In today’s Almond Matters, brought to you by Valent, Burchell Nursery product development and plant breeder John Slaughter provides insight on some of the trends and concerns for the almond industry from a nursery perspective.
Grower planting trends play a significant role in driving some of the focus for breeding in nurseries. “What we’re mainly concerned with is trying to optimize the tree so that it is efficient, productive, productive soon, productive long-term, and that the iron needs to fit the optimized tree,” said Slaughter.
However, as growers look for a quicker return on investment in their orchard by engaging in minimal and non-pruning practices it could create challenges as the trees start to mature. “My concern is that growers are wanting to plant tighter and tighter spacings in general and that the machinery that we use to harvest and sweep are getting larger,” Slaughter noted.
Another factor that comes into consideration in breeding is related to the regulation that growers will need to comply with. “We are trying to breed, select, evaluate and release almond varieties that have the ability to shake and catch so that dust during harvest is minimized,” Slaughter said.
Along with trends and concerns, Slaughter noted some advice for growers to consider when making plans for the future and determining which variety to invest in. “There’s different growth habits in different varieties and that should predicate how a variety is planted, what density. If it’s a really big tree, you may not want to crowd them. If it’s a more vertical, or columnar type tree, more efficient, less vigor, you probably ought to put those closer together down a row,” said Slaughter.
Listen to Slaughter’s interview below.