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Cover Crops and Forage

Research shows that planting cover crops or allowing natural forage to grow between the tree rows and/or around the outside of the orchard does not compete with almond blossoms. In fact, cover crops and hedgerows provide improved nutrition for honey bees, increasing colony strength, and other pollinators. Planting forage can also provide several benefits for soil health and quality.

Why Cover Crops?

Cover crops and resident vegetation can provide enhanced agronomic and ecosystem benefits to California almond orchards. Management and site-specific factors will determine if, when, and how cover crops will fit into a specific orchard system.

Depending on the circumstances, cover crops or resident vegetation have the potential to help growers accomplish a wide range of goals, from desired improvements to reductions in on-farm challenges.

No single cover crop will accomplish all these goals at once. Fellow growers, University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) farm advisers, crop and pest advisers, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the broader research community are all important allies in determining when and how to use cover crops to accomplish your goals. Further, research funded by the Almond Board of California (ABC), California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), USDA and other organizations throughout the state continues to define and refine the best practices for cover crops use in almonds. 

Cover Crop BMPs (print-friendly)
Cover Crop BMPs – Spanish version (print-friendly)
Cover Crop Timeline
Soil Health Case Study

Bee+ Scholarship

To support almond growers in planting pollinator habitat, for the second year in a row the Almond Board is offering its Bee+ Scholarship, through which it will provide FREE cover crop seed to 100 almond growers through Project Apis m.’s Seeds for Bees program. The scholarship will also cover the cost for growers to register for Pollinator Partnership’s Bee Friendly Farming program (more information below).

Funding provided by ABC’s Bee+ Scholarship will allow growers to plant an estimated 3,500 acres of quality pollinator forage statewide – that’s in addition to the cover crop seed Project Apis m. typically distributes directly to almond growers through their Seeds for Bees program each year.Watch this recording of an Almond Board webinar to learn more about the Bee+ Scholarship.

Bee+ Webinar: ABC’s Bee+ Scholarship | CASP | Bee Friendly Farming | Seeds for Bees

Growers interested to apply may contact Billy Synk, director of Pollination Programs at Project Apis m., to start the process and learn more about the various seed mixes available through the Seeds for Bees program. Synk may be reached at or 916-287-3035.

View the 2021-2022 Seeds for Bees Guidelines and Enrollment Details

Honey Bee Forage Seed Providers:

  1. Project Apis m.

  2. Pollinator Partnership Ecoregional Planting Guides

  3. Xerces Society Seed Mixes

Bee Friendly Farming (BFF) Program

In June 2020, the Almond Board and Pollinator Partnership announced the alignment of ABC’s California Almond Stewardship Platform (CASP) and Pollinator Partnership’s Bee Friendly Farming (BFF) program to promote the importance of providing pollinators with nutritional forage.

With the alignment of the CASP and BFF programs, almond growers who complete assessments in CASP specifically focused on bee health and pest management, and who meet certain BFF criteria, will qualify to register for the BFF program and become Bee Friendly certified. This certification will allow growers and their processors to use the Bee Friendly Farming logo on their product, and growers will be publicly recognized on Pollinator Partnership’s website as being a “Bee Friendly Farm” – in addition to receiving a BFF metal sign to display on their property.

The criteria to become Bee Friendly certified are detailed in this short video

Become a Bee Friendly Farmer

Did You Know

For more Pollination resources, visit our Grower Tools page.

Billy Synk. Director of Pollination Services. Project Apis m. Nov. 2019. Represents total plantings from 2013-present.