Circulation: With a circulation of more than 650 and readership of over 2000 the ‘In A Nutshell’ newsletter is available to the general public and interested parties via the Almond Board of Australian website www.australianalmonds.com.au, and high quality printed copies distributed to: Almond Board of Australia members, industry contacts within Australia and overseas, nut producing, distributing and marketing companies.
Why Become a Member? As a member you have a direct say about the future of the industry and direct access to our organisation. The ABA has undertaken industry-wide consultation to develop an Industry Strategic Plan which establishes funding priorities for the industry’s R&D and marketing programs. We aim to support our rapidly increasing industry by encouraging effective communication and co-operation between industry members. The ABA aims to keep members informed through a range of activities including: • Presentation of the Annual Almond Industry Conference. • Distribution of the ABA’s quarterly newsletter “In a Nutshell” • Regular field days and regional meetings • Technical articles and ABA news in the “Australian Nutgrower” Journal • Collection and distribution of industry statistics • Access to regularly updated information via the ABA website To join the ABA please visit our website and download a membership form, or contact our office on 08 8582 2055 or email email@example.com
In a Nutshell The Almond Board of Australia is the peak industry body representing the interest of almond growers, processors and marketers in Australia in matters of national importance including regulation, legislation, marketing research and development. In a Nutshell is published quarterly by the ABA to bring news to all industry contacts and members. Advertising/Editorial The Almond Board of Australia (ABA) acknowledges contributions made by private enterprise through placement of advertisements in this publication. Any advertising and/or editorial supplied to this publication does not necessarily reflect the views of the ABA and unless otherwise specified,
Editor Jo Pippos
Communications Manager Almond Board of Australia 9 William Street, PO Box 2246 BERRI SA 5343
t +61 8 8582 2055 f +61 8 8582 3503
e firstname.lastname@example.org w www.australianalmonds.com.au
Some of these projects were facilitated by HAL in partnership with the Almond Board of Australia. They were funded by the R&D levy and/or voluntary contributions from industry. The Australian Government provides matched funding for all HAL’s R&D activities.
no products and/or services are endorsed by this organisation.
EXECUTIV E update
Those who ate 30g or a handful of nuts at least once a day had a 20% lower death rate. This study is consistent with a wealth of existing observational and clinical-trial data in supporting the health benefits of nut consumption for many chronic diseases. The 2014 crop is looking very good with heavy tonnages predicted. Early assessments of Nonpareil kernel size indicates that average may be a grade or two smaller than previous years, whilst Carmel is looking bigger. Other quality factors depend heavily on the weather throughout harvest, so everyone is hoping we can get the crop successfully into storage in good condition. Quality product this year should see an expected farm gate value well in excess of last year’s figure of $500 plus million. A recent trade visit by representatives from the four major almond marketing companies and the Almond Board of Australia to Delhi and Gulfood’s trade fair reinforced an ongoing demand with a strong line of inquiry from existing and new customers. The Australian almond trade stand was a standout among the thousands of other stands, and Joseph Ebbage, our Market Development Manager, must be congratulated on organising the display. The co-operative effort of our marketers enables the Australian industry to project itself as a major player at important trade events such as this.
During the 2013 calendar year almonds became Australia’s first horticultural industry to earn in excess of $300 million in annual export revenue. As the final part of the crop harvested in March and April 2013 is being sold at high prices on offer presently, the final export sales figures for the record almond crop is estimated be around $360 million. A 60% increase in production in 2013 saw available export supply double which combined with a significant rise in the global price for almonds led to the jump in export earnings. The Australian Bureau of Statistics figures as at the end of September 2013 show the volume of exports increased by 51%, but value increased by 132%. Consumption growth of almonds in Australia has also been very strong during the past year. In 2013 consumption increased by 9.2% building once more on the increase of 2012. This continuing growth has been assisted by regularly released health benefit studies showing the contribution of nuts to leading a longer healthier life. The world’s largest study (120,000 people followed over 30 years) on the association of nut consumption and mortality was published recently in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine 1 , finding that the consumption of nuts is inversely associated with mortality.
