Get More With Less

Almond trial shows using less fertilizer compared to conventional treatments achieves equal to better results

Understanding Soil Quality

Almond acres have been steadily growing in California since the 1980s, and the crop is now California’s number one exported agricultural commodity. With over 2.4 million acres of trees planted, California grows over 85% of the world’s almonds. Virtually all commercially harvested almonds produced in the U.S. come from California. Most of that is due to the climate: warm, dry summers and cool, rainy winters are key to setting the tree up for success. But we know it takes more than a temperate climate to maximize a crop’s potential. AgroLiquid crop nutrition can be a
valuable tool in producing an abundant and quality almond crop. In an effort to determine the best sources, rates, timings and methods of application for this important crop, for the past two years, AgroLiquid has invested in
and run a full-scale research trial in almonds in California.

AgroLiquid has long believed in proving our technology through rigorous research and field testing. In western soils, we are looking at our technology performance compared to conventional fertilizer sources. Almonds are the perfect crop to test our Flavonol Polymer Technology, given how much potassium is needed to produce a crop. AgroLiquid’s
proprietary technology allows us to chelate/encapsulate nutrients within the sweet spot – not too loose, but not too tight. Our two year almond research trial has been conducted by Barat Basabri of Basabri Ag Research in
Newman, CA.

Trial details:
Each plot consists of five trees and was replicated six times across the orchard. Throughout the growing season, 50 gallons per acre (ga/A) of UAN-32 is applied as a constant in every plot.

Plot 1 (Conventional grower standard):
• 10-34-0 applied at 37.5 ga/A
• KTS applied at 40 ga/A
• EDTA Zinc (Zn) applied four times during the season for a total of 2 ga/A

Plot 2:
• Actagro’s Structure® applied at a rate of 25 ga/A
• KTS applied at 40 ga/A
• EDTA Zinc (Zn) applied four times during the season for a total of 2 ga/A

Plot 3:
• AgroLiquid’s PrG™ applied at 15 ga/A
• KTS applied at 40 ga/A
• EDTA Zinc (Zn) applied four times during the season for a total of 2 ga/A

Plot 4:
• AgroLiquid’s PrG applied at 15 ga/A
• AgroLiquid’s Kalibrate™ at a rate of 13.2 ga/A
• EDTA Zinc (Zn) applied four times during the season for a total of 2 ga/A

The results of the two-year averages are as follows. Plot 1: The “Grower Standard” of 10-34-0 + KTS yielded an average of 2,616 lbs. per acre. The second plot where Structure® was used in place of 10-34-0 + KTS, yielded a two-year average of 2,825 lbs./acre. The third plot was AgroLiquid’s PrG + KTS which yielded an average of 2,840 lbs./acre. The final plot was a full AgroLiquid program using both PrG + Kalibrate which yielded a two-year average of 2,829 lbs./acre. Yield results in the last three plots were comparable. For complete details on the almond trial please refer to the AgroLiquid website: research.agroliquid.com where all of our research data can be found dating back to 1983.

Take Control of Your Fertility Program

Take Control of Your Fertility Program

Dylan Rogers, Sales Account Manager for AgroLiquid

Almonds in blossom
Almond tree blossom

The 2020 almond crop is upon us. Trees are beginning to break dormancy, soon full bloom will occur, and the honeybees will be busy pollinating what will be our highest yielding crop to date – we hope. There are many factors that will affect the yield potential of this year’s crop; some we can control and others we cannot. Mother Nature and the weather are out of our hands – all we can do is hope that it works in our favor. We can fight disease and insect pressure, but we cannot prevent it completely. One factor we do have complete control over, however, is our fertility program and ensuring we supply the trees with the nutrients they need to produce that high-yielding crop.

Soil Samples

A great starting point for building your seasonal fertility program is by assessing what you have in the soil. Looking at a current soil sample will give you an idea of what needs to be done in season to ensure adequate fertility for maximum yields. There are multiple things to consider when reading a soil test. You may see that most or all of your nutrient levels read adequate or high; However, the ratios of some nutrients are more important than the levels. For instance, iron and manganese are antagonistic to each other. You may have adequate levels of both nutrients in your soil, but if the ratio is off, you may see symptoms of deficiency. You need more iron than manganese in the soil. The ideal ratio is 2:1 iron to manganese. The closer this ratio gets to 1:1, the more likely you will see an iron deficiency in season. The ratio of phosphorus to zinc is also an important factor. A ratio of 10:1 phosphorus to zinc is the ideal balance between these two nutrients. If phosphorus levels get too high, it may induce a zinc deficiency. These are just two examples of many ratios that should be addressed in your soil. A soil sample will ensure you have the information you need to get off on the right foot to maximizing this season’s yield.

