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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

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