A Market Forum was held during the Gulfoods event and was well attended by 70 traders from India, the Middle East and California. This forum was held as a breakfast function to allow those involved in their own trade stands to attend. Once breakfast was complete the participants moved to the conference room to view presentations including an industry update on the 2013/14 Australian growing season by Brendan Sidhu, Chair of the Market Development Committee and myself. The following chart shows the top ten export markets by sales value. India was our largest market by value in 2013 with sales of $97 million followed by the United Arab Emirates with exports worth $34 million. Combined the two markets represent 42.3% of Australian almonds export sales.
Top 10 Export Destinations by Value (2013 Marketing Year) $100
$30 Millions $AUD
Neale Bennett Chairman
Ross Skinner CEO
United Kingdom United States of America
United Arab Emirates
Hong Kong (SAR of China) 1 New England Journal of Medicine article can be found here: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1307352
Marketing Matters Joseph Ebbage Market Development Program Manager Export Development Program Update they have increased the space, almost 3,000 companies remained on the waiting
will be exhibiting at the INC Conference in Melbourne where we will meet with a wide range of our customers as well as at Sial in Paris in October and Food Week Korea in Seoul, South Korea in November. Given the prospect of the Free Trade Agreement between Australian and South Korea coming into force in time for our 2015 New Season, there is already interest being registered from South Korean traders. The November date for the Korean exhibition is well placed to promote our 2015 new season crop. Domestic Development Program Update From a domestic marketing program perspective, the activities are focused on the New Season period of April to June. We will be advertising our 2014 new season almonds both in print media and online. This advertising will be targeting Australians with an interest in fitness and health as these are key drivers of consumption. Importantly, these drivers are also quite price resilient in times of relatively higher shelf prices for Australian almonds. We will also be sampling almonds throughout Fitness First gyms as people with the capacity to buy a gym membership also have the capacity to regularly buy almonds. Complementing this program will be our on-going health professional educational program. Over the next three months we will be promoting almonds at the Fitness Expo in Melbourne (April 4-6), the Australian Sports Dietitians conference in Adelaide (April 10-12) and the Dietitians’ Association of Australia annual conference in Brisbane from May 15-17.
list unable to be accommodated. The Chair of the ABA Marketing
The key focus of the marketing program for the first quarter of 2014 has been three international trade exhibitions during February and March. These promotions have included our core markets of India and the Middle East as well as in the high- potential new markets of Russia and Japan. The timing of these exhibitions was well suited to promote our 2014 New Season harvest. The first trade exhibition in this series was Prodexpo in Moscow. It ran from February 10 to 14 and was staffed by marketers and representatives of Almondco, Olam, Select Harvests and the ABA. Prodexpo has been running for over 20 years and is the largest annual food show covering Russia and Eastern Europe. Their published results for the 2014 show were: 2,300 exhibitors from 63 countries with 35 national pavilions. There were over 50,000 visitors from 100 countries including all Russian federal districts. The Australian Almond exhibition booth was in one of the halls devoted to a major theme of the whole show: “Confectionary snacks, Nuts, Dried Fruit, & Bakery ingredients for confectionary products”. This theme covered two halls with the total exhibition. We had a qualified interpreter on the stand for the duration of the exhibition who assisted not only with inquiries at the stand, but worked with our marketers in making introductions to the other nut packers and distributors that were also exhibitors. Most of these nut packers were Russian based. When many of these nut distributors visited our booth in return during the show the quality of our presentation communicated that the Australian almond industry is credible and a serious alternative to the Californian industry with whom they currently deal. Our second trade exhibition in this quarter was Gulfoods in Dubai, running from February 23 to 27. All four Australian almond marketers as well as the ABA attended this exhibition which has become our most important annual show (remembering that exhibitions such as Anuga in Cologne are biennial). Gulfoods 2014 had over 4,200 exhibitors and more than 77,000 visitors. Although
Committee, Brendan Sidhu and the ABA’s CEO, Ross Skinner addressed an Australian Almond Breakfast Seminar held on Day 2 of the Gulfoods. This event was very well attended by over 60 of our customers – particularly from India. This was the third time we have run a Seminar during Gulfoods and continues to grow each year. The third trade exhibition for this component of our New Season campaign was Foodex in Tokyo. It took place from March 4 to 7. Marketers and representatives of Almondco, Nut Producers Australia, Olam and the ABA participated in this exhibition. The Japanese almond market continues to grow strongly. Table 1 (below) indicates sales of Californian almonds in tonnes over the past four years as well as the sales of China, South Korea and Taiwan. Their purchases of Californian almonds for their current crop year: ie from August 2013 to February 2014 also indicate a healthy market in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan (Table 2). Clearly the trading relationships between Japan and California are strong and their trade is growing. Breaking into this market will take some time and consistent marketing over the medium term. However Japan is an attractive market as it has continued to grow during a time of rising almond prices and has established consumer demand. Looking ahead to the remainder of the 2014 Export Development program, we
Californian Almond Sales - Tonnes
FY 2010 FY 2011
FY 2012 FY 2013
MAT Feb 2014
MAT Feb 2013
Table 1 (above): Californian Almond Shipments (Tonnes) past four years Table 2 (right): Californian Almond Shipments (Tonnes) for current crop year.