Bud Break, Pink Bud, Bloom

During the period in which fruit buds are swelling, the trees are also working below the soil surface. A new flush of feeder roots are pushing out, and having an adequate supply of phosphorus and soil moisture is critical in the development of these new roots. Choosing a phosphorus fertilizer that is protected from tie-up in the soil ensures the most return on this investment. Following bud swell and new root development will be bud break, a period in which flower and pollen development are crucial. These fruiting buds that will become flowers are the fate of this season’s crop, so we do everything possible to protect and ensure their viability. Foliar applications of phosphorus, calcium, zinc, boron, and molybdenum can be beneficial, as they play important roles in all aspects regarding pollen.

Fruit Development

 The tree’s highest demand for nitrogen and potassium is from fruit set to harvest. Supplying these two nutrients in adequate amounts is crucial to achieve a high yielding crop. Nitrogen is a critical component of many plant parts and functions. It is needed to produce chlorophyll, DNA and RNA, and to synthesize amino acids. Studies have shown that for every 1,000 pounds of kernels removed, about 85 pounds of nitrogen are removed after accounting for fertilizer inefficiencies. Choosing a nitrogen fertilizer that is low in salts and less likely to leach or volatilize will ensure optimum uptake by the tree and give you the most return on your fertilizer investment. Potassium is also very important for many plant functions and is required in large amounts. Potassium plays a major role in the opening and closing of stomata, photosynthesis, translocation of sugars, and many other plant processes. Studies show that for every 1,000 pounds of kernels removed, around 90 pounds of K20 are removed. There are some important things to take into consideration when choosing a potassium source. Almonds are very sensitive to salts such as chlorides and hydroxides. Some fertilizers can even be toxic if applied at higher rates. Choose a potassium source that is free of chlorides and hydroxides to ensure maximum uptake and to minimize potential for crop injury.

Taking control of your fertility program this season will help achieve maximum yield potential. Again, there are multiple factors that are out of our control so taking advantage of the factors we can control is important. Choose your fertilizers this season with plant and soil health in mind to maximize your return on investment.

Almond fields

The 12 days of Crop Nutrients

Day 4 

Since I have already lost the theme of this thread (being a tie with the beloved carol, The 12 Days of Christmas), I won’t try to draw a connection between four calling birds and potassium – although I’m sure I could if I tried hard enough.

 

Potassium in one of the primary plant nutrients. It is essential for the transport of sugars and the formation of starches and oils. Potassium helps to regulate the opening and closing of a leaf’s stoma which are important for the efficient use of water by the crop.

Potassium deficiency in almonds
Apple with a potassium deficiency
Potassium deficiency in grapes

 

 

 

 

 

 

Potassium also promotes root growth, increases a plant’s resistance to disease and cold temperatures. It improves the size and quality of fruits, nuts and grains, and is essential in high-quality forage. Crops that produce large amounts of carbohydrates (sugars) require large amounts of potassium – sometimes even more th an nitrogen! Cotton, almonds, alfalfa, grapes, cherries, and peaches are all especially fond of potassium.

 

Common symptoms of potassium deficiency:

  • Slow growth
  • Tip and marginal leaf burning
  • Burning of older leaves
  • Weak stems and stalks causing lodging
  • Low fruit sugar content and shriveled seeds
Corn with a potassium deficiency

The 12 days of Crop Nutrients

Day 3 

On to day three of crop our nutrients post. If you aren’t following along in our 12 Days of Crop Nutrients, be sure to check out day 1 – phosphorus, and day 2 – calcium. For our third day of crop nutrients, we’re going to discuss the micronutrient boron. It’s been said before, but it bears repeating: while crops needs less of a micronutrient, those nutrients are no less important to maximizing crop potential.

