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Tempered Rambling by ID Services PCA's 2-28-24

Seasonal Update-


When you drive along 99 or Weedpatch Hwy, it is easy to see the size and color of the weeds. They are getting to be 50% above normal. I have looked at hundreds of nematode samples so far this year and the soil microbial life is flourishing. This can mean a significant early nitrogen cost savings. 

I recommend reducing pre-leaf test nitrogen applications by 40%. Our 1st nitrogen look will be at 100% almond leaf size which may be the last week of March.The almond bloom early fertilizer and fungicides have been applied. If the weather allows we could hold on the leaf protection fungicide until after full leaf out. The criteria for the necessity of this spray is 70 to 80F and a forecasted number of consecutive wet days. 


To all, take any frost threats very seriously for here until 4/19, which is the date of our last historic frost. At night cold air flows like a delta river. It will move until stopped. Canals are notorious cold air dams. I recommend all protective measures be considered when temperatures are forecasted 35F and below. Please call me with any concerns. 


Soil, Leaf, and Water Testing: 

  • Water- All farmers should have a well water agronomy test once every 3 years. Water with pH testing above 6.8 benefits from acid injections. A plant root using energy to reduce pH is energy lost from the fruit. 

  • Leaf- All crops should test once full leaf size is attained. After that, a testing  every 4 weeks allows for meaningful fertility application adjustments. 

  • Soil-Blocks that can be fertilized separately benefit from tailored fertility plans. The 2023 Fall test and Spring plan takes us through June 2024. We can test in July, when water is still being applied, to determine the Post Harvest and Spring 2025 plans. 


Grapes are at early leaf out. Protection must be applied. You cannot see the early mildew infections. Low cost copper, sulfur, and Abound treatments are recommended at 6, 12, and 18" average shoot length. I do not like to mix fertilizers with copper. The first foliar goes on at 18" with Abound and sulfur. 


My neighbor has a lot of mushrooms on his orchard floor. There is an included picture below. The mushrooms are not the problem, however sporulation of aspergillus, botryosphaeria, botrytis, and alternaria may also be occurring. We don't want a zillion spores on new green tissue. I highly recommend discing the floors until they are clean to reduce spore levels.


My wife, Robin, has been commercially wind pollinating cherries for years. Attention to alleles, flowers, and pollen handling are keys to successful enhanced pollination. Consider wind pollinating pistachios for enhanced yields in a questionable chill year. 

At ID Serves, we are wrapping up our winter nematode season and rotating to the Spring PCA season. Our 1st insect traps will go out the week of 3/4. We have purchased a new automatic sampler that may allow us to sample for variable rate fertilizer application programs. 


Nematode management: out of sight, out of mind, takes over when farmers get very busy. All permanent crops with nematode problems should have a management plan that includes post harvest 2024 applications. Protect the Spring root-flush April-May and also apply a post harvest material. Admire, Movento, Nimtz, Salibro, and Velum are available in different circumstances. There are also various biologicals available . I recommend a close association between your PCA, BioMan and your nematologist for best efficacy. 

Looking forward towards an exciting March of 2024! 



Alan Butterfield

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Tempered Ramblings by ID Services PCA's

ID Services PCA Alan Butterfield gives a brief update on various field/crop condtions and Integrated Pest Control Management options for Spr


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