Almond Conference Offers New Formats for Interacting with Researchers

The 40th Almond Conference brings with it a new way to  interact with reseachers.
This year’s Almond Conference in December will offer expanded opportunities for growers and processors to interact with researchers on important industry-funded projects and attend hands-on workshops throughout the three-day annual event.

In addition to research symposia and panels, there will be a series of six-minute research updates that will run on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons, offering insight into a number of ongoing production research topics. Researchers will also be available at a poster session during the social hour following their presentations on each of those days. This gives conference attendees a chance to ask follow-up questions of the researchers.

Also new is a series of workshops on Tuesday afternoon and again at lunch on Thursday. The Thursday format will allow growers who have purchased a lunch ticket to choose from a sit-down lunch or a grab-and-go box lunch to take to their choice of workshop.

Symposium panels slated throughout the three-day conference will explore new issues related to nitrates and nutrient management plans, pollination, pest management, growing and developing a young orchard, and water quality and supply issues.

Wednesday morning features a panel discussing “Designing and Developing a New Orchard,” with presentations on rootstocks, varieties, planting density and pruning from farm advisor Roger Duncan; soil preparation, soil pests and nutrient management with farm advisor David Doll; and water management by UC Cooperative Extension specialist Ken Shackel.

Wednesday afternoon’s panel will discuss “New Developments in Fertility Management,” featuring Joe Karkoski with the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board and Patrick Brown, professor of plant sciences at UC Davis. Karkoski will speak on the expanded Irrigated Lands Program being implemented, which now addresses groundwater quality, including nitrates, and Brown will speak on new research findings and guidelines on nutrient management plans, using critical values and leaf sampling.

Thursday morning’s “Pest Management Update” will cover four different disciplines: insects, with Joel Siegel, USDA-ARS research entomologist, Parlier; diseases, with plant pathologist Jim Adaskaveg, UC Riverside; weeds, with UC Davis professor and weed specialist Brad Hanson; and vertebrate pest management with Roger Baldwin, UC IPM wildlife pest management advisor, Parlier.

The pollination update panel Thursday afternoon will feature Chris Heintz with Project
Apis m. and George Hansen with the American Beekeeping Federation.

A panel discussion will follow on water supply and regulatory and political issues of concern to the California Almond industry with Paramount Farming Company’s Bill Phillimore, Kimberly Brown and Melissa Poole.

Attendees can choose from the following workshops on Tuesday afternoon and again at lunch on Thursday:

Adjusting your sprayer will improve coverage, resulting in more effective pest control. At this workshop, you will learn about new research that shows just how much efficacy can be improved when spray rigs are properly set up. And recent data demonstrates the amount of drift that can be prevented with timely and accurate calibration. Attend this workshop to learn the best method to calibrate your sprayer to save on inputs, improve coverage and reduce drift to meet increasing regulatory requirements.

Growers and beekeepers should both know how colony strength is assessed to be sure contract requirements can be met. At this workshop, participants will learn how colony strength is evaluated and will be introduced to a new e-learning course developed by Shannon Mueller, Fresno County farm advisor. The course consists of 10, 5 – 15-minute modules covering many aspects of bee biology and hive development, with a focus on colony strength evaluation to help beekeepers and growers understand how strength is quantified using either frame count or cluster count methods.

The economics of growing almonds are complex; growers need to understand not just the costs of growing this year’s crop, but what is happening with other crops in the state. Returns on investment are affected by today’s grower A researcher shares his findings with an Almond Conference attendee.operational costs as well as by tomorrow’s considerations; e.g., tax implications and succession planning.

The six-minute research updates will run on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons, followed by poster sessions for one-on-one discussions between attendees and researchers.

In another change to this year’s format from past years, the Gala Dinner has been moved to Thursday night. To register for the conference and to review the complete program agenda, visit The Almond Conference website.