Boron deficiency in almonds

Boron (B)

Boron is necessary for cell division and differentiation. It helps maintain a balance between sugar and starch and aids in the movement of calcium. Boron is also essential for the germination of the pollen grains and pollen tubes in plants and has a direct effect on yield. No pollination, no crop. In other words, it may be a micronutrient, but it’s no less important to crop potential than nitrogen, phosphorus or potassium.

Cauliflower with boron deficiency

Boron is a nutrient that becomes immobile once it is utilized within a crop. Therefore, it is essential to have an available boron “pool” within the soil throughout the growing season. Some symptoms of boron deficiency can include:

  • Shortened plant nodes
  • Thickened, brittle and curled leaves
  • Terminal growth dies and / or young growth tissue deteriorates
  • Reduced flowering and fruit set, poor seed set

Malformed or small fruits and physiological disorders associated with root and tuber crops.

Postharvest Fertility – Trees and Vines

By Dylan Rogers, Sales Account ManagerDylan Rogers, Sales Account Manager for Southern California

With almond and grape harvest underway here in California, it is easy to fall into the mindset that the finish line for yet another growing season is near. Unfortunately, that is not the case. In fact, the most important part of the growing season is still upon us. Postharvest irrigation and fertility can be the most crucial aspect of growing trees and vines. Growers, PCAs, and CCAs are always striving to increase yields and quality. Having a solid postharvest game plan plays a critical role in ensuring better yields and quality for next season’s crop.

After the stress of harvest, nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium will begin to transition from leaves to spurs in almonds, and from leaves to roots and woody tissues in vines. In almonds, bud initiation and differentiation has already begun, so the fate of the 2020 crop is already underway. Water stress at this point in time will significantly reduce next year’s crop. Postharvest irrigation is also very important to ensure that the leaves stay active for as long as possible so they can continue photosynthesizing and storing much needed carbohydrates for next year’s crop. When dormancy breaks in early spring, trees and vines will be functioning solely on stored nutrients. Nutrient uptake from the soil is very minimal at this point due to cool soil temperatures as well as the lack of leaves. Adequate postharvest fertility to replenish nutrient reserves will ensure that your crop has the energy it needs to maximize production when dormancy breaks come spring.

Nitrogen (N)

Up to 20% of the total seasonal demand for nitrogen in almonds can be applied postharvest. This is also very similar for grapes. Postharvest nitrogen will help maintain leaf area and extend the time for photosynthesis to keep producing carbohydrates in the trees and vines. Postharvest N will also ensure that reserves are replenished and early shoot growth and leaf out will be strong in the spring. It is important to take in-season tissue samples into consideration when determining how much nitrogen to apply. Any soil-applied nitrogen in the nitrate form that is not taken up by the roots will be subject to leaching from rainfall and irrigations. Foliar-applied nitrogen is also a good choice for postharvest applications. It is common to use a fast acting nitrogen source in this situation, such as urea-based products.

Almonds ready for harvestPhosphorous (P)

The amount of phosphorous used by trees and vines is much less compared to the demand for nitrogen and potassium. However, this does not mean it is less important for optimal growth and yields. A postharvest application of phosphorous will promote healthy fall and spring root flushes, as well as ensure the trees and vines have a good energy source when dormancy breaks in the spring. Choosing a phosphorous fertilizer that is protected from tie up from cations in the soil is important and will ensure that it is free and available for the plant to uptake as needed.

Potassium (K)

Potassium demand in almonds and grapes is even higher than that of nitrogen. A postharvest application of potassium is essential in order to restore reserves, even more so if your yields were above average this season. Potassium is an important aspect in plant water relations and cell reproduction. If potassium reserves are deficient when dormancy breaks in the spring, new fruiting spurs will develop at a slower pace or even die prematurely as compared to a tree that has optimal potassium reserves. Root uptake is minimal at this point, so a soil application of potassium will serve to replenish K reserves in the soil. A postharvest foliar application of potassium is a great way to ensure you get the potassium into the trees and vines to replenish those reserves. Choosing a K product that is free of chlorides and hydroxides, as well as effective at penetrating the leaf cuticle and easily translocated once in the leaf will provide the greatest return on your fertilizer investment.