South Korea 14,304 12,854
Have you got yours? Almond History Book The rich history of the Australian almond industry has now been woven into a book chronicling the endeavours of those who have shaped today’s vibrant industry. The Almond Board of Australia, peak industry body for almonds in Australia, commissioned a three year project to uncover and capture its colourful past, spanning the period of almond development from the planting of the first tree in the 1830s to the formation of the Australian Almond Growers Association in 1995. The history book can be purchased by contacting the Almond Board of Australia on 08 8582 2055, or visiting www. australianalmonds. com.au/display/ shopping
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16th Australian Almond Conference
A A C 2 0 1 4
Stamford Grand Hotel, Glenelg, South Australia October 28-30, 2014
through to processing and onto the marketing of our largest ever almond crop. We look forward to announcing our international speaker line-up in the coming months. A ‘must attend’ event on the industry calendar, this Conference is the largest gathering of almond industry representatives in Australia. It brings together over 200 Australian and international delegates, with participants including growers, processors, marketers, researchers, industry suppliers and other interested persons. The Australian almond industry has come a long way in a short period of time. With a forecast record crop of 78,600 in 2014, almonds are Australia’s fastest growing horticultural industry, servicing an expanding domestic market and major export markets in India, Europe, Japan, Hong Kong, New Zealand and the Middle East. The AAC has become renowned for the value it adds to our industry and I can assure you that our 2014 event will carry on this fine tradition. For more information on this year’s Australian Almond Conference please contact the ABA Office on +61 8 85822055 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Almonds are now Australia’s largest horticultural export industry, and we have surpassed Spain to become the second largest global producer of almonds, behind the United States. We are pleased to announce that the 15th Annual Australian Almond Conference (AAC), from 28th to 30th October 2014 will be held at the Stamford Grand Hotel in Glenelg, with the Gala Dinner to be held at the Morphettville Racecourse. This year’s Conference will include presentations by respected researchers and experts focussing on the entire supply chain from both a domestic and an international perspective. Speakers will address issues of industry interest; from pollination to promotion and product quality to price prediction. The congress is the one event attended by everyone in our industry – from the growers who do the hard yards on our farms to the many industry partners who continue to help us maintain our position as Australia’s number one horticulture export industry. It is also a time when we hear from, as an industry, with leaders and decision makers from Government and across the broader agriculture sector. Growers and delegates will go away with, not only a thorough understanding of the industry’s research activities but also the wide ranging efforts to further develop our industry; from production
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Registration Opens SOON!
On-Farm Almond Storage and Other Critical Control Points for Managing Food Safety R&D Roundup Ben Brown - Industry Development Manager Chin Gouk Project Leader (AL11009), Department of Environment and Primary Industries
Critical Control Point #1 - Hull Rot and Mummies Hull rot, caused mainly by Rhizopus stolonifer has been a wide spread disease of almond orchards in Australia in recent years, particularly in the 2010/11 season following frequent and heavier rainfall events occurring from early hull split. Rhizopus is common throughout the environment and it acts opportunistically once the hull splits and the perfect micro-climate for growth occurs. Rhizopus releases a toxin that is translocated into the fruiting wood causing it to die with mummified fruit remaining attached to the tree and not easily shaken off during harvest. Interestingly, Monilinia spp. is also listed in the literature to be a causal pathogen of hull rot but this fungus has not been detected in any of the samples assayed. The critical control point is that the mummified whole fruit also provides an ideal source of Aspergillus inoculum, with mummies
Australian almond production has increased significantly over the last few seasons with one of the largest increases occurring this past year from 50,000 tonnes in 2012 to 78,600 tonnes in 2013. Further production increases over the next three seasons are also expected with an estimated production of 90,000 tonnes by 2017. In 2011/12 a multidisciplinary team comprising expertise in mycology, biochemistry, plant pathology, entomology and integrated pest and disease management from DEPI Victoria and CSIRO were put together to investigate the issues of Aspergillus and aflatoxin contamination - ensuring Australia’s reputation of supplying high quality almonds that are food safe. In particular, the aim of the R&D project was to identify key contributing factors and critical control points for Aspergillus and aflatoxin contamination, and develop an industry-wide strategy to minimise contamination. To serve as a reminder; aflatoxins are compounds that give rise to serious human and animal health effects and are produced by a group of Aspergillus fungi. The project is part way through its existing contract, but I’d like to highlight the key preliminary findings from 2011/12 and 2012/13 seasons.
