Almond Update: Staying Efficient with Nitrogen Plans

Brian GermanAlmond Update, Almonds, News from our Sponsors

Growers are preparing to implement their nitrogen plans after a long bloom period this season. Associate Director of Agricultural Research with the Almond Board of California (ABC), Sebastian Saa said trees will use their own nitrogen storage during bloom. After that, growers will want to monitor their orchards to determine the optimal time to begin with nitrogen applications.

Nitrogen Plans

“Wait until 70 percent leaf out starts and adjust fertigation rates according to your fruit load, to your fruit set,” Saa explained. “Before that, it will not be efficient. You will have spent money that you don’t need to spend this year.”

To help growers maximize their efficiency, ABC offers resources including the Nitrogen Best Management Practices and the Nitrogen BMPs Quick Guide. The guides have been developed as a result of years of research related to nitrogen and nutrient management. There are some quick steps to help with nitrogen plans, starting with a pre-season yield estimate and then incorporating estimates of annual inputs of nitrogen.

“Account for all your sources of nitrogen especially the nitrogen that comes in the water, or other sources not fertilizers. That will help you to save water,” Saa noted. “Monitor your trees and adjust your plan accordingly to your fruit load as early as April, but also do it in May and June.”

The resources from ABC can serve as a framework for nitrogen management. However, individual management plans should be developed to address particular orchard needs. Saa explained that close monitoring of orchard conditions is the cornerstone of efficient nitrogen plans.

“We will learn a lot about fruit set by the middle of April. If fruit set is lower than expected then save your nitrogen applications because how much nitrogen you apply is a direct function of how many pounds you’re going to produce during that season,” said Saa. “Do not front load your nitrogen. Follow our guidance and really monitor your trees and apply accordingly until you see what’s going on. Do not over-apply, especially if you don’t have a big crop year.”

Listen to Saa’s interview below.

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Brian German

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Ag News Director, AgNet West