In today’s Almond Matters, brought to you by Valent, with ant bait having already been deployed in the orchard, now is the time for assessing ant management approaches. If ant baits did not perform effectively, there are other options that growers can turn to as they head into harvest time.
“All orchards should have ants at this time, most orchards have up to a dozen species of ants within them. The question is ‘what species are they?’” said David Haviland, Entomology Farm Advisor with UC Cooperative Extension in Kern County. For those having difficulties in determining what types of ants they have in their orchard Haviland noted there is a resource available for “growers that are doing assessments right now on ant species, there’s an excellent guide to ant identification on the University of California Integrated Pest Management website for almonds…and that can definitely help a grower distinguish the good ants from the bad ants.”
If a grower is assessing ant management in their orchard and finds their bait was not as effective as intended, there are some harvesting techniques that can be used to help mitigate ant damage. One strategy is to get the nuts off the ground as soon as possible after harvest, so ants do not have an extended opportunity to cause any damage. Another technique would be to leave the almonds on the tree as long as possible, but Haviland warns there is a risk associated with that approach.
“You’ve got to find a balance between leaving them on the tree as long as possible, to help prevent ant damage when the nuts are on the ground, and likewise getting the nuts off the tree as soon as possible to prevent navel orangeworm damage. That’s a decision that each grower’s going to have to make on a case-by-case basis,” Haviland stated.
Listen to Haviland’s interview below.