March/April 2024 - 11

hile official estimates on tree nut crops won't
be released until May at the earliest, it's never
too early to start looking at expectations. Some
of the industry's leading voices offer opinions on what's
ahead and the factors that could impact their predictions.
In early March, Blue Diamond Growers emailed a crop
update by Kenneth Miyamoto, regional manager, member
relations, which noted that growers experienced both
favorable and unfavorable weather conditions, but disease
pressure was still a concern with the additional rainfall
California received.
Blue Diamond Growers indicated weather was a challenge
and complicated bloom progress in some almond-growing
regions in its March 8 update. Cold temperatures dampened
pollination efforts, despite a conducive weather that kicked
off the growing season.
Its March 15 update indicated the 2024 California almond
bloom had entered its final stages. Trent Voss, regional
manager, member relations for Blue Diamond Growers, said
that growers across the state are assessing the progress and
potential of this year's crop.
" As the nuts start to size, the inevitable drop of unpollinated
blossoms and nutlets has started, leaving growers to speculate
on the size of their crop. In the coming weeks as the nuts start
to develop and increase in size, growers will begin to have a
better idea of what the trees hold, " said Voss in the update.
As of the first week of March, there was still bloom going
on with some hazelnut varieties, so making an informed
prediction is difficult.
However, Nik Wiman, associate professor and hazelnut
orchard specialist for Oregon State University, has been
around the industry long enough to see some telltale signs.
Wiman mentioned January's cold temperatures and ice
storm caused some damage in the south Willamette Valley.
" When we get these ice storms ahead of bloom or during
bloom, the ice really builds up on catkins and weighs the
trees down. This can lead to limb breakage and trunk
splitting or sometimes tree toppling. Needless to say, this
causes yield loss, " he said.
Additionally, the catkins also had some damage Valleywide
but Wiman doesn't feel this will lead to a production
issue. He also shared concern that some female flowers were
damaged with the cold.
" However, it appears that only the tips of the
stigmas were burned by the cold and the
remaining parts of the flower buds survived,
so I am fairly confident this won't have
much effect on the crop, " Wiman said.
There are serious concerns with
pests and disease, most notably
a potential of a new strain of
eastern filbert blight, a
devastating disease
of hazelnuts.
He shared optimism over last year's record harvest and
" expects another new record barring a natural disaster. "
Anne Warden, CEO of the American Pecan Council and
American Pecan Promotion Board, noted 2023 was a good
year for pecans, with 271 million pounds in the U.S., and
quality compared to the rest of the world very high.
There is optimism that the 2024 crop season will be just as
strong. Still, there are some climate concerns.
" As we head into the summer, farmers will definitely have
an eye toward the shift to La NiƱa expected this summer or
fall and how that might create drier conditions in the West or
increased potential hurricanes in the East, " Warden said.
In Georgia, there's anticipation for a strong 2024 pecan
crop because much of Georgia was in the off cycle last year.
Lenny Wells, professor and pecan extension specialist at
the University of Georgia, noted with the off-year, he expects
a strong pecan crop this season, though the southeastern
portion of the state was hit hard by Hurricane Idalia in
September, which could affect things negatively.
" We usually see such severe damage having an effect on
return crop for the following year, so there is potential for
a light crop in that Southeast corner of Georgia, " he said.
" We've exceeded our chilling requirements, so as soon as we
get some warm temperatures, we should see budbreak begin
and progress rapidly if temps stay warm. "
Pecan producers will monitor for pecan nut casebearer,
stink bugs, aphids, and weevils. The primary disease threat of
concern for pecan growers in Georgia is always pecan scab,
and Wells noted there could be some significant inoculum
potential out there this year as a result of the wet growing
season in 2023.
" With the off crop last year, many growers cut back on
their sprays and this combined with the wet season could
increase the potential for early inoculation if weather
conditions are suitable after budbreak, " he said. " Growers
will need to be vigilant in watching the weather following
budbreak to determine when to begin their fungicide sprays. "
Stephen Vasquez, executive director of the Administrative
Committee for Pistachios, noted growers have been dealing
with lower-than-average chill in the early months of 2024,
which plays a big part in pistachio yield.
" We're probably looking at 1.2 to 1.3 billion pounds, with
where things stand right now, " he said, adding that there
are about 500,000 bearing acres of pistachios expected
for 2024. " Last year was 1.49 billion pounds, about 3,200
pounds per acre. "
This year is shaping up to be a " decent " water year,
Vasquez noted, with the current water board allocation being
15%, thanks in part to an early March major storm, and some
other storms expected to add to its snowpack. He expects
that allocation to rise.
On the pest side, navel orangeworm is the primary culprit
for pistachios as well as almonds and is always a concern. The
mealybug is another that growers are on the lookout for.

March/April 2024

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of March/April 2024

Editor's Letter
The blight phase of Botryosphaeria diseases in nut crops of California
Tree nut outlook for 2024
From the top
Water stress
Buzz pollination
Hazelnut crop concerns
Almond Board of California
Ad Index
March/April 2024 - 1
March/April 2024 - 2
March/April 2024 - 3
March/April 2024 - Editor's Letter
March/April 2024 - 5
March/April 2024 - The blight phase of Botryosphaeria diseases in nut crops of California
March/April 2024 - 7
March/April 2024 - 8
March/April 2024 - 9
March/April 2024 - Tree nut outlook for 2024
March/April 2024 - 11
March/April 2024 - 12
March/April 2024 - 13
March/April 2024 - From the top
March/April 2024 - 15
March/April 2024 - 16
March/April 2024 - 17
March/April 2024 - Water stress
March/April 2024 - 19
March/April 2024 - Buzz pollination
March/April 2024 - 21
March/April 2024 - Hazelnut crop concerns
March/April 2024 - 23
March/April 2024 - Business
March/April 2024 - 25
March/April 2024 - Almond Board of California
March/April 2024 - Events
March/April 2024 - 28