Walt Bentley: 34-Year Career Capped by Top Honors

A long career dedicated to working closely with growers to develop and deliver practical and relevant pest management programs will come to an end for Walt Bentley, UC Cooperative Extension integrated pest management advisor, when he retires this summer. Bentley is widely recognized by his peers and the California Almond industry for his significant contributions to effective and environmentally responsible pest management.

Bentley has played a key role in the almond industry’s leadership through research. Through the almond biologically integrated orchard systems (BIOS) program, he played a key role in documenting the importance of orchard sanitation.

“We found that navel orangeworm [NOW] survival in mummy nuts was a major contributor to aflatoxin,” Bentley said. This finding led to further study under the Pest Management Alliance (PMA), which was funded by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation with grants from the Almond Board of California.

“In PMA, we confirmed the role of NOW and substantiated that sanitation is so important,” added Bentley. With improved sanitation, inedibles have gone from an average of 6-7% down to less than 1%.

Bentley received the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Distinguished Service Award for Outstanding Extension last year, and at The Almond Conference, ABC recognized him for developing effective integrated programs for NOW, ants and mites, and for reducing dormant sprays.

His contributions are not limited to California agriculture. This month, Bentley will receive the International IPM Lifetime Achievement Award from the International IPM Symposium, a group that meets to exchange ideas and develop practical projects to solve pest problems worldwide.