Step-up Almond Yields with Effective Nitrogen Management
Proper nitrogen management enhances almond yields, promotes healthy tree growth and benefits the environment.
The key to nitrogen management for almonds is to meet crop demand without going overboard. This involves timing nutrient applications to meet the needs of the crop so nutrients are not lost to leaching and denitrification. Nitrogen is essential to the healthy growth and development of almond trees and has a direct impact on yields. In the end, proper management of this essential element pays handsome rewards, both in yields and in preservation of the environment.
Crop Demand Guides Nutrient Applications
Effective nitrogen management for almonds involves letting crop demand guide the timing of applications to ensure nitrogen is present in the root zone when the crop uptake will be most efficient. Split applications work well because growers can time them to match high uptake periods.
“Almond trees use a majority of their nitrogen from leaf-out to kernel fill. We recommend applying 80 percent of the total nitrogen budget by that point,” says David Doll, University of California Cooperative Extension nut pomology farm advisor for Merced County. “After leaf expansion, the nitrogen growers apply goes into the developing kernel. Once kernel fill is complete, it is best to back off on applications until the post-harvest period, and then apply another 20 percent of the nitrogen budget post-harvest.”
Doll cautions that growers should not exceed 50 pounds of nitrogen in the fall because the crop can’t effectively use more than that amount and the excess can be lost to leaching.
Nut Yield Influences the Nitrogen Budget
Nut yield is a major determinant of nitrogen demand in mature almond trees. Depending on yield, a large portion of the total nitrogen a tree takes up in a given year goes into the nuts, while a much smaller amount fuels tree growth. According to Doll, 65 pounds of nitrogen are removed with every 1,000 kernel pounds.
To be accurate, growers must base nitrogen budgets for the current crop year on expected yield, minus additional inputs such as nitrogen-rich cover crops, compost and nitrogen in the irrigation water. Growers also need to look at the efficiency of the nutrient.
“Nitrogen has an efficiency factor of 70 percent,” says Doll. “This means that you have to apply around 85 pounds of it in order to get 65 pounds into the ground. Growers need to make sure they are figuring this into their nitrogen budgets.”
Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers Offers Solutions with Advanced Nitrogen Products
Balancing crop demands with increased accountability over the uncertain fate of nitrogen makes is imperative that growers constantly evaluate their nitrogen management. Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers recognizes the challenges almond growers face when managing nitrogen inputs. Their N-Suite™ of products offers solutions with greater nitrogen efficiency as well as a way to improve the efficacy of many conventional materials.
Three powerhouse products, High NRG-N™, NResponse™ and eNhance™, provide greater nitrogen efficiency and application flexibility, while still maintaining the overall health and yields desired from your almond trees.