ORCHARD UPDATES

19 July 2017

Wayne Overall

The UAL Board announces with deepest regret the recent passing of Wayne Overall, founding Shareholder and Executive Director of United Almonds Limited.

Wayne struggled with pancreatic cancer for over 12 months and was simply unable to keep up what was an extremely valiant fight against this insidious disease.

Wayne leaves behind an enterprise that only a person with his tenacity could have built and his spirit will forever be the foundation of UAL. He worked tirelessly to maximise outcomes for investors especially given the exceptionally difficult horticultural and economic circumstances that were faced at times (including a once in 100 year drought and the Global Financial Crisis).

All investors will be aware of Wayne’s contribution and he will be very much missed by everyone who knew him. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends during this extremely difficult period of adversity.

Investors can be assured that UAL and your Almond Projects continue to be managed effectively by the current Board and the UAL management team.

 

June 2017  

Weather Conditions

Temperature for June 2017 

Approximate temperatures for the month of June experienced at the Orchard were: 

 

  • Average temperature                                  8.5 degrees Celsius
  • Highest temperature                                   18.1 degrees Celsius on the 18th of June
  • Lowest temperature                                   -0.6 degrees Celsius on the 30th of June
  • Minimum average temperature                    2.8 degrees Celsius
  • Maximum average temperature                   15.3 degrees Celsius

 

Rainfall for May 2017 

June was a very dry month whereby only 1.4 mm rainfall was recorded for the month.

2017 Harvest

All deliveries to Almondco were completed on the 10th of June for the 2017 harvest season.

At the date of this report the final grading advices across the orchard are yet to be issued to confirm the final results.

The harvest maintenance plans for 2018 have already commenced and all harvest machinery was cleaned down and put into the work shop for the pre-season maintenance or storage over the winter months.

Horticultural activity

Winter is the period of least physiological activities in almond trees.

The first spray of the season consisting of winter oil and copper was completed on the 29th of June. Control of pests in the orchards by winter oil is generally achieved by death primarily through suffocation. Death may also result from the interaction between oil molecules, the insect’s fatty acids and interference with feeding and excretion.

At present all weeds are under control at the orchard with spot spraying an on-going activity to kill any developing weeds.

Harrowing, discing and X Planing behind areas pruned commenced for orchard floor management.

We have also reviewed all bee sites in preparation for the 2017 pollination season which goes throughout the month of August and is critical to the outcome of the 2018 harvest season.

State of the Orchard 

All leaves have been dropped at the orchard since the leaf drop spray in May.

Dormant spur sampling has indicated that the orchard is quite clean in terms of pest pressure populations at present.

As the temperatures continue to drop the trees enter a period of rest, “dormant period”, that lasts throughout June and July. Dormancy is the sleeping or resting state of a tree or plant. As daylight decreases and temperatures drop, trees react by producing growth inhibitor hormones.

The hormones tell the trees to stop growing and the trees subside into their wintertime rest or dormant state. During this period, almonds trees are maintaining a low level of water use and starch consumption. This “low” flow of starch through the tree is needed as the catabolic breakdown of starch to sugar prevents the sap from freezing.

The cold temperatures that the trees are exposed to during the dormancy period helps with the development of the fruit buds. The trees require a certain amount of moisture and chilling hours to come out of dormancy. Once the chilling hour requirement has been met, bud growth will begin when temperatures begin to warm again. Chill hours are dependent upon the variety, but almonds generally need between 350 and 500 chill hours.

 

 Picture_1_Dormant_Buds_Early_June.jpg Picture_2_Dormant_Buds_Late_June.jpg

        Picture 1 Dormant Buds Early June                       Picture 2 Dormant Buds Late June

 

 Picture_3_Dormant_Trees_in_late_June.jpg

                                              Picture 3 Dormant Trees in late June

Industry News

Near Record Crop Indicates Strong Future For Australian Almond Industry

Increasing orchard plantings, a near record crop, growing domestic and export demand for Australian almonds indicates a strong future for the industry.

http://www.milduraindependent.com/index.php/news/4542-near-record-crop-indicates-strong-future-for-australian-almond-industry

Almond Insights Report 2016/17

“Almond Insights” provides an up to date assessment of the Australian almond industry using information provided by growers, processors, marketers, government and other organisations.

https://growing.australianalmonds.com.au/2016/04/21/australian-almond-insights-statistics/

Global News

Blue Diamond Almonds Crop Progress Report – June 5th – July 4th, 2017

This report covers conditions and observations made between Sunday, June 5 and Tuesday, July 4, 2017. The next scheduled report will be posted on Monday, July 31, 2017. However, in the event of any significant occurrences prior to that date, this site will be updated as soon as possible.

http://www.bdingredients.com/blue-diamond-almonds-crop-progress-report-june-5th-july-4th-2017/

 

May 2017

Weather Conditions

Temperature for May 2017 

Approximate temperatures for the month of May were: 

  • Average temperature                              11.3 degrees Celsius 
  • Highest temperature                               22.5 degrees Celsius on the 5th of May
  • Lowest temperature                                0.0 degrees Celsius on the 31st of May
  • Minimum average temperature                5.5 degrees Celsius
  • Maximum average temperature               18.6 degrees Celsius

Rainfall for May 2017 

There was 30.2 mm of rain at the orchard over 8 days with the highest rainfall being 11.8 mm recorded consecutively on the 18th and 19th of May.  This impacted on the harvest delivery program by reducing the number of deliveries for the month from the pads to the cracking plant as trucks were unable to access the orchard after several of the rain events.

2017 Harvest  

Deliveries of Carmel to the cracking shed at Almondco near Renmark, South Australia which commenced in April continued throughout the month May in which more than 3,000 tonnes of field weight was delivered. At the end of May there was less than 1,000 tonnes remaining on the pads and deliveries are expected to be finished by the middle of June.

Once all deliveries are completed the nuts will be processed and grading advices will be issued to allow final 2017 harvest result to be collated.

During May the task of reviewing harvest machinery and planning maintenance works for the 2018 harvest season continued. The tasks included the cleaning down of harvest machinery and storage of equipment over the winter months. We also placed our first order for spare parts for the 2018 harvest season with delivery of parts expected in July so works can commence.

                          Filter maintenance (photo 1)

                                              Filter maintenance (photo 1)

Horticultural activity  

Insect pest monitoring is on-going at the orchard post the 2017 harvest season.

The foliar program for leaf drop was successfully completed by the 12thof May. Leaf drop helps the trees to go into dormancy during the winter months and conserve energy for the coming season.

We also completed a full orchard herbicide spray following harvest as it had been over three months since the last spray. There are no herbicide sprays during harvest due to food safety procedures and hence the need to complete a herbicide spray immediately following harvest.

In preparation for the 2017 pollination season in August when there will be millions of bees at the orchard, we have commenced the planting of canola to provide an alternative food source for the bees to try and ensure the bees are as healthy and productive as possible for pollination which has a direct correlation to yields. A cover crop of barley was also planted between rows in specific areas of the orchard to help with wind erosion.

The irrigation team has begun to shift their focus from monitoring into the off-season maintenance program. This includes the treatment and flushing of all irrigation valves to ensure they are clean and nothing can take hold and grow in the pipes over the winter period. There is also the inspection and major servicing of all pumping infrastructure plus the pulling down, inspection and cleaning of all filtration systems and related components.

It is also the time of the year to complete thorough maintenance of our fertigation systems to ensure all infrastructure is in the best possible working order and ready to complete another busy season.

                                    Filter maintenance (photo 2)

                                                    Filter maintenance (photo 2)

State of the Orchard 

We also commenced a substantial soil amelioration program in May which is aimed at improving the health of the soils and maximising tree health. This program involves the spreading of lime, dolomite, gypsum and a carbon based organic blend. It will continue into June and possibly July subject to the weather conditions.

In addition, the winter pruning program commenced with mechanical skirting and hedging which is being followed by hand pruning. The exact winter pruning program varies across the orchard and is dictated by various factors including the age of the trees, dead wood present and prior years’ pruning programs.

As the trees head into dormancy after another busy harvest season all staff are rotating responsibilities to ensure everyone can leave in the winter period and come back energised and ready for the new season ahead.

Industry News

Almond industry in South Australia sees cracking growth

Almonds — it's a blossoming market — and with the Australian crop expected to be the largest on record, South Australian producers are investing millions into the industry.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2017-05-19/cracking-growth-for-the-almond-industry/8539076

Global News 

Blue Diamond Almonds Industry Update, May – 2017

Yesterday the Almond Board of California released the April shipment report. Shipments for the month of April were reported at 151.9 million pounds, down approximately 9% compared to the same time last year. Despite the slight decline, this number is the second largest April shipment number for the California almond industry.  Year-to-date shipments of 1.6 billion pounds are up over 21% compared to Aug – April last year.

http://www.bdingredients.com/blue-diamond-almonds-industry-update-may-2017/ 

Almonds most popular nut in new products

According to Innova Market Research’s latest Global New Product Introductions Report, almonds are now the number one nut in new introductions in Europe with a 48% regional share and a new record high of 42% globally.

http://bakeryproduction.co.uk/news/almonds-most-popular-nut-in-new-products/ 


April 2017

Weather Conditions 

Temperature for April 2017 

Approximate temperatures for the month of April experienced at the Orchard were: 

  • Average temperature                                   15.4 degrees Celsius 
  • Highest temperature                                   29.9 degrees Celsius on the 8th of April
  • Lowest temperature                                    0.7 degrees Celsius on the 2nd of April
  • Minimum average temperature                     5.9 degrees Celsius
  • Maximum average temperature                    21.8 degrees Celsius
     

Rainfall for April 2017 

There were 2 material rainfall events from the 21st – 26th of April where we recorded in excess of 65 mm of rain at the orchard which is > 3.5x the rainfall in April 2016 and > 1.1x in April 2015. This did not have a materially adverse impact on the orchard as harvest operations had substantially been completed and other orchard operations were simply delayed for the duration of the rain event and shortly thereafter whilst the orchard dried out.
 

2017 Harvest  

Per our March 2017 update, the harvesting of the Carmel and Price did not commence until April due to the storm event experienced on the 21st – 22nd of March given the wet conditions in the orchard that needed time to dry down so the machinery could operate and also because the moisture content of the nuts was >6% (as noted in previous monthly reports, nuts are able to be delivered >6% moisture however this results in a drying charge from Almondco).

In this regard harvesting of both Carmel and Price commenced on the 1st of April. Harvesting of the Price was completed by the 6th of April and the Carmel by the 18th of April. Post-harvest inspection of the orchard has been conducted by our technical team which helped identify areas where re-shaking (and re-harvesting where viable) was required.  We then undertook re-shaking of certain areas of the orchard which has resulted in additional tonnages and was also undertaken for orchard hygiene reasons to reduce pest pressures in future years and the carry forward of ‘mummies’ on the trees. We have found that re-shaking is most effective after a rain event as the nuts are heavier and therefore more likely to come off the trees.

Deliveries of Non Pareil to the cracking shed at Almondco near Renmark, South Australia which commenced on the 1st of March (compared with 22nd of February in the previous season) were completed by the 12th of April. Price deliveries began on the same day (i.e. 12th of April) and were completed by the 28th of April. At the end of April we estimate there are approximately 3,000 tonnes of Carmel to be delivered to Almondco. Subject to inclement weather or Almondco requesting no deliveries we expect all nuts to be delivered from the pads at Piangil to the cracking shed by late May / early June. Once all the product has been delivered and processed by Almondco the grading advices will be issued and final harvest results will be available.

As most harvest operations had ceased in April our harvest maintenance team have begun the task of reviewing the harvest machinery and planning maintenance works for the 2018 harvest season. It is important to plan for 2018 harvest maintenance season at this time as a lot of the parts need to be ordered and shipped from the United States which takes time.

Horticultural activity  

Insect pest monitoring is continuing at the orchard during the 2017 harvest season. From our monitoring this season we have noted increased populations of insects, particularly the Carpophilus Beetle (likely influenced by the rainfall events in March and April). One of the management strategies being employed at the orchard to deal with insect pressure is implementing ‘Attract and Kill’ technology.

The Foliar program for bud building was successfully implemented as per the scheduled program in April with the application of Nitrogen and Boron required to help bud development to enhance flowering and new vegetative growth for next season. 

Strong weed pressure started after the heavy rain events in March and a weedicide spray across the entire orchard is in progress to knock down and kill all autumn winter weeds.

Post-harvest fertigation was also commenced in April and completed as per our scheduled program. The aim of the post-harvest fertigation program is to improve the health of next seasons buds which has a direct impact on yields.

Irrigation is on-going at the orchard and the water management strategy was executed well in time and is being constantly monitored by the irrigation team to ensure all drip lines and irrigation valves are working at the desired level and targeted water profiles are maintained.

State of the Orchard 

Our observations continue to be that the trees are healthy and we are pleased with the bud development for flowering in August 2017. The winter soil amelioration, hedging, skirting and pruning program plans were also finalised and implementation will commence in early May.

All maintenance work for our non-harvest equipment was completed as planned and machinery as required in the orchard is available.

Industry News

Dairy farmers lobby for ban on soy and almond drinks being called ‘milk’

Every day, more milk drinkers are switching to almond, soy, oat and rice alternatives for a creamy coffee blend, leaving behind traditional cow’s milk. But in a market that offers so many choices, what exactly constitutes milk? The labelling of plant-based milk alternatives is being protested by agricultural advocacy group Dairy Connect, which argues the…

http://edairynews.com/en/dairy-farmers-lobby-for-ban-on-soy-and-almond-drinks-being-called-milk-52351/
 

Global News 

Almond Review – April 2017

Today the Almond Board of California released the March 2017 position report. March shipments were 178 million lbs. vs. 161 million lbs. in 2016 - up 10.6%.

http://www.rpacalmonds.com/marketnews/
 

California Almonds Reach 1.24 Million-acre Milestone

Chalk up another milestone for the California almond industry as bearing acreage is now at least one million acres.

http://www.proag.com/News/California-Almonds-Reach-124-Millionacre-Milestone-2017-04-27/5944

 


March 2017

Weather Conditions  

Temperature for March 2017 

Approximate temperatures at the Orchard were: 

  • Average maximum temperature                   30.5 degrees Celsius 
  • Highest temperature                                   37.1 degrees Celsius on the 1st of March 
  • Lowest temperature                                    3.9 degrees Celsius on the 31st of March 
  • Minimum average temperature                    16.0 degrees Celsius
  • Maximum average temperature                   31.2 degree Celsius

Rainfall for March 2017 

There was a material and unexpected rain event on the 21st - 22nd of March. It was forecast to rain between 1 – 5mm however the orchard experienced rainfall ranging from 43mm on the northern part of the projects to 58 mm on the southern part of the orchard. We also experienced wind gusts ranging from 65 – 70 km/h. Other orchards in the region experienced significantly lower rainfall and wind gusts.

 

 

There were only 3 other days of rainfall which resulted in < 10 additional mm for the month. 

2017 Harvest  

March Harvest Operations
 

 Up until the 21st of March the weather was mostly dry and hot.  The harvesting of the Non Pareil crop, which is approximately 50% of the total crop, was completed in the third week of March (compared to the second week of March last season) and fortunately before the storm event on the 21st – 22nd of March. 

Deliveries of Non Pareil to the cracking shed at Almondco near Renmark, South Australia commenced on the 1st of March (compared with 22nd of February in the previous season) and are expected to be completed by the middle of April. 

Consistent with the prior season, Almondco is accepting 4 trucks each night which are delivered directly into the processing plant. Deliveries are normally only delayed due to rain events that prevent almonds from being loaded onto B-doubles on the almond pad, or if for some reason the cracking plant cannot accept deliveries of almonds on a particular day. The storm event on the 21st – 22nd of March resulted in no deliveries from the orchard for 3 days as access to the pads at the orchard (where the nuts are stored prior to delivery) was not possible by the B-double trucks until Friday the 24th of March. 

The harvesting of the Price and Carmel varieties did not commence in March due to the storm event  as the orchard needed to dry out so the machinery could operate and also because the moisture content of the nuts was >6%. As noted in previous monthly reports, nuts are able to be delivered with >6% moisture however this results in a drying charge from Almondco. 

As with the previous two season’s harvest there have been incidences of ‘stick-tights’, making it difficult to remove all almonds from the trees in some areas so some additional work was required to maximise the harvest result. We understand incidences of ‘stick-tights’ have occurred widely across the industry again this season. 

21st – 22nd March Storm - Harvest Activities and Recovery Operations 

As a result of the storm there was crop loss and damage across the orchard. As it was forecast to rain between 1 – 5mm, rainfall preparations were undertaken to prevent crop loss and damage to the extent possible. These activities included: 

  • Approximately 2,500 tonnes of Non Pareil almonds on stockpiles and all stock piles were covered with tarps;
  • On the Sunday before the storm, harvesting and sweeping activities were timed so there were no windrows left on the ground. 

After the storm passed, our technical team surveyed the orchard for crop damage and loss. Whilst difficult to quantify on an orchard of this size and until all nuts have been processed and graded, it is estimated that 300 – 500 tonnes of almonds were lost.  There will also be downgrades in quality for nuts recovered. These losses were due to the heavy rainfall on slopes and strong winds that dropped many almonds from the trees, eroded soil and washed nuts down rows into low areas or headlands. Nuts were unrecoverable in many instances as they were either buried or washed into terrain where harvest machinery was unable to operate and recover the nuts. The tarps on the stockpiles were also torn to shreds by the high winds.

We have been able to claim the cost of the tarps through insurance.  We do not expect a downgrading in quality of the Non Pareil nuts on the pads as we were able to dry down the stockpiles and recommence delivery of the Non Pareil 3 days after the storm.


Recovery operations were also undertaken to try and recover as many nuts in the field as possible which included:

 

  • Sweeping and blowing almonds off headlands and back into rows wherever possible;
  • Immediate water pumping from all low areas out where possible.
  • Opening stockpiles for drying of nuts.

 

We have cleaned up and recovered nuts from all headlands but expect this would be no more than 3 – 5% of the estimated losses. Fortunately there were no Non Pareil almonds on the ground (which accounts for 50% of the total crop) or downgrading and losses would have been much higher.

 

Stockpiles at Dam 2 pads after the storm with ripped tarps


 

Strong winds blew nuts off trees and heavy rainfall washed them down rows

Horticultural activity  
 

Insect pest monitoring is continuing throughout the orchard during the harvest season. With a softer shell the Non Pareil variety is more susceptible to insect pressure than the Price and Carmel varieties and therefore our strategy is to deliver Non Pareil to be processed at the plant as soon as possible for hulling and cracking. Once the nuts are hulled and cracked they are fumigated at Almondco which prevents any further insect damage (to the extent it is present).

The post-harvest fertigation program was successfully implemented as per the scheduled program in March with the application of nutrients required to help maintain soil and plant health at desired levels.

Irrigation is on-going at the orchard and the water management strategy was executed well in time for shaking days and is being constantly monitored at this time of year. The irrigation team was busy after the storm event as several areas across the orchard required pumping to remove the water and give the ground a chance to dry as quickly as possible to allow harvesting to recommence.

 

State of the Orchard  

Our observations are that the trees are healthy and we are pleased with the bud development for flowering in August 2017.

All maintenance work for our non-harvest equipment was completed as planned and machinery as required in the orchard is available.
 

Industry News

Superfood craze, health-conscious consumers spur on Aussie almond boom

Australia's almond growers are still riding a wave of success, and the industry says it has health-conscious consumers and the superfood craze to thank.

The almond harvest is well underway in South Australia's Riverland, with a total national tonnage of close to 90,000 tonnes predicted for this year.

With domestic and international demand soaring, the Almond Board of Australia (ABA) said the annual yield had increased by 60 per cent in just six years.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-31/almond-boom-continues-thanks-to-rising-interest-in-health-foods/8400460

 

World goes nuts for Australian agriculture as records tumble

The world is going nuts for Australian farm produce as overseas markets clamour for locally grown nuts such as almonds and macadamias as well as agricultural stalwarts such as beef, lamb, wool and cotton.

http://www.smh.com.au/national/world-goes-nuts-for-australian-agriculture-as-records-tumble-20170306-guruhc.html
 

Global News

Almond Review - March 2017

Today the Almond Board of California released the February 2017 position report February shipments were 152 million lbs. vs. 155 million lbs. in 2016 - down 1.8%.

http://www.rpacalmonds.com/marketnews/201703

 

Buyers Drive Sustainability; Growers Respond with Data

As a field representative for almond processor Hughson Nut, Inc., Donny Hicks reminds his growers that almond buyers often want detailed information about how almonds are grown and what almond growers are doing to protect the environment.

http://www.almonds.com/consumers/newsletters/outlook/buyers-drive-sustainability-growers-respond-data


February 2017

Weather Conditions 

Temperature for February 2017   

 Approximate temperatures for the month of February experienced at the Orchard were:  

  • Average maximum temperature                        30.7 degrees Celsius  
  • Highest temperature                                        44.6 degrees Celsius on the 10th Feb 
  • Lowest temperature                                         4.4 degrees Celsius on the 20th Feb
  • Average minimum temperature                         13.9 degrees Celsius 
  • Average temperature                                        22.2 degrees Celsius 

The cooler season continued in February 2017 where it was approximately 2 degrees Celsius cooler for both the average maximum temperature and average minimum temperature than compared with February 2016.

Rainfall for February 2017

There were several rain events throughout February where we recorded more than 17 mm of rain for the month including the 6th of February where more than 16 mm of rain was recorded. This resulted in a higher risk of disease due to humid conditions experienced at the orchard increasing our technical team’s monitoring activities for the month of February.

Harvest 2017

In the third week of February and before the start of the 2017 harvest the management team conducted, as they do each year, an induction program which was attended by approximately 80 permanent office staff and contractors.

When the almonds are ripe to be shaken off the trees, the hulls split and reveal the shells of the almonds inside. After visual observations in the field for hull split, the first tree shaking trials for the Nonpareil almonds started on the 17th of February. These trials helped to decide the first full tree shaking start date of the 24th of February (compared with the 21st of February in 2016). Harvesting or picking up the almonds off the orchard floor did not commence in February which was expected due to the cooler conditions experienced at the orchard this season. Despite the rain event on the 6th February this did not result in a delay to the 2017 harvest season.
 

Horticultural activity

Despite the build up to and the start of some harvesting activities in February the fertigation program continued with the application of some trace elements required to help maintain soil and plant health in the lead up to harvest and during harvest.  

Irrigation is on-going and the water management strategy was executed well in time for the shaking days and is being constantly monitored.

Our observations are that the trees have good bud development at this early stage for flowering in August 2017 and are looking healthy. All maintenance work for our both our harvest and non-harvest equipment was completed as planned and machinery as required for both harvest and non-harvest activities at the orchard was available as needed.