(sampled post hull split) harbouring up to 17 times more Aspergillus than new whole fruit on the tree (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Size of Aspergillus inoculum load on orchard substrates relative to the numbers on new crop whole fruit on tree, during hull split, 2012/13
Call for Expressions of Interest Nutgrower Journal Editor The Australian Nutgrower Journal is a key R&D extension and communication tool of the Australian tree nut industries. It is funded through matched R&D funding from Horticulture Australia Ltd via voluntary contribution from ANIC. The Nutgrower Journal is currently published quarterly and distributed to approximately 900 Australian and international subscribers in print and available electronically via the ANIC website. Due to the pending retirement of our long-time editor, ANIC is now calling for Expressions of Interest to produce the Nutgrower Journal. All aspects of production are required – sourcing and writing articles, editing and proofing industry contributions, managing advertisers, and layout. ANIC is flexible on how these tasks might be performed and welcomes suggestions from interested parties on how they might deliver these necessary services. The successful candidate would be required to commence work in July 2014 for production of the September issue. A full brief can be obtained by contacting Chaseley Ross, ANIC at email@example.com or 0409 707 806.
Introduction to Commercial Almond Growing in Australia A basic introduction to Almond varieties, cultural practices, growing and soil requirements. **Available FREE to Almond Levy Payers & Members**
Economics of Almond Production
This report analyses the financial performance of a range of six South Australian almond properties, establishing comparative information and developing benchmarks for economic performance. **Available FREE to Almond Levy Payers & Members** Almond Production Manual Provides information on all stages of almond production, from planting and developing new orchards to managing bearing orchards and harvesting and handling crops. Written by more than 50 UC experts, the manuals' information is practical and suited to field application. More than 80 colour photos. Almond Pest and Disease Spray Guide The industry’s official pest & disease guide facilitated by HAL (Horticulture Australia Limited) in partnership with the ABA. This Guide provides information on almond pests and diseases that can be managed and monitored by orchard managers. **Available FREE to Almond Levy Payers & Members** Integrated Pest Management for Almonds Covering 120 different pest problems including diseases, insects and mites, nematodes, vertebrate pests, and weeds. You’ll also find expanded chapters on vertebrate pest management and vegetation management including recommendations for control techniques where endangered species occur and detailed information on cover crops. You’ll also find revised sections on navel orangeworm and peach twig borer along with revised and updated tables on susceptibility of rootstocks and scion cultivars to major pests. Illustrated with 259 photos, 69 line drawings and tables, and a detailed index.
**These publications are available for purchase from www.australianalmonds.com.au
Critical Control Point #3 – Ground Harvesting Results indicate windfall fruit has at least three times more Aspergillus than fruit on the tree (Figure 1), indicating greater exposure risk to fungi when fruit are on the ground. With the current harvesting techniques relying on ground harvesting and no known practice to avoid natural windfalls, this risk is challenging to minimise. Nevertheless, management options such as: harvesting windfalls separate to the crop remaining on the tree, segregating and separately delivering the two piles, and shortening the duration between shaking and pick-up by increasing investment in more equipment, are all available. Critical Control Point #4 - Stockpiles The current study indicates certain sections of the stockpiles have the potential to provide ideal conditions for both Aspergillus growth and aflatoxin production. Aspergillus growth and aflatoxin production are influenced by temperature and relative humidity (RH). RH affects water activity (a w ), which is a measure of the availability of water in a food product, and is the dominant factor governing food stability or spoilage, or in this case Aspergillus growth and aflatoxin production. In lieu of more controlled climate storage facilities (currently being investigated by a separate R&D project (Figure 2)), the presence of covers and type of covering has a significant influence on product spoilage.
