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Applied Research Activities

Specific current pomology research projects include:

1- A prune planting that has challenged conventional thinking about prune production on marginal soils. Yields of 4-5 tons per acre (twice the state average) of premium large sized fruit have been obtained from test plots.

2- Evaluation and identification of "safer" pesticides for insect and disease problems. The industry has been quick to adopt these technologies.

3- Began new trial to evaluate the feasibility of reducing pruning costs on almonds, while increasing early production.

4- Colusa County became a participant in an Almond Pest Management Alliance program, funded by Cal DPR, to demonstrate low insecticide/fertilizer production systems and encourage growers to minimize the risk of negative environmental effects from almond farming.

5- An evaluation of hedgerow walnut production that has led to increased local production of walnuts on marginal soils. This technology is being widely adopted by growers and is partially responsible for the expanded plantings on the Westside.

6- Further investigations and refinements of micro-irrigation of almonds, including sub-surface drip, which led to reductions in the amount of herbicides and irrigation water required for optimum almond production. This project is receiving primary funding from national and international funding agencies.

7- Major rootstock investigations, including a California hybrid rootstock trial funded by the California Almond Board and nursery industry.

8- A new orchard design tested at Nickels appears to hold the promise of lessening the need for high numbers of honeybees to pollinate almonds. Results show that the concept of planting two alternating varieties down the same row can increase pollination/yield, compared to the current practice of having solid rows of a single variety. ‘ Mission’ and ‘Padre’ varieties were the primary varieties tested and others need to be evaluated. The potential savings in pollination costs or the ability to stretch limited beehives over expanding acreage will benefit growers.

9- Self-fertile almond variety development to minimize planting multiple varieties in each orchard and lessen dependence on bees as primary pollinators.

10- A test evaluating beneficial insect releases for control of walnut worm pests. This test is being conducted with a commercial grower off the Nickels site.

11- Potassium fertilizer injected via micro-sprinklers at NSL, after two seasons, does not indicate economic benefits for almond yield or quality. This test is ongoing and the results are tentative.