Last winter brought welcome drought relief for parched almond growers in California. However, the cooler spring weather also brought challenges and the USDA NASS Pacific Regional Office initial forecast predicts smaller production and yields for almond crops in 2023. Given the new abundance of water, almond growers suddenly need to switch their water management mindset.
While it might seem logical that deep rooted crops like almonds might be able to forego irrigation for quite a while to let things dry out, by now, most farmers have turned on their drip irrigation to feed their crops through their critical blooming and maturing stages. We’ve seen most fields start to dry down by late April and May and growers who have been monitoring this progress carefully were turning on their drip irrigation.
We have also been seeing more growers experimenting with cover cropping which changes soil temperatures and absorption rates so monitoring and adapting irrigation practices according to these changes is critical for optimization and process control that improves yield.
Growers in the northern regions should be keeping an eye on temperatures with the growing El Nino influence. El Nino’s can drive summer temperatures higher in the northern regions despite promises of additional rainfall in the west.
Another question almond growers have on their mind is soil salinity. Increasing salt levels built up over the years long drought were not completely eliminated despite the heavy rains. We do see some salinity levels improving in the top layers as some salt was pushed lower in the profile. Unfortunately, a number of growers only saw small drops in overall salinity levels over last year. And some growers are seeing higher spikes again as they turn on their irrigation. Hopefully we’ll see this trend lower as the Sierra snow melt feeds the ground water tables from spring through summer.
What’s unique about AquaSpy’s approach to precision irrigation
AquaSpy intelligent crop-specific root monitoring technology can continuously monitor trees such as apple, pear, pistachio, pecan, walnut, or almond over single or multi-year crop production and contribute up to 40% increased yield while further increasing water efficiency.
AquaSpy looks layer by layer into the soil and can see what’s occurring at the active root zone. This insight is critical for deep rooted trees which need to provide water where and when it’s needed most.
Patented multi-sensor probes measure soil moisture, salinity, temperature and root zone activity independently at 4-inch intervals to 48 inches. Proprietary algorithms give yield-optimizing insights for ideal irrigation at critical growth stages such as budding, blooming, maturing, up and hull-split, that impact the outcome of almond and other nut tree yields. The powerful AgSpy system provides analysis and actionable insights so growers can easily understand what is going on without having to visit the orchard.