Despite the high levels of Aspergillus inoculum on mummified whole fruit, the data indicates conditions were not conducive for the fungus to penetrate new season’s fruit and infect the kernel. Only 0.06% of kernels extracted from new season’s fruit were infected with Aspergillus , even though the inoculum may be present on the hull and or shell. Interestingly, it would appear that removing the hulls on-farm prior to stockpiling, which is another R&D project that’s recently begun, would also aid the control of Aspergillus growth and aflatoxin production. Nevertheless, it appears abundantly clear there is a vicious cycle occurring and if you prevent hull rot infection, this will be a critical step in reducing mummies and the inoculum source of Aspergillus spp. Management of hull rot is easier said than done at this moment in time, as it’s a complex of factors involving variety susceptibility, hull-split rainfall events, irrigation management and nitrogen fertiliser management. I won’t go into too much detail about the best management practices other than to mention the following key points from research out of California: • Nonpareil (50% of the Australian industry) is the most susceptible variety to infection. • There is a linear relationship between seasonal nitrogen applications and hull rot incidence. • Seasonal nitrogen applications beyond 275kg/ha produced severe infections. • Incidence was higher in low crops years and consequently nitrogen applications need to be adjusted for crop load. Critical values for January leaf nitrogen percentage should be approximately 2.45%. • Nitrogen applications after kernel development should cease. • A slight to moderate water stress event at the onset of hull split can reduce hull rot incidence. This would normally occur for approximately 2 weeks and the water stress should not exceed -14 to -16 bars as measured by the average midday stem water potential (using a pressure chamber). • DMI (e.g. propiconazole) and strobilurin (e.g. azoxystrobin, pyraclostrobin) fungicides sprayed at the onset of hull split are reported to have some efficacy, but due to the variation in hull split timing within a tree and across orchards, the benefit can be variable. It’s also important to note that these sprays are only to be used sparingly through the season due to their high resistance risk. Refer to chemical permits or labels for further information. Critical Control Point #2 - Carob Moth The role of carob moth in Aspergillus growth and aflatoxin production is not definitive. Results show Aspergillus contaminated fruit in both the presence and absence of carob moth damage, but larvae of carob moth have also been shown to carry Aspergillus spp. What’s made it more difficult is the low presence and seasonal fluctuations of carob moth infestation at the trial sites. In the stockpiles, the identification of the insect damage has also been difficult as there are several other insect species at play, and it is difficult to differentiate the type of damage on mouldy kernels. Whilst it appears carob moth may not have the solid link with Aspergillus growth and aflatoxin production as does Navel Orange Worm (NOW) in the Californian almond industry, the results suggest “where there’s smoke there’s fire”. If you have carob moth (or other insect damage), you expose the kernel to infection and in some instances it could be acting as a vector. Managing carob moth with crop protection chemicals, or at the very least minimising mummies (inoculum sites for Aspergillus and infestation sites for carob moth) you will go some way to managing Aspergillus growth and aflatoxin production.
Four treatment types have so far been investigated: (i) outside uncovered; (ii) shed; (iii) outside clear cover; and (iv) outside white over black cover (B&W) (Figure 3). To date, data suggests the clear covering easily allows more Aspergillus growth and aflatoxin production in comparison to B&W cover and shed storage. In the absence of rainfall, clear covers are also worse than outside uncovered stockpiles. Fortunately, clear tarps are rarely used by industry with sheds and B&W covers the most common methods. The clear covers are worse as the top layers of these stockpiles exhibit a greater fluctuation in temperature and RH that leads to condensation and moisture accumulation under the covers (Figure 4. These environmental conditions ultimately give rise to increased Aspergillus (and bacteria) growth and aflatoxin production. Figure 2: Air permeability rig developed to model air flow in almond storage (Project AL12003: University of South Australia)
R&D Roundup Continued
Figure 3: Four almond storage types being investigated (clockwise from top left): (i) outside uncovered; (ii) shed; (iii) outside clear cover; and (iv) outside white over black cover
In addition to the type of covering, there is also a difference in the location within the stockpile where Aspergillus growth and aflatoxin production is most severe. This is also related to environmental conditions where the top and outer layers are either exposed to rainfall (uncovered stockpiles), or conditions fluctuate more markedly than those in the middle and basal layers. Consequently, the top and outer layers again accumulate moisture and have an increased incidence of Aspergillus (Figure 5) (and bacteria) growth and aflatoxin production (Figure 6). Australian and Californian R&D into stockpiles indicates the following points are considered best management in minimising Aspergillus growth and aflatoxin production: • Avoid the use of clear covers to minimise temperature fluctuations and condensation. Of the covers tested to date, B&W covers are recommended. • Do not stockpile if either the hull moisture or kernel moisture exceeds 13% or 6%, respectively. • Orienting the stockpiles in a north/south direction is preferable to achieve a more stable environment. • Smooth the tops of stockpiles to avoid concentration of condensate.
