Environmental Information for the
California Almond Industry

Almond Industry Headline Environmental News Dec. 23, 2005

   Air Quality

  • Almond Dust Busters: Challenges of harvest dust met on several fronts. Orchard dust management practices paying off.  Almond Board-funded research looks for further improvements - - Dust at harvest time is an unavoidable fact as almond orchards are harvested on more than 500,000 bearing acres throughout the bowl-shaped San Joaquin Valley plagued with air pollution. Almond growers are doing their part through conservation management practices which have earned high marks from air quality officials. However, the industry is not sitting back on its laurels as the Almond Board of California is using assessment dollars to help fund research that is looking at various growing practices and machinery that may help further minimize the air quality problems associated with dust. <more> Nov. 8, 2005 Almond Board of California Press Release
     

Crop Protection

  • Environmental stewardship, maximizing production can go hand-in-hand, says IPM award winning almond grower - -  Environmentally friendly production practices and maximizing production can go hand-in-hand says a Kern Country almond grower who has been honored by the state of California for his innovative integrated pest management (IPM) techniques. Thomas Vetsch, owner of Bakersfield-based Vetsch Farms, decided more than seven years ago to convert 160 acres of his conventionally farmed almond orchard to practices that reduce reliance on broad-spectrum insecticides and routine fungicides. With financial support from the Almond Board of California’s Pest Management Alliance project and the scientific expertise of the University of California Cooperative Extension, Vetsch has virtually eliminated the use of synthetic pesticides to manage key pests in the orchard, reducing overall inputs while increasing yields throughout the orchard. The practices he has developed on his Kern County orchard have been so successful he has converted all four ranches at Vetsch Farms of California to sustainable, IPM-based farming. <more> Dec. 21, 2005 Almond Board of California Press Release   

Endangered Species

  • EPA publishes plan for protecting endangered species from pesticides - - EPA has published a final notice on its enforceable program for the protection of Endangered Species. The Endangered Species Protection Program (ESPP) will address, to the degree possible, endangered species issues within the Agency’s existing processes of registration, re-registration and, in the future, registration review. If geographically specific pesticide use limitations are necessary, EPA will create an Endangered Species Protection Bulletin (Bulletin) that will contain enforceable use limitations for the pesticide. Bulletins will be referenced on the pesticide product label and available on the web at www.epa.gov/espp or by calling 1-800-447-3813. The existing "county bulletins" are not enforceable pesticide use limitations. <more> Nov. 3, 2005 EPA Press Release

General Industry News

  • Almond Board of California Honors Outgoing Production Research and Environmental Director Chris Heintz - - The California almond industry encompassed 428,000 acres producing 507 million pounds of almonds annually when Chris Heintz began her job in 1996 as Director of Production Research at the Almond Board of California. Fast forward to 2005 with acreage nearing 600,000 acres with bin-busting production of over a billion pounds. The numbers may have changed but the challenges and the rewards of the job have not, says Heintz, who is stepping down from a full-time position at the Board as 2005 draws to a close. <more> Dec. 22, 2005 Almond Board of California Press Release
     

  • CDFA sets pilot bee certification plan - - To hasten inspections of out-of-state shipments of honeybees vital for pollination of the state's almond crop in 2006, the California Department of Food and Agriculture has adopted a voluntary, pilot certification plan. Revealed at a recent seminar by the Almond Board of California (ABC) at Modesto, the plan is a modification of the effort to exclude entry of bee colonies contaminated with red imported fire ants (RIFA) and noxious weeds at California border stations. <more> Dec. 19, 2005 Western Farm Press
     

  • Industry Abuzz: Oils fight bee mites. Nut growers find hope in new method - - A whiff of thyme, or maybe cloves or cinnamon, might keep a type of mite from undermining the almond industry. Researchers, speaking at last week's annual conference of the Almond Board of California, said oils extracted from certain herbs show promise against varroa mites. These pests can get into bee colonies that pollinate almond orchards, drink the bees' blood and shorten their lives. Researchers said the intensely flavored oils, injected into the colonies in a solution or other form, are showing promise.  "It will change the taste of the bees' blood, and the mites will say they don't like it," said Gordon Wardell, an entomologist at the federal Carl Hayden Bee Research Center in Tucson, Ariz. <more> Dec. 18, 2005 Modesto Bee
     

  • Pollinators given a passport to ride - - Pollinators coming into California to work in the almond orchards are getting a stamp on their passports that could make travel across the border a little easier. The California Department of Food and Agriculture has launched a pilot project that would allow out-of-state beekeepers to certify their bees free from the red imported fire ant and other pests before they leave their state of origin. Beekeepers that participate in the program could then find bee passage across state lines much smoother — and almond growers could get their essential pollinators in a more timely fashion. <more> Nov. 17, 2005 Capital Press

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