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Episode 27: Brown Spot with Patrick Romero and Mel Machado


Almond grower and pest control adviser (PCA) Patrick Romero shares some of the issues he has been seeing with plant bugs in orchards, including leaffooted bugs and stink bugs. Mel Machado, Blue Diamond Growers vice president of member relations, has been seeing this problem show up at the processor in brown spot damage. In some cases, the economic losses have been significant.

We had deliveries that were rendered as oil stock, and it was entirely because of brown spot as a result of plant bugs. Oil stock means there is no value to that crop. Those loads were literally discarded…. That’s a huge economic loss. It is a couple thousand dollars an acre.
Mel Machado

To remain proactive with brown spot, Machado says it’s important to be vigilant in your scouting and monitoring and work closely with your PCA. Romero advises growers on both row crops and tree crops throughout five counties in the San Joaquin Valley, and has 200 almond acres of his own that he considers his “weekend hobby”. Over the past 40 years, Romero has seen acres of row crops turn to tree crops. The changing pest and disease landscape that comes with that transition sets the scene for the recent problems with plant bugs and brown spot.

When you have that kind of degree of acreage you're also creating a climate, or call it a predisposer, for disease or pathogens that hit those crops. The insects will build up over time because you've got a lot of hosts….. Everything spreads across the board when you've got that many acres of tree crops.
Patrick Romero

There’s a lot of nuances in the scouting, monitoring, and managing of pests like leaffooted bugs, stink bugs and other plant bugs. Adding to the challenge is that tools to control these insects are gradually being phased out.

If you don't bring the processor a clean crop, you tend to lose more money than the drop in the price. You're going to get paid less per pound for your commodity because you didn't spend another hundred or two hundred dollars an acre trying to control an insect or a disease.
Patrick Romero

In Today’s episode:

  • Meet Patrick Romero, an almond grower and independent PCA, and Mel Machado, Blue Diamond Growers vice president of member relations
  • Explore the ever-increasing threat of brown spot and pest pressure on almond orchards
  • Learn about different measures that can be taken to monitor and mitigate pest levels and the obstacles producers face with added regulations

For more information about this or any of the topics we discuss on this podcast, reach out to the Almond Board’s Field Outreach Team directly at

The Almond Journey Podcast is brought to you by the Almond Board of California. This show explores how growers, handlers, and other stakeholders are making things work in their operations to drive the almond industry forward. Host Tim Hammerich visits with leaders throughout the Central Valley of California and beyond who are finding innovative ways to improve their operations, connect with their communities, and advance the almond industry.

ABC recognizes the diverse makeup of the California almond industry and values contributions offered by its growers, handlers, and allied industry members. However, the opinions, services and products discussed in existing and future podcast episodes are by no means an endorsement or recommendation from ABC. The Almond Journey podcast is not an appropriate venue to express opinions on national, state, local or industry politics. As a Federal Marketing Order, the Almond Board of California is prohibited from lobbying or advocating on legislative issues, as well as setting field and market prices.