Figure 4: Condensation under clear tarp stockpiles
Figure 5: Size of Aspergillus inoculum load on whole fruit at differing depths in the stockpile relative to those found in the middle of the pile (clear tarp)
Figure 6: Amount of aflatoxins in whole fruit from different depths in the stockpile relative to those found in the middle of the pile (clear tarp)
With investment in this project and others, the Australian almond industry is making a solid step towards maintaining its reputation of supplying product that’s high quality and food safe.
• Avoid mixing nuts from different stockpile depths to minimise contamination. • Segregate moist, mouldy nuts. • Avoid the use of tyres or other structures directly on top of the covers as this provides a concentration point for the condensate to run to. • Land form the base of the stockpile pad so moisture (rainfall or condensate) can drain away. • Manage stockpile dimensions so that one piece of cover/tarp with no joins successfully covers the almonds. • Shorten stockpile duration. Summary This project indicates the occurrence of Aspergillus growth and aflatoxin production occurs in limited sectors of the supply chain and under certain conditions. It also seems clear that if you manage four general areas this will go a long way to mitigating these conditions: 1. Minimise the exposure to Aspergillus inoculum by minimising mummies. 2. Minimise kernel damage from insects. 3. Minimise the duration of time product spends on the ground. 4. Maintain stable, low temperature, low RH, low moisture stockpile conditions. Failing to manage these areas has the potential to cost industry stakeholders in many areas, namely: sorting and testing product to further minimise risk; ship rejections; loss of sales and consumer confidence; and there is also a potential risk of consumer health.
For further information contact:
Ben Brown Industry Development Manager Almond Board of Australia P 08 8582 2055 or 0447 447 223 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
References Adaskaveg, J.E. “Epidemiology & Management of Almond Brown Rot, Scab, and Other Diseases in California.” 2010. Almond Board of California Research Proceedings # 09-PATH4-Adaskaveg. Brown, P. 2012. 2012 Australian Almond Conference Presentation: “What’s the Right Rate, Calculating Your Nutrient Budget”. Gouk, C. 2013. Milestone Report 106. HAL Project 11009, Food Safety in Almonds Stage 2. Unpublished. Gouk, C. 2013. 2013 Australian Almond Conference Presentation: “Aspergillus - Protecting Your Crop and Reputation”. HAL Project 11009, Food Safety in Almonds Stage 2. Holtz, B, and B. Tetviotidale. 2008. Presentation: “Almond hull rot management.” Merced County Pest Management Updates. October 12th, 2008. Lampinen, B. “Harvest and Stockpile Management to Reduce Aflatoxin Potential.” 2012. Almond Board of California Research Proceedings # 12-AFLA2-Lampinen. McMichael, P. 2010. Fact Sheet: What Threatens the Safety of Almonds? Almond Board of Australia. Teviotdale, B. L., Goldhamer, D. A., and Viveros, M. 2001. Effects of deficit irrigation on hull rot disease of almond trees caused by Monilinia fructicola and Rhizopus stolonifer. Plant Dis. 85:399-403. University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources. 2002. Integrated Pest Management for Almonds, 2nd Edition. Publication 3308.
