Growers Set for Sizable Walnut Harvest

Brian GermanIndustry, Nuts & Grapes

This year’s weather has pushed the schedule back by approximately a week, but the walnut harvest is just around the corner.  Cooperative Extension Orchard Systems Advisor for Glenn County, Dani Lightle said “timing wise, I’m hearing that we’re getting close to packing tissue brown in the Chandlers, and so Ethrel treatments are going to be either already applied in some of the earlier orchards or will probably be going on in full force in the next week or two.”

walnut harvestThe National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is expecting a 650,000-ton crop this year.  Yields were expected to be somewhat smaller than last year’s record-setting crop and growers are pleased with size and quality. Lightle noted that growers are “very happy with their nut set, there’s a lot of doubles and triples in the trees.”

According to NASS, in-shell weight per nut, along with length and width measurements were all above last year’s sizes and over 98 percent of all in-shell kernels were sound. Trees enjoyed adequate chilling hours this year while receiving a significant amount of rain over winter and spring. A number of growers reported issues with their root systems after their orchards endured several weeks of saturation.

Water issues continued for some growers who were concerned about over-saturation in the early summer months. “There was a lot of troubleshooting with irrigation, especially as we got into July … Some of the growers were a little bit off in water applied versus water needed by the trees at that point in the season.” Lightle stated.

High temperatures became a significant concern at the height of summer when California experienced a prolonged heatwave. Lightle said that some growers are “noticing a lot of dark kernels and that’s probably a result of a combination of the tree stress of the heat and also direct sunburn.”

Listen to the interview below.
Dani Lightle