- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
Tree fruit growers can receive premiums for delivering certain extra-early varieties of peaches, but peach farmers may net roughly $800 more per acre from late-harvest processing peaches than extra-early harvest varieties, according to new cost studies released by the UC ANR Agricultural Issues Center and UC Cooperative Extension.
To help farmers make decisions on which peach varieties to plant, UC researchers present sample costs to produce extra-early harvested cling and freestone peaches and late harvested cling and freestone peaches for processing in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valley in these studies.
Although processors pay more for extra-early harvested peach varieties than late-harvest peaches, the researchers found that yields are higher for late-harvest varieties while costs for hand thinning the fruit are lower.
“Peaches harvested early in the season have less time to grow compared to peaches that get to hang on the tree another month or more,” explained Roger Duncan, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Stanislaus County, who coauthored the studies. “Therefore, more fruit has to be removed so the remaining fruit can size. That means it costs you more to produce less.”
The analyses are based upon hypothetical well-managed farming operations using practices common to the region. The costs, materials and practices shown in these studies will not apply to all farms. Growers, UC ANR Cooperative Extension farm advisors and other agricultural associates provided input and reviewed the methods and findings of the study.
Both studies assume a 100-acre farmer-owned operation with 40 acres of cling peaches. The remaining acreage for both hypothetical farms is planted in other mature tree crops. The estimated economic life of the extra-early harvested cling peach orchard and the late harvested cling peach orchard is 18 years.
Some of the major differences between the two studies are return price, yield and fruit thinning cost. The extra-early harvested varieties have a price of $545 per ton, a yield of 17 tons per acre, and a thinning cost of $1,445 per acre. The late harvested varieties have a price of $490 per ton, a yield of 20 tons per acre, and a thinning cost of $1,177 per acre.
Asked if a small farm could save on fruit thinning expenses by doing it themselves, Duncan replied, “I guess it would be possible for a small family operation to do the thinning themselves, but not likely. It can take 20 to 40 minutes to thin a single tree. If there are 151 trees per acre, you can see that it would take one skilled person over a week to thin one acre.”
The authors describe the assumptions used to identify current costs for production material inputs, cash and non-cash overhead. Ranging analysis tables show net profits over a range of prices and yields. Other tables show the monthly cash costs, the costs and returns per acre, hourly equipment costs, the whole farm annual equipment, investment and business overhead costs and the operations with equipment and materials.
Free copies of “Sample Costs to Produce Processing Peaches, Cling and Freestone Extra-early Harvested Varieties, in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valley – 2017” and “Sample Costs to Establish and Produce Processing Peaches, Cling and Freestone Late Harvested Varieties, in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valley – 2017” are available on the UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics website at https://coststudies.ucdavis.edu. Sample cost-of-production studies for many other commodities are also available.
The cost study program is funded by the UC Agricultural Issues Center and UC Cooperative Extension, both part of the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and the UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.
For additional information or an explanation of the calculations used in the studies, contact Jeremy Murdock at the Agricultural Issues Center, at (530) 752-4651, Janine Hasey, UC Cooperative Extension advisor for Sutter/Yuba counties, at (530) 822-7515, or Duncan at (209) 525-6800.
The warmest winter since 1907 in south-central Texas has left its peach crop with inadequate chill hours this year, reported Lynn Brezosky in the San Antonio Express-News.
Without sufficient chill hours over the winter, the buds didn't get the re-boot they need to bloom in proper synchrony, which is important for blossoms to set fruit. The leaves have also been slow to emerge. "The trees look like it's still winter," said Jim Kamas, Texas A&M AgriLife Extenson horticulturalist.
“The lack of chill hours is a big deal,” said Larry Stein, extension horticulturalist with AgriLife Research & Extension Center.
The Texas trouble combined with a cold blast that destroyed half the crop in Georgia and North Carolina this spring mean peaches are likely to be in short supply this year.
The sweet spot, Brezosky wrote, may be California, the No. 1 peach producer in the nation. Roger Duncan, UC Cooperative Extension pomology adviser, could think of no major problems affecting the southern part of the state's fresh market peach crop.
“I think in general it's probably going to be just fine,” he said.
Kathy Anderson and Roger Duncan, UC ANR Cooperative Extension advisors in Stanislaus County, have won the Integrated Pest Management Innovator Award from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation. They are one of four groups that DPR honored.
"The 2015 IPM Innovator Awards demonstrate that Californians put a lot of time and effort into pest prevention techniques that can reduce the use of pesticides," said Tom Babb, DPR environmental program manager. "This year's award winners are steering change in urban and agricultural pest management while still protecting valuable crops and wildlife."
Anderson and Duncan were honored for leading the Tree & Vine IPM Breakfast Group. The Stanislaus County group focuses on improving the management of diseases and insect pests using IPM practices. They hold regular hands-on training sessions from March through June for local growers and pest control professionals. For the last 20 years, they have devised ways to respond quickly to new and emerging pests like anthracnose and bacterial spot diseases of almond, and branch wilt and Bot canker diseases in walnuts. They have also helped to develop methods for early detection of pests such as spotted wing drosophila, which attacks several fruits including cherries, raspberries and blueberries.