Zinc (Zn)

Zinc is a very important micronutrient that plays a major role in synthesizing auxins. These auxins ensure a uniform bud break and a good fruit set in the spring. Almonds are commonly zinc deficient. This is due to a number of reasons, including certain rootstocks that are not adequate at taking up zinc from the soil. Zinc deficiencies are also common in areas with alkaline soils. Zinc is fairly immobile in the soil so postharvest foliar applications are most effective at correcting deficiencies and restoring reserves.

Boron (B)

Collecting hull samples to send off for boron analysis should be a staple in your postharvest game plan. Hull samples are the most effective indicator of boron levels in almonds. Boron is very critical for development of flowers, specifically pollen development and viability. If the hull analysis shows less than 80 parts per million boron, the trees are deficient and are most likely losing yield potential. Postharvest foliar applications of boron are an effective way to correct deficiencies and restore boron levels in the tree.

As you complete this year’s harvest, let your mind shift gears and begin thinking about next year’s crop. Its fate is already underway and having a solid postharvest irrigation and fertility game plan will ensure your trees and vines go into dormancy with adequate nutrient reserves. With a good postharvest fertility program, your crop will be off to a great start come spring and you’ll be well on your way to improving yields and quality year after year.

Find a crop nutrition expert in your area to discuss your program.

California permanent crops

Using Almond Tree Fertilizer to Restore Potassium

almond tree fertilizer to prevent potassium deficiency

For every 1,000 pounds of almond kernels harvested, around 80 pounds of potassium (as K2O5) leaves the soil. This places enormous nutrient demands on the soil, year after year. Without additional nutrients, potassium deficiency can quickly affect yield and the health of the almond grove. However, many almond tree potassium fertilizer products also damage the health of the soil by leaving residual salts and chlorides while tying up nutrients. It is possible to restore potassium in the soil and even correct potassium deficiencies throughout the year using an agile almond tree fertilizer that is easy to apply.

Almond Tree Fertilizer Restoring Potassium Without Soil Damage

How Much Potassium is Available to My Almond Trees?

almond treeAlthough most soils contain large amounts of potassium, relatively small amounts of it are in a form plants can use. Consequently, growers should base management decisions on how much potassium is available when the plants need it, rather than on how much potassium is available in the soil.

Each almond orchard is a unique environment, and different soil types hold varying amounts of potassium and release it differently. This can make it tricky to manage K effectively.

“Growers who want to maximize yields need to stay on top of their K applications,” says David Doll, University of California Cooperative Extension nut pomology farm advisor for Merced County. “Otherwise, deficiencies will reduce return bloom and decrease spur longevity, which affects yields over time.”

Potassium uptake in almonds is linear, with as much as 70 to 80% of total uptake complete by mid-June. This means continuous potassium supplements will support the almond tree’s growth throughout the growing season, stimulating the growth of fruiting wood, more buds, and improved harvests. Different soil types present different challenges for maintaining potassium levels. Sandy soils and sandy loams cannot retain potassium as well as others, and require smaller, more frequent almond tree fertilizer applications. Heavier soils like clay hold on to nutrients longer, and don’t need as many applications.

Do My Almond Trees Have a Potassium Deficiency?

potassium deficiency in almonds
Leaf curling, scorching and discoloration at the margins is a sign of potassium deficiency in almonds.

Deficiencies develop gradually over time and visual symptoms can take years before they show up. Plants lacking in potassium often show delayed or stunted growth. Other deficiency signs include inward curling of leaves, discolored leaf tips and marginal scorching. When severe, potassium deficiencies can increase the loss of fruiting wood, which results in reduced crop loads.

Continued monitoring and fertilization in the orchard helps growers build and maintain K at levels where deficiencies are less of a concern. Regular soil testing can help almond growers identify nutrient trends over time. Additionally, annual leaf samples help growers keep track of K levels.

“Mid-July leaf samples work well because tissue levels are relatively stable at that time of year,” says Doll. “Take two to three leaves from five non-fruiting spurs for at least 15 to 20 trees across the block. Trees should be 100 feet apart. To maintain sufficient levels across the orchard, UC Davis recommends shooting for a target potassium level of 1.6 to 1.8 percent.

Flexible Application Methods for Almond Tree Fertilizers

irrigation system watering treesMaintaining optimal potassium levels for almonds requires almond tree fertilizer treatments at harvest and throughout the year. Almond tree fertilizers with multiple application options give growers the flexibility to accomplish this.

