The successful management of almond orchard pests is critical to protect the quality and yield of California Almonds, both for the current year and for years to come. A good pest management program also helps prevent potential food safety issues while keeping almond crop inputs from becoming environmental concerns. Resources for information on pest management in almonds: UC IPM Pest Management Guidelines.
Integrated Pest Management
Integrated pest management (IPM) is an ecosystem-based approach that emphasizes the balanced use of multiple tactics (nonchemical and chemical) to effectively manage pests. IPM focuses on preventive practices first because prevention is the first step in minimizing pest problems. The next step is to use recommended practices for monitoring pests and their symptoms as the basis for deciding if and when to control them. And finally, practices have been described for the effective and safe use of tactics to control economically damaging pest populations.
Control tactics may include mating disruption, cultural or biological controls, beneficial insects and the judicious use of pesticides, when necessary. Newer, softer pest management materials and non-pesticide options allow almond growers to plan an IPM program that protects not only this year’s crop, but also the long-term life of the orchard and surrounding environment.
The Almond Board of California has funded pest management research since 1973 in order to provide almond growers with science-based, IPM solutions for many pest problems. The results of these award-winning research programs are available to growers through this website as well as University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources publications and online pest management guidelines.
The navel orangeworm (NOW) is the primary insect pest of almonds in California. It poses a high risk to an almond crop because the worms bore into the nut and feed on the nutmeat. Not only is the nut damaged, but the feeding opens the door to Aspergillus molds, which can produce aflatoxin contamination. Aflatoxins are considered a serious food safety issue and are regulated throughout the world.
Growers must take four critical steps in their IPM program to minimize navel orangeworm damage and risk of aflatoxin:
Winter sanitation to remove and destroy mummy nuts
Monitoring of NOW populations and timing of adult NOW moth flights
In-season control of NOW with insecticides or biological control agents
Prompt harvest before a third generation of NOW develops
In addition to navel orangeworm, almonds are subject to an array of insect and mite pests, including peach twig borer, San Jose scale and web-spinning mites. Information on these pests is included in the above resources.