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Friday, January 29, 2016

Protecting our future nuts

We have been lucky to be getting some rain in the last few weeks in the valley and another big storm is expected this weekend. Unfortunately, we had planned to be dormant spraying last week. Meaning long days, and food deliveries to the farm to keep the spray rigs going so we can get back on schedule. We can't complain, we need and want the rain but the timing just always seems to be a little off.
The trees are still sleeping, or what farmers call dormant, so it is perfect timing to spray mineral oil and insect growth regulators before the trees wake up for spring. In just a couple week the trees will begin to push buds and bloom is just around the corner. But for now, we need to get on top of some insects that could harm our trees before they wake up.
Tractor pulls sprayer through the orchard
Scale, is an insect who sucks the sap from the tree. I am sure you have all seen the gum looking sap that tends to ooze out of certain trees. Sap on an almond tree is sugar that helps to create the nut. Scale is easier to manage in the winter and by spraying mineral oil on the trees now it will stop the scale and won't hurt the trees because they are dormant. If scale is allowed to take over, trees will not have enough sugar to create an almond at all. This would leave the tree infested and without almonds. Spraying the trees now also provides for ample coverage of the tree and trunk because there aren't nuts or leaves yet.

While we apply the oil it is also good timing to mix in an insect growth regulator at the same time. The Peach Twig Borer is very active at early nut development and attacks the nut from preventing it to grow. Peach Twig Borer will girdle the twigs of the almond tree and eat the twigs as the form, leaving a farmer with damaged or no nuts at all. By applying the insect growth regulator now before the nuts start to develop we ensure the insect is controlled before nuts form. It is imperative that we apply now before the bees arrive in our field and we keep the bees safe from any harm.
Mixing and loading the spray rigs as they head out into the orchard

With a small window of timing after winter pruning, shaking and polling, we will need to make sure we finish before bees and bloom arrive. Keep praying for rain, but hopefully after we finish our dormant spray!

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl

Friday, January 22, 2016

Bud Swell, The beginning of the new life cycle

We have been enjoying plenty of foggy mornings on the farm this past month. Mornings when we can't see in front of us very far because the clouds are so low, or it feels like being in a cloud. The brisk cold mornings and the wet foggy air is the perfect combination for helping the old almonds fall off when we winter shake. After these old almonds are off the trees, the trees are ready to start the life cycle again. Farmers generally aim to be done winter shaking by the third week of January. It is at this point the trees are starting to wake up and push buds. When buds are swelling you don't want to risk shaking the trees and harming the new bud development because it is easy to knock large buds off the branches. We definitely don't want to hurt our new almonds.

The buds are starting to swell or enlarge. They are bulging out of the branch and starting to pop up for light. In a couple weeks they will be breaking open. If you remember, last year I blogged all about the pollination series of buds, bees and bloom. During bud swell we don't want to disturb the tree with too much mechanical work. We aim to be done shaking, polling, tying or any last pruning by now. The tree is now into the new stage of bud development and will be working on forming an almond.

In just a matter of weeks we will have buds pushing into flowers and in a month or so we will have gorgeous orchards full of bloom. It seems like only yesterday we were harvesting our almonds and now the almond life cycle is starting all over again.

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl




Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Finding light in a negative world.

There is a lot of negativity in today's world. It is in the media, on television, some family members, work life, it seems everywhere you turn there is someone or something that just seems to be negative. Even when you turn on the news at night, it always focuses on the bad things going on. They always seem to report when someone is arrested or accused of wrong doing. But then when they are cleared of the charges or wrongfully arrested, the news never tells that side of the story. When they get a story wrong or there is a happy ending, it never seems to make the mainstream media. Why has our world become focused on the bad and less focused on the good?

A couple months back, I attended a local Business Conference and one speaker specifically tackled the tough topic of cleansing your life of negativity. Now with it being a new year, it really got me thinking of how much negativity surrounds us all and how I want to be more positive this year. Maybe you have a family member who is always picking out the negative in everything. They seem to always find the bad way of looking at a situation. Maybe you have a coworker who is always looking for trouble or seems to find an argument with everything that crosses their desk. Now we can't always get ride of these negative people in our lives but we can start by pointing out the positive in the situations to them. Sometimes simply stating "Let's find the positive here" can bring a different light and attitude to the situation.  With enough repetition, they will catch on. Sometimes simply ignoring the negative comments and following it up with a positive outlook may get them thinking.

Farmers often times tend to be negative as well. The yield isn't as high as they hoped. The tractor broke down in the field right before a big rain storm. Your expenses were higher than last year. But instead of rejoicing for the good in our lives, we tend to focus on the bad. How do we train ourselves to find the light in this negative world? It is hard to sometimes find the positive in situations, but looking at things through a different perspective can sometimes change your view point.

Stop, breathe, and smile. Do you have loved ones around you? A roof over your head? A faith in God or greater being? So maybe we didn't get the yield we hoped for, but we still have a crop to rejoice for when some farmers maybe couldn't even harvest. The tractor broke down right before a rain storm, but maybe you can go home early and spend the evening with your family instead. Your expenses were higher than last year, but let's look at next year and make some adjustments.

In this next year, let's stop and rejoice in what we do have and not focus on what we don't have. Sometimes all it takes is a switch in our thinking. Try to be more positive and focus on the good things that happened today, instead of dwelling on all the bad. You woke up today, pulled on your big girl pants and tackled the world with a smile. Don't let all that holiday cheer end with the holidays. Let us all find light in a negative world.

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl


Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Almond Girl in Action

Last month, our little family was quite active! The holidays alone bring lots of parties, family activities, and outings that involve travel and long days. But on top of all of the normal holiday events, I had two back to back conferences to attend. And of course the conferences were a distance away and just so happened to be during my little almond farmer's first birthday.  So I picked up my family and took them with me!

First up, was the California Farm Bureau Annual Meeting, were I serve on the Young Farmers and Ranchers State Committee. During the Annual Meeting, members and delegates congregate to receive a legislative update, discuss and amend policy, commodity reviews and more. This year they made changes to policy on drones, discussed the ongoing bee issues, crop insurance for the drought, just to name a few. We also a heated election of new officers to serve our organization for the upcoming years.
Every year farmers and ranchers from throughout the state assemble together to ensure the organization is serving the best interest of California agriculture. Through their leadership, it is my hope that agriculture will have a voice and seat at the table when issues affecting us are brought up. As part of the YF&R program, I was elected to serve as the 2nd Vice and can't wait to continue the great momentum as part of the sphere of influence.
And since the conference was during my little almond farmer's birthday, the boys got to explore Cabela's and Scheels and we took an evening to ourselves for him to divulge in a piece of cake. 

We did have to leave Reno early to make our way to the Almond Board of California Conference. I had the privilege to sit on a panel discussing how growers use social media. I loved the opportunity to catch up with an old college friend and a social media friend. Joe and I had been twitter friends but hadn't met in real life until the conference, I love when that happens! He is great agvocate and even hosted President Obama on his farm. Daniel and his family were featured in a great Esquire Magazine article on farming almonds in the desert. 
Joe, Daniel and I. Photo courtesy of Western Farm Press.
Conference highlights included water, bees, groundwater recharge, environmental concerns, media outreach and a trade show full of equipment innovation and vendors eager to assist. While I enjoyed the industry updates and legislative reviews of course my almond farmer made his way to the irrigation efficiency and technology workshops. It was an action packed day for us because we were eager to head home. It was a busy week of conferences and travel but I wouldn't have had it any other way than with my family by my side.

Until Next Time,
Almond Girl