Brett Rosenzweig - Industry Development Officer In The Orchard
• Boron. Boron is essential for pollen tube growth and fertilisation of flowers. Usually Boron in the tree is deficient and needs supplementary applications. Boron mostly ends up in the hulls at harvest time and that’s why sampling hulls for nutrient analysis is a good indicator of Boron levels. The best form of applying Boron is post-harvest applications, e.g. Solubor rather than spring applications where the Boron can be tied up in the growing fruit. Soil applications of Boron are common practice in California and you can read more in the Almond Doctor blog titled “Post-harvest Boron Applications Can Increase Almond Yields” dated 6/10/09. Are you planning new orchard developments or redeveloping old orchards? In this issue of In The Orchard… I thought I might raise some discussion topics that should be considered prior to planting an orchard. Orchard development only occurs once every 20 to 30 years, hence it’s vital that the appropriate steps are taken prior to planting to ensure a healthy, productive orchard. • Soil Remediation. This step in planting an orchard cannot be over emphasised enough. There are various actions that can be taken in soil remediation including ripping, adding organic matter, altering soil pH or nutrient imbalances and correcting salinity issues. The main aim of soil remediation is to create a soil environment that is free of compaction, an adequate nutrient balance (e.g. Ca/Mg ratio) and has low salinity. Ideally a soil high in organic matter is also preferred but Australian soils are generally very low in organic matter. The cheapest form of organic matter is the one you grow yourself. This could include annual cover cropping (clovers/medics/ryegrass for sprinkler orchards and cereals for drip orchards) or possibly even the mulching of old almond trees. Whilst it’s easier to push an orchard into a burn heap for disposal, there might be better uses for the plant material that goes up in smoke. Refer to Fact Sheet – Supersoils. • Efficient Irrigation. If you had problems with your old irrigation system, a redevelopment phase gives the opportunity to remedy previous issues. Low lying or areas with poor drainage could be sectioned off as a separate valve unit. These areas could be irrigated the same as the rest of the shift unit but in times of excess rainfall or flooding, could be turned off to allow the area to dry out. It’s also worthwhile considering the installation of an A-B system where the pollinators are irrigated separately to Nonpareil. This allows precise irrigation management at harvest and the ability to fertigate according to drop load. Another option to consider is the implementation of a dual sprinkler/drip irrigation system. Sure enough there is a higher cost associated with a dual system due to twice the infrastructure but there could be long term benefits. A drip system enables efficient irrigating and fertigating while a sprinkler system allows for frost control and the establishment of inter-row cover crops to aid in soil stabilisation prior to harvest and an increase in overall soil health. If you do choose to go down this path then consider getting the sprinkler system designed with a lower application rate. My suggestion is to aim for double the application rate of the drip system but still ensuring the Distribution Uniformity (sprinkler coverage) is above 90%. This way sub-main pipe sizes
Harvest will be well under way in all growing regions and by the time this article gets to press most people should be finished Nonpareil and moving onto the pollinators. Here’s a few regular discussion points to consider post-harvest: • Fruit Sampling. In addition to leaf sampling (which should have already been completed!) there is also the option of sampling fruit at harvest to determine a) Hull Boron and b) crop nutrient removal. Hull Boron is a better indicator of the Boron status in the tree compared to leaf Boron. Sample 100 fruit from the same trees you use for leaf sampling and crack out the fruit into its three components i.e. hull, shell and kernel. Ask your lab for a nutritional analysis on all three separate items including wet and dry weights (you need this for the crop nutrient removal). Refer to Fact Sheet – Crop Nutrition: It’s not just NPK. • Check Fruit Moisture Content. With the rainfall that each region experienced mid last month and the significant cooling in temperature in recent weeks, it’s vital the fruit is at the correct moisture content before stockpiling. The correct storage moisture is even more important when the mornings are cool, dewy and the mid row moisture levels have been replenished with recent rainfall. Research has indicated the incidence of mould growth and food safety risks increase dramatically when fruit is stored with kernel moisture of greater than 6%. Remember – Food safety starts in the orchard! Refer to Fact Sheet – What Threatens The Safety Of Almonds. • Soil Salinity and pH . Soil samples for salinity and pH should be taken after harvest. Samples should be taken at least three depths within the wetted area of the rootzone for sprinklers and both 20cm and 60cm from the dripper of drip irrigated orchards. Target known salinity hotspots from previous years or known drainage areas to start with. Don’t forget to test for pH and surface soil acidification in drip irrigated orchards. Refer to Fact Sheet – Soil Acidification. • Post Harvest Nutrition. To get the most efficient fertiliser uptake after harvest, the best time for application is in March or after Nonpareil has been harvested, but remember to ensure the rootzone has sufficient moisture to facilitate uptake. Applications later than this or on dry soil can result in the fertiliser remaining in the soil, not readily being taken up by the tree and prone to leaching beyond the active rootzone during winter. High concentrations of fertiliser in dry root zones can also act as a ‘salt’ causing tree damage. Post-harvest is also the time for foliar applications of Lo-Bi urea, Solubor and other micro nutrients. • Disease and Pests. There are signs of mite damage in orchards again this year. The best form of mite control is an oil spray (winter or summer) during dormancy to aid control for next season. Remember higher water rates and slower ground speeds are needed for good coverage when applying oil. Ground speed is more important than the water rate, 3km/h is a good speed to start with. If your orchard is affected by mites, this is another reason for applying post harvest fertiliser sooner rather than later as leaf functionality and therefore water/ fertiliser uptake is reduced.