 
Australian Industry News

Accolades for the most valuable horticultural export

Almondco Australia Ltd has won the Regional Exporter award “for outstanding international success by a business whose head office is based in a non-metropolitan location” at the 54th Australian Export Awards.

http://www.agriculture.gov.au/market-access-trade/agricultural-trade-matters/february-2017
 

Global News 
Blue Diamond Almonds Bloom Report – February 27, 2017

Cooler and clear weather over the weekend slowed bloom progression as flowers continue to shed petals. Calm winds combined with cooler temperatures delayed petal shedding throughout the state. Observers are reporting that all varieties, except for the late blooming Padre, have passed peak bloom and are increasingly moving toward the petal fall and jacket stages. Just under one third of Nonpareil flowers remain intact while one quarter of the flowers have no petals remaining.

http://www.bdingredients.com/blue-diamond-almonds-bloom-report-february-27-2017/
 

Almonds February 23, 2017

While the almond market has been in a downwards spiral since the start of 2017, we’ve witnessed a first breach from this trend last week. The heavy rainfalls in California made many sellers at origin to withdraw from the market. This event is reflected by increased selling prices, both at source as deeper into the distribution channel.

http://www.globaltrading.nl/news-slug/almonds-february-23-2017/

 

 

January 2017

Weather Conditions

Temperature for January 2017

Approximate temperatures for the month of January experienced at the Orchard were as follows:

  • Average temperature -                                  24.9 degree Celsius
  • Average maximum temperature -                   34.3 degree Celsius
  • Highest temperature -                                   42.3 degree Celsius on the 17th Jan.
  • Lowest temperature -                                    9.8 degree Celsius on the 15h of Jan.
  • Minimum average temperature-                      15 degree Celsius
Rainfall for January 2017

Rainfall for the month of December (5.6 mm) was lower than the long term December average. 

                        2017-02-10_15_27_43-Rmonpro_-_January_2017_Orchard_Report.docx_Compatibility_Mode_-_Word.png

Horticultural Activity

Our focus continues to be on monitoring for nut development, insecticide control, and managing weeds.

Our foliar sprays were completed as per our scheduled foliar program. These sprays were specifically targeted to control any potential fungal and bacterial diseases.  Generally, disease pressure has been assessed as low, with extra sprays implemented to tackle fungus arising from the wetter than normal season.  Foliar sprays were designed to minimise prune rust and hull rot disease along with insecticide to control the Carob moth population and any Monolinia fungicide before harvesting.

                       2.jpg

                                       An example of the crop load in January 2017

The fertigation program was successfully implemented as per the scheduled program for January with the application of some trace elements required for soil health and uptake by the plants before harvesting.  

Irrigation management has been very good in January and is constantly being monitored by the irrigation team 7 days per week to ensure all the valves and drip lines are in continuous operation and targeted water profiles are maintained.   Flushing and cleaning injections of the irrigation system were also completed in January.

The orchard continues to be actively monitored for weeds and any weed pressures are being controlled by herbicides spot spraying in the problematic areas to avoid any contamination of weeds during harvesting.

                       3.jpg

                                                     The start of hull split.

Insect pressures were also actively monitored at the orchard in January and will continue to be up until and throughout the harvest until all almonds are delivered to the cracking plant. Carpophilus beetles and carob moths are monitored weekly to check the population pressures. The populations of Carpophilus beetles and Carob moths have increased during January because their life cycle is now in the adult stage.  Snail baiting will continue and there has been very low detection of mites in outer rows.

State of the orchard

Tree vigour is very good to excellent throughout the Orchard.  Trees are estimated to be ten to fifteen days late in growth, resulting in a later targeted harvest start date of 28 February.  Kernel maturation is in progress, and a larger kernel size compared to prior years is likely. Leaf colour is dark green, and the trees have excellent spur growth.  Harvest clean up continues to be a priority prior to the harvest.

As expected, bird population is at an increasing level as the fruit grows bigger in size.   Bird control includes increasing use of scare guns and shooters to control orchard populations.

Preparation of harvest machinery continues, with planned maintenance now complete, and fitting of new harvest attachments in progress.

                             4.jpg

The new Weiss McNair Sweeper attachments

Industry News 

Experimental Almond Orchard to Be Grown In Riverland by Centre of Excellence for the Australian Almond Industry

An experimental almond orchard will be grown in the Riverland to support national research of Australia’s fastest growing horticulture industry.  The State Government purchased land for the orchard, on the outskirts of Loxton, to be used by the Centre of Excellence for the Australian Almond Industry.

http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/national/experimental-almond-orchard-to-be-grown-in-riverland-by-centre-of-excellence-for-the-australian-almond-industry/news-story/1652868112ce5c56787317271fd17beb

FTAS Open Asian Doors

Free-trade agreements made with China, Japan and South Korea in 2014 and 2015 are benefiting Australian fresh fruit and vegetable producers, according to new research by IBISWorld.

‘‘Although many tariffs will remain for some years yet, Australian farmers have been busy forging supply links with wholesalers and retailers across China, Japan and South Korea,’’ IBISWorld senior industry analyst Sam Johnson said.

http://www.countrynews.com.au/2017/01/17/4071/ftas-open-asian-doors

 

Global News

The Billion-Dollar California Almond Industry's Blossoming Future

Hint: This Future Involves the Auto Industry

Almonds are the ultimate snack. Nutritious and satisfying, there’s a reason why these beloved nuts are pricey. According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, California’s almond crops were valued at $5.33 billion in 2015. The year after that, the United States Department of Agriculture gave its approval for the Almond Board of California to raise its handler assessments from three cents to four cents per pound over the next three years in order to facilitate the goal of producing 2.6 billion pounds of nuts by 2020. With that in mind, the board hopes to increase global demand before this anticipated 25 percent increase in production.

https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2017/02/the-billion-dollar-california-almond-industrys-blo.html

Blue Diamond Almonds Market Update

The industry shipment number issued by the Almond Board of California reports December shipments at 156.2 million pounds, an increase of 15% over last December.  Year to date shipments stand at 950 million pounds, an increase of 34% compared to last year.  Shipments were strong in all regions, as good supply and affordable prices ignited robust demand. 

http://bluediamondgrowers.com/grower-news/blue-diamond-almonds-market-update-3/

December 2016

Weather Conditions  


Temperature for December 2016 
  

  • Average temperature –                  22.5 degree Celsius
  • Average maximum temperature    30.4 degree Celsius
  • Highest temperature –                  38.4 degree Celsius on the 13th of December
  • Lowest temperature                     4.7 degree Celsius  on the 18th of December
  • Minimum average temperature     13.6 degree Celsius
     

Rainfall for December 2016

Rainfall for the month of December (5.6 mm) was lower than the long term December average. 



 

Horticultural Activity  
 

Our focus continues to be on monitoring for nut development, insecticide control, and managing weeds during a relative cooler and wetter season for the Orchard.

One foliar spray was completed as per our scheduled foliar program. These sprays were specifically targeted to control any potential fungal and bacterial diseases, including Blossom Blight and Anthracnose. 

The fertigation program for December was also fully implemented with the application of Nitrogen and Potassium nutrients for the nut development. December is traditionally the final fertigation application prior to harvest, making up less than 5% of the annual program.

Irrigation is on-going and, as the temperatures are getting warmer, critical to ensuring the trees do not become stressed. Specific December tasks included a full flush of the dripline system and removal of any buried dripline.  Irrigation is constantly being monitored by the irrigation team seven days per week to ensure all the valves and drip lines are in continuous operation and targeted water profiles are maintained.  Water application was intensified over the Christmas period, in preparation for the forecasted hot weather conditions.

The orchard continues to be actively monitored for weeds and any weed pressures are being controlled by herbicide spot spraying in potential hot spot areas. The main weed pressure continues to be Flax leaf Fleabane (Conyza bonariensis) which is in its active growth stage and to date is being successfully controlled with our weedicide program.


The impact of the rising Murray River on the Dam 2 river pump platoons

Insect pressures are being actively monitored, and will continue to be up to and throughout harvest period until the nuts are delivered to the cracking plant.  Bryobia mites control measures were taken in December.  Carpophilus beetles and carob moths are monitored weekly to check the population pressures. Traps for the Carpophilus beetle and Carob moths have been installed at various sites around the orchard as part of our on-going insect monitoring program. 

Leaf samples have been sent to the laboratory for leaf and sap analysis to get the results on nutrient levels in the trees.  The findings will be part of the base for developing next year’s foliar & fertigation program.

State of the orchard


Plant vigour is in good condition, with good leaf colour, excellent spur growth, and leaf sampling confirming that despite the wet conditions, leaf nutrient is healthy and in the optimal range.

The fruit is 10-15 days later in growth this year due to the wetter and cooler conditions, with the edible kernel growing and reaching its full size soon. Nut development is still at the growing stage, with the strong growth in certain areas of the orchard resulting in tying branches to the trunk to stop them from breaking.

Weed management continued in December, to prepare the Orchard for the coming harvest season which is scheduled to start in mid to late February.  Fleabane is a potentially an ongoing problem in the warmer months but we have been trialling chemical mixes that appear to have better control.


 A shaker with a new head  - prepared by the Rmonpro Maintenance team

 

The maintenance team has focused on preparing and testing all harvest machinery for the 2017 Harvest.  This is a critical task to ensure all is ready for the extreme conditions that the machinery will operate under during harvest. 

The Orchard bird populations remain at expected levels, and are being controlled with scare guns. We have been trialling a laser bird scarer in the orchard this season with positive results early in the season.


Industry News
   
 

Australia set for record breaking almond crop in 2017

The 2017 Australian almond crop will be the largest on record. The nation’s production is expected to reach 85,000 tonnes next year, and with thousands of new trees being planted the industry's peak body expects the record will not stand for long.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-12-09/almond-boom-bonanza/8106566

 

Macadamias, almonds embrace record harvests

Maturing new plantations and overseas hunger for Aussie nuts are factors that have helped two Australian tree nut crops stare down record harvests.
http://www.farmonline.com.au/story/4353333/macadamias-almonds-embrace-record-harvests/
 

Global News   
 

Can Almonds Become a Zero Waste Crop?

The Almond Board of California (ABC) has announced it is currently looking for ways to optimize almond co-products such as almond hulls, shells and other woody materials in order to reduce food waste.

http://www.foodingredientsfirst.com/news/Can-Almonds-Become-a-Zero-Waste-Crop?type=article
 

California almond industry looks to add another 500m pounds of nuts by 2020

Almond Board President Richard Waycott surprised some with his announced 500 million pound growth by 2020. After his presentation some were vocally curious as to where the water and bees will come from to sustain this kind of growth as state and federal water managers continue to restrict water to farms and the availability of honeybees nationwide is already stressed.

http://www.westernfarmpress.com/tree-nuts/california-almond-industry-looks-add-another-500m-pounds-nuts-2020



November 2016

Weather Conditions  

Temperature for November 2016   

  • Average temperature                    18.6 degree Celsius
  • Average maximum temperature    27.4 degree Celsius
  • Highest temperature                    38.8 degree Celsius on the 21st of November
  • Lowest temperature                     2.6 degree Celsius  on the 1 st of November
  • Minimum average temperature      9.5 degree Celsius

Rainfall for November 2016
Rainfall for the month of November (27 mm) was lower than the long term November average. 

Horticultural activity  

Our focus has been on monitoring for nut development, insecticide control, and managing weeds during a relative cooler and wetter season for the Orchard.

      An example of crop load at the orchard

 

Two foliar sprays were completed as per our scheduled foliar program. These sprays were specifically targeted to control any potential fungal diseases.

The fertigation program was also successfully implemented. Irrigation is on-going and, as the temperatures are getting warmer, critical to ensuring the trees do not become stressed. The orchard currently has a very good moisture profile with very good root activity.

Irrigation is constantly being monitored by the irrigation team seven days per week to ensure all the valves and drip lines are in continuous operation and targeted water profiles are maintained.  Irrigation water is under budget, due to the wet and mild conditions year to date.

The orchard continues to be actively monitored for weeds and any weed pressures are being controlled by herbicide spot spraying in potential hot spot areas. The main weed pressure this month was from Flax leaf Fleabane (Conyza bonariensis) which is in its active growth stage and to date is being successfully controlled with our weedicide program.

Insect pressures are being actively monitored, and will continue to be up to and throughout the harvest period until the nuts are delivered to the cracking plant.  Bryobia mites were found in some areas and control measures were taken immediately.  Carpophilus beetles and carob moths are monitored weekly to check the population pressures. Traps for the Carpophilus beetle and Carob moths have been installed at various sites around the orchard as part of our on-going insect monitoring program.

Minor tree repairs and broken branches for strong wind gusts were also attended to.

State of the orchard  

Plant vigour is in good condition, with good leaf colour, excellent spur growth, and leaf sampling confirming that despite the wet conditions, leaf nutrient is healthy and in the optimal range.

The fruit is 10-15 days later in growth this year due to the wetter and cooler conditions, with the edible kernel growing and reaching its full size soon. Nut development is still at the growing stage, with the strong growth in certain areas of the orchard resulting in tying branches to the trunk to stop them from breaking.

             Nut development - 2007 Project

 

Weed management continues to be a top priority for the Orchard team given the looming harvest season which is scheduled to start in the middle to late February.  Fleabane will be spot sprayed, and weedicides applied to target areas as required.

We are currently experiencing expected levels of bird populations at the orchard, including the protected Regent parrot which is more prevalent than in previous seasons and being controlled with scare guns.

The maintenance team continued their focus on our pre-season harvest machinery maintenance for the 2017 harvest season.  Maintenance for our non-harvest equipment was completed as planned and the equipment is available for use as and when needed.  
 

Industry News

Australian Almond Conference: Nut crop right on target

Australian almond producers have not overestimated local and global demand for their nuts.
Despite ongoing commentary to the contrary, speakers at the Australian Almond Conference recently debunked the idea.
Leading international US fresh produce analyst Vernon Crowder told The Weekly Times Australia was enjoying stable prices based on record US production as the Californian drought began to break…

http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/agribusiness/horticulture/australian-almond-conference-ccrop-right-on-target/news-story/52b594c02364ab898f92e550d4632982

Almond Board of Australia Predicts Record 2017 Crop

The Australian almond industry will commence harvesting a record crop in February, should the early estimate for the 2017 production be realised. At the recent meeting of the Almond Board of Australia it was reported that the forthcoming crop would be 85,000 tonnes. This is 3,000 tonnes more than the 2015 crop which is largest the industry has produced.

http://www.freshplaza.com/article/167882/Almond-Board-of-Australia-Predicts-Record-2017-Crop?fromNewsdog=1
 

Global News 

Prices Not Expected To Fall As Californian Almond Production Returns To Strength

The world's largest almond-producing region is coming back in to full production after years of drought.
Rabobank Senior Vice President and Agricultural Economist Vernon Crowder said California's almond crop was increasing after reduced water availability led to lower production.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-09/usa-almond-production-back-to-strength/8008560

Blue Diamond Almonds Market Update

The Almond Board of California’s October position report issued on Tuesday, November 8, shows record shipments for October of 235.5 million pounds.  This is an increase of 45% compared to last year, and surpasses the previous all-time high shipments in October 2013 of 228.6 million pounds.  Year to date shipments reached 607.1 million pounds for Aug – Oct compared to 431.7 million pounds last year, an increase of 40%.  Global markets have responded to affordable prices from an increase in demand since last January.  In shell shipments of  57.7 million pounds are up 27 million pounds, 90% over last year.  India and China have led the way filling the pipeline for Diwali and Chinese New Year.  Early shipments of Nonpareil in shell and kernel have been a primary driver of the record early shipments.

http://www.bdingredients.com/4576-2/
 

 

15 November 2016

Almond Board of Australia Media Release - Almond Crop Mainly Intact - Click here to download the full release.

 

October 2016

Weather Conditions
 

Approximate temperatures experienced at the Orchard were:   

  • Average maximum temperature             22.4 degrees Celsius  
  • Highest temperature                             29.1 degrees Celsius on the 7th and 25th Oct.
  • Lowest temperature                              0 degrees Celsius on the 19th of October
  • Average minimum temperature              6.0 degrees Celsius 
  • Average temperature                            14.4 degrees Celsius 

 

This season has been cooler than average and when compared to 2015 the average temperature for this month was 5.8 degrees lower (20.2 degrees Celsius for October 2015 compared with 14.4 degrees Celsius for October 2016).

There were also several rain events throughout October where we recorded more than 17 mm of rain for the month which impacted some of the horticulture operations. There were minor delays to the foliar and herbicide programs however by month end they were both completed.

Horticultural Activity

Three foliar sprays were programmed for October and completed as a cover and growth booster to enhance fruit and foliage growth. Considering the wet weather conditions experienced in September, extra precautions have been used to protect the trees from disease infections including recommended fungicides. Fertigation applications commenced as per the planned schedule and we were pleased with their timing and application. October is one of the biggest months for the fertigation program and the team worked almost every day of the month to get the October program out as planned.

Due to the wet conditions in September the seasonal weed growth this year has been at higher than average levels.  Extra efforts to control the weeds have included herbicide applications and slashing long grasses and weeds in the orchard rows.

Irrigation is on-going at the orchard. Due to the continuing growth of nuts and their higher water requirement the water use has increased.    

Our monitoring of the Carpophilus beetle, Carob moth and other insects is on-going with more traps being distributed throughout the orchard in October. Carob moth numbers increased during October which is to be expected due to the breeding stage of their life cycle. We continue to monitor and track insect pressure as it is a critical strategy for us to understand any trends and areas of concern which will allow us to react appropriately and in a timely fashion.

State of the Orchard

The fruit and foliage growth is in progress at the orchard and the nuts are at the pit hardening stage.


                 FIGURE 1: Fruit growth in progress                          

Farm machinery maintenance continued throughout the month with checking and regular maintenance of sprayers and tractors to ensure they were operational to complete the foliar spray programs. Our pre-season harvest maintenance also continued and is on-track to be completed as planned and well in advance of the anticipated harvest start date around the middle to late February 2017.

Bird control also began in October with signage placed at all orchard entrances. The scare guns and shooting program will continue until all almonds have been harvested and transported off the property.

Industry News

Plant-based alternative milk consumption growing in Australia as dairy industry holds firm

Dairy milk has been flying off the supermarket shelves as consumers continue to sympathise with Australia's dairy farmers, following the Murray Goulburn crisis. But so-called "alternative milks" are rising in popularity, and new research shows consumers are increasingly lapping them up.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-10-22/australians-slowly-turning-to-alternative-milks/7949890
 

Honey production to fall as beekeepers embrace pollination

For all the buzz around backyard beekeeping, there's a shift underway at the other end of the industry. The big commercial operators are looking to move from mass honey production to pollination.

In part this comes down to the expansion of horticultural industries that rely on bees. Technical specialist with the NSW Department of Primary Industries, Doug Somerville, said demand from almond and blueberry farmers was behind the change.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-10-24/horticulture-success-creates-pollination-boom/7960188

Global News

Blue Diamond Almonds Industry Update

The California almond industry shipped a record 201.6 million lbs in September, building momentum on the strong shipment performance in August. After two months, YTD shipments are ahead of last year by 102.4 million lbs and 38%. Commitments grew even faster, with a record 359 million lbs of new business booked in September. Current commitments are 639.6 million lbs, 199.3 million lbs and 45% more than at the end of last September.

http://bluediamondgrowers.com/grower-news/blue-diamond-almonds-industry-update/
 

Technavio Says Rising Levels of Lactose Intolerance Will Drive the Almond Milk Market Through 2020

Technavio analysts forecast the global almond milk market to grow at a CAGR of more than 15% during the forecast period, according to their latest report.

http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20161031006286/en/Technavio-Rising-Levels-Lactose-Intolerance-Drive-Almond

 


September 2016

Weather Conditions

Temperature for September 2016   

Approximate temperatures for the month of September experienced at the Orchard were:  

  • Average maximum temperature                    17.7 degrees Celsius  
  • Highest temperature                                    24.2 degrees Celsius on the 8th
                                                                       of September
  • Lowest temperature                                     0.6 degrees Celsius on the 23rd 
                                                                       of September
  • Average minimum temperature                     6.4 degrees Celsius 
  • Average temperature                                   11.9 degrees Celsius 

There were several rain events throughout September where we recorded more than 90 mm of rain for the month which is above average (compared to 19.5mm for September 2015). The rain events impacted some of the horticulture operations which resulted in delays of foliar and fertigation applications as well weed control programs. Victoria as a whole had its second wettest September on record. Maximum temperatures were generally below average, while minimum temperatures were warmer than average. Victorian rainfall was 94% above average (the highest since 1916). 

Horticultural activity 


With the pollination program being completed in early September this resulted in more than 8,000 bee hives being removed from the orchard at the beginning of September. Our initial observations were that weather conditions were reasonably favourable for bee activity during the 2016 pollination season which should help contribute to a successful 2016 pollination.

The three scheduled foliar sprays for September were successfully completed with only a minor delay in the last spray occurring at the end of the month due to heavy rain and strong
winds. The fertigation program was completed as per the schedule with September being one of the busiest months for the fertigation team.

There was a high level in the growth of seasonal weeds due to the continuous wet weather experienced at the orchard. This added importance to our weedicide program which continued to be implemented to control weed growth at the orchard.

Irrigation is on-going at the orchard. Due to the rain events and relatively lower temperatures the irrigation water usages remained relatively low during the month.

Our monitoring of the carpophilus beetle, carob moth and other insects is on-going, with more traps being distributed throughout the orchard. We will continue to monitor and track insect pressure as it is a critical strategy for us to understand any trends and areas of concern to allow us to react appropriately.

State of the orchard 

There were strong winds at times in September which resulted in some unfertile nuts being blown onto the orchard floor. Nut drop at this time of year is a natural incidence and something we
observe 
each year.

The fruit development also continued progressing. Of the three varieties on the orchard, Nonpareil has experienced the most rapid fruit growth to date followed by Price and then Carmel.

 


Trees in early pit
hardening stage 

 

 

 


Nonpareil fruit growth


 

Farm machinery maintenance continued throughout the month with checking and regular maintenance of sprayers and tractors to ensure they were operational to complete the foliar spray programs during the month. 

 

INDUSTRY NEWS

Aussie nut industry frustrated by HIA's Asia-only export program

Australian nut industry leaders want a wider export market focus from the nation's horticultural industry body that reflects the value of their exports outside Asia.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-09-05/nut-hia-export-frustration/7813390

 

SA irrigators plead for power bill relief to stay competitive

Riverland growers could become uncompetitive against interstate and overseas food producers, if a solution to South Australia's soaring power prices is not offered soon. South Australia's electricity prices are the highest in the country and roughly double those of Victoria.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-09-07/irrigators-fear-financial-pain-if-power-prices-not-addressed/7823768

 

The Raw Truth About Almonds

Soaking your almonds overnight helps release phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors that every seed contains in order to stop the germination process until conditions are perfect. Soaking essentially tells the seed that it’s time to start growing. So it unlocks (I like to say it ‘loses it’s inhibitions!’) and begins the sprouting process. This makes more of the nutrients available (the inhibitors can bind minerals such as zinc, calcium and magnesium making them difficult to absorb- no good being a super high source of calcium if you can’t use it is there!)

http://www.rawambition.com.au/raw/content/raw-truth-about-almonds

 

GLOBAL NEWS

Blue Diamond Almonds Harvest Report

Harvest operations in the Sacramento Valley’s orchards are winding down as growers work to bring in the last of the pollenizer varieties. This year’s harvest has progressed at a very rapid pace, allowing growers to move quickly through their orchards. Observers are reporting that many growers have completed the harvest and that with few exceptions, all that remains to be harvested are the last few plantings of late maturing Monterey and Fritz.

http://www.bdingredients.com/blue-diamond-almonds-harvest-report-for-september-3rd-to-october-2nd-2016/

 

ABC Global Update

France will request a cessation of negotiations for the U.S.-European Union (EU) Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) when EU trade ministers meet to discuss the status of the talks in Bratislava, Slovakia in late September 2016, according to media sources.

http://www.almonds.com/sites/default/files/content/newsletters/attachments/2016.09
globalupdate.pdf

 

Global Almond Oil Market to Witness Rapid Growth on Account of Rising Demand from Cosmetic Industry

QYReseachReports.com has announced the inclusion of a new market research report to its comprehensive collection of research studies. The 108-page research report, titled “Global Almond Oil Market Professional Survey Report 2016,” provides a thorough analysis of the market, focusing on the key dynamics estimated to influence the growth of the overall market throughout the forecast period. The product segmentation, key geographical segments, and competitive landscape of the global almond oil market have also been mentioned in the research study.

https://globenewswire.com/news-release/2016/09/14/871801/0/en/Global-Almond-Oil-Market-to-Witness-Rapid-Growth-on-Account-of-Rising-Demand-from-Cosmetic-Industry.html

 

 August 2016

Weather Conditions

Temperatures

Approximate temperatures at the Orchard were:   

  • Average maximum temperature              14.5 degrees Celsius  
  • Highest temperature                              23.8 degrees Celsius on the 18th of August
  • Lowest temperature                               -1.4 degrees Celsius on the 26th of August 
  • Average minimum temperature               4.1 degrees Celsius 
  • Average temperature                              9.1 degrees Celsius 

 There were several rain events throughout August with more than 40 mm of rain recorded for the month. The rain events impacted some of the horticulture operations which resulted in minor delays to the foliar program and also a slow-down in bee activity for the pollination season.