The awards were presented at a ceremony on Jan. 28 at the California Environmental Protection Agency headquarters in Sacramento.
Steve Fennimore, UC ANR Cooperative Extension weed specialist based in Salinas, was honored by California Weed Science Society. Fennimore was recognized for managing a large group of authors who wrote chapters for “Principles of Weed Control,” Fourth Edition, an electronic and print CWSS publication.
Fennimore “did a great job managing all of the editors, drafts, publication options and inevitable issues” to put together an excellent textbook on weed management, said past CWSS board president Rick Miller, who presented the award.
Fennimore received the award at the society's annual meeting in Sacramento on Jan. 14.
Frank Zalom, UC ANR Cooperative Extension integrated pest management specialist and professor in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, is a newly selected fellow of the Royal Entomological Society, London.
Zalom served as president of the Entomological Foundation in 2015 as it transitioned to a formal affiliation with the Entomological Society of America. He has been heavily involved in research and leadership in integrated pest management activities at the state, national and international levels. He directed the UC Statewide IPM Program for 16 years (1986-2002).
Zalom, who received his doctorate in entomology from UC Davis, focuses his research on California specialty crops, including tree crops (almonds, olives, prunes, peaches), small fruits (grapes, strawberries, caneberries) and fruiting vegetables (tomatoes), as well as on international IPM programs.
The IPM strategies and tactics Zalom has developed include monitoring procedures, thresholds, pest development and population models, biological controls and use of less-toxic pesticides that have become standard in practice and that are part of the UC IPM Guidelines for these crops.
The Zalom lab has responded to a number of important pest invasions in the last decade, with research projects on glassy-winged sharpshooter, olive fruit fly, a new biotype of greenhouse whitefly, invasive saltcedar, light brown apple moth and spotted wing drosophila. They are currently working on two pest problems recently discovered in California, grapevine red blotch associated virus and brown marmorated stink bug.
The Royal Entomological Society, founded in 1833, plays a national and international role in disseminating information about insects and improving communication among entomologists. – Kathy Keatley Garvey
UC ANR Cooperative Extension specialist Toby O'Geen was the lead author of research published in California Agriculture journal that identified agricultural lands in California suitable for flooding in order to bank groundwater. He has created an app that allows landowners across the state to assess the suitability of their property for groundwater banking.
The Modesto project will determine what impact winter flooding will have on the health of almond trees and almond yield. UC ANR Cooperative Extension advisor Roger Duncan was quoted in the Los Angeles Times about the potential advantages and disadvantages of flooding crops in the winter. He said water could spur more fungal diseases, but could also drown out worms and mites that damage crops.
The Almond Board of California is funding the project, anticipating that certain almond orchards will be good candidates for groundwater recharge.
"Almond orchards have good soil characteristics, and water delivery systems are already in place,” said Bob Curtis, director of agriculture affairs for the almond board. “Winter flooding should actually benefit the trees while replenishing groundwater to benefit us all."
Following are recent articles about the project:
Researchers test a possible drought solution by flooding an almond farm
Geoffrey Mohan, The Los Angeles Times, Jan. 20, 2016
(Reprinted in Daily News 24/7)
Scientists flood almond orchards to restore groundwater in California
Capital Public Radio, Jan. 20, 2016
Stormwater floods Modesto almond orchard in experiment to restore aquifer
San Jose Mercury News, Jan. 19, 2016
(Reprinted in the Contra Costa Times)
Researchers show off groundwater recharge near Modesto
Modesto Bee, Jan. 20, 2016
(Reprinted in the Fresno Bee and Bloomberg Business)
UC Davis scientists flood Modesto orchards in hopes of finding way to restore groundwater
CBS13, Sacramento and Modesto affiliates, Jan. 20, 2016
Researchers test a possible drought solution by flooding an almond farm
KTLA News 5, Jan. 20, 2016
(Rebroadcast on KRQE News 13)
Orchard tries experiment to restore aquifer
Morning Ag Clips, Jan. 20, 2016
Almond orchard key to water banking experiment
AgraNet, Jan. 20, 2016
UC Agriculture and Natural Resources experts are studying the effectiveness of flood irrigation to help recharge underground aquifers that have been depleted due to the drought, reported Ken Carlson in the Modesto Bee.
The pilot research project will involve flood irrigating almond orchards during the winter months, according to Roger Duncan, UC ANR Cooperative Extension advisor in Stanislaus County.
"If it works well, we can expand and potentially look at other locations, other soil types and other cropping systems," Duncan said.
The Modesto trial will take place on one orchard with 10 to 15 acres of fairly sandy soil with groundwater from another area.
According to the article, commercial almond orchards are not usually irrigated in winter because there's enough rainfall to keep the ground moist. Flood irrigation in almonds has of late been regarded as a wasteful practice from the era of cheap and plentiful water; many farmers have turned to micro sprinklers and drip irrigation for water conservation. But orchard flooding could bounce back as a strategic tool as local jurisdictions try to manage their groundwater levels.