Pistachio growers gather to hear latest research in Visalia Jan. 21

Jan 20, 2015

More than 500 pistachio growers and other industry members are registered to attend the 2015 Statewide Pistachio Day in Visalia on Wednesday, Jan. 21. Pollination, pest control, “bushy top” and water quality are among the subjects that researchers will be discussing.

“Given California's drought and the need to use all available water supplies, even those of marginal quality, there will be great interest in Ken Schmidt's and UC Cooperative Extension advisor Blake Sanden's talks about Valley water supplies and quality,” said Louise Ferguson, a UCCE specialist in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis and organizer of the event.

Sanden, who is based in Kern County, will give a presentation on his research on the effects of using saline water for pistachio irrigation on crop yield and soil quality.

“In 2014, there were problems of fruit set and pollination,” Ferguson said. She expects there will be strong interest in the talk about the effects of climate and other factors on pollination requirements and fruit set by Gurreet Brar, UCCE advisor in Fresno County.   

An emerging problem that growers have been seeing in California and Arizona in the past three years is what scientists are calling Pistachio Bushy Top Syndrome in clonal UCB1 rootstocks. Affected trees are short and stunted, have closely spaced internodes, exhibit bushy growth and twisted roots. The cause is unknown, but scientists have found it to be associated with the bacterium Rhodococcus.

Jennifer Randall, a professor in the Department of Entomology, Plant Pathology and Weed Science at New Mexico State University, will deliver the first public presentation of research results on the "bushy top" syndrome.  

A full day of research presentations are scheduled.

Themis Michailides, a researcher in the Department of Plant Pathology at UC Davis, will give an update on pistachio diseases.

David Haviland, UCCE advisor in Kern County, Kris Tollerup, UC IPM advisor, and Bob Beede, emeritus UC Cooperative Extension advisor will discuss management of navel orangeworm, Phytocoris, leaf-footed bug and stink bugs.

Brad Higbee, director of entomology research for Paramount Farming Company, will discuss how winter sanitation of orchards can decrease pest pressure and, in turn, reduce the need for pesticides. 

Joel Siegel, USDA-ARS research entomologist, will explain how to how to anticipate pest pressure based on past infestation levels.

Patrick Brown, professor in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis, will discuss nutrient management in pistachios.

The 2015 Statewide Pistachio Day will be held from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the
Visalia Convention Center. For more information, visit http://ucanr.edu/sites/pistachioday.

For more than 100 years, the University of California Cooperative Extension researchers and educators have been drawing on local expertise to conduct agricultural, environmental, economic, youth development and nutrition research that helps California thrive. UC Cooperative Extension is part of the University of California's systemwide Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Learn more at ucanr.edu.


By Pamela Kan-Rice
Author - Assistant Director, News and Information Outreach