AgroLiquid fertilizers can be applied in many different ways. They can even be used in combination with each other or with other crop protection products, so they can be quickly and easily applied.

With the ability to mix our almond tree fertilizer with other crop protection products, you reduce the time and energy needed to feed your trees. This way, you can grow more almonds with larger size and higher quality, without adding extra tasks.

Almond Tree Fertilizer Products to Maintain Potassium and Soil Health

AgroLiquid has formulated high-efficiency liquid fertilizer for almonds to sustain the almond tree’s linear use of potassium throughout the season. Unlike other almond tree fertilizers, ours is chloride- and hydroxide-free, so it supports soil health, long-term sustainability, and won’t upset the soil’s salt index.

sure-KSure-K is a chloride- and hydroxide-free potassium fertilizer ideal for supporting orchards with high potassium requirements, like almonds. With a neutral pH, Sure-K helps to protect the health and longevity of the soil, while supplying essential potassium. It can be applied as a topdress, sidedress, foliar, or through fertigation, and it can be used with many crop protection products.

kalibrateKalibrate is similar to Sure-K, but supplies sulfur in addition to potassium. Similar to Sure-K, Kalibrate is chloride- and hydroxide-free, and it can be applied in a variety of ways. Kalibrate is ideal as an early-season potassium fertilizer to stimulate strong initial growth and production.

 

PRG logoPrG provides a full array of macronutrients, including nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, as well as iron. PrG is ideal for trees that have not yet reached maturity. PrG is also ideal for stimulating growth and speeding up reproduction at the start of the season.

 

Let Us Design an Almond Tree Fertilizer Plan for You

The ideal AgroLiquid almond fertilizer plan is dependent on your location, climate, soil conditions, and goals with your crop. All of our fertilizer programs begin with a review of your soil samples and consultation with one of our expert agronomists. After our analysis, our team will provide you with a couple options that will help you meet your goals on a budget that won’t break the bank. Talk to an agronomist to get started.

Feeding Hungry Almonds in California (LAND OF LIQUID Blog)

So are you ready for some more almond updates?  Let me answer “Heck Yes” for you.  So I was back in CA last week and here is how the trees look now.  The blossoms are all gone.

almond trees no blossoms

The bees did their job as we see  loads of almonds growing now where there were flowers before.  And we did not see any obvious frost damage which was a big concern on an earlier visit.

almonds on trees

 Remember when Dylan held a small almond blossom pistil in his hand a few weeks ago?  Well now he’s holding the developing almond nut.  That almond is going to need some added nutrition to make it to harvest in the fall.  And that is where AgroLiquid comes in.

unripe almond

 Almond watchers SAM’s Dylan and Armando, plus Chemist Chris discuss all things almonds with the ranch manager and researcher.  Now AgroLiquid fertilizers are used in a number of commercial operations, but we wanted to design an experiment to prove the value of AgroLiquid’s different nutrient options.  Well that is the objective anyway.  I’m confident.  It’s time for some plot fertilizer application.

almond grove

This tractor is applying liquid fertilizer treatments to a plot of almond trees.  Several replicated treatments are applied in this long row of trees.

fertilizing almonds

Fertilizers are normally applied in the irrigation water, through that small sprinkler there coming out of the black water line.  To simulate fertilizer application, the fertilizer treatments are sprayed on the ground with the nozzles.  The nozzles are positioned to apply over the irrigated area.  To be realistic, the nozzles ran some earlier to wet the ground.  Then the sprayer applies the fertilizers in a high application volume of 200 gallons per acre.  This is to evenly spread the fertilizers over the zone.  Then after application,  the water is turned on again to thoroughly incorporate the treatments.  I’m convinced that this is as realistic as you can get for treatment application.  It was a beautiful day, warm and sunny.  And no wind.

almond fertilizer application

It helps that AgroLiquid fertilizers are all compatible with each other and can easily be applied all at once instead of in separate applications as is necessary with some fertilizers.  The researcher was impressed with AgroLiquid’s product compatibility.  There are a number of applications left, but that should hold them for now.  It takes well planned applications of a complete nutrient package to get best response.  So we will be following progress, and I plan to re-visit the test to keep you all posted.  There were some other interesting sights seen during the week, so stay tuned.