effort of re-entering required input data for each orchard, and growers can begin using the calculator at any time during the growing season.
Goal of Improved Efficiency
The irrigation calculator complements a new effort by the Almond Board of California that encourages all almond growers to adopt irrigation management practices to improve irrigation efficiency. The Almond Irrigation Improvement Continuum, developed in partnership with UC, CSU and UC Extension irrigation experts, includes five practices:
• Measuring irrigation system performance and efficiency;
• Estimating orchard water requirements based on evapotranspiration;
• Measuring the amount of water applied;
• Evaluating soil moisture; and
• Evaluating plant water status.
Building on the Almond industry’s decades-long commitment to improving water use efficiency, the continuum defines three proficiency levels: 1.0 (minimum), 2.0 (intermediate) and 3.0 (advanced). The minimum level is something that any grower can implement with limited additional investment in time and/or financial resources. Levels 2 and 3 refine irrigation management with the employment of additional investments.
“Through resources such as the Almond Irrigation Improvement Continuum, the Almond Board is working to translate decades of research into grower-friendly, easy-to-use tools that can help improve how we grow almonds,” explained Dr. Ludwig. “Not only does good irrigation water management help trees produce to their highest potential, it also ensures good management of nitrogen inputs. Fundamentally, the tools and the continuum are about increasing our efficiency and sustainability around California’s most valuable natural resource — water.”
About the Almond Board of California
Almonds from California are a natural, wholesome and quality food. The Almond Board of California promotes almonds through its research-based approach to all aspects of marketing, farming and production on behalf of the more than 6,800 almond growers and processors in California, many of which are multi-generational family operations. Established in 1950 and based in Modesto, California, the Almond Board of California is a non-profit organization that administers a grower-enacted Federal Marketing Order under the supervision of the United States Department of Agriculture. For more information on the Almond Board of California or almonds, visit Almonds.com or AlmondSustainability.org. Be sure to check out California Almonds on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and the California Almonds blog.
Research to Better Understand Spider Mite Migration Timing
Research to Better Understand Spider Mite Migration Timing
Spider mites overwinter in orchard floor and move to the trees as the season progresses in spring. In practice, we only know mite presence/infestation in almond trees after we see the damage on leaves in spring or later. In this regard, finding the ways to trap mites in tree trunk while they are moving up from their overwintering sites may provide an early estimation of the future mite population and their migration timing. Knowing the movement timing can be helpful in finding alternative ways to control mites. This is an area of research that UC IPM Advisor Jhalendra Rijal will be pursuing in the future. Frank Zalom and Walt Bentley created the tree band concept depicted here in the 1990s, and Rijal will be utilizing it for the study.
“The UC Davis Walnut Breeding Program has recently released a new walnut variety, known as Durham,” reports Chuck Leslie of UC Davis Walnut Improvement Program. Durham harvests mid-season, earlier than Chandler, with excellent kernel color, well-filled nuts, large plump kernels that are easily extracted in halves, and relatively late leafing and bloom dates. The large oval nuts are uniform in size with good strength, solid seals, and an attractive shell appearance suitable for alternate use in-shell. The expected low blight and kernel quality should be of particular interest to growers in the Sacramento Valley.
Durham kernels have large size and excellent color, averaging 95% light and extra light with a high proportion of extra light and averaging 55.4 RLI in trials. The uniform, oval-shaped nuts average 15.1 grams in weight and contain large 8.3 g kernels with excellent appearance. Durham nuts average 55% kernel yield and are expected to produce a good proportion of kernel halves. The shells have a particularly attractive appearance, which, in combination with the seal and shell strength and a harvest date earlier than Hartley, suggests dual use as an in- shell nut if desired.
Durham leafing, flowering, and harvest dates are similar to the Tulare variety but this one has larger nuts, better fill and superior kernel color. Durham is 100% laterally fruitful and leafs out a few days before Chandler with a protandrous bloom habit (the catkins shed before the female bloom). Leafing and bloom are later than Solano or Ivanhoe and therefore provide better blight avoidance. Harvest timing is about ten days before Chandler. Canopy structure in grower trials has been upright and without evidence of limb breakage to date. The Durham tree appears to have average vigor and size at maturity, similar to Chandler. Comparable orchard spacing would be suitable for Durham and Chandler can also serve as a pollenizer for this variety.
Durham, known as selection UC93-028-20 prior to its release, results from a 1993 cross using PI159568, a USDA introduction from Afghanistan, for its nut size, fill, plump kernel shape, and reduced blight susceptibility and Chandler as a parent for kernel color and yield. Durham has performed well in regional selection test blocks in Butte, Yolo and Fresno counties and in grower trials in Butte, Sutter, Yolo, Stanislaus, and Merced counties. Grower feedback from trials has been very positive. Durham is now commercially available and can be ordered from any licensed nursery.
Don’t Over-Irrigate Krymsk 86 in Sacramento Valley
Don’t Over-Irrigate Krymsk 86 in Sacramento Valley
Dani Lightle, UCCE Orchards Advisor, recently pointed out some trends in Northern California almond orchards. “If you are like many growers in the Sacramento Valley, you may have planted a new almond orchard on Krymsk 86 (K86),” she expressed. “In light of the potential for a cooler, wet spring, it is worth reviewing our observations concerning Krymsk 86 and other rootstocks in wet conditions.” Some may observe micronutrient deficiency symptoms. “When trees first leaf out and soils are wet and cold, trees may show interveinal chlorosis that are typically associated with zinc or manganese deficiencies,” she explained. “This can occur in trees on most rootstocks.”
She continued, “Later in the spring as soils warm up but are kept too wet by late rainfall or over irrigation, trees on Krymsk 86 (and Marianna 2624) may turn yellow, roll their leaves, and stop growing. What should you do if these symptoms are observed? First and foremost, make sure you’re not over-irrigating. Roots need good aeration and soils to dry out and warm up to be able to grow and uptake nutrients efficiently. Carefully monitor soil moisture in the spring and be careful not to turn irrigation water on too early. Secondly, be patient. In our experience, once soils dry out, trees tend to push past the symptoms and will often begin to put on new growth. When over-irrigated during the growing season, symptoms can persist for the remainder of the season, particularly on 1st and 3rd years. If the problem is corrected, normal growth frequently resumes the following year.”
Hazelnut Grower of the Year
Learning & Growing Oregon’s Hazelnut Industry
Awarded and recognized at the 101st annual meeting of the Nut Growers Society as the 2015 “Grower of the Year”, hazelnut grower Jeff Newton is among the many pioneers that has led the fast-growing and flourishing hazelnut industry in Oregon that exists today. Read all about him and his orchard practices in the October issue of Pacific Nut Producer Magazine and watch an interview with him in the orchard on the video news section of this website.
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