might be smaller with a reduced capital input and a two shift drip irrigation system will become a four shift sprinkler system utilising the same pump and filtration components. Important – consult your local irrigation designer for advice. • Healthy Trees. This should be a no-brainer! Ensure that your nursery uses healthy plant material, i.e. buds and rootstocks that are of high health status and free of viruses and disease. Weak or stunted trees take longer to achieve full production. If you do have to use weaker trees then grade them prior to planting so they can be planted together and receive the extra attention they need compared to healthier trees. If weaker ones are planted amongst stronger trees they won’t receive the extra care they need and will always lag behind the rest of the orchard. • Trellis vs Stakes. As an alternative to securing young trees with stakes, consider a simple single or two wire trellis, especially if the orchard is relatively flat. Participants on the 2010 ABA Californian Study tour saw an effective but simple trellis system in use by Mike Perry located at Orland in the northern part of the Sacramento Valley. A strainer post was located at each end of the row with intermediary posts located down the row every 50-100m. The distance between the intermediary posts is influenced by the prevailing wind; if the prevailing wind blows across the rows, the distance is closer than if the wind blows down the row. The trellis wire was installed approximately 50- 75cm above the ground and the tree was secured with a custom made tree tie (Figures 1 and 2). If rubber tree ties are used then two stabilising wires may be needed. I’ve listed a few key points to consider before starting an orchard development/ redevelopment. I’ve taken a long term approach that a little extra time and expense spent prior to planting should reward sustainable dividends in the end. Some decisions will need a careful cost/benefit analysis to determine if long term goals will be achievable with short term cash flows. For further information contact: Brett Rosenzweig, Industry Development Officer Almond Board of Australia P 08 8582 2055 or 0429 837 137 E: email@example.com
Figure 1: Single wire trellis for tree stability
Figure 2 : Custom tree tie
Almond Manager – Rare Opportunity Our client is a diversified agricultural production company which prides itself on operational excellence. Based in the Riverina of NSW, our client is looking for an Almond Manager to become an integral part of the business and to lead, drive and grow the horticultural enterprise. The business is looking to provide, for the right minded applicant, a rare opportunity to participate in the profitability of a state of the art almond orchard. The Almond Manager will provide organisational support to the managing director with its major focus being on directing, leading and taking a hands on role in the daily operations of the orchard. The almond manager will also be responsible for, budgets and forecasts, crop health, pest and disease control, annual maintenance of equipment and infrastructure as well as undertaking and monitoring irrigations. The successful applicant will: • Have a minimum of 3 years’ experience in a similar or related field (farm production, irrigation and horticultural production) • An ability to manage staff and contractors in an effective way ensuring a safe, harmonious and productive work environment • Strong communication skills, both written and oral • Intermediate computing skills using Microsoft office (Word, Excel and Outlook) • Knowledge of the nut industry is desirable but not essential • A current drivers licence We encourage all interested to apply in writing to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than Friday the 4th of April. An attractive package will be negotiated including potential on farm accommodation and we look forward to discussing the opportunity to join this exciting business.
Fig &Almond Cake
6 large eggs 250 grams (2.5 cups) almond meal 285 grams jar fig jam 2 teaspoons baking powder ¼ teaspoon ginger 4-6 fresh figs 30 grams flaked almonds Icing sugar (optional) to dust
Instructions Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius and spray/grease 22cm cake tin. Beat eggs with a stand or hand mixer for five minutes on high until creamy. Add almond meal, jam, baking powder and ginger and then beat for one further minute until combined. Pour into cake tin and bake for 55-60 minutes until cooked (an inserted skewer should come out clean). Leave to cool in tin for 15 minutes and then gently turn out onto wire rack and continue cooling until completely cooled. Slice figs and arrange on top of the cake. Garnish with flaked almonds.
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