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ABC’s NOW Summit Convenes Growers, Researchers for Knowledge Sharing


July 26, 2019 — On June 18, the Almond Board of California (ABC) hosted its first ever Navel Orangeworm (NOW) Summit in collaboration with the pistachio and walnut research boards. Held at the Modesto Junior College Ag Pavilion, the event drew over 150 attendees, including growers, processors, shippers and government agencies. Attendees had the opportunity to hear about NOW’s continued economic impact on almond, pistachio and walnut production and marketing, in addition to solutions to NOW management, and on-site vendors provided information on their various management products.

ABC's Navel Orangeworm Summit
(From left to right, on stage) Lane Parker, Tracy Miller, Bob Curtis and Zach Raven spoke to attendees of the inaugural Navel Orangeworm Summit about NOW control strategies, including early harvest and winter sanitation.

“While we have made significant progress in controlling NOW in the last decade, it remains the most damaging pest for nut crops,” said Josette Lewis, director of Agricultural Affairs for the Almond Board. “We feel it’s vital that the almond, pistachio and walnut industries work together to bring our collective experience and research to growers to help them optimize their management.”

In the opening session on NOW’s economic impact, multiple industry stakeholders spoke to the actual cost of NOW damage. Mel Machado of Blue Diamond Growers, Bob Klein of the California Pistachio Research Board and Eric Heidman from Diamond Foods, a walnut processor, each shared data around multiple NOW impacts on nut crops, impacts that vary based on growing region, year, variety, climate and management practices. Almond industry member Jonathan Hoff of Monte Vista Farming Company then dove into the question, “Does the cost of NOW management pay off?” Hoff broke down the cost-per-acre for sanitation and spray management practices, as well as the cost associated with pheromone applications. Closing the economic impact session, Alexi Rodriguez of Campos Brothers Farms provided an explanation of how NOW damage impacts the almond export market, detailing the processes in place (like the Pre Export Check (PEC) program) to detect and remove NOW damage from product before it is sent across the world.

After outlining the economics of NOW damage and benefits of NOW control, the summit agenda turned to a series of panels seated by growers and experts who shared their experiences and solutions in managing NOW in the orchard.

The first panel featured Lane Parker, an almond grower in Stanislaus and Merced counties; Zach Raven, a pistachio grower from Keenan Farms; Tracy Miller of MidValley Ag and Bob Curtis, a consultant for the Almond Board. Together, these panelists discussed effective management practices, with winter sanitation and early harvest reinforced as the two key practices growers should implement. They also discussed the usefulness of tools like mating disruption and how growers can use this tool to help them properly time their in-orchard sprays, as needed. During the Q&A following the panel, one grower in the audience said that after hearing the data around mating disruption he would try this tool on his operation.

Following the discussion on management, Josette Lewis, director of Agricultural Affairs at ABC, moderated a panel that focused on the topic of communication. Panelists spoke on how coordinated field management across large growing areas is key to effective use of mating disruption and implementation of other NOW control practices. On-farm results were also presented, showing that while mating disruption technology is more effective when used over a larger growing area it can work on farms as small as 40 acres. Panel participants included David Haviland, a UC farm advisor from Kern County; Justin Moncur of South Valley Farms; Kent Stenderup, an almond grower and ABC Board member; Tom Coleman of Coleman Farming and Jesse Roseman, senior specialist in Regulatory and Environmental Affairs at ABC.

In the third and final panel, titled, “What do we do next?,” audience members heard major takeaways from the day’s discussions and were inspired to try new management practices on their own operations. Richard Waycott, ABC president and CEO, noted how controlling NOW is critical for profitability throughout the value chain, nodding to the fact that when insect damage increases growers see fewer returns and processors spend more money and time cleaning up the product. Rob Roy of NRCS then shared the programs NRCS has in place to support growers financially in their efforts to implement responsible pest management. UC IPM extension advisor Emily Symmes contributed her expertise in statewide integrated pest management systems, stating that an area-wide approach to NOW control is absolutely necessary as NOW has hundreds of hosts in crop and non-crop plants, alike.

Wrapping up the panel discussion, Lewis spoke to the Almond Board and Pistachio Research Board’s collaboration in looking at another pest management strategy, Sterile Insect Technology (SIT), which releases sterilize moths in the orchard to drastically decrease NOW populations over time. While both industries are optimistic about the use of SIT, however, Lewis did address some of the obstacles facing SIT for NOW control, including technical and political challenges regarding how the method would be implemented and sustainably financed.

“The Almond Board has been funding research on NOW for over 40 years. This summit highlighted how growers, PCAs and companies are taking that research and innovating, putting it into practice,” Lewis said.

“Judging by how many attendees stayed to the end of the summit — on a hot day, too — this summit reinforced the value of growers sharing their experience alongside experts, a model we will look to expand upon at the Almond Board.” The Almond Board is determined to help the industry combat NOW and will continue focusing research efforts on management practices and technologies to support NOW control. To view speaker’s presentations from the Summit, as well as a summary of the panel discussions, visit

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