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2022 AlmondBeat Report #2 - 4 irrigation tips to prepare for the heat

Updated: May 11, 2022

Temperatures are swinging from high to low, rain fall sporadically and unexpectedly - The only thing that hasn't changed during the last couple of weeks in the Central Valley - is that everything is changing.

And with water scarcity, increased input costs and regulations affecting irrigation decisions (CNN reports that the state's two largest reservoirs — Shasta Lake and Lake Oroville - are already at 'critically low levels'), now more than ever, irrigating according to real-time demand of the trees means huge water savings.

2022 AlmondBeat #2, Four irrigation tips that trees and growers love.

Here we grow:

1) Allocate water according to blocks' demand

This Saturday could see a 100 °F, and as the map above shows, many growers are already experiencing a lot of oranges, and some reds, which indicate stress conditions are developing or are already present. Cumulative stress days affect both this season's yields and the future health and productivity of your trees.

And as the heat hits hard across your farm, it's super important to allocate your attention - and water - according to which block needs it the most. Just like in the battlefield, the most critically wounded should be prioritized and get immediate treatment. With Phytech's clear visibility of your blocks sorted by plant-status (reds showing first), deciding which block is going to get water is made easier.

2) Invest in the upper foot

Usually in this stage of the season trees already experienced some heat. This year they will encounter it in a relatively late phenological stage, which means a greater shock to the system. The solution: keep the upper foot of the soil wet with enough moisture so trees can easily take a sip and quickly recover from stress conditions. This tactic of course is closely tied to our next irrigation tip: Frequency.

3) Short bursts

We can't stress enough the importance of frequency (as opposed to large quantity/long duration) in avoiding stress.

Take a look at this 2-weeks span where the grower avoided red and adapted his irrigation according to real-time conditions:

Applying short cycles through your blocks will also maximize water and nutrition uptake (maximum 24 hours, ideally 12 hours in case of average flow rates). The effectiveness of high frequency strategy proves itself time and again as can be seen across growers who avoid entering the red/orange zones while using just the right amounts of water.

This is evident by 2 different irrigation tactics, laid out side by side in the below picture. "A" tactic was to apply short-timed irrigation before and during the heatwave that prevented severe stress, while in "B", severe stress wasn't avoided although irrigation was applied 2-3 days earlier.

4) Pay attention to Nut Fill

Nut size, which rapidly develops between March to June, until it finally hardens, is key in maximizing current crop load, The tree is pushing sugars to fill the nut, which requires enough available water supply. Too many stress days might cause the tree to allocate its resources - sugar and water - from the Kernel, which may lead to a shrinkage in size.

Avoid consecutive orange and yellow statuses by monitoring closely Phytech's plant-status. Watching out for increasing MDS (Maximum Daily Shrinkage) number is another way to help keep trees happy.

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