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Preview: Orchard, Pest Management During Challenging Times at TAC


The Almond Conference 2023 promises to be a pivotal event, featuring over a dozen educational sessions including orchard practices and pest management topics that aim to guide almond growers through the challenges of the current industry landscape. Curated by Sebastian Saa, associate director of agricultural research at ABC, and Lauren Fann, senior specialist of pest management at ABC, these sessions offer valuable insights and practical advice for growers. 

Orchard Practices 

The first session, slated for Wednesday, December 6 at 10:30 a.m., is titled Optimizing Critical Orchard Practices. Saa and a panel of esteemed experts, including UC ANR’s Roger Duncan, U.C. Davis’ Brian Bailey and Patrick Brown, and others, will delve into the latest research findings on pruning strategies, the economic impact of pruning and enhancing fertigation efficiency. 

The second session will cover even more management practices during challenging times. Mid-sized growers Garrett Bowman and Brandon Rebiero will join UC ANR’s Franz Niederholzer on a panel to share their experiences, addressing irrigation, nutrient management, insect and disease control, and harvest strategies. This session takes place on Thursday, December 7, at 9:30 a.m. 

The last session, happening Thursday, December 7, at 11:30 a.m., will focus on replanting almond orchards. In a financially challenging world, the session explores the nuances of whole orchard recycling, infrastructure development, and alternatives to soil fumigation. Grower Matt Cox, USDA’s Greg Brown, and UC ANR’s Roger Duncan and Brent Holtz will provide valuable insights and ROI analyses to help growers make informed decisions. 

Pest Management 

The first session, focuses on plant bugs, encompassing leaf-footed and stink bugs that caused significant damage during the 2021/2022 crop year. With Blue Diamond’s Mel Machado and Kent Dana from UC Berkeley among the speakers, the session delves into the evolving landscape of plant bug damage, incorporating research findings and in-field work. This session takes place on Tuesday, December 5 at 10:30 a.m. 

Also on Tuesday, led by well-known experts like Themis Michailides and Jim Adaskaveg, a second session outlines a disease management strategy for growers. The overarching theme resonates with the industry's current challenges, emphasizing survival strategies and cost-effective approaches, epitomized by Adaskaveg presenting a year-long disease management strategy for $100 an acre. This session takes place Tuesday afternoon at 12:30 p.m. 

The last pest management session – likely the most attended – is on the pest that has engulfed damage conversations during this last crop year, the navel orangeworm. Fann and several industry experts will cover year-long management tactics for NOW, addressing concerns about winter sanitation and offering a holistic approach to tackling this prevalent pest. The session promises to equip growers with a robust action plan for effective navel orangeworm management and takes place on Wednesday, December 6 at 10:30 a.m. 

Notably, all three pest management sessions have secured continuing education approval, offering growers valuable insights and earning both DPR and CCA credit. 

The Almond Conference 2023 aims to equip attendees with actionable strategies rooted in years of research, enabling them to navigate the complexities of the current industry climate. With a diverse range of topics and expert speakers, these sessions promise to be a highlight for almond growers seeking practical solutions and innovative approaches to enhance efficiency and reduce costs. View the conference program online and learn more about The Almond Conference 2023 at