With a few days of cold, wet weather during May, the almond and walnut trees are finally starting to defoliate. Some younger trees still have a full canopy of green leaves. According to almond farmers and processors, the 2020 season has been “good but not excellent” in terms of yield and good in respect to quality. Many growers have reported slightly smaller kernels, especially on trees with heavy crop loads or under some stress. The spring was generally cool, allowing good vegetative growth but not great for nut sizing. The extreme heat during late summer increased water usage but assisted with opening the hulls.
Walnuts achieved good quality and yields from a combination of good spring weather and careful crop management. Most growers have commenced with defoliation sprays, using either Urea, Zinc Sulphate, or a combination of both. There is some discussion about the value compared to cost of defoliating young trees. Certainly, bearing trees should be defoliated but the value of defoliating non-bearing trees will be a decision made by each grower.
Post-harvest fertiliser application has been completed, the cool and wet autumn has been ideal for allowing the trees to recover after harvest.
Carob Moth and Carpophilus Beetle were reported to suddenly increase during late harvest in all production areas, causing damage to some almond crops. It is essential to carry out good orchard hygiene during winter to reduce carry-over of eggs. This involves removing as many mummy nuts from the trees as possible and destroying them by mulching. There were spring infestations of Heliothis, Carob Moth and Codling Moth in walnuts, resulting in insecticide applications being applied to good effect.
With hot dry summer conditions there were minimal leaf diseases seen during autumn. Some bacterial spot was noticed late in the season on some varieties following some wet weather. If pruning or hedging is carried out during autumn, a copper-based fungicide spray as soon as possible after hedging will provide protection against bacterial infections entering the limb wounds.
The Australian Almond Board are reporting that there is increased concern from Europe regarding chemical residues, so all growers need to check with their buyers or processors to ensure their 2020/21 spray programs are compliant.
For any further information on nut production, please call Peter Reynolds on 0427 566 871 or visit him at the Yenda Prods Griffith store.