 Horticultural Activity

  Flower bud swell which started in the middle of July turned into the pink bud and cotton bud stage during the last week of July.  The first flowers emerged in the first week of August with 5-10% flowering occurring during the second week, followed by peak flowering from the 18th till 20th. The three varieties at the orchard, namely Non-Pareil, Carmel and Price, generally started flowering at the same time this year which led to consistent flowering across the orchard.

As the flowers started to emerge, the bee hives started arriving (from the 5th of August) and all the bee hives were at the orchard by the 12th of August. More than 8,000 bee hives were in action to help complete the pollination program. All the preparation for pollination program such as ground preparation, bee bath stations and hives placement sites was finished well in advance of the bee hive arrival. This year, an additional food source was planted at the orchard to encourage effective pollination which proved popular with the bee keepers.


                                Figure 1 - Bees in action

Foliar programs with flowering at 5-25% and 50-75% began as per the schedule and were performed at night to avoid interrupting the millions of bees during their daily pollination activities. The fertigation program was also implemented successfully and as planned.

The weedicide program continued to help control the seasonal weeds by using recommended herbicides to help maintain orchard hygiene. 

Irrigation is on-going at the orchard. Due to a few rain events and winter temperatures the irrigation water usages remained low during the month with the irrigation maintenance program also continuing.

State of the Orchard

Our technical team inspected and monitored the flowering progress.


                    Figure 2 - Trees in Peak Flowering

 

Bee hive inspections were conducted by our management team, bee activity was pleasing and we are confident of a successful pollination season.

Farm machinery maintenance continued, with the main focus on checking sprayers and tractors to ensure they were able to complete the foliar spray program as and when required.

Industry News
 

ALMONDS ARE PACKED WITH VITAMINS, MINERALS, PROTEIN, AND FIBRE, AND ARE ASSOCIATED WITH A NUMBER OF HEALTH BENEFITS.

Just a handful of almonds, approximately 1 ounce, contains one-eighth of our daily protein needs.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/269468.php

 

BUSY BEES: 70,000 NEW HIVES NEEDED FOR MASSIVE ALMOND EXPANSION

Australia's almond industry will need to find an additional 70,000 bee hives over the next five years if it is to achieve a massive expansion.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-19/bees-and-almonds/7765408

 

ALMOND MARKET GOES NUTS

The Australian almond industry set a new record in June 2016, breaking through the $100 million barrier for monthly export sales for the first time.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that overseas shipments of almonds had a value of $118 million in June, beating the previous record of $90 million shipped in May 2016.

http://www.foodprocessing.com.au/content/business-solutions/news/almond-market-goes-nuts-123311617

 

MICHELLE WINS SA SCIENCE EXCELLENCE AWARD FOR RESEARCH COLLABORATION

Congratulations to Dr Michelle Wirthensohn who was awarded the inaugural 2016 SA Science Excellence Award for Research Collaboration at a special awards lunch on Friday 12 August.

Michelle is Program Leader of the Australian Almond Breeding Program which is funded through Horticulture Innovation Australia. Based at the Waite, this program has been collaborating with the Almond Board of Australia and it’s growers since 1997.

http://www.thewaite.org/michelle-wins-for-excellence-in-research-collaboration/

Global News
 

CALIFORNIA: ALMOND HARVEST IN FULL SWING, WALNUTS, PISTACHIOS SHOULD BEGIN SOON

Last week had a warm summer-like start, with noticeable cooling taking place over the weekend. Monday brought showers in the Sierras with a few isolated heavy downpours that dropped over 2 inches of rain locally. 

http://agfax.com/2016/08/30/california-almond-harvest-in-full-swing-walnuts-pistachios-should-begin-soon/
 

NEW ALMOND HEART HEALTH STUDY

A new systematic review and meta-analysis published in the Journal of Nutritional Science found that eating almonds results in significant reductions in total cholesterol, “bad” LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides, while having no significant impact on “good” HDL cholesterol levels, adding to the weight of evidence that supports the consumption of almonds as part of a healthy diet to help maintain healthy blood lipid levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.

http://www.rpacalmonds.com/marketnews/
 

HARVEST 2016

With harvest getting underway, it’s a good time for us to contemplate what has transpired in our industry during the past crop year and where we are positioned as we embark on the new marketing year. 

http://www.almonds.com/newsletters/handle/harvest-2016?mobile=1

 

July 2016

Weather Conditions

Temperatures

Approximate temperatures for the month of July experienced at the Orchard were:  

  • Average maximum temperature              13.7 degrees Celsius  
  • Highest temperature                              19.3 degrees Celsius on the 21st  of July
  • Lowest temperature                               -0.7 degrees Celsius on the 16th of July 
  • Average minimum temperature               4.8 degrees Celsius 
  • Average temperature                              8.9 degrees Celsius 

There were several rain events throughout July and approximately 25 mm of rain was recorded for the month. The rain events impacted some of the horticulture operations which resulted in minor delays of the pruning, soil amelioration and the foliar programs.
 

 

 

Horticultural activity   

Monitoring of insect pressure continued. As in June, due to the lower temperatures, the insect
populations continued to decrease which is expected at this time of year given the insects
enter hibernation.

To help control the breeding process the team sprayed areas where historically higher insect
populations have been noted.

The trees are in dormancy during winter which leads to bud development for flowering and vegetative growth in the coming season.
Bud development monitoring was continued by our technical team to assess the buds’ progress from Bud Swell to the Pink Bud stage which is critical to the timing of our foliar program.

Foliar spray 1 with winter oil was completed by the first week of July and foliar spray 2 commenced during the 3rd week of July at Bud Swell stage with the aims of protecting the trees from potential disease infestation and providing nutrients for their growth.

The fertigation program was executed per the schedule from the middle of July. Prior to the injection of fertilisers the soil profile was checked to ensure the optimum moisture level was being maintained for the roots growth and health of the trees.

The soil amelioration program was also successfully completed just after the middle of July which should help in maintaining desired soil nutrient level for the season.

The weedicide program also continued to help control the seasonal weeds by using recommended herbicides to help maintain orchard hygiene.

Irrigation is on-going at the orchard. Due to a few rain events and winter temperatures the irrigation water usages remained low during the month. The irrigation team also continued with the irrigation maintenance program during this quieter time of the season.

There was also the plantation of gum trees in certain areas of the orchard which should help to hold and maintain the optimum water table level and promote the health of the almond trees.

State of the Orchard

 The trees are in the dormant stage, reserving their energy for the new season’s growth.

New buds are in the development stage and our monitoring to date indicates that the buds’ development is positive at the moment which should, given favourable weather conditions at the orchard, lead to good flowering and fruit set which should help drive the 2017 yields.

  

 

 

Across the orchard we have had good chilling hours this year. Chilling units are the number of hours buds are exposed to below 7.2 degree Celsius during the winter months. As a result flowering should hopefully lead to a good fruit set. For almonds 300 - 600 chill units are required for adequate flowering. If the buds do not receive sufficient chilling hours during winter to completely release dormancy the trees can develop some physiological symptoms associated with insufficient chill units e.g delayed foliation, reduced fruit set or poor fruit quality.

July was also the month to focus on the preparations for the coming pollination program with millions of bees due to arrive at the orchard during the first week of August. In preparation for the bees all the bee sites were mapped and then cleared.

The winter pruning program was also successfully completed throughout the orchard with removal of prunings from the rows and burning of sticks.

Industry News

Almond Oil

Almond oil is one of the best oils for hair and skin care. It has got lots of nutrients and beneficial properties which make it such a powerful cosmetic ingredient. The results obtained by using almond oil on skin can be comparable to that of many powerful skin care products, sans all the side effects. It can help one get rid of dark circles in weeks. Sweet almond oil is also safe to be ingested internally. In fact, it is well reputed as medicinal oil in the Unani system of Medicine.

http://oilhealthbenefits.com/almond-oil/

Global News

Welcome to the 2016 Almond Conference!

The Almond Conference, now in its 44th year, reached several notable milestones in 2015 including surpassing 3,500 registrants (including a 40% increase in grower/handler attendance) and 250 exhibitors. As the largest event for almond industry professionals in the world, The Almond Conference is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to connect with the people, the science, the products and the trends at the forefront of the global almond community. The Almond Conference provides an unparalleled platform for your company to showcase its products, services and offerings to the largest gathering of growers, handlers, suppliers, distributors, marketers and researchers from around the globe. 

The Almond Conference will take place in Sacramento, California, December 6-8, 2016, at the Sacramento Convention Center. 

https://www.almondconference.com/exhibits.aspx


What California Farmers Can Learn from Israel’s Water-Saving Practices

 A delegation from the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) recently travelled to Israel to gain firsthand knowledge of the country’s advanced irrigation and planting strategies and technologies. Two almond industry members joined the group: Almond Board of California (ABC) Director of Agricultural...

http://www.almonds.com/newsletters/outlook/what-california-farmers-can-learn-israel%E2%80%99s-water-saving-practices

 

June 2016

Weather Conditions 

Temperatures    

 Approximate temperatures for the month of May experienced at the Orchard were:

  • Average maximum temperature          13.8 degrees Celsius  
  • Highest temperature                          17.8 degrees Celsius on the 14th of June 
  • Lowest temperature                           -1.7 degrees Celsius on the 25th of June 
  • Average minimum temperature           4.8 degrees Celsius 
  • Average temperature                          9 degrees Celsius 

There were several rain events throughout June and we recorded approximately 20 mm of rain for the month. The rain events impacted some of the horticulture operations which resulted in minor delays in pruning, soil amelioration and the foliar program.

2016 Harvest

All deliveries from our stock pads were completed on the 8th June. Final grading and yield results are being processed by Almondco and should be available shortly.

Horticultural activity

Monitoring of insect pressure continued at the orchard in June. Due to the lower temperatures the insect populations have decreased which is expected at this time of year as the insects enter hibernation.

As this is the dormant period of the year for the trees, our technical team can assess orchard strategies to reduce the risk of disease and insect damage for the coming season’s crop. The first foliar spray commenced as per the scheduled program in late June with the application of winter oil to help protect against mite infestations.

The weedicide program was also implemented post-harvest to control the seasonal weeds by using recommended herbicides to help maintain orchard hygiene. 

Irrigation is on-going at the orchard. June, being the first month of winter, means that water use is very low and after rainfall events irrigation can often be stopped for varying periods of time. Being a quieter period for water use, our irrigation team has the time to commence the winter irrigation maintenance program which includes checking the irrigation system and repairing and servicing all faulty parts so that we minimise down time in the coming season. All the pumps, motors, filters, fertigation and irrigation systems are checked as part of this program.

We have planted some gum trees in specific areas with the aim that these trees and their roots help to control the water tables, providing the most favourable conditions for almond trees.

State of Orchard

The trees are now dormant. Dormancy is the rest period, which is important in the annual growth cycle to enable the trees to prepare properly for the approaching bloom and fruit set period by storing their energy reserves. At present, the orchard has 100% leaf drop which is a one of the requirements of the trees at this time of the year.

New buds are in the development stage and our monitoring to date indicates that bud development is positive at this time which should, given favourable weather conditions at the orchard, lead to good flowering and fruit set which will drive the 2017 yields.

                                    Bud Development June 2016

We completed the first stage of pruning to clear dead wood, broken branches and open the centres of the trees to allow air and sunlight penetration which is required to keep the trees healthy. Raking followed this activity, with piles of prunings stacked and burned which will continue into the month of July to ensure we have a clean orchard and to allow machinery to operate between rows as required to implement our horticultural program.

Orchard After Pruning

Orchard After Pruning

Our soil amelioration program continued in June with the spreading of nutrients to the soil as per the requirements of the specific areas identified by our soil sampling.

Industry News

How Almond Milk Is Changing The Australian Cafe Scene

So when it comes to coffee, smoothies and all the other things we do with that good old white stuff, it seems 'milk' is not just 'milk' any more. And we're not just talking about that well-known alternative, soy milk, we're talking about the newer member to the milky scene - almond milk. Here are some reasons those in the hospitality and cafe scenes who are not already on the almond milk wagon should jump aboard right now.

http://www.satisfinefoods.com.au/blogs/news/118461060-how-almond-milk-is-changing-the-australian-cafe-scene

$10M R&D investment for almond and walnut industries

MORE than $10M for two new research and development projects focusing on the almond and walnut industries and the importance of pollinating insects will underpin the success of Australia’s agriculture sector for decades to come, according to the government.

http://www.farmingahead.com.au/articles/1/12113/2016-06-10/news/-10m-r-d-investment-for-almond-and-walnut-industries

Global News 

Blue Diamond Almonds Bloom Report for May 2nd to June 5th, 2016

Conditions varied significantly in the Sacramento Valley during May, reflecting the effects of cut-off low pressure systems that brought rainfall to the region, followed by high pressure that promoted near record temperatures throughout the Central Valley. While daily maximum temperatures in the first half of the period spent much of the time between the lower 80’s and mid 90’s, readings between May 5th and 8th dipped into the lower 60’s as a rain fell across much of the region. Temperatures fell again on the 20th as a second system swept across the Valley, bringing rainfall totals for the period to as much as an inch in the wettest locations. 

http://www.bdingredients.com/blue-diamond-almonds-bloom-report-for-may-2nd-to-june-5th-2016/

Blue Diamond Growers Almond Market Update – June 2016

The Almond Board of California released the May Position Report on Friday June 10. Shipments for May were a record 178.1 million lbs, 28% higher than the prior year. Since January, export shipments from California total 549 million lbs, higher than in any prior year. All export regions are experiencing vigorous demand since prices have reset to levels last seen in 2012 & early 2013.

http://www.bdingredients.com/blue-diamond-growers-almond-market-update-june-2016/

The Raw Truth About Almonds

I love Almonds. They're used a lot in raw food with good reason! They're not only nutritional powerhouses but they have great textural properties in many dishes.  I want to help you understand the nature of this little nut a bit better so I've put together some useful information on activation, almond skins and pasteurization (I know, I know- What? WHY?!)

http://www.rawambition.com.au/raw/content/raw-truth-about-almonds

 

May 2016

Weather Conditions 

Temperatures    

 Approximate temperatures for the month of May experienced at the Orchard were:  

  • Average maximum temperature              19.3 degrees Celsius  
  • Highest temperature                               27 degrees Celsius on the 6th of May 
  • Lowest temperature                               3 degrees Celsius on the 27th of May 
  • Average minimum  temperature              8 degrees Celsius 
  • Average temperature                              13.4  degrees Celsius 

There were several rain events throughout May where we recorded approximately 50 mm of rain at the orchard. This resulted in delays to re-shaking and re-harvesting activities. It also increased the moisture content of the nuts subject to re-shaking which was an advantage as it made it easier to remove these nuts from the trees given the increased weight, however it was a disadvantage for any nuts to be re-harvested and delivered to Almondco as nuts above a 6% moisture level require additional efforts to dry at the orchard otherwise they incur additional processing charges.

The rain events also resulted in delays that prevented almonds from being loaded onto B-doubles on the stock pile pad and / or unloaded at the processing plant.

2016 Harvest   

Re-shaking and re-harvesting continued into May and was completed before month end. This has resulted in increased orchard hygiene with the removal of nuts that would otherwise become ‘mummies’ and provide an environment for insect pressure to build for the 2017 season and beyond. It has also resulted in additional yields.

We expect all product on our stock pile pads to be delivered to Almondco by the middle of June. Once it is delivered and processed by Almondco the grading advices will be issued and final harvest results will be available.

Our post-harvest review in May included a review of all harvest operations and machinery. It is important to review the machinery needs for next season immediately after harvest operations as orders must be placed by no later than the end of June to ensure parts are delivered from the United States in time for pre-harvest maintenance for the 2017 season. Further, if parts are ordered after June there is a risk that delivery will be delayed as their harvest season commences around the middle of August and continues through to October.  Suppliers have historically been unresponsive during the United States harvest season as they are focused on supplying in season parts to their domestic customers.

Horticultural activity 

Insect pest monitoring is continuing. Insect populations have been identified in specific areas of the orchard and approximately 50 new traps have been installed to control the Carpophilus beetle with ‘attract and kill’ technology.

The Foliar program for leaf drop was successfully implemented as per the scheduled program in the 2nd week of May with the application of Zinc Sulphate and Urea used to assist which lead trees into the dormancy stage and allow them to conserve energy for bud development, flowering and new vegetative growth in the coming season.  

Irrigation is on-going and the irrigation team is ensuring that all drip lines and irrigation valves are working at the desired level and targeted water profiles are maintained. The monthly water usage was lower than forecast due to the rain and temperatures experienced at the orchard.

State of the Orchard 

We completed a mechanical skirting / hedging pass and followed this with hand pruners to clear dead wood, broken branches and open the centres of the trees to allow air and sunlight penetration. Raking followed this activity with piles of prunings stacked and burned. This activity will continue into June.

We have also commenced our soil amelioration program which was based on soil samples taken earlier this year at various sample sites and then sent to the laboratory for testing. Once our technical team received the results back from the laboratory they were interpreted and our soil amelioration program was formed.

As the trees head into dormancy and activities at the orchard are scaled back after a busy year and harvest season all staff are rotating responsibilities to ensure everyone can take some well-earned leave and come back fresh and ready for the new season ahead.

Global News

California’s Long-Term Precipitation Deficit Lingers, ad La Niña Looms.

While the reservoirs in California’s wetter, more northern reaches have reached (or are nearing) capacity after a slightly wetter-than-average winter in that part of the state, multi-year water deficits remain enormous. The 2015-2016 winter did bring some drought relief to California, but nearly all long-term drought indicators continue to suggest that California remains in a significant drought. In fact, nearly all of California is still “missing” at least 1 year’s worth of precipitation over the past 4 years, and in Southern California the numbers suggest closer to 2-3 years’ worth of “missing” rain and snow.

http://www.bdingredients.com/unsettled-late-spring-conditions-in-norcal-la-nina-looms/

NASS Subjective Estimate for Almonds Announced at 2 Billion Pounds

The NASS Subjective Estimate was announced today at 2.0 billion lbs for the 2016 crop. The Subjective Estimate is a telephone survey of a sampling of growers asking them how their 2016 crop compares to their 2015 crop. The estimate is based on the 900,000 bearing acres released on 4/27/16, with a yield of 2,220 lbs/acre, an increase in yield of 4.7% over prior year.

http://www.bdingredients.com/nass-subjective-estimate-for-almonds-announced-at-2-billion-pounds/

ABC Explores Domestic and Export Markets for Hulls

Almond hulls have long been known as a good source for animal feed. With an increasingly global economy and larger almond crop, almond hullers and shellers are looking for alternative outlets. Almond Board of California (ABC) is researching opportunities to ship hulls domestically and to export markets that may face high prices for animal feed.

http://www.almonds.com/newsletters/outlook/abc-explores-domestic-and-export-markets-hulls


April 2016

Weather Conditions  

Temperatures   

Approximate temperatures experienced at the Orchard were:  

  • Average maximum temperature         -     22.9 degrees Celsius  
  • Highest temperature                         -      29.9 degrees Celsius on the 20th of April 
  • Lowest temperature                         -     2.4 degrees Celsius  on the 23rd of April  
  • Average minimum  temperature        -      8.1 degrees Celsius 

There were 2 rainfall events where we recorded less than 20 mm of rain, which is approximately 50% less as compared with April 2015 as recorded in the ’Northern Mallee’ region.

2016 Harvest  


The harvest of Carmel was completed on 8 April, compared to 5 May in the previous season. Post-harvest inspection of the orchard has been conducted by our technical team which helped identify areas where re-shaking was required.  We then undertook the re-shaking which has resulted in additional tonnages.  This was also done for orchard hygiene reasons to reduce pest pressures in future years and the carry forward of ‘mummies’ on the trees. 

We estimate at the end of April there was approximately 3,300 tonnes of almonds on our stock pile pads which are to be delivered to Almondco in Renmark, South Australia. We are actively managing these nuts on the stock pile pads to the point of delivery to the processing plant. They are covered with tarps as needed to protect them from rainfall events and we have also fumigated certain stock piles as required to help protect them from pest pressures.

There were several instances in April where deliveries were delayed due to rain events that prevented almonds from being loaded onto B-doubles on the stock pile pad and / or unloaded at the processing plant or delayed due to processing capacity at Almondco.

Subject to any future delays in delivery, we expect all product on our stock pile pads to be delivered to Almondco by early June. Once all the product has been delivered and processed the grading advices will be issued and final harvest results will be available.

The two rainfall events in April have required additional efforts to dry almonds in the field and on the stock pile pads to allowable levels (which is a maximum of 6% moisture). Almonds delivered to the processing plant above this moisture content have to be dried to be within the required moisture range which leads to additional costs at the processing plant. 
 

Horticultural Activity

Insect pest monitoring is continuing.  From our monitoring this season, we have noted increased populations of insects, particularly the Carpophilus Beetle, and the decision has been made to increase the number of traps using ‘Attract and Kill’ technology.

The Foliar program for bud building was successfully implemented as per the scheduled program, with the application of Nitrogen and Boron required to help bud development to enhance flowering and new vegetative growth for next season.  

Irrigation is on-going and is being constantly monitored by the irrigation team to ensure all drip lines and irrigation valves are working at the desired level and targeted water profiles are maintained.
 

State of the Orchard

Our technical team has observed that the trees have very good bud development for flowering in August 2016 and are looking healthy. We are therefore expecting a good crop result for 2017 and beyond (depending on weather related events between now and the 2017 harvests). The winter hedging, skirting and pruning program were also finalised and this will commence in early May.

All maintenance work for our non-harvest equipment was completed as planned and machinery as required in the orchard is available. 

 

Industry News

Mountain Of Almond Husks Catches Fire Again
http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/agribusiness/horticulture/mountain-of-almond-husks-catches-fire-again/news-story/75da12ceea4a0f660104b467a4ae64c4

The Dairy Alternative Drinks Market is Booming: Innova Market Insights
http://ausfoodnews.com.au/2016/04/06/the-dairy-alternative-drinks-market-is-booming-innova-market-insights.html

 

Global Views

Almond Industry Growth Continues Despite Drought
http://www.recordnet.com/article/20160501/NEWS/160509989

 

 

March 2016

Weather Conditions

Temperatures  

Approximate temperatures experienced at the Orchard were: 

  • Average maximum temperature            31.2   degrees Celsius 
  • Highest temperature                            41.6   degrees Celsius on the 7th March 
  • Lowest temperature                             7.9     degrees Celsius  on the 31st March 
  • Minimum average temperature             16.0    degrees Celsius
  • Maximum average temperature            31.2    degree Celsius

Rainfall

The month of March remained dry and hot with less than 20 mm of rainfall recorded through two separate rainfall events. This is considered favourable during the harvest season to help dry out almonds hulls and nuts to enable an efficient harvest.

2016 Harvest    

The weather was mostly dry and hot during March and harvesting of the Non Pareil crop, which is approximately 50% of the total crop, was completed in the first week of March (compared to the fourth week in March for the previous two harvest seasons).

Deliveries of Non Pareil to the cracking shed at Almondco near Renmark, South Australia commenced on 22 February and were completed by the 31st of March. This season, Almondco is accepting 4 trucks each night which are driven directly into the processing plant. Deliveries are normally only delayed due to rain events that prevent almonds from being loaded onto B-doubles on the almond pad, or if for some reason the cracking plant cannot accept deliveries on a particular day. Each B-double truck generally carries between 35 – 40 tonnes per delivery.

The harvesting of the Price variety immediately followed the Non Pareil harvest and was also completed by the end of March. There have been minimal deliveries to date to Almondco of Price as the priority was to deliver the Non Pareil and have it processed and fumigated by Almondco to protect it from insect damage. We had also fumigated approximately 750 tonnes of Non Pareil on the stock pads at the orchard to protect it from insect damage post harvesting whilst it was stored on the stock pile pads awaiting delivery.

The harvesting of the Carmel variety also commenced in March and we expect to finish in the week ending Friday the 8th of April, subject to any necessary re shaking and re harvesting (which is about one month ahead of last season).

As with the 2015 harvest, there have been incidences of ‘stick-tights’, making it difficult to remove all almonds from the trees in some areas so some additional work was required to maximise the harvest result. To reduce the additional work required after the initial shaking, the shakers moved to a night shift which resulted in more efficient shaking results in the affected areas. This was due to higher moisture levels and cooler shaking conditions. We understand incidences of ‘stick-tights’ have occurred widely across the industry again this season.

We test the almond kernels for moisture content before despatch to the cracking plant as any produce delivered >6% results in a drying charge from Almondco. Given the mostly hot and dry conditions experienced at the orchard during March, all almond deliveries were below the <6% moisture content threshold. 

 

Nuts windrowed between rows ready for harvesting


Sweeper in action during harvest

Harvested nuts on the stock pile pads ready for dispatch to the cracking plant near Renmark, South Australia

Horticultural activity    

Insect pest monitoring is continuing throughout the orchard and it has been noted that insect pressure is higher across the orchard this season as compared with 2015.   As noted above, where insect pressure is deemed to be a risk post harvesting and the produce cannot be delivered and processed immediately then it is fumigated on the orchard stock pile pads (approximately 750 tonnes was fumigated this season). With a softer shell the Non Pareil variety is more susceptible to insect pressure than the Price and Carmel varieties. We continue to implement best practices to control insect populations at the orchard.

The post-harvest fertigation program was successfully implemented as per the scheduled program, with the application of nutrients required to help maintain soil and plant health at desired levels.

Irrigation is on-going and the water management strategy was executed well in time for the shaking days and is being constantly monitored at this time of year given the high temperatures (at the start of March there were 5 consecutive days of temperatures of more than 40 degrees). Given the hot conditions, the irrigation team is putting in all efforts 7 days per week to ensure all the valves and drip lines are in continuous operation and targeted water profiles are maintained.
 

State of the Orchard  

Our observations are that the trees have very good bud development for flowering in August 2016 and are looking healthy. We therefore have confidence that we should have a good crop result for 2017 and beyond (subject to horticultural risks).

All maintenance work for our non-harvest equipment was completed as planned and machinery as required in the orchard is available.
 

Industry News

Almonds, Almonds, Almonds!

http://www.agdynamics.com.au/news/Articles/almonds-almonds-almonds
 

Smaller Farmers Trying To Catch The Almond Wave

http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/agribusiness/horticulture/smaller-farmers-trying-to-catch-the-almond-wave/news-story/19b1825e4006ce3f9088691123997e2a

 

Global News

Blue Diamond Almonds Market Update

http://www.bdingredients.com/blue-diamond-almonds-market-update-5/
 

Blue Diamond Almonds Bloom Report for March 7th to 20th, 2016

http://www.bdingredients.com/blue-diamond-almonds-bloom-report-for-march-7th-to-20th-2016/

 

 

February 2016

WEATHER CONDITIONS

Temperatures

Approximate temperatures were:

  • Average maximum temperature           -     32.4 degrees Celsius
  • Highest temperature                           -     41.8 degrees Celsius on 23 February
  • Lowest temperature                            -      9.7 degrees Celsius on 17 February
  • Minimum average temperature            -      15.7 degrees Celsius

Rainfall

February remained dry and hot with less than 2mm of rainfall recorded in the region. This is considered favourable in the lead up to and during harvest to help dry out almonds hulls and nuts to enable harvest to commence and continue.
 

2016 HARVEST

Before the start of the 2016 harvest, the RMONPRO Management Team conducted an induction program which was attended by approximately 70 permanent office staff and contractors.

When the almonds are ripe to be shaken off the trees, the hulls split and reveal the shells of the almonds inside. After visual observations in the field for hull split, the first tree shaking trials for the Nonpareil almonds started on 10 February. These trials helped to decide the first full tree shaking start day of 18 February (compared with 20 February in 2015). Harvesting or picking up the almonds off the orchard floor started in earnest on 22 February (compared to 24 February in 2015). Fortunately, there were no rain events to delay the harvest.

Given the dry conditions to date, all almond deliveries in February were below a kernel moisture content of <6% before being delivered to the cracking plant. Moisture levels are tested daily at the orchard and <6% is ideal as additional charges for drying almonds are incurred at the cracking plant for almonds with a moisture content >6%.

We expected the Nonpareil almond harvest to be completed by the second week of March, which accounts for 50% of the plantings. We will then immediately start to harvest the Price variety and then the Carmel variety.

Insect pressure continues to be actively monitored at this critical time. The harvested product has been sampled on regular basis to check for any insect damage. Monitoring will continue throughout the harvest until all nuts are delivered to the cracking plant. Carpophilus beetles and carob moths are monitored weekly. The population pressures appear to be decreasing. 

Horticultural activity  

The fertigation program continues, with the application of some trace elements required to help maintain soil and plant health in the lead up to harvest.  

Irrigation is on-going and the water management strategy was executed well in time for the shaking days and is being constantly monitored given the high temperatures. As such, the irrigation team is putting in every effort (7 days per week) to ensure all the valves and drip lines are in continuous operation and targeted water profiles are maintained.


STATE OF THE ORCHARD

The maintenance team completed all maintenance work on the harvest machinery before the 2016 harvest season began.
We are still experiencing higher than average bird populations and our bird control strategy is being implemented daily as the bird populations use the nuts as a food source.  

 

 

Shakers ready for Harvest

 



 

Harvested nuts being unloaded in the field and then onto the pads 

 

INDUSTRY NEWS

Australia Boosts Global Almonds Presence
In calendar year 2015 Australia shipped a total of 67,780 tonnes of almonds to global destinations, which was an increase of 19.2% from the previous 12 months.

https://www.agra-net.com/agra/public-ledger/commodities/nuts/almonds/australia-boosts-global-almonds-presence-507189.htm
 

Hull Rot Brings Almond Harvest Forward, With Predictions This Year's Crop Will Not Reach Record Levels Of 2015
The almond industry says this year's harvest will not match that of last year's record-breaking haul.
Harvest has started in parts of South Australia and Victoria, but it is expected to fall short of the 80,500 tonnes shaken from almond trees in Australia in 2015.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-10/hull-rot-brings-almond-harvest-forward/7152590
 

GLOBAL NEWS

Link Between Honey Bees and Almond Bloom is Crucial

https://www.agra-net.com/agra/public-ledger/commodities/nuts/almonds/link-between-honey-bees-and-almond-bloom-is-crucial-506608.htm

Blue Diamond Almonds Market Update

http://www.bdingredients.com/blue-diamond-almonds-market-update-4/


January 2016

Weather Conditions

Temperatures

Approximate temperatures for the month of January were as follows:

  • Average temperature                           -     23.9 degree Celsius
  • Average maximum temperature           -     31.4 degree Celsius
  • Highest temperature                           -     44.6 degree Celsius on 13 January
  • Lowest temperature                            -     4.3 degree Celsius on 15 January
  • Minimum average temperature            -     13.0 degree Celsius

Rainfall

Total rainfall recorded was 30-35 mm, mostly during the 3rd and 4th week of the month. There was also a short hailstorm on 27 January which did not cause any material damage. Each rain day was followed immediately by a sunny and windy day which helped to evaporate moisture and reduce humidity. This was important as humid conditions are favourable to disease pressure at this time of the year.

Horticultural activity

We undertook one foliar spray to help manage disease pressures, which was successfully completed as planned.

The fertigation program was implemented as per the scheduled program, with the application of some trace elements required to help maintain soil and plant health in the lead up to the harvest.  
Irrigation is on-going and is critical at this time of year given the high temperatures. As such, irrigation is constantly being monitored by the irrigation team (7 days per week) to ensure all the valves and drip lines are in continuous operation and targeted water profiles are maintained.

Given the heat and rain at the orchard in January, we continue to actively monitor weed pressures and control weeds with herbicide spot spraying in the problematic areas. Removing the weeds is important as it allows for a more efficient harvest and helps to ensure all nuts are picked up from the orchard floor.

Insect pressure also continues to be actively monitored at this critical time and we will do so until all nuts are delivered to the cracking plant. Carpophilus beetles and carob moths are monitored weekly to check the population pressures. The Carpophilus beetle population is now less than in December, but Carob moth numbers have risen (because of the stage of their life cycle), which was expected. The foliar spray should reduce the insect populations, which can cause damage to the almonds in the lead up to and during harvest.

Leaf and soil sampling for the Non-Pareil variety was completed and sent to the laboratory for scientific analysis. The leaf tissue results report has been received and is being reviewed by our technical team to better understand the available nutrient levels and to help prepare and plan next season’s horticultural programs. Soil sample results are yet to be received from the laboratory and will be used in a similar way.

State of the orchard

After a long dry, hot and dusty spell in November and December 2015, which was favorable for nut growth and pit hardening, we received 30-35mm of rainfall in January. This rain, along with the heat, increased the humidity at the orchard and resulted in an increased risk of disease.  We are vigilant about checking for disease on a daily basis and are pleased with the state of the trees and growth for next season’s crop.

There have been strong gusts of wind which has resulted in some nut drop, a natural event expected at this time of the year.

Bird populations are increasing as the nuts continue to mature and grow in size, but we continue to be able to successfully control them with our bird control program.

Industry News

As the US price of almonds drop, Australian growers remain optimistic

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-01-21/australian-producers-protected-from-almond-price-drop/7104668

Global News

Almond Industry 2016 Preview

http://almondinsights.com/almond-industry-2016-preview

What almond growers want this year: Rain and bees

http://www.cnbc.com/2016/01/26/prices-of-mighty-almonds-down-amid-el-nino-related-cold-rain.html

Almonds Are Getting Cheaper, But Here's the Catch

http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2016/01/almond-boom-prices-falling-drought-exports



December 2015

Weather Conditions

Temperature

Approximate temperatures experienced at the Orchard were as follows:

  • Average temperature –  22.6 degree Celsius
  • Average maximum temperature –  30.5 degree Celsius
  • Highest temperature –  42.6 degree Celsius on the 19th of December
  • Lowest temperature –  4.0 degree Celsius  on the 12h of December
  • Minimum average temperature –  14.1 degree Celsius

Rainfall

Rainfall was lower than average and conditions were mostly dry with host, gusty winds. The total rainfall recorded at the orchard was 1.6 mm, with minimal rainfall experienced on four separate days.

Horticultural activity

There were no foliar sprays undertaken in December as the dry conditions meant that we did not need to spray for prune rust infestation. Our management team continues to monitor the orchard on a daily basis for any signs of disease or insect pressure and is ready to implement any necessary best practice strategies.

The fertigation program was successfully implemented as per our scheduled program with the application of Nitrogen and Potassium nutrients to assist with nut development. Irrigation is on-going and is critical as the temperatures continue to increase and dry conditions prevail. As such, irrigation is constantly being monitored by the irrigation team seven days per week to ensure all the valves and drip lines are in continuous operation and targeted water profiles are maintained to ensure the trees do not become stressed.

The orchard continues to be actively monitored for weeds at this time of the year and any weed pressures are being controlled by herbicides spot spraying in the problematic areas. The Flax leaf Fleabane (Conyza bonariensis) growth has been successfully suppressed to date using our weedicide spray program.

Insect pressures were actively monitored and will continue to be up to and throughout harvest until the nuts are delivered to the cracking plant. Carpophilus beetles and carob moths are monitored weekly to check population pressures. The carob moth and carpophilus beetle populations fell over the last two weeks of December which is encouraging, however they still require consistent and on-going monitoring.

Leaf samples were taken  and have been sent for scientific analysis which will help us to develop next years’ foliar and fertigation programs.

State of the orchard

The trees are looking healthy and leaf size and spurs are growing well, producing new shoots for next year’s foliage development. The bud differentiation which started in November is still in the development stage.

The measurement of nuts was also undertaken in early December. Nut sizes in general, when compared to the same time last year, are slightly bigger in the Non-Pareil and Price varieties. The final size of the kernel delivered to the processing plant will depend on conditions at the orchard between now and delivery.

Nut development is currently at the pit hardening stage. The weight of the branches in certain areas of the orchard resulted in branches bending down into the rows and they needed to be tied upright to try and save the branches from any potential breakage and to also allow machinery to drive down the rows.

Bird populations continue to increase as the fruit grows bigger in size. To date, we have been able to successfully control them with our bird control program which includes operating scare guns and shooters.

In December the maintenance team continued to maintain and keep all machinery ready for the 2016 harvest season which is forecast to commence in the middle of February. All maintenance for our non-harvest equipment was completed as planned and machinery as required in the orchard was available for use as and when needed.

INDUSTRY NEWS

California Drought Leaves Australian Almonds in Demand

http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2015/12/21/california-drought-leaves-australian-almonds-demand

National Centre of Excellence For Almonds Officially Opens Today

http://pir.sa.gov.au/alerts_news_events/news/regions_sa/sarms/national_centre_of_excellence

GLOBAL NEWS

Blue Diamonds – Market Update

http://www.bdingredients.com/blue-diamond-almonds-market-update-3/

Blue Diamond Anticipates Healthier Almond Market in the New Year

http://almondinsights.com/blue-diamond-anticipates-healthier-almond-market-in-the-new-year


November 2015

Weather Conditions

Temperature for November 2015

Approximate temperatures for the month of November were as follows:

  • Average temperature – 21.1 degree Celsius
  • Average maximum temperature – 29.2 degree Celsius
  • Highest temperature – 41.2 degree Celsius on the 19th of November
  • Lowest temperature – -0.8 degree Celsius  on the 27th of November
  • Minimum average temperature – 12.6 degree Celsius

Rainfall for November 2015

Rainfall for the month of November was lower than average. In the first week, total rainfall recorded at the orchard was 18.0mm. During the second week, 3.5mm was recorded and during the last two weeks the orchard was mostly dry with hot gusts of wind.

Horticultural activity

Two foliar sprays were completed as per our scheduled foliar program. These sprays were specifically targeted to control any potential fungal diseases.

The fertigation program was also successfully implemented. Irrigation is on-going and, as the temperatures are getting warmer, critical to ensuring the trees do not become stressed. As such, irrigation is constantly being monitored by the irrigation team seven days per week to ensure all the valves and drip lines are in continuous operation and targeted water profiles are maintained.

The orchard continues to be actively monitored for weeds and any weed pressures are being controlled by herbicides spot spraying in the problematic areas. The main weed pressure this month was from Flax leaf Fleabane (Conyza bonariensis) which is in its active growth stage and to date is being successfully controlled with our weedicide program.

Insect pressures are being actively monitored, and will continue to be up to and throughout harvest period until the nuts are delivered to the cracking plant. Bryobia mites were found in some areas and control measures were taken immediately.   Carpophilus beetles and carob moths are monitored weekly to check the population pressures. Approximately 20 more traps for the Carpophilus beetle will be installed at various sites around the orchard as part of our on-going insect monitoring program.

State of the orchard

Nut development is at the growing stage, with nut size increasing in November. The strong growth in certain areas of the orchard resulted in branches bending down into rows under the weight of the developing nuts and we had to tie them upright to the trunk to stop them from breaking.

In early November, we completed the summer pruning program. The water suckers growth is eliminated to help the trees to use their energy and reserves to focus on the development of nuts for this coming harvest season and bud development for 2017.

We are currently experiencing greater bird populations than in previous seasons, however we have been able to control them with scare guns.

The maintenance team continued their focus on our pre-season harvest machinery maintenance for the 2016 harvest scheduled for mid - February.  Maintenance for our non-harvest equipment was completed as planned and the equipment is available for use as and when needed.

Employee profile – Bohden Forster – Operations Supervisor

In March 2015, Bohden (“Bo”) Forster joined Rmonpro in the role of Operations Supervisor. He grew up in Nyah District and is well known in the Piangil area.

Bo completed his schooling at Swan Hill College and shortly after finishing decided to opt for a career in the construction industry, where he gained qualifications and experience in building & construction for almost seven years.  As part of the orchard team, Bo’s responsibilities include in field operations and helping to keep the foliar and weedicide programs on track.

Bo enjoys a wide range of activities when not working which include shooting, fishing and football. Bo has kept updating his skills since joining Rmonpro by attaining a First Aid Certificate and AusChem Accreditation – Application & Handling of Chemicals. Bo is dedicated to his responsibilities and has made a valuable contribution to the Rmonpro team.

Industry News

Almond Breeze Introduces New Long-Life Almond Milk Combinations into Range

http://ausfoodnews.com.au/2015/11/25/almond-breeze-introduces-new-long-life-almond-milk-combinations-into-range.html

Australia’s Amazing Nut Industries are Global Players

http://ausfoodnews.com.au/2015/10/05/australias-amazing-nut-industries-are-global-players.html

Global News

Powerful El Nino Likely to Bring Heavy Precipitation—and Possible Flooding—to California Over the Next Several Months

http://www.bdingredients.com/powerful-el-nino-likely-to-bring-heavy-precipitation-and-possible-flooding-to-california-over-the-next-several-months/

Pilot project to generate greenhouse gas credits from almonds, corn

http://www.almonds.com/growers/media-center/latest-news/2015/11/pilot-project-generate-greenhouse-gas-credits-almonds-corn


October 2015 

Weather Conditions

Temperatures

Approximate temperatures for the month of October experienced at the Orchard were as follows:

  • Average temperature – 20.2 degrees Celsius;
  • Average maximum temperature – 29.2 degrees Celsius;
  • Highest temperature – 37.1 degrees Celsius recorded on the 4th of October 2015;
  • Lowest temperature – 2.1 degrees Celsius recorded on the 1st of October 2015;
  • Minimum average temperature – 11.5 degrees Celsius.

Rainfall

Rainfall for the month of October was lower than average with falls recorded in the 2nd and 3rd weeks of October that totaled 15 mm. Piangil’s total recorded rainfall for the month was 15.8 mm.

On the 10th of October approximately half of the rainfall for the month occurred with 6.5mm at Dam 4 and 8.5mm at Dam 1 recorded. Piangil recorded 7.8 mm on the same day.  

Horticultural activity

During October we discovered an infestation of snails, which were baited and will be monitored accordingly.  We also found ants and earwigs were becoming an issue in and around our field irrigation valve systems. These were spot sprayed and are being checked regularly for any further flare-ups.

Three scheduled foliar sprays were successfully applied as per our foliar program.

At the completion of our third foliar spray we discovered dust mites in our headlands so we applied the necessary controls to avoid any further infestations. Monitoring is on-going and it may be necessary to apply further appropriate controls. We understand there has been an increased incidence of dust mites across the almond industry this year.

Early October saw wind events dropping more mummies onto the orchard floor which instigated some sweeping and mulching activities.

The orchard continues to be actively monitored for weeds with the herbicide and spot spray rigs deployed into problem areas. At this time of year there is a particular vigilance on the control of fleabane which can be a problem weed in all orchards.

State of the orchard

The prolific growth experienced over the past month has resulted in a need for some tying and cutting of branches to allow the foliar spray equipment through rows.  Broken branches have been removed as needed throughout all projects.

Summer pruning of suckers also commenced throughout the orchard.

Bird control began, with signage placed at all orchard entrances ‘Scare Guns in Operation’ and ‘Danger No Entry Shooting in Progress’. The scare guns and the shooting program will continue until all almonds from the next harvest have been transported off the property.

We continue to monitor the Carpophilus beetle, Carob moth and other insects, with the traps being checked weekly.  We track insect pressure as it is a critical for us to understand any trends and areas of concern so that we  can react quickly.

The fertigation team has had another huge month, working tirelessly 6 to 7 days a week to complete October’s program as scheduled. Water usage was up on the previous month and was a result of the dryer than average conditions experienced at the orchard.

The irrigation field crew continues to monitor all water delivery aspects; completing drip line repairs, filter cleaning, clipping and unclipping as required.

The ‘Maintenance Team’ focused on the pre-season harvest maintenance of all our bankouts and pickups. Ralph Caccaviello, our Maintenance Manager, has emphasized that spray equipment maintenance is the key to being able to successfully complete our foliar spray program as scheduled. All maintenance for tractors, utility vehicles, sprayers and utilities was completed as per the current maintenance program.

EMPLOYEE PROFILE – SUNITA ATWAL – TECHNICAL MANAGER

During early October we welcomed our new ‘Technical Manager’, Sunita Atwal…pronounced ‘Suenita’. Sunita was born in a Hill state/province in India where she completed her education and joined the Government Department of Agriculture.

Sunita is married to Ram Atwal and is blessed with two children. The family moved to New Zealand in 2004, where she was fortunate to gain a position at the Lincoln Agricultural University in Christchurch.

Looking for a warmer climate, they decided in 2010 to move to Australia, settling in Gatton Queensland, where Sunita worked for the University of Queensland.

Sunita has assisted her husband over many years with his family business in Horticulture, specialising in Entomology. She brings to us 15 years of agricultural experience and dedication, a willingness to learn and a very positive attitude.  Most of all she wishes to be successful with the Rmonpro team.

INDUSTRY NEWS

World Goes Nuts Over Our Almonds

http://www.milduraweekly.com.au/2015/10/16/world-goes-nuts-over-our-almonds/

El Niño No Major Threat To Australian Almonds

https://www.agra-net.com/agra/public-ledger/commodities/nuts/almonds/el-nino-no-major-threat-to-australian-almonds-494938.htm

Pollination

http://www.austnuts.com.au/almonds.html#growers

GLOBAL NEWS

 
Green Almonds

http://www.austnuts.com.au/almondsgreen.html

Almond News: Early Harvest, Smaller Crop; Slashing Water Usage – AgFax

http://agfax.com/2015/10/05/almond-news-early-harvest-smaller-crop-slashing-water-usage-agfax/

Researchers Study ‘Mysterious’ Lower Limb Dieback Disease In Almond

http://westernfarmpress.com/tree-nuts/researchers-study-mysterious-lower-limb-dieback-disease-almond


September 2015 

Weather Conditions

Temperature for September 2015

Approximate temperatures for the month of September experienced at the Orchard were as follows:

  • Average temperature – 14.3 degrees Celsius;
  • Average maximum temperature – 20.2 degrees Celsius;
  • Highest temperature – 30.4 degrees Celsius on the 14th of September 2015;
  • Minimum average temperature – 4.3 degrees Celsius

Rainfall for September 2015

The orchard recorded 19.5mm of rainfall in September whilst Piangil rainfall for September was 14.4 mm. The majority of this rain fell on the 2nd of September where 11.0 mm was recorded. There were a total of 4 rainfall days recorded at Piangil.

Horticultural activity

Our initial observations and indications from the bee hive suppliers that hive strength was slightly down on last year proved to be correct. This was a common industry observation this year and was mainly due to the dry season, especially in certain parts of Victoria, through our supplying areas. Whilst hive strength was slightly down on last year we were satisfied with the overall hive strength for this season.

Following the successful pollination season throughout August and the first week of September, the bee keepers began removing their hives from the orchard on the weekend of 5thand 6th of September. It appears that the bees have completed their task well and all varieties look reasonably fruited. 

 

Picture – Fruit in the trees in late September

With the bees vacating the orchard, our foliar spray program resumed again in the daytime.  The three scheduled foliar sprays for September were successfully completed and compliant as per our program.

During September we also experienced some insect pressure from aphids to which we reacted quickly and these were successfully controlled as part of our foliar program.

State of the orchard

There were strong winds at times in September which resulted in some mummies being blown onto the orchard floor. As such, our orchard hygiene program continued in this period to minimise pest and disease pressures for the current and future seasons. These operations included blowing, sweeping and mulching to destroy these mummies. There was also on-going harrowing and X-planning activities to level and compact rows in readiness for future activities including the coming harvest season.

Our monitoring of the Carpophilus beetle, Carob moth and other insects is on-going, with more traps being distributed throughout the orchard. We continue to monitor and track insect pressure as it is a critical strategy for us to understand any trends and areas of concern to allow us to react appropriately.

The irrigation team continued with their monthly maintenance and programed activities which consisted of:

  • fixing leaks;
  • pump repairs;
  • servicing of filters; and
  • servicing of drip lines.

Our fertigation season continued, with September being one of our biggest months for fertiliser application. Our fertigation team worked 6-7 days a week to ensure that all September fertiliser product was delivered to the trees as per the fertigation schedule.

Again our maintenance team continued their ongoing equipment maintenance schedule for tractors, vehicles and sprayers. The team also focused on pre-season harvest maintenance of all our harvesters and elevators. Pre-season harvest maintenance is being performed as scheduled and will ensure all equipment is ready for the coming harvest season which we expect to commence around the middle of February 2016.

Employee profile – Robert Maxwell – Irrigation Supervisor

This month we are introducing our Irrigation Supervisor, Robert Maxwell. Robert (known as Rob) was born locally in Swan Hill in 1989.

Upon leaving school at an early age he has gained valuable experience working as a shed hand for the Maxwell family business – Shearing/Roustabouts.

Moving on at the tender age of 17 years, Rob gained employment at Pickering’s Transport working as yard hand and dispatch person. Duties included loading and unloading trucks using a forklift and supervising trainee staff members.

Seeking more of a challenge, Rob started working in irrigation installation. He was employed by TrenchOz. This is where he excelled; over time gained qualifications and skills operating backhoes, front-end loaders, excavators, bull dozers, loaders, skid-steer equipment (bobcat) and forklifts.

Before joining the Rmonpro team, Rob spent 7 years in agricultural irrigation installations and 2 years in a domestic irrigation installations.

Rob describes himself as a very punctual, reliable, honest and hardworking employee. He can work in a team or autonomously and is always willing to try new things and to learn.

Rob’s has career aspirations of becoming an ‘Irrigation Manager’ and is very keen to complete management qualifications in the near future.

Rob’s has many interests, mainly Australian Rules football (he still pulls on a jumper for a local side), loves fishing, shooting, hunting, motor bike riding, most outdoor activities and BBQ’s.

2015 has been full celebration for Rob and his wife Brenda, they were married earlier this year (May) and Brenda gave birth to their first born son Riley in March.

Industry News

Rural Funds Continues Expansion into Almonds with Olam Leasing Deal

http://www.afr.com/real-estate/rural-funds-continues-expansion-into-almonds-with-olam-leasing-deal-20150920-gjr5al
 

Superannuation Fund Takes Major Stake in Australian Almond Sector

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-08-26/first-state-super-almond-investment/6723772
 

Industry Potential

http://nutindustry.org.au/html/s02_article/article_view.asp?art_id=129&nav_cat_id=161&nav_top_id=55

Global News

Category: Nuts
Main Origins: USA, Spain, Chile, Australia
Harvest Times: March to April & August to October

Commercially speaking, the almond (prunus dulcis) is one of the market leaders within the nut market. Most of the almonds produced for the food industry come from California. Although in much smaller volumes, Mediterranean countries such as Spain, Italy, Portugal and France are also producers and exporters of almonds. http://www.kenkko.com/Almonds.aspx

Almond Growers Report Smaller Yields, Nut size, and Shifting More Water

http://westernfarmpress.com/tree-nuts/almond-growers-report-smaller-yields-nut-size-and-shifting-more-water




August 2015

Weather Conditions

Temperatures  

Approximate temperatures for the month of August experienced at the Orchard were as follows:

  • Average temperature – 13.1 degrees Celsius;
  • Average maximum temperature – 19.9 degrees Celsius;
  • Highest temperature – 25.9 degrees Celsius on the 27th of August 2015;
  • Minimum average temperature – 5.7degrees Celsius.

Rainfall

The orchard recorded 11.5mm of rainfall whilst Piangil rainfall for August was 8.6 mm. The majority of this rain fell on the 1st of August where 8.0 mm was recorded. There were a total of 9 rainfall days recorded at Piangil.

Horticultural activity

All the pollination ground work (grading of sites, marking and water) was completed in July in readiness for the August 2015 pollination season. The first of our 30 suppliers of bee hives delivered their hives on the 4th of August and we received further deliveries over the next week. We expect approximately 160 million bees to be at the orchard during this pollination season. 

 

Picture - Bee Hives

State of the Orchard

Our foliar program continued and we completed two sprays as scheduled. With prolific bee activity during the day, the foliar team elected to co-exist and spray at night when the bees are in their hives. This has proved very successful and reduced the risk of our people being stung by bees during the filling operations and, at the same time, has lessened the disturbance to the bees, allowing them to do their job with efficiency. 

Picture – Almond trees in blossom at the orchard with bee hives

Our orchard hygiene program continued throughout the early weeks of August which consisted of:

  • blowing of the beds;
  • mulching of mummies; and
  • X-planning of rows to prevent future pest infestations.

The irrigation team continued with their monthly maintenance activities which consisted of:

  • flushing;
  • repairs;
  • servicing of filters; and
  • servicing of drip lines.

Our fertigation season commenced with product being delivered to the trees as per the scheduled fertigation program.

Our maintenance team continued their ongoing equipment maintenance as scheduled for tractors, vehicles and sprayers. The maintenance team is also busy with the pre-season harvest maintenance program with sweepers being a key focus.

Employee Profile – MARTIN SAMMON – ACCOUNTANT

This month we are introducing our Accountant, Marty Sammon. Marty is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and an expert in Reckon software.  He is an energetic and innovative professional with over 30 years of diverse experience in multi-disciplinary industries and service organisations.  He has specialised in water and agriculture over the years, and was very pleased to be able to join Rmonpro and the almond industry in April 2015.

Marty brings a wealth of experience and a fresh eye to the business. His focus will be on cost management, budget controls, and regular weekly reporting to the Orchard Management Team.  He has visited the Orchard several times and has really enjoyed working both in Melbourne and at Piangil with the Orchard Management Team.

Marty is very happily married with three adult children, two of whom have recently moved back into the family home in Melbourne.  He is also a passionate Cats supporter and enjoys cycling, travelling and reading.  

 

 

Industry News

The World Goes Nuts For Aussie Almonds

http://www.foodmag.com.au/News/The-world-goes-nuts-for-Aussie-almonds

Almonds Top Horticultural Exports

http://www.stockjournal.com.au/news/agriculture/horticulture/general-news/almonds-top-hort-exports/2741951.aspx?src=rss

New Export Record Set by Almonds

http://australianalmonds.com.au/media-resources/media_releases

Global News

Almond Milk: Blue Diamond, White Wave fight ... - News.com.au

http://www.news.com.au/finance/business/of-course-almond-milk-only-has-2-per-cent-almonds-says-almond-milk-company/story-fnkgdftz-122749052188819 
August 2015

Blue Diamond Almonds – California Almond Harvest Update

http://www.bdingredients.com/blue-diamond-almonds-california-almond-harvest-update/ August 2015

Very strong El Niño likely during autumn/winter 2015-2016; significant impacts possible in California

http://www.bdingredients.com/very-strong-el-nino-likely-during-autumnwinter-2015-2016-significant-impacts-possible-in-california/
July 2015

 
 

July 2015 

Weather Conditions

Temperature for July 2015

Approximate temperatures for the month of July were as follows:

  • Average temperature – 9.6 degrees Celsius;
  • Average Maximum temperature – 15.8 degrees Celsius;
  • Highest temperature – 20.9 degrees Celsius on the 16th of July;
  • Minimum average temperature – 3.4 degrees Celsius;
  • Lowest temperature – -2.6 degrees Celsius on the 3rd of July.
 

Rainfall for July 2015

Piangil rainfall for the month of July was 21.6 mm whilst the orchard recorded 33.5 mm. There were 12 days in July where rainfall was recorded in Piangil with the 11th of July being the wettest with 7.4 mm being recorded.

Horticultural activity

Having cleared the stock pile pads of almonds in early July, we undertook our annual stock pile pad clean up and rolled up and stored the tarps (which are used to cover and protect the almonds on the stock pile pads from weather events and for fumigation) in weather and pest proof shipping containers. The tarps will be stored in the shipping containers until the next harvest season.

A key focus for July was the up and coming orchard pollination period, which is a significant and critical program for the 2015 / 16 season. In August each year, the almond tree buds burst into beautiful light pink and white blooms in preparation for pollination. The bees help move pollen between the almond trees (and within flowers) in order to pollinate almond blossoms, which, when fertilised, become the almond kernels.

Preparations have been made for the millions of bees that will be at the orchard in the first week of August. All bee sites were sign posted by way of a white road marker post which was then numbered for identification purposes. The ground around the proposed bee sites has been levelled and the surrounding area cleared. This is work is completed by grading the surface to accommodate a set number of hives. We also notified all our neighboring land holders of the imminent arrival of bee hives to the orchard.

State of the orchard

The winter oil spray to help protect the trees against mite infestations was completed as scheduled in early July. We also conducted our second foliar spray of the season when the bud swell was starting to appear, with minimal disruption from weather.   

Picture – Almond trees in winter dormancy

As part of our orchard hygiene program, we continued with the blowing of the beds, mulching of mummies and X-planning of rows to prevent future pest infestations.

The irrigation team continued with their on-going maintenance activities which included flushing, repairs and servicing of filters and drip lines. With the fertigation season soon to commence in earnest, the team is preparing the fertigation systems in readiness for the very active time ahead.

Our maintenance team received delivery of several harvest parts and equipment in July and worked to label, store and use some of these parts as part of the scheduled harvest equipment maintenance work program which is underway and that will continue for the next six months.

Employee profile – Michael Knudsen – WHS, HACCP & Administration Manager

Our July report features our ‘Workplace Health & Safety, HACCP and Orchard Administration Manager’ Michael Knudsen. Michael started with RMONPRO in February 2014 with diverse experience and he is very passionate about all aspects of safety. He has already introduced many improvements to safety at the orchard and continues to drive our safety culture.  

 

Michael was born in Mildura and grew up in Sunraysia in North Western Victoria. He began his professional career in banking as a clerk with the National Bank of Australia in Castlemaine. After a short time, Michael was promoted and transferred to the Swan Hill branch.

In the late seventies, Michael married his wife Lina and made the choice to leave banking due to the transfers from branch to branch.

Moving to Mildura, he took up a position at the Mildura Hospital and Medical Fund as a claims supervisor. After having a young family Michael began looking for something different to help financially as his wife stayed at home so he took a job with a Mildura Co-Operative as a fitter and production welder.

Michael then moved back to Swan Hill in the early 80’s where he became a partner with his brother in-law in a panel beating and crash repair operation. In the late 80’s Michael gained employment working as the accountant for Dalgety Farmers Swan Hill. Over time Michael was promoted to be the regional accountant. After nearly nine years he left Dalgety Farmers Swan Hill to take on a more senior role with Lewis Coady Pty Ltd (now BR&C) as their Office Administration Manager.

In 2000, Michael took another change in direction and was appointed Retail and Depot Manager with Kleenheat Gas. He was promoted to the Victorian Terminals Supervisor and became Major Hazard Facilities team member, where he travelled to various locations throughout Australia working on safety cases and gaining valuable training and skills.

Michael is passionate about his current role and continues to build awareness and remind our workforce of safety issues so that all return to their homes safely every day. He enjoys the challenges this position has given him and is proud of his achievements to-date.

It was a privilege for Michael to have been nominated and to run with the Olympic Torch in the 2000 Olympics Torch Relay in Swan Hill.  That same year, he was awarded an Australian Sports Medal for his contribution to junior sport over many years. 

Michael has many interests including friends, community work and nearly all sports.  He is a passionate golfer and keen motor sports enthusiast. However, most important of all to Michael is his family with his wife Lina, son David and his wife Artika, son Stefan and his partner Natalie, and daughter Clara.

Industry News

Factors in Pricing Pollination Services - Crop Pollination Association

http://www.aussiepollination.com.au/services/pricing/
 

New Research Facility To Boost Almond Exports

The Andrews Labor Government will establish a new experimental orchard in Mildura to boost almond research and training and drive production and export growth.

http://www.premier.vic.gov.au/new-research-facility-to-boost-almond-exports

Global News

Salt Is Slowly Crippling California's Almond Industry : The Salt : NPR

http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/07/24/425904033/salt-is-slowly-crippling-california-s-almond-industry 24 Jul 2015 

 

July 2015 

AIL is very pleased to announce the appointment of Julie Bird as a Director of AIL.

Julie Bird has a comprehensive understanding of the Australian horticultural industry, having worked in it for over 20 years. Previously Julie was Chief Executive Officer of the Almond Board of Australia, Director of the Australian Nut Industry Council, Independent Chair of the South Australian Apiary Industry Advisory Group and was an Executive for Pollination Australia. She has extensive experience working in all aspects of primary production, including a role with Quality Fruit Marketing - marketing stone fruit to domestic and international markets.

Julie is now Independent Chair of the Apple and Pear Industry Advisory Committee and manages 1DAY Pty Ltd, a management consultancy servicing the agribusiness sector. She is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and is currently undertaking a Master of Business Administration (Executive).

AIL is confident that Julie will make a valuable contribution to the AIL projects and that investors will benefit from her knowledge and expertise in the Australian almond industry.


June 2015 Orchard Update

Weather Conditions

Temperature for June 2015

Approximate temperatures for the month of June experienced at the Orchard were as follows:

  • Average temperature – 12.1 degrees Celsius;
  • Average Maximum temperature – 20.5 degrees Celsius;
  • Highest temperature – 25.3 degrees Celsius on the 14th of June;
  • Minimum average temperature – 5.2 degrees Celsius;
  • Lowest temperature – -0.8 degrees Celsius on the 28th of June.

Rainfall for June 2015

Piangil rainfall for the month of June was 30.4 mm whilst the orchard recorded a very similar 30.1 mm.

Horticultural activity - Harvest

Rain events in early and the middle of June delayed deliveries of harvested product from the orchard to Almondco in Renmark, South Australia. The rain events also meant that our stock pile pads were not completely cleared in June as previously expected. However, there were only 2 B-Double loads left at the end of June (approximately 70 tonnes of field weight) which were delivered on 1 and 2  July respectively. We are still confident that we have had our most successful harvest season to date and look forward to final harvest results.

Given these rain events, we continued to tarp the stock pile pads as appropriate to reduce moisture damage which can result in the nuts being downgraded at the processing plant (and a lower price for them being paid). The stock pile pads were also continually aired to avoid mould damage which can also lead to a downgrade.

State of the orchard

Re-shaking was undertaken in certain areas of the orchard in early June, which should improve orchard hygiene going forward as it should reduce pest pressures for future harvest seasons and help improve yields. 

This year’s first foliar spray commenced in late June with the application of winter oil to help protect against mite infestations. This spray is scheduled to be completed in early July and at this stage we are tracking to finish as programmed.

The hand pruning also continued through June, clearing dead wood, broken branches and opening the centres of the trees to allow air and sunlight penetration. The raking, pushing up and burning of the prunings also continued.

X-Planning rows also commenced, which was followed by blowing of the beds and mulching of mummies to help prevent pest infestations.

The irrigation team continued with their maintenance activities which included flushing, repairs and servicing of filters and drip lines.

The maintenance team continued their ongoing equipment maintenance schedule for tractor servicing and general equipment maintenance activities. Preparation for harvest equipment maintenance  also started, with delivery expected in early July of certain harvest parts and equipment.

With the majority of staff having taken some well-earned annual leave during June, the orchard team is now re-energized and ready to implement the 2015 – 2016 programs.

Employee profile – Ralph Caccaviello – Maintenance Manager

This month we are introducing our Maintenance Manager, Ralph Caccaviello. Ralph started with RMONPRO in February 2011 and has bought to the organization his passion and drive to maintain and improve the orchard’s equipment efficiency.

Ralph was born in the Swan Hill District Hospital on the 5th of October 1965 (big birthday this year) to Fillipo and Elmila Caccaviello of Tooleybuc, NSW (just over the border from Piangil) and was the third born in the family of four children. He attended Tooleybuc Central Primary and later on went to secondary school at St Patrick’s in Ballarat.

Ralph spent much of his early years growing up on the family citrus property, where in addition to growing oranges and lemons, they also grew pumpkins and melons. At the age of sixteen Ralph left home to pursue his passion of motoring and mechanics. He was fortunate enough to gain an apprenticeship in St Kilda, Victoria where he spent two years first learning his craft.

With the country still in his blood, Ralph returned to Sea Lake, (80 kms south west of Swan Hill) where he worked at McIntosh Toyota. During this period completing his 4th year as an apprentice, he was awarded Victorian apprentice of the year. 

Ralph then moved to work at Cleelands Automotive in Swan Hill and after six months was promoted to manage their Balranald dealership (100 kms north of Swan Hill). He spent two years there gaining experience, before opening up his own mechanical repair shop in Swan Hill. He did this for five years until the family lured him back to Tooleybuc to help run the Tooleybuc Hotel, which they had purchased after selling the family farm. The family sold the hotel after five years and Ralph went onto work for Roger McQueen a large dry land farmer, where he spent time gaining experience working with a variety of farming equipment. After a period with McQueens, Ralph purchased land at Wood Wood and worked the land growing stone fruit, vegetables and garlic.

Always looking to pursue his mechanical passion, Ralph took a position in the RMONPRO maintenance workshop in February 2011 and has been a key team member ever since.

Ralph is married to Anna and has five children; Zac, Laura, Johnathon, Lucas and Sara.

INDUSTRY NEWS

What's ahead for Australia's $1bn nut industry? | Waterfind Australia

http://www.waterfind.com.au/news-posts/whats-ahead-for-australias-1bn-nut-industry/17 May 2015 ... During 20-22 April 2015, Waterfind attended the biannual Australian Nut Conference. The Conference's overarching theme, Shaping the Future ...

Eating almonds can reduce heart disease risks, belly fat

2/20/2015 - Hold that muffin or danish and grab a handful of almonds if you need a snack between meals. Maybe you won't feel as satisfied afterward, but if you care about your heart health, get used to it. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association provided strong evidence that...

Learn more at: http://www.naturalnews.com/almonds.html#ixzz3fvlo02eO

GLOBAL NEWS

NASS Objective Crop Estimate at 1.8 Billion Pounds

http://almondinsights.com/nass-objective-crop-estimate-at-1-8-billion-pounds

Lucrative But Thirsty Almonds Come Under Fire Amid Drought

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/04/140421-california-almonds-drought-central-valley-groundwater21 Apr 2015 ... Does it make sense for California to grow so many almonds when it has so little water? ... 


May 2015 Orchard Update


Weather Conditions

Temperature for May 2015
Approximate temperatures for the month of May experienced at the Orchard were as follows:

  • Average temperature – 17.2 degrees Celsius
  • Average Maximum temperature – 23.4 degrees Celsius
  • Highest temperature – 27.2 degrees Celsius on the 2nd of May
  • Minimum average temperature – 8.9 degrees Celsius
  • Lowest temperature – 1.7 degrees Celsius on the 23rd of May
 
 

Rainfall for May

Piangil rainfall for the month of May was below average for this time of year, with 15.8 millimeters recorded compared with 48mm which is the long term May average.

Horticultural activity - Harvest

We harvested the remaining 330 acres early on 5 May. We spent another 6 days in May re-shaking certain areas which resulted in additional tonnages and was also undertaken for orchard hygiene reasons to reduce pest pressures in future years. 

We estimate there is more than 1,300 tonnes of almonds on our stock pile pads which we are actively managing up to the point of delivery to the processing plant. They are covered with tarps as needed to protect them from rainfall events.

There were several instances in May where deliveries to Almondco in Renmark, South Australia were delayed due to rain events that prevented almonds from being loaded onto B-doubles on the stock pile pad and / or unloaded at the processing plant.

We expect all product on our stock pile pads to be delivered to Almondco in June. Once they are delivered and processed by Almondco the grading advices will be issued and final harvest results will be available. We are confident that we have had our most successful harvest season to date and look forward to final harvest results.

State of the orchard

We have followed the harvest with a Bud Building spray, Leaf Drop spray and then a further spray to protect trees after pruning and skirting operations.  Our next spray will be late June / early July, applying winter oil to help protect against mite infestations.

We completed a mechanical skirting / hedging pass and followed this with hand pruners to clear dead wood, broken branches and open the centres of the trees to allow air and sunlight penetration. Raking followed this activity with piles of prunings stacked and burnt.

The irrigation program was wound back in May due to winter dormancy with cooler and wetter conditions allowing commencement of our R & M programs.

Our maintenance team have cleaned down the harvest equipment and commenced the off-season maintenance program which will continue until we start harvesting again in February 2016.

With a continually demanding work program all staff are rotating responsibilities to ensure everyone can take some well-earned leave after a busy year and harvest season.

Employee profile – Paul Forster – Senior Irrigation Manager

We would like to introduce our Paul Forster, our Irrigation Manager. Paul started with Rmonpro in July 2013.  He is locally born and bred and has always lived in this area.  He is a model employee, managing the irrigation and fertigation systems with a minimum of fuss, and always delivering as required.

Paul attended primary school in Piangil and secondary school across the river at Tooleybuc Central.  After finishing Year 12, he gained a horticultural apprenticeship with the well regarded Chalmers Nurseries in 2000.  He completed this in 2003 and began working for Australian Vintage Limited on a large corporate vineyard in Kenley, Victoria.  He was quickly promoted to Irrigation Manager, responsible for all irrigation and fertigation operations.  Paul continued further after hours study and received a Diploma of Horticulture in 2008.

He Iives only 10 minutes from the AIL orchard in Vinifera, with his wife Sarah and 2 year old son Jobe.  The family is expecting their second child in early December.

Paul says he thoroughly enjoys his role at the orchard and within the almond industry itself.   We are very pleased to have his valuable and competent services.

Industry News

The Australian Tree Nut Industry by the Australian Nut Industry Council

2014 Report

http://nutindustry.org.au/files/nrteUploadFiles/192F062F2014113A493A33AM.pdf 


THE AUSTRALIAN NUT CONFERENCE – APRIL 2015

The Australian Nut Conference brings together people with an interest in the Australian tree nut industry and associated supply chains to learn about production forecasts, new initiatives and emerging domestic and international growth trends. It provides an ideal opportunity to gain direct contact with key nut industry stakeholders.

2015 Australian Nut Conference was recently organised at Sydney from April 20-22, 2015 and conference proceedings can be viewed on the following link:

http://nutindustry.org.au/Events/Australian-Nut-Industry-Conference-2015/2015-Australian-Nut-Conference.asp

 

NUT MILKS ON THE UP VERSUS SOY MILK IN AUSTRALIA’S ANALOG SECTOR EXPANSION

April 13, 2015
Sophie Langley

http://ausfoodnews.com.au/2015/04/13/nut-milks-on-the-up-versus-soy-milk-in-australias-analog-sector-expansion.html
 

NUTS AND HEALTH

Nuts are a healthy plant food because they are high in healthy fats, protein and fibre, yet they’re often the source of confusion for those wanting to manage their weight.

Fact Sheet by Lisa Yates Lisa Yates: an  Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian and Program Manager of Nuts for Life, a health education initiative of the Australia Tree Nut Industry and Horticulture Australia.

http://www.nutritionaustralia.org/sites/default/files/nuts-and-health-with-references.pdf

Global News

Almond Insights 

“Facts are Stubborn Things” – John Adams                
May 18, 2015

http://almondinsights.com/facts-are-stubborn-things-john-adams

Blue Diamond Almonds – Market Report 
May 14, 2015

http://www.bdingredients.com/blue-diamond-almonds-market-report/

http://www.almonds.com/sites/default/files/content/newsletters/attachments/2015.04posrpt.pdf

NASS Subjective Estimate Reports 1.85 Billion Pound Crop
May 05, 2015

http://www.almonds.com/sites/default/files/content/attachments/2015_ca_almond_subjective_forecast.pdf

 


26 MAY 2015 

AIL is very sad to advise the untimely passing of John Bird.

John became a Director of Almond Investors Ltd in December 2014 and his comprehensive knowledge of the Australian and international almond industries coupled with his business acumen enabled him to make a very valuable contribution to the AIL projects in a relatively short period of time.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends during this challenging time. John will be very much missed by everyone that knew and respected him.
 

April  2015  Orchard Report

Weather Conditions

The AIL orchard is located approximately 42 kilometers North West of Swan Hill, 5 kilometers to the west of Wood Wood, 7 kilometres South of Piangil and is on the border in the ‘Southern Mallee’ region in Victoria.

Approximate temperatures for the month of April experienced at the Orchard were as follows:

  • Average maximum temperature - 23 degrees Celsius;
  • Highest temperature - 32.5 degrees Celsius on the 1st of April; and
  • Minimum average temperature - 9 degrees Celsius;
  • Lowest temperature – 5 degrees Celsius on the 20th of April.

There were rainfall events throughout April where we recorded 43 millimeters of rain. This was above our region’s average and closer to some of the falls recorded in the ’Northern Mallee’. Mildura experienced very high rainfall of 85 mm, with Ouyen located 100 kilometers to the south of Mildura (100 kilometers west of the orchard) recording 37.3 mm, which was similar rainfall to what the orchard received.

Horticultural Activity - Harvest

Rain events reduced the number of harvesting days during April and thus the completion of the harvest was not until early on Wednesday 5 May.

In April we harvested approximately 570 acres of pollinators with the remaining 330 acres harvested in the first 5 days of May. All projects have now been fully harvested. We expect some minor re-shaking to occur which should result in additional tonnages and is done for orchard hygiene reasons to reduce pest pressures in future years.

There were approximately 125 B-double deliveries of almonds to Almondco in Renmark, South Australia. As per our March harvest update, the field weight of each delivery onto B-doubles is generally between 35–40 tonnes.

There were also several instances where deliveries to Almondco were delayed due to rain events that prevented almonds from being loaded onto B-doubles on the almond pad and / or unloaded at the processing plant. Deliveries were also not made on Easter Friday or Easter Saturday as the processing plant was closed.

We estimate that our stock pad capacity for the two stock pile pads at the orchard was 25% and 15% respectively at the end of April.

Rain events have required additional efforts to dry almonds in the field and on the stock pile pads to allowable levels, which is a maximum of 6% moisture. Almonds delivered to the processing plant above this moisture content have to be dried to be within specification and this leads to some additional processing costs. As a consequence, we try to minimise the amount of almonds delivered to Almondco above maximum moisture levels, however it is possible some loads are delivered above maximum specifications because of sampling variances on the orchards and at Almondco when the nuts are cracked. In order to dry the almonds to an acceptable moisture level and keep the harvest progressing, we have been drying some of the almonds on the stock pile pads rather than risk leaving them in the field to be wet by successive rainfall events which could result in a reduction in kernel quality and the resultant increase in processing costs.

 


(Field bin delivery operation at pad 2)

 

(Pad operator shifting unloading elevator to a new position)

 

(Pad loading out operations

delivery transport to

cracking plant)

 

(Pad 2 stock piles waiting

transportation to cracking plant)

 

(Almond delivery from field bank out to field bin via field elevator)

 

(Bankout delivery to field elevator)


State of the orchard

We commenced a bud building nutritional spray in the latter half of April to help strengthen the buds in preparation for the approaching pollination period commencing in early August. We are in constant contact with our bee suppliers regarding quality of the bees, final number of hives required and placement of the hives.

Our observations continue to be that the trees have very good bud development for flowering in August 2015 and they are looking especially healthy. We therefore have confidence that we should have a good crop result for 2016 and beyond (depending on weather related events between now and the 2016 harvest).

As we are not able to perform general weedicide spraying in the orchard once harvest commences we will now be performing weedicide spraying at the orchard as needed. Weed populations generally appear at the orchard after successive rain events and this is being monitored constantly and management practices are being implemented to control weed populations and maintain orchard hygiene.

Special Feature

Last month a group made up of Rmonpro management, staff and contractors were involved in a trip to the Select Harvest cracking plant to gain a greater understanding of ‘Phosphine Fumigation’. Prior to this year ‘Phosphine Fumigation’ had not occurred at the AIL orchard.

‘Phosphine Fumigation’ is becoming an industry standard practice and used to control pest pressures while almonds are stored on stock pile pads. In recent years, almond orchards across Australia have experienced increased incidences of pest pressures, such as the carob moth and carpophilus beetle, and methods must be employed to control pest pressure and protect the quality of Australian almonds.

The Select Harvest team member on site who helps manage their stock pad gave the Rmonpro employees and contractors a briefing on the entire process including:

  • what products are used;
  • how the products are applied;
  • tarping;
  • sealing the tarps; and
  • safety precautions including the use of personal protective equipment.

Taking this knowledge and our previous experience, Rmonpro management conducted its own workshop at the orchard to help formulate the ‘Safe Operating Procedures’ required where Phosphine Fumigation was to occur at the orchard. This included highlighting the potential risks associated with phosphine, the required use of personal protective equipment and reference to the material safety data sheet.

Many other factors were taken into consideration when formulating the ‘Safe Operating Procedures’ for the use of Phosphine Fumigation at the AIL orchard including weather conditions, training of staff involved, equipment required, storage and handling, safe operation and staff and contractors working in and around the stock pile pad areas.

The effort put together by the Rmonpro management team in compiling the ‘Safe Operating Procedures’ paid off when the procedures were successfully implemented and approximately 1600 tonnes of field weight was successfully fumigated on the AIL stock pad during the 2015 harvest.

Employee Profile – Neil Sanders – Orchard General Manager

 

Neil commenced with Rmonpro in early December 2013 bringing a wealth of experience and knowledge gained by working in agriculture and horticulture over a long career which has included various management roles. Neil is passionate about agriculture and horticulture. He is driven in his role to succeed and hard working. Neil leads by example and has played a major role in forming the cohesive and driven Rmonpro management team that exists today.

Neil grew up in Adelaide completing high school at Urrbrae Agricultural High School before starting out his first job as a jackaroo on F.S. Faulkiner & Sons - Boonoke Merino Stud. At the time Neil was working at the Boonoke Merino Stud it was owned by Rupert Murdock’s News Limited.  

Neil rose up through the ranks at Boonoke Merino Stud to the position of Irrigation and Development Manager before moving to Northern NSW to manage a large scale cotton operation for Colly Cotton. Properties Neil managed for Colly Cotton during his 10 year tenure included Collymongle at Collarrenebri, Cubbie at Dirrumbandi, Yuma and Kruui/Bellvue near Moree.

Following his 10 year stint with Colly Cotton Neil left corporate agriculture to pursue an organic farming and vegetable operation in the Riverland, where he spent three years before returning to management.

Upon his return to management, Neil took up a position at Timbercorp’s Boort Olive Grove and processing operation where he spent ten years.

Neil lives in the manager’s residence at the orchard, is happily married to wife Joanne, raised two sons and now enjoys spending time with his granddaughter.

Market/Industry news

Industry news

Insights into Australian Almonds

Nut industry set to crack $1 billion in value by end of the year
Updated 13 Apr 2015, 5:43pm

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-04-13/nut-industry-positioned-to-crack-one-billion-dollars/6388656

Global News

Blue Diamond Almonds California Almond Crop Update – May 4, 2015

May 4th, 2015

http://www.bdingredients.com/blue-diamond-almonds-california-almond-crop-update-may-4-2015/

Blue Diamond’s business model is unique from most other California almond handlers and here’s why…

http://almondinsights.com/blue-diamonds-business-model-is-unique-from-most-other-california-almond-handlers-and-heres-why

March 25th, 2015 
 

March 2015 Orchard Update    

2015 Harvest Update

Harvesting of the Non Pareil crop, which is approximately 50% of the total crop, was completed on 21 March, compared with 24 March in 2014.

At the end of March, harvesting of the pollinators was approximately 40% complete. The 2005 and 2007 projects were 100% complete whilst the 2004, 2006 and 2008 projects were all partially complete. Subject to any adverse weather events, we expect to complete harvesting the pollinators around the middle of April.

There have been incidences of ‘stick-tights’, making it difficult to remove all almonds from the trees in some areas so some additional work was required to maximise the harvest result. To reduce the additional work required after the initial shaking, the shakers moved to a night shift which resulted in more efficient shaking results in the affected areas. This was due to higher moisture levels and cooler shaking conditions. Incidences of ‘stick-tights’ have occurred widely across the industry.

There had been approximately 140 deliveries of harvested almonds to the cracking shed at Almondco, near Renmark, South Australia. The field weight of each delivery onto B-doubles is generally between 35–40 tonnes. This year, Almondco is accepting up to 6 deliveries a day, split between 3 daytime and 3 nighttime deliveries. The daytime deliveries are stockpiled by Almondco for a maximum of 7 days before being processed whilst the nighttime deliveries are put straight into the processing plant. Deliveries are normally only delayed due to rain events that prevent almonds from being loaded onto B-doubles on the almond pad, or if for some reason the cracking plant cannot accept deliveries of almonds on a particular day.

There are two stock pile pads which we estimate are currently at 75% and 60% capacity and we do not expect any capacity issues going forward. A portion of the stock pile has been fumigated to help protect against insect pressure.   

There have not been any major rain events during the harvest which has helped the almonds to dry in the field to allowable levels, which is a maximum of 6% moisture.  If rain events are anticipated, the almonds on the stock pile pads will be covered with tarps.

ON THE ORCHARD

From our observations, the trees have very good bud development for flowering in August 2015 and they are looking especially healthy. We therefore have confidence that we should have a good crop result for 2016 and beyond (depending on weather related events between now and the 2016 harvest).

Carob Moth insect damage was first noticed in our orchard in 2013 and is now an industry wide issue that is being monitored very closely. A new insect pest which emerged in 2014 in orchards across the industry called the Carpophilus Beetle is still present at our orchard but we have not observed any major infestation. This beetle is a common pest in stone fruit and our orchard is bordered in parts by stone fruit orchards. The beetle can multiply rapidly and cause a lot of damage to the almond kernel. The industry has realised one of the best control measures for Carob Moth and Carpophilus Beetle is to practice very good orchard hygiene post-harvest. Our orchard manager focused on this after the 2014 harvest and the team will concentrate on this again in the post 2015 harvest period. This means removing as many nuts as possible from the orchard (via polling, nighttime shaking and re-shaking as appropriate) to prevent the development of host sites for the insects to survive the winter.  These practices help reduce the insect population that emerges in the spring to multiply, which reduces the total population that can infest and damage the almonds at critical times of the year. Insecticide sprays are an option but they are very expensive.

There were some minor incidences of hull rot observed prior to the 2015 harvest. As per our previous update, if this is not managed properly, hull rot has the potential to reduce productivity in future years. Every precaution in terms of crop hygiene, nutrition, water management and sprays was and is being undertaken by the orchard management team to avoid this.

Industry News

Australian nut industry worth almost $1 billion
Publication date: 4/7/2015
http://www.freshplaza.com/article/137856/Australian-nut-industry-worth-almost-1-billion

Australian Nuts
http://nutindustry.org.au/ANIC/About-ANIC.asp

Financial Review
Publication date: 7/3/2015
http://www.afr.com/news/world/north-america/california-drought-begins-to-bite-undermining-the-successful-us-success-story-20150405-1meyos#

Bloomberg View
Amid a Drought, Cue the Almond Shaming
Publication date: 7/4/2015
http://www.bloombergview.com/contributors/justin-fox

Almeria
Spain: 50% losses in early and late almond varieties
Publication date: 4/3/2015
http://www.freshplaza.com/article/137675/Spain-50-procent-losses-in-early-and-late-almond-varieties


February 2015 Update

ON THE ORCHARD

We received the results of leaf and soil samples taken in the middle of January across various sampling sites and were pleased with the results as the majority of the nutrients in the plant tissues and soils were in the optimal range. These samples were taken when no nutrition was applied to the trees to get a real understanding of the nutritional status of the trees and soil. Based on the leaf, soil and hull analysis, the 2015-16 programmes are being prepared to ensure sustainable crop production for 2016 and beyond. Leaf colour and health of the trees are still very good and bud development for next year is also looking promising at this time. We are encouraged by this as it indicates that, subject to any major environmental impacts on production prior to the 2016 harvest, we should continue to see improvement in crop yields for 2016 and beyond.

There were some minor incidences of hull rot which, if not managed properly, has the potential to reduce productivity in future years. Every precaution in terms of crop hygiene, nutrition, water management and sprays was undertaken by the orchard management team to avoid this. 

Carob Moth populations appear to have been reduced by the insecticide spray done in the middle of January. We have observed some almonds with Carob Moth damage and all areas with Carob Moth pressure will be fumigated to control the Carob Moth before the almonds are sent to the cracking plant. It is estimated that the damage is less than 1% to 2% of the entire orchard’s production. Any remaining almonds on the trees after harvest will have to be removed to reduce the overwintering sites for Carob Moth populations to breed and become an issue in future harvests.

2015 HARVEST

Hull split was slower during the 2015 harvest than in 2014 due to the cooler weather experienced in late January and early February.

Hull split was at 95% to 100% on the most advanced trees on 15 February. When the almonds are ripe enough to enable them to be shaken off the trees, the hulls split and reveal the shells of the almonds inside. Tree shaking to remove almonds from trees commenced in these areas on 20 February (compared with 9 February in 2014). Harvesting or the picking up the almonds off the orchard floor started on the 24 February.  Fortunately there were no rain events to delay the 2015 harvest

We test the almonds daily on site for moisture content. All almonds deliveries are quite dry this year having kernel moisture content < 6% before delivering them to the cracking plant. Moisture content of <6% is ideal as additional charges for drying the almonds will be incurred at the cracking plant for almonds with moisture content > 6%.

Transportation capacity from the orchard to the cracking plant has more than doubled this year. This is an advantage as the almonds are kept for a shorter time on the orchard stock pads which reduces the potential for insect damage and mouldy stained nuts which can lead to the almonds being downgraded and a lower price.

It is expected that all Nonpareil almonds will be harvested just after the middle March and the pollinators will be completed by the middle of April.
 

Industry News

Record almond harvest starts for 2015

ABC Rural  Deb O'Callaghan    Updated 27 Feb 2015

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-02-26/2015-record-almond-harvest-starts/6263424

AUDIO: The Australian almond harvest is underway for 2015 (ABC Rural)

The almond industry says this year's harvest is still on track to be Australia's biggest crop ever. Harvest has started in the major growing areas of Sunraysia, Riverland and Riverina this week and will continue until April, depending on weather conditions.

The world's demand for almonds is growing each year, especially from countries like India and China.

And with the United States, which produces about 80 per cent of the world's almonds, still in drought things are looking up for Australian growers.

Almond Board of Australia chief executive Ross Skinner said this year's crop was expected to be at least 75,000 tonnes.

"At this stage, it looks like it'll also be record levels of payment to growers on the record crop, so we're certainly getting it from both good yields and good prices," he said.

"And the Australian dollar, with it having fallen, will increase returns from those export markets."

Mr Skinner said the hot weather hitting most of these almond growing regions was helping with harvest.

"It is very good conditions at the moment for harvest for almonds," he said.

"We, like dried grapes, don't like rain during the harvest period. In the Riverland and Sunraysia, we've had that spell of hot weather which has been ideal."

Mr Skinner said that a lot of the 2015 crop had already been pre-sold and he did not expect any trouble marketing the remaining crop.

One of Australia's biggest almond companies is already seeing the benefits of the record prices and the record 2015 crop.

Select Harvest, which has orchards in Sunraysia, Riverland and the Riverina, has forward sold 40 per cent of this year's crop already.

Managing director Paul Thompson said with prices sitting around $11 a kilogram, the season and industry were looking very good.

"The almond industry is looking really positive, because not only are we near record prices, but there's a big volume of trees that are coming into maturity as an industry, which means we're becoming a significant player and number two in the world."

NEWS OUT OF THE USA
Almond Bloom Update

Posted February 18, 2015

 

The almond bloom is blanketing California’s orchards in white. Despite the challenges posed by water during the bloom the clear and moderate weather is a blessing for the almond industry. Throughout the Central Valley, growers have reported strong bee activity, lasting anywhere from seven to nine pollinating hours a day.

The bloom ranges from near peak to just past the peak and is exhibiting textbook timing and overlap between varieties within different plantings. In the north, the Nonpariel and its associated pollenizers are at peak bloom.

The central region reports that later blooming varieties such as Carmel are progressing quickly toward their peak and are continuing to be timed well with the Nonpariel. Growers in the south have reported that Nonpariel is overlapping well with many Sonora plantings and California type pollenizers. Meanwhile, with the rapid progression of the bloom period and weather forecasts suggesting another dry week, growers with water availability are starting to irrigate.


Given ideal conditions, I will be posting less frequently on this bloom. For those seeking daily information, Blue Diamond’s Bloom Report is an invaluable tool. Updated each morning during this period, the reports are broken down by region and offer targeted insight from Blue Diamond’s knowledgeable field supervisors.

Blue Diamond Almonds, Industry Update – February 13, 2015

 


The January Almond Board of California (ABC) Position Report confirms West Coast port congestion has taken center stage in the California almond industry. While the work slowdown has been evident since November, the situation has escalated substantially in recent weeks. Long lead-times to deliver goods through West Coast ports has caused domestic handlers to look toward East Coast options, putting them at a competitive disadvantage to suppliers shipping product from Spain or Australia. (For more information, see Western Growers’ press release here)

Record January commitments for the industry of 256 million pounds are countered by monthly shipments dropping 28%. Short-term demand is at record levels, but execution has not been this hampered since 2002. The light January export shipments are far more reflective of port congestion than they are of underlying demand.

The ABC January data confirms a 2014 crop of 1.85 billion pounds. The total 2014 supply of 2.16 billion pounds is nearly 70% committed. Welcome bright spots recently include strong demand from China, India, Middle East, and the U.S.

Prices through late December and January have been firm to rising, reflecting strong demand. Light export shipments threaten to create shortages of forward goods in the near-term. While most markets are covered through early spring, delivery time for many export destinations is uncertain. Even after a resolution of the ongoing West Coast labor negotiations, it will take 60 to 90 days to recover normal service levels.
 

January 2015 Update

Rainfall of 29mm was recorded at the orchard from January 3-13, 2015. Humid weather conditions were also experienced which increased disease pressure for rust, bacterial spot, almond scab and shot hole. Strategic management practices were actively implemented and were effective in controlling these pressures. There was a minor incidence of shot hole which was identified and controlled immediately with spot spraying. All orchard sprays were completed on time which included sprays to control Carob Moth and Hull Rot incidence during harvest.

The overall temperature for January 2015 was lower than for 2014. This resulted in a lower total evapo-transpiration (ET) for January 2015 (276 mm) as compared to last year (310 mm). This year there were only 2 days in January where the temperature exceeded 40o Celsius (January 2 & 3) as compared to a total of 9 days in January 2014. The trees did not show signs of stress on these two days as the irrigation systems were working to full capacity.

There were wind events in the middle of January, with wind speeds of up to 40 km / hr but there was no significant damage to the trees and crop load, only minor nut drop occurred. 

Leaf and soil sampling was completed in the middle of January which assist us in developing the 2015/2016 foliar, nutritional and soil amelioration programme. To keep differentiating buds healthy, pre harvest fertigation started in late January to ensure the trees store enough carbohydrates and nutrients in reserve for flowering in August 2016. To date we are pleased with bud differentiation and development for the 2016 flowering.

Carob Moth numbers were on the rise from December to mid January so insecticide spray was applied and since then we have observed a significant drop in Carob Moth numbers in the traps. Sustainable management practices and good tree health will help to minimise the impact of any Carob Moth and Carpophilus Beetle pressure on kernels.

Every effort has been made to keep the orchard in good hygiene and we continue to work towards a successful 2015 harvest. All harvest machinery is ready.

Hull spit is occurring well across the orchard but is more advanced on the sandy soils compared to the heavy soils. Hull spit is almost complete in Non Pareil trees and maturation of kernel is in progress. The kernels are losing moisture so as become fully mature and ready for harvest.  We expect to start shaking in mid-late February 2015. After the crop is mechanically shaken to the ground, the nuts are raked into windrows and allowed to dry naturally, ideally to a hull moisture content that does not exceed 12%, or a kernel moisture content that does not exceed 6%. This drying process can take a few days or up to two weeks depending on the weather conditions.

Insights into Australian Almonds

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-01-16/almond-record-tipped/6019678                                                    

Australian almond crop on track to set new record
Posted 16 Jan 2015, 7:13amFri 16 Jan 2015, 7:13am   ABC Rural By Clint Jasper

This year's almond harvest will surpass the previous record set in 2014, according to the Almond Board of Australia.

It's estimating between 75,000 to 80,000 tonnes of almonds to be harvested, beating the previous record of 73,000 tonnes.

The boost in tonnage comes as more trees hit maturity in the major growing regions of South Australia's Riverland, Sunraysia in north-west Victoria, and the Riverina in southern NSW.

Recent rainfall across those regions has not posed any risk of 'hull rot' or other diseases associated with wet and humid weather.

The Almond Board's chief executive officer, Ross Skinner, said grower returns remained high.

"We've had significant increases in the global price for almonds over the past two years and so we're enjoying very good prices at the moment.

"The market conditions going into the new season are very favourable." The good returns and strong market for the nut are driving an expansion in the industry.

"We've seen very strong demand from nurseries for new plant material, and we expect to see around a 10 per cent increase in plantings in each of the next two or three years."                                                                

AUDIO: Almond Board of Australia CEO Ross Skinner says a record almond harvest is expected in 2015. (ABC Rural)

Listen from the following link.:
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-01-16/ross-skinner-almond-board/6019712


Global News

The Blue Diamond CEO Mark Jansen offers his views on Californian industry update and almond demand growth, supply and why the prices being experienced are the new normal for almond prices in the following press releases:

 



Almond-Insights1
http://almondinsights.com/blue-diamond-almonds-industry-update-january-9-2015
California Almond Industry Update

Mark Jansen, Blue Diamond CEO, Almond Insights, January 10, 2015

The California almond industry shipped 148 million pounds in December. With the 2014 crop down double-digits to last year, the 6% decline surprised the industry on the upside. The shipments would have been even stronger if not for containers held up in West Coast ports due to union inactivity. The foundation for strong December shipments was steady, supported by North America and recovering China demand. China reversed its declines to grow shipments by more than 130% in support of Chinese New Year, February 19.

The 2014 crop still projects to finish between 1.825 and 1.840 billion pounds. With receipts already at 1.805 billion this will be the fastest California has harvested and received a crop.

After the pricing peak of early October, there has been price stability which builds market confidence and demand. Even with continued West Coast port slow downs, we project strong January shipments. The uncertainty of bloom drives prices higher in late December through early February.

 Almond-Insights2
http://almondinsights.com/blue-diamond-almonds-air-force-one
Blue Diamond Almonds on Air Force One

President Obama’s visit to India this week supports two great democracies and promises to enhance a long-standing strategic partnership. The India-U.S. Delhi Declaration of Friendship states a commitment to elevate the strategic dialogue to a strategic and commercial dialogue. This reflects the U.S. and India’s commitment to strengthen commercial and economic ties to advance mutual prosperity, regional economic growth and stability.

Blue Diamond’s vision is to deliver the benefits of almonds to the world. We look forward to opportunities to continue to bring Blue Diamond almonds into India and support Indian commerce. We hope this visit and Declaration will start to build momentum toward opening more discussion around agricultural issues.

Sacramento County Congressman Ami Bera was invited to join the president on this visit to India. His Facebook post provided assurance that Blue Diamond almonds were represented both in brand and as an ingredient in the Almond Joy candy bar peaking from behind our snack nuts.

It’s incredibly humbling to join the President on Air Force One and help represent the United States and Sacramento County abroad in India. I was glad to see that they were serving locally grown Blue Diamond Almonds aboard our flight!” Bera wrote.

Almond-Insights 3
http://almondinsights.com/almond-prices-new-normal
Almond Prices: A New Normal

Mark Jansen, Blue Diamond CEO, Almond Insights, 3 Feb 2015

The spectacular and extended rise in almond prices has the industry concerned that we have reached the peak. Many of you have lived through rising and falling prices. You may even recall there has been a five-year pattern to almonds prices. As we enter the fifth year of rising prices, rather than avoid the elephant in the room, it is important the industry understand why this time is different. 

The pricing cycles of previous decades were based primarily upon changes in supply. Bad blooms led to high prices, and increases in bearing acres, coupled with good blooms, led to declining prices. The last five years have been different. Demand has been the primary driver of pricing. While supply expectations influenced prices in the short term, the trend was consistently upward. Even the record 2 billion pound crops of 2011 and 2013 resulted in higher prices. Rising demand for almonds and new forms of almonds, driven by Blue Diamond marketing activities, have fully consumed even these large increases in supply. Demand, not supply, has driven prices for most of this decade.

If demand is the key driver of this market, the question is whether almonds are still a value. Three years ago I shared the Warren Buffet quote, “Price is what you pay, value is what you get.” In looking at the other tree nuts, almonds are now much more appropriately priced, but they are still a value. As the healthiest, best tasting and most versatile tree nut, almonds have a uniquely strong demand.

 

With the 2014 harvest, shortage of supply took over as the primary driver of market pricing. The yield on the 2014 crop was 12 percent below the National Agricultural Statistic Service expectation and was a statistical outlier from any forecasts based upon history. A convincingly good bloom and an apparently good crop in the trees translated into a harvest that caught the industry by surprise. The reason? This California drought is unprecedented. Most concerning is that the foreseeable future does not instill confidence in additional supply. I am writing this report in the middle of the driest January on record. Even if we are blessed with rain and snow in February and March, the 2015 crop will once again be small. UC Davis research indicates the greatest drought impact occurs in the year after the drought. If we are water constrained again this summer, we should similarly expect the 2016 crop to be small. The promise of greater groundwater regulation indicates water challenges and corresponding tight almond supply will dominate the industry expectations for the foreseeable future.

I trust almond growers will agree we are in unique times. There was an extraordinary rise in demand driven by Blue Diamond product innovation, brand-building advertising, and health messaging from the industry-funded Almond Board of California research programs. In appreciating the uniqueness of California’s current drought and water challenges, our future almond yield outlook is different. Tight supply will now dominate prices. Given that almonds still remain a value relative to other tree nuts, we are experiencing the new normal for almond prices.


December 2014 Update

On the Orchard

Trees are looking healthy and have excellent leaf size, colour and fruiting wood (spurs) for next year’s crop. The bud differentiation which started in mid-November is still on-going and we are pleased with results to date. 

The weather was humid in early December and there was a total of 3.8 mm rainfall which was less than the historic average. The irrigation water usage strategy continued to be appropriately implemented to reflect actual orchard conditions and ensured the trees maintained a healthy moisture content.

The orchard continued to be in good health with regard to insect, disease and weed pressures. The humid weather caused a very minor incidence of bacterial spots on the fruits of the Price variety which was controlled immediately and effectively with spot spraying. There was no disease pressure of any serious fungal or bacterial pathogen. There is always weed pressure in December but weeds have been successfully controlled through strategic management practices to help ensure a clean orchard floor in the lead-up to harvest.  Harvest is rapidly approaching and is expected to start in mid-February. We are in the process of completing the final stages of preparation.

Ant colonies that could cause damage to almonds started to appear in headland areas due to the dry weather. These ant colonies are being managed with special ant baiting programmes to avoid any downgrade of product.

We are monitoring Carob moth numbers in the lead up to hull split in mid to late January which is likely to be the main period of infestation.  The greyish adult moth has a wing span of approximately 20 mm. After mating during spring, the female moths find suitable fruit or nuts on which to lay their eggs., near the line of the splitting hulls. The hatched larvae then feed on the kernel, causing insect damage and quality downgrading in the sorting process which potentially impacts returns. The orchard management team is prioritising proper orchard hygiene to reduce the risk of carob moth damage and sprays have been programmed at 1-5% hull split in January to kill the the eggs and larvae.

Nuts developed to full size in early December and measurements carried out indicated that the highest % of kernels will fall within the range of 20-24 nuts per ounce. As with prior years we are only able to sample a very small number of almonds to gauge kernel size, so the ultimate outcome cannot be precisely determined. The samples contained no malformed nuts (unlike the 2014 samples).

Leaf tissues tests were also completed in middle of December and indicated that the trees have a highly optimal nutritional status..

Insights into Australian Almonds

The Almond Board of Australia (ABA) implements the industry development plan for the Australian almond industry. This is assisted by the outputs of knowledge and technology from the research program. The plan is aimed at enhancing the growing, processing and marketing of our almond products.

From pollination to promotion, the ABA is influencing the environment in which the industry operates to make stakeholders more viable. The information contained in the booklet referenced below provides industry stakeholders, government and those in the broader community with key statistics on the productive capacity, crop, demand and markets for Australian almonds.

The booklet is prepared on a marketing year basis spanning March to February based on data from growers, processors and marketers. The ABA acknowledges and appreciates the assistance of those involved. Information is also sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), International Nut & Dried Fruit Council (INC) and the Almond Board of California (ABC). This assistance is gratefully acknowledged.

The current Australian Almond insight 2013-14 can be download from the following link:

http://australianalmonds.com.au/trade/australian_almonds/resources_stats_reports

Global News

Every year in December, the Almond Board of California hosts The Almond Conference, which provides opportunities for growers and processors to interact with researchers and influential industry members on industry research, production news and regulatory issues. The three-day conference also features workshops and poster sessions dedicated to research topics, as well as presentations on global and local marketing programs

The Almond Conference of California 2014 was organised in Sacramento, USA in December. The following is link to download special lectures in the conference:

http://www.almonds.com/handlers/media-center-pdfs
 

Blue Diamond Almonds – Industry Update – December 9, 2014
December 9th, 2014

Overview -

The numbers on the Almond Board of California’s November Position Report reveal some critical differences in how the 2014 crop will unfold vs. the 2013 crop. 2014 Crop receipts are 1.728 billion through last month vs. 1.737 billion through November 2013. Although total receipts are nearly identical, the key difference is that the 2014 crop is 95+% received through November, and now projects to 1.825 billion or less at the top end. This is lower than the 1.85 billion in receipts we projected last month. The very early harvest, rain-free weather, and smaller overall crop, all contribute to the faster conclusion of 2014 crop harvest.

Projecting a maximum 2014 crop of 1.825 billion, and a total net supply of 2.138 billion, the California almond industry is 53% committed through November. Last year the industry was similarly committed through the same time frame at 55%. New commitments last month were nearly identical to last November at 142 million lbs reported. Carry-out inventory is still likely to grow from 350 million lbs to ~400 million lbs. The 2014 supply scenario continues to point to an intentional reduction of shipments from 2014 supply of 10% vs. the almost 12.9% we see YTD. In spite of the welcome recent precipitation, the 2015 crop potential is still projected as no better than flat to this year.

With increased pricing being the lever used to allocate shipments to 10% less than last year, we might expect a modest price correction to maintain YTD shipments inline with that level. With holidays approaching in the U.S. and the seasonal uncertainty in January of an upcoming bloom, new commitments in the next few weeks can be expected to slow as they typically do. Both buyers and sellers will be evaluating their positions.

Monthly Crop Receipt Comparison

From year-to-year, the curve of monthly receipts has significant stability. In December of last year, industry receipts slowed to 200 million lbs in December. After December 2013, 74 million additional lbs were received. November 2014 recipts are already down to the 200 million lbs level, due to the accelerated harvest. The historical trend suggests that 2014 crop will top out between 1.80 and 1.825 billion lbs.

Market Perspective –

The YTD situation remains largely unchanged. The data suggests the 2014 almond crop supply is trending below last month’s expectations, now topping out at 1.825 billion lbs. At the same time, YTD shipments are trending slightly below estimates to achieve an overall 10% reduction. To date, YTD 2014 crop pricing has essentially maintained equilibrium between supply and demand.


November 2014 Update

At the Orchard

This November was warmer than in previous years. There was rainfall of 14 mm at the orchard during the middle of November which provided the trees with some relief from the dry weather, however, rainfall for November was lower than the historical average. The irrigation water usage strategy was appropriately implemented to reflect actual orchard conditions and ensured the trees maintained a healthy moisture content.

Pit hardening and kernel development started in early November and was completed by month end, which is quite normal and desirable. Pit hardening is the lignification and hardening of the endocarp (shell), the inside layer which surrounds the seed (kernel).

Minor non-infectious Bud Failure symptoms were still observed for the almond cultivar Carmel, however, the majority of the tree branches have enough leaf out at the top of the canopy. Heavy loads of nuts also caused minor branch breakage which is being actively rectified.

Bud differentiation (2015 flower buds) started in the middle of November and will continue until the middle of January. The trees have excellent leaf size, shiny green leaf colour and profuse spur growth for bud development. The trees have generally put on good growth this year and we are very happy with bud development to date. The bud development is very encouraging and an important factor (one of many factors) that will determine orchard yields in the 2016 harvest. Shoot growth and root activity also started to slow down and lignification of shell (endocarp) also started towards the end of November, which is as expected.   

With regard to insect, disease and weed pressures, the orchard is in good health.  Weeds, especially fleabane, can be an issue in November but our current weed control strategies have been successful. Orchard floor preparation, which includes weed control, is well under way as a flat and weed free orchard floor allows us to recover as many almonds as possible during the harvest.

Bryobia mite was observed in several locations, including the headland trees, however our insect control strategies have this pest under control.

All November foliar sprays and fertigation were completed on time. Leaf tissue analysis was undertaken in late November and all essential nutrients were in the optimal range. 

Industry News

The Australian Nut Conference (ANC) is being held in Sydney on April 21st and 22nd, 2015.

The Australian nut industry has published some interesting data important to nut crops and can be viewed via the following links:

http://nutindustry.org.au/ANIC/About-ANIC.asp

In November, the Australian Almond Board released a press statement on the Free Trade Agreement with China. The contents are as follows:

Australian almonds to benefit from FTA with China
17th November 2014

The Australian almond industry welcomes the Free Trade Agreement with China and is set to reap the benefits of reduced tariffs on in-shell and kernel product sold into China which is the second largest market for almonds in the world. With the elimination of the tariffs currently set at 10%, there is potential for Australia to increase the tonnage sold into the Chinese nut market which has expanded rapidly in the past decade.

The Australian almond industry has not until recently been focussing on China as a market and this is reflected in the volume sold into Hong Kong and China in 2013/14 of 1,660 tonnes at a value of $11.6 million compared with total Australian almond exports of  68,000 tonnes worth $473 million.

With the doubling of the tonnage of Australian almonds exported in the past few years the industry has looked at expanding the volume sold into newer markets to lessen overreliance on any one market. With world demand for almonds continuing to be very strong and showing resilience in the face of rising global prices, the reduction in the tariffs should result in increased interest by the Chinese trade in Australian almonds.

Ross Skinner, CEO of the Almond Board of Australia, advises that Australia’s largest market in South East Asia is Thailand where tariff advantages are a significant reason for the increasing sales to that market. It is expected that the FTA with China and the elimination of the 10% tariff will lead to a similar upswing in exports into the largest economy in North East Asia.

The China free trade agreement adds to the recent achievements in trade negotiations by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade that will also see tariffs of 8% and 2.4% removed on almonds exported to Korea and Japan.

Almonds are already Australia’s most valuable horticultural export product and the industry believes the bilateral trade agreement with China will further grow sales as the tariffs are phased out and eliminated completely by 2019.

California is the dominant producer of almonds with 80% of global production so favourable differentiation with the US in terms of tariffs and currency exchange rates assists the Australian industry to achieve improved returns.

“The almond industry’s expectation is for a record almond crop to be harvested in Australia in 2015 that will further bolster the industry’s export capacity and value. Europe currently receives 42% of Australia’s almond exports, India 27% and the Middle East and Africa 17% meaning there is an opportunity to grow our exports to the Asian countries significantly if the returns are similar to those achieved from our existing large markets” Mr Skinner said.

Global News

As part of an ongoing commitment to honey bee health, the Almond Board of California recently released a comprehensive set of Honey Bee Best Management Practices (BMPs) for California’s almond industry. Developed with a wide array of input from sources including the almond community, beekeepers, researchers, California and U.S. regulators, and chemical registrants, the BMPs represent the Board’s most extensive educational documents to date to ensure that almond orchards are and remain a safe and healthy place for honey bees. 

Click here to view - Honey Bee Best Management Practices for CA almonds - PDF File


Almond Board of Australia Annual Report 2013/14


The Almond Board of Australia Annual Report 2013/14 contains current detailed information about the Australian almond industry and the ABA’s activities. The Chairman’s Report provides an excellent synopsis and is well worth a read. The Market Development section may also be of interest. To access the report please click here.

October 2014 Update

On the Orchard

October is a month of fruit and shoot growth with fruit development reaching its maximum size.

There were minor frost events in early October which had no impact to the developing fruit.

The orchard also experienced windy weather at this time which caused slight nut drop.

 All October fertigation and foliar programmes were completed on time and resulted in good nut development across the orchard. The trees are producing sufficient spur growth (short, proleptic shoots) for next year’s bud differentiation and have good leaf colour and size.

Tissue analysis was also completed in late October and all essential nutrients were found to be in the optimal range. 

Sustainable horticultural management practices continue to be undertaken. Spring pruning was achieved by removing water sprouts (suckers) which compete with the trees’ canopies for nutrients and water.

The orchard is currently free from any insect, disease and weed pressures. The minor NIBF observed on the almond cultivar Carmelin September has started to leaf out from the top of the canopies. Heavy loads of nuts have also caused some breakage of the branches but this can be easily rectified. Fruit development reached a key milestone during the 3rd week of October, that is the majority of cell division and cell expansion has successfully occurred (endosperm development).

 Pit hardening and kernel development started at the end of October and the nuts then developed rapidly.  

                                                                 


Industry News

Over the last past decade, almond plantings in Australia have increased from 10,000 ha to 30,000 ha and production has risen from 11,000 tons to more than 70,000 tones.  Australian export sales of almonds should reach $500 million and, when combined with domestic sales, the value should push beyond $600 million.

 The 16th Annual Australian Almond Conference (AAC) was held from 28th to 30th October 2014 at the Stamford Grand Hotel in Glenelg (Adelaide).  Over 200 Australian and international delegates participated including growers, processors, marketers, researchers, industry suppliers and other interested persons.

 The Australian almond industry is undergoing rapid expansion. It is one ofAustralia’s fastest growing horticulture sectors and produces around 3 per cent of the world almonds. It is forecast that Australia will surpass Spain(~ 8 per cent) within the next few years to become the world’s second largest almond producer behind California,USA(~ 82 percent).

 The following link is to the official programme and abstracts published in the conference booklet:

http://australianalmonds.com.au/documents/Industry/Conference/2014/2014%20Australian%20Almond%20Conference%20-%20Official%20Program.pdf

 The 2014 Almond conference of California is being held from December 9-11 in the USA and the following link is to the conference programme:

 http://www.almondconference.com/downloads/AIC2014_ConferenceProgram.pdf

 The Almond Board of Australia has stated the almond industry will be using the health attributes of almonds to encourage Chinese and South East Asian consumers to start consuming almonds in larger quantities. The Australian almond industry also wants to open up new export markets, particularly in China and South East Asia, where this particular nut is not part of their traditional diets.

 The Almond Board of Australia has also welcomed free trade agreements with South Korea and Japan, which should see tariffs drop, making Australian almonds more competitive with American produce. 


October 2014 Update


Please click on the following links to access the most up to date information out of California.

http://www.bdingredients.com/blue-diamond-almonds-industry-update/

http://almondinsights.com/

 

7th October 2014

It is with great sadness that we advise the untimely passing of Graham Johns.

Graham was a Director of Almond Investors Ltd as well as a Director of RMONPRO Developments Pty Ltd, and your Orchard Manager. 

Over the last 10 years, Graham worked tirelessly to establish best practice almond orchards for Investors in exceptionally difficult horticultural circumstances (including a once in 100 year drought). 

All investors will be aware that Graham was an integral part of both the AIL and RMONPRO teams and he will be very much missed by everyone that knew him. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends during this difficult time.

Investors can be assured that AIL is liaising with RMONPRO to implement business continuity strategies to ensure there is minimal impact on the management of your almond investment.


September 2014 Update

On the Orchard

Bee hives started to be moved out of the orchard on the 5th of September and all were removed within a week.

In early September, shoot growth and nut development started immediately after flowering. By mid September the orchard was looking green due to the fresh leaves and developing almonds.

Fortunately, there was no blossom blight and/or other insects affecting the trees. Generally black peach aphids (a type of insect) are often seen during September, however low temperatures in late July destroyed the aphid population.

Almond bud failure, often called “crazy top” or Non Infectious Bud Failure (NIBF) is quite pronounced this year in almond growing regions all over Australia. NIBF is a type of genetic disorder where vegetative buds fail to emerge from the top shoots. We observed minor NIBF on the almond cultivar Carmel due to the continuous extreme heat events of December 2013. The intensity of NIBF was slightly more on the younger plantings due to greater direct sun exposure of their canopies. Our management practices will enable our healthy trees to recover quickly.  .

All September foliar sprays and fertigation were completed on time. There were also some frost events however they did not cause any harm to the nuts.

The orchard also experienced slightly windy weather in mid September however this caused only minimal nut drop in-line with expected natural fruit drop from the trees. 

Industry News

It was a good year of pollination across the industry. Despite high almond prices, demand has remained strong, encouraging farmers to increase acreage. The health benefits of tree nuts have supported demand for almonds especially in the US, India and the Middle East. 
 

FINANCIAL REVIEW NEWSPAPER ARTICLE - 29 SEPTEMBER 2014

IN A NUTSHELL NEWSLETTER - EXECUTIVE UPDATE - SPRING 2014 
SOURCE: ALMOND BOARD OF AUSTRALIA
 

August 2014 Orchard Update

Pruning was successfully completed in very early August.

Flower bud swell started in mid-July and the first flowers emerged in the second week of August. Peak flowering in the Non Pariel variety was between 19 - 26 August, Carmel was three to four days later and Price was one day earlier. Flowering was consistent across the orchards and the weather was very good for pollination so we are expecting a good set.

As per our July orchard update, we were previously expecting to receive just below ideal Chilling hours but some late cold weather added to our Chilling units, which delayed bloom by approximately one week. This extra Chilling time meant we were able to achieve the required Chilling hours, which assisted the uniform flowering observed this year that was compact over time.

Bees started arriving on 4 August and all 8,131 hives were delivered and placed in the orchard at designated sites to pollinate the flowers. We placed the bees in groups down headlands and around the trees so they covered the orchard with a minimal amount of flying. Bee activity in the trees has been generally good this year. Although we thought bee quality may be an issue, our bee keepers delivered good quality hives that we were very pleased with.

During flowering there were slight to moderate frost events. Orchard preparation assisted to keep any damage to a minimum.

ABC Position Report Matches Expectations

Sep 11, 2014 

Almond 

The 2014 crop will be harvested earlier than any crop in recent memory.  Already, in August, 40% more volume was received than in 2013.

The 2014 Nonpareil crop will be significantly less than the NASS Objective Estimate.  Statewide, the crop is down 15% or more.

To put the 2014 crop in perspective, pollenizer harvests will need to exceed last year to achieve a total crop of 1.9 billion lbs.  The early pollenizer harvest results appear to be better than Nonpareil, but we do not expect it to match last year’s crop.  The market reflects this expectation in activity and pricing.

Today, the ABC Position report indicated that August shipments are 4% less than last year and commitments are down 11%.  As noted in the August 18 Almond Insights video, we expected this outcome and anticipated the strengthening prices that are now the result. 


July 2014 Orchard Update

All weed control programs have been completed. Levelling of the orchard mid row area has been completed in preparation for next year’s harvest. The orchard floor has been compacted using a roller. These programs assist the soil to absorb more heat during days when frosts threaten, allowing heat to reradiate at night and keep the orchard warmer. This nighttime heat transference helps keep orchard temperatures above zero degrees centigrade which assists in reducing the incidence of frosts. Bare, firm and moist ground can be 1.0 to 2.0 degrees warmer than ground covered with weeds. The orchards are monitored for frost events and damage caused by frost. We note the frost affected areas and take them into account when completing our crop estimation in November. In areas where frost occurs, the severity of the frost damage signifies how far below zero the temperature falls and for how long below zero the temperature lasts. Complete crop failure can occur overnight in areas that receive a heavy frost. In these areas the trees will not be affected but the crop will be lost.

Frosts damage the developing nuts by freezing and expanding the cells in the nut tissue. This leads to ruptures in the cell walls of the developing almonds and, in turn the death and abortion of the nut. In many plants tiny bacteria act as ice nuclei, causing water to freeze and damage the cells.

Frosts are most likely to occur on days when the orchard is covered by cloud.  This, combined with no wind and dry air, reduces the soils capacity to heat up during the day. If the clouds clear in the late afternoon and the soil rapidly reradiates its absorbed heat into the atmosphere, the orchard can fall below zero earlier in the night and therefore fall below zero for longer.

A frost event of minus 1 degree centigrade causes no real damage to developing buds and perhaps 1% damage to small developing nuts. However if the frost events result in the orchard temperatures dropping below 1.5 degrees centigrade (depending on the variety)  then between 5% and 10% damage can occur. At minus 2 degrees centigrade and during full bloom, 5% damage to the crop could occur and when small nuts are developing, 30% to 40% losses could be expected. At minus 2.5 degrees centigrade or below, at full bloom or when the nuts are small, almost total loss can be expected. We hope that we do not receive any frosts, especially severe frosts during bloom in August and during early nut development in September.

Flowering is expected to start around the 5th August and full bloom is expected mid-August.

Bud development this year still looks very good. We will review each project during full bloom to determine how each orchard’s bloom has finished.

Delivery of our bees will start on Monday, 4th August and, weather permitting, all bees will be delivered by Sunday, 10th August. Conditions this year for building acceptable bee hives for almond pollination have been difficult for bee keepers, with many struggling to deliver the required numbers from their apiaries. We have however secured our required number of hives for pollination this year at a reasonable strength, given this year’s conditions. We believe the bee keepers have worked extremely hard to supply us with this year’s pollination service and they have supported the orchard because of the good relationship we have with them.

A bee trial was carried out on our orchard this year with the aim of establishing how bee keepers could supply clean and strong hives for the almond pollination industry.  This trial was conducted by a Senior Apiary Officer from the Department of Environment and Primary Industry (DEPI) which has been very pleased with our cooperation and support for their trial. The DEPI bee trial has helped our bee strength and ensured we have some of the most disease free bees pollinating almonds this year.

Across the orchards this year we have had just below ideal Chilling hours. Chilling is simply the number of hours the buds are exposed to below 7.2 degrees centigrade during the winter months. As a result flowering may be slightly staggered and fruit set may be partially impacted. If the buds do not receive sufficient chilling hours during winter, to completely release dormancy, trees can develop one or more of the physiological symptoms associated with insufficient chilling: 1) delayed foliation, 2) reduced fruit set and, 3) reduced fruit quality.

All pruning has been completed in all orchards. The trees were given a very light prune this year following the heavier prune necessary last year. This will help ensure we maximise our crop this year.

Carob Moth numbers are very low at present with almost no moths being detected in our orchard traps. This means the Carob Moth is overwintering. The Carob Moth overwinters in almonds left in trees or on the ground after harvest to repopulate the orchard in the spring and mid-summer periods. We have removed as many of these “mummy” nuts from the orchard as possible within budget limits.

In areas of the orchard where we could no longer shake trees to remove mummy nuts, due to sensitivity of the buds, we invested in an extensive poling program. Poling was done in areas where the highest density of mummies remained after harvest. We removed as many nuts as possible to minimise the build-up of Carob Moth in late January which could reduce kernel quality.

July fertigation and foliar spray programs are complete.

Irrigation system maintenance is well advanced. 

“And it was just right.” Goldilocks

Posted: 18 Jul 2014 11:23 AM PDT On June 30, NASS released their Objective Estimate of 2.1 billion pounds.  It would make the coming crop a new record, although only 5% higher than current crop.  The industry was surprised.  Forecasts were generally lower due to drought impact and extrapolating some challenging local conditions.  I see this higher number as a welcome surprise.  The 2.1 billion supply is good for industry and truly a goldilocks forecast.

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Demand for the 2013 almond crop is on pace to grow by 5% with supply of just over 2 billion pounds.  The industry is once again selling the entire crop with minimal carryout inventories.  Already supplies are getting low with limited quantities of particular varieties and sizes.  As a result, summer pricing is matching pre-bloom peak pricing.  Even though the industry has sold a small portion of the 2014 crop at a discount to current crop pricing, the pricing levels have still been at a premium to the 2013 average.  There is low urgency to move the crop.  For the last three years, almond handlers have watched prices increase with harvest and build through the season.

For the 2014 crop, it would be appropriately conservative to forecast a 5% growth in demand.  This would assume developed markets like the US, UK and Japan continue to grow; while China and India remain static.  Applying 5% growth in demand to current supply conditions would indicate that we need a 2.1 billion crop in 2014.  The math works perfectly.  Until we get significant news to the contrary, the outlook for almond prices remains stable to bullish.

It appears the 2014 crop will arrive earlier than any crop in recent history. Even with this early start, it will be late October before anyone understands the actual size of this crop.  Until then, history, capacity and cash flow will drive the industry to commit over 50% of the harvest using the best available information, NASS.

As a reminder, the historical reliability of the NASS forecast has been good, still the range of error for the last two years has been +- 10%.  With almond inventory levels so low, the impact to the industry from this range of numbers is substantial.  With a hot summer forecast and continuing drought, a larger crop seems unlikely, although it would bring inventory availability and price stability, allowing markets in Asia to return to double digit growth.  This could be good for industry, consumers and growers.  A smaller crop seems more likely and it could create supply shortages and further upward spikes in almond prices.  With any drop in the almond crop, the industry would be forced to raise prices to ration supply.

aug2014img222 


It is far healthier for Blue Diamond and the industry to have large and growing crops.  Product innovation, great advertising and market development will continue to create demand and that in turn will drive pricing.  This is how we have increased industry profitability the past several years without losing our customers.  This is sustainable, long term profitability for the industry, not a short term market cycle.  For these reasons, 2.1 billion pounds in 2014 is my “just right” crop...

The post “And it was just right.” Goldilocks appeared first on Mark Jansen Almond Insights.

Blue Diamond Almond Market Update

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Strong shipments for the California Almond Industry continued into the month of June. Yesterday’s release of the Industry Position Report showed a record shipment for June. Net shipments of 152.8 million lbs. were 11.3% larger than last June. YTD shipments through June total 1,804.9 million pounds, pushing up the YTD increase over last year to 5.2%

New commitments in July once again exceeded 100 million lbs.  Only 222 million lbs. remain uncommitted from the 2013 crop supply, indicating shortages until the new crop is harvested. Ending inventories to carry into next year project to be 330-345 million lbs.

The 2014 crop harvest will begin in earnest in early August, 10-14 days ahead of last year.

California almond growers are concerned that the 2014 crop may not yield the full 2.1 billion lbs. projected by the NASS Estimate. As a result they have been slow to begin selling the 2014 crop. Even with a full 2.1 billion lb. crop, ending inventory projections continue to decline relative to expanding global consumption. The July 31st ending inventory will represent less than a 60-day supply. Many growers look at the 2015 crop yield outlook as potentially more impacted than the 2014 crop, pending upcoming seasonal rainfall totals.

The growth in almond consumption continues to be widespread globally. The U.S., Europe, and Middle East/Africa markets all continue to be up 10% or more YTD. Only the Asia/Pacific region declined this year. However, in June, shipments bound for both India and China increased over last year, contributing to 20% growth in June.

Market prices for the 2013 crop are firming as supplies dwindle. 2014 crop prices have begun inching upward as buyers assess the supply outlook with the Objective Estimate in hand. The June shipment numbers will only strengthen that viewpoint.

NASS Objective Estimate for the 2014 California Almond Crop Projected to be 2.1 Billion Pounds

Posted: 02 Jul 2014 09:04 AM PDT

 

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The NASS Objective Estimate for the 2014 California almond crop was released this week on Monday. NASS estimates the 2014 crop to be 2.1 billion pounds. The estimate represents a 4.5% increase over the 2013 crop.  For the fourth consecutive year, California is projected to produce a crop close to 2 billion lbs, providing room for modest growth in global almond consumption.

With 2.3% more bearing acres (860,000) and a kernel count 0.5% lower than last year, the estimate projects the second highest yield on record at 2,440 lbs per acre.

With a few weeks remaining before harvest, the initial concerns for drought impact on the 2014 crop have moderated, but not disappeared. There may still be some downward effect on total yield by the time harvest is underway. With water reservoirs at extremely low levels, California agriculture is more dependent than ever on the upcoming fall and winter rainfall to provide needed water supply to next year’s crops.

The June Position Report is scheduled for release on Thursday, July 10. Expect to see shipments that continue to drive ending 2013 crop inventory towards 340 million lbs. By the second half of July, 2014 crop commitments that were postponed in order to evaluate the Objective Estimate should begin in earnest. Based on recent years, the most attractive buying opportunities will fade quickly as shipment positions for September through November are substantially booked.


June 2014 Orchard Update

All almond deliveries to Almondco for cracking and processing were completed on the 26th June 2014.  We expect to provide data regarding the final crop in our July Orchard Update, however we can now report that the total crop will be lower than in 2013 (as reported in our April 2014 Orchard Update).  The lower crop yield will be offset by the higher almond prices which should see an overall positive impact on most Projects for 2015.

June, being the first month of winter, means water use in the orchards is very low and after rainfall events all irrigation can often be stopped for varying periods of time.  The lower temperatures and wetter conditions in the winter months means water use and power costs drop significantly.

Winter pruning in the orchards is well advanced with approximately 60% of the orchards completed.  Pruning involves removing less productive wood in the trees to encourage younger wood to be produced and to promote more light and air movement.  This year we have been able to lightly prune the orchards to help maximise the available buds to set a crop during bloom and the early spring period.  The light pruning was only made possible because we pruned more wood out of the trees last year.  If we had not removed the additional wood from the trees last year future crops could have been adversely affected.

We have commenced our winter irrigation maintenance program.  During the winter months when demand for water is low, it is the opportune time to check our irrigation system and repair and service any worn or faulty parts so that we minimise down time in the spring and summer.  We check pumps, motors, filters and the fertigation and irrigation systems during this period.

The trees have now lost all their leaves and are fully dormant.  Dormancy is a rest period for the trees and it is very important in the annual growth to enable them it to prepare for the approaching bloom and fruit set period properly.  At present the orchard has 100% leaf drop and the trees therefore have no leaves, which is quite normal and required at this time of the year.

Buds are now starting to swell in size as they progress toward bloom, expected to be around the beginning of August 2014.  Bud development is still looking promising this year and we are observing a significant number of buds that have the potential to be pollinated and become harvestable almonds in 2015.  However we still have a long way to go to the 2015 harvest and many potential challenges to manage.  We are completing mite and fungicide sprays to help protect the trees from attack by mites in the summer months and early disease outbreaks leading up to bloom respectively.

Discussions with our principal bee keeper have been undertaken to discuss the delivery of bee hives to the orchard this year and to address any points the bee keepers and the orchard management team wanted to raise.  We believe the bloom this year could be a little early and have advised our principal bee keeper of this observation so we can be ready to move the hives into the orchards earlier if required.  Almond trees need bees to pollinate the flowers, which means placing the pollen of one variety on a flower from a different variety. Without bees almonds cannot set a crop.

Discussions were held between the almond and bee keeping industries in June 2014 about the management of a potential incursion into Australia of a mite called Varroa Mite. Varroa Mite is a parasite of feral and managed colonies of honey bees. Australia is the only continent in the world to be free of Varroa Mite.  The mite eventually kills colonies if not managed.  Authorities are well aware of this threat and are doing what they can to stop it entering Australia by accident or because someone brings infected bee material or bees into Australia.  If the mite does enter Australia, a decision will have to be made by authorities if it can be eradicated or not.  If it cannot be eradicated, bee keepers will have to incur additional costs managing the mite in their hives which will increase the cost of pollination services from that time forward.  Almond growers in Americ ahave been addressing Varroa mite incursion since it was first noticed in Wisconsin and Florida in 1987.  The possible impact an incursion of Varroa Mite will have on almond pollination services in any one year will depend on the time of the year the incursion occurs.  Incursions closer to flowering in July will have the most impact.  Authorities are well aware of this issue and are working to minimise any impact of any incursion at this vulnerable time and any time of the year should it occur.

Blue Diamond California Almond Market Update

The California Almond Industry continued to experience strong shipments for the month of May. The Industry Position Report showed shipment totals of 143.7 million lbs., an increase of 9% from last year.  YTD shipments through May totaled 1.652 million lbs., an increase of 4.7% over prior year.  The 2013 crop remains at just over 2.0 billion lbs.  Strong global demand, coupled with increased shipments against crop receipts, signals an ending inventory now projected to be lower than last year’s 335 million pounds.

The U.S market maintained shipment levels supporting 10% year-over-year growth. Europe’s growth pace also continued, partially due to the weak Spanish crop. China was the only major region showing a decline for the month versus prior year.India continued to exhibit increases, as they have for the past few months. The Middle East continues to rebound from last year.

Growing demand, both domestically and abroad, coupled with lower ending inventories, continues to support firming market prices.

 

Industry Shipments Major Market Summary

 

May vs Prior Year (%)

YTD vs Prior Year (%)

USA

0.6

10

Europe

22

15

China

-29

-30

Middle East /Africa

11

15

India

23

-20

Total Shipments

9

4.7

NASS issues the Objective Estimate for the 2014 California almond crop on June 30.

Almond Insights, Mark Jansen

The supply of almonds has not meaningfully grown since…

The supply of almonds has not meaningfully grown since the 2010 crop.   Acreage has grown at 2-3%, but yields per acre have not matched the high mark of 2010 (not incidentally our last wetter than average rainfall year).  The May Subjective Estimate of 1.95 billion for 2014 continues this trend.

Market demand is stronger than supply so prices continue their upward trajectory.   With prices at all time highs, it is instructive to see which markets can sustain demand. The U.S.continues as the biggest, most consistent source of almond-pounds growth. Other developed markets are also showing a willingness to purchase higher priced almonds, particularly those markets where Blue Diamond has launched Almond Breeze and has invested in advertising.The U.S,U.K. and Japan share this Blue Diamond-driven growth.

There is a wood carving in my office that says “Fear is Opportunity in Disguise”   My mom gave it to me quoting one of my first President’s Corners which referenced the market concern of the day. I am sure you remember the euphoria over the market growth in China and also a fear that a change in demand from the market could drive prices downward.  With two years of double-digit declines in China and still rising prices, we now realize the fears of the day were unfounded. More importantly, we rediscovered the opportunity for far more growth than we could ever have imagined from markets described as mature by the industry.

It is not uncommon for industries to chase new markets or customers, while neglecting the established. Fortunately, we did not fall into that trap.  Instead, we renewed focus on consumer insights, product innovation and advertising that created a renaissance of growth.   This surprised and reignited the confidence in the market potential of so-called mature markets.

Going forward, the almond industry, and Blue Diamond in particular, must remember that our greatest opportunities for growth may not come from those markets with the least consumption.  In many cases it is easier to get your best customer to consume more than introduce a new customer.  With U.S. per capita consumption at only a can a month we have plenty of room for next generation almond products and marketing before reaching our Can-A-Week standard.



May 2014 Orchard Update

The buds look to be advanced by approximately one week this year compared with last year.   Bud development is still looking good for an August 2014 bloom.

Leaf drop by the end of May was approximately 85% in the older trees and 70% in the very young trees. Leaf drop is slightly advanced this year because of cooler weather experienced in early autumn. It is important and necessary that the trees drop their leaves in late autumn and winter so that they can rest properly and the buds fully develop ready for bloom in August.

The weedicide program has been completed and weeds are under control.

The pruning program commenced in late May, immediately after the completion of the 2014 harvest on the 20th May 2014. Rain events delayed the completion of the 2014 harvest and made it more difficult to harvest almonds at the correct moisture content of a maximum of 6.5%.

We have focused on removing nuts remaining in trees after the harvest, due to the incidence of Hull Rot, a disease which sticks the nuts to the trees and makes it impossible to shake them off during the harvest. Hull Rot occurred this year as a result of early rain events just prior to harvest after the almond hulls split. There is no effective control mechanism for Hull Rot. Due to early development of the buds this year, re-shaking was monitored carefully to ensure no damage to the buds. Some areas of the orchards were not re-shaken. We aim to remove as many remaining nuts as possible to try and minimise the incidence of Carob Moth infestation in January each year, just prior to harvest. In areas not able to be re-shaken now, we will address any incidence of Carob Moth in January 2015 using other methods.

All foliar bud building spray programs were completed in May. These foliar sprays assist the buds to strengthen and develop, which helps improve consistent flowering and fruit set in August and September.

Bee hive numbers for pollination in August have been notified to the Principal Beekeeper who is organising our requirements for delivery, expected to commence at the end of July 2014. Our bee keepers are participating in a Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industry trial to ensure disease free bees are delivered for pollination. Bee Keepers are happy to participate in this trial because they will have confidence that hives delivered to our orchards are disease free. Hives free of disease are much more likely to be stronger and a better pollinating.  Bee keepers are also much more likely to want to provide pollination services to almond orchards that can give them confidence that other bee keepers are also delivering disease free hives.

NEWS OUT OF THE USA: FROM MARK JANSEN, ALMOND INSIGHTS

2014 California Almond Crop Update – May 27, 2014, 

MayAlmondUpdate1 


This report covers conditions and observations made between Monday, April 28 and Sunday, May 25, 2014.

Daily maximum temperatures during the period exhibited a cyclic pattern, rising above and falling below seasonal normal levels in weekly succession. Several low-pressure systems spiraled over the state during the period, casting scattered showers over the region. Official rainfall totals in areas receiving precipitation ranged from trace amounts to nearly one inch.

Crop Development -

In the North, crop development continues at a strong and slightly accelerated pace. Observers are reporting that kernels of all varieties have now become fully solidified, or nearly so, leading many believe that the crop maturity is running approximately one week ahead of last year. However, this will not be confirmed until the first hulls of the Nonpareil begin to split. This is expected to occur along the west side of the region at the end of June or first days of July.

Central Area- as in the north, observers are reporting that kernel development is progressing normally and slightly ahead of last year. Additionally, solid kernels of several pollenizer varieties were also observed.

Southern Area – At the end of the period, kernels of all varieties are now fully solidified, or nearly so throughout the region. The solidified kernels are able to tolerate a bit more water stress, allowing growers with limited supplies to reduce their irrigation volumes slightly. All in the region will be monitoring their orchards closely for the next major phase of crop development, the hull split of the Nonpareil, which could begin at the end of June.

Water Demand –

Water is on the minds of all in the region. Warming temperatures and windy conditions have moved growers into a summer-time mindset as they monitor moisture usage and schedule irrigations to meet the tree’s requirements. Those sourcing water from privately owned wells are hoping that they will be able to make it through the growing season. Growers throughout the almond-producing region spent the month focused on water management as they worked out the season’s supply of water.

In the North – In addition to providing water, growers have also been quite busy managing fertilizer requirements and monitoring pest populations within the orchards. Observers are reporting that the orchards are in generally good condition with few disease issues.

Central Area- Casual observation of the region’s orchards indicates that the orchards are in good to very good condition. However, closer examination from within the orchards reveals increasing water stress, particularly along the west side of the region. Lack of spur growth is the most typical sign of water stress. While not necessarily playing a role in the current crop, this new growth is required to sustain subsequent crops and is an indicator of potential impacts on the developing nuts now in the trees. Some west side orchards are also showing increasing levels of salt injury resulting from the use of poor quality ground water from privately owned wells. While nearly all orchards in the region are receiving some amount degree of irrigation, there are a few plantings that have been abandoned due to a total lack of water.

Southern Area – Windy days and periods of above normal temperatures have exacerbated the situation, driving water consumption by the trees. Measurements of the daily evapo-transpiration rate published by the California Irrigation Management Information System, CIMIS, show typical pan evapo-transpiration, ETp, rates at 0.25 to 0.30 inch per day during the period. However, windy conditions have also driven ETp rates above 0.35 to as high as 0.40 inch. For growers facing limited water supplies,University ofCalifornia researchers are recommending that the amount of water be spread evenly throughout the growing season, while trying to maintain enough for a post-harvest irrigation to support the flower buds needed for the next crop.

Observers are reporting that growers in theMaderaCountyarea are facing dropping water levels in their private wells. Well drillers and service companies have been kept very busy trying to keep up with the demand for their services. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which manages the Federal Central Valley Project has announced that it will use water stored behind the Friant Dam near Fresno to supply water to the group of west side irrigation districts, collectively known as the Exchange Contractors. This action leaves lands along the east side of the region without a major supply of water for the season.

Crop Management

While water worries have dominated discussion among the region’s growers, the normal growing season activities cannot be ignored. Weed control and fertilization of the developing crop played a major role in the grower’s daily schedule of activities during the period and quite a few spray rigs could also be observed crawling through the region’s orchards as growers timed treatments to the susceptible stages of Navel Orange Worm and Peach Twig Borer.

Growers have been applying Gypsum to the orchards in an effort to enhance water penetration and leach salts from the root zones. Weed and insect management operations have also played a large role in grower schedules as they work to support the crop.

Almond Market Update – May 13, 2014

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The April California Almond Industry Position Report was released Friday May 9. Shipments for April increased 6% over prior year to 137 million lbs. YTD total shipments increased to 1,508 million lbs., up 4% and growing from the previous year. The 2013 crop remains at just over 2.0 billion lbs., with less than 3 million lbs. of receipts reported in April.  Increased shipments against crop receipts are at the low end of expectations and signal a 2013 crop carryout at 350 million lbs. or less.

For the first time in recent months, the U.S. market did not lead the increase. U.S. shipments were flat to last year, remaining up by 11% YTD. Both China and India showed positive monthly gains, while shipments remain below last year for the full year. European shipments were up 7% in April and are up 19% YTD. The Middle East/Africa region was up 23% for the month, and is up 16% YTD.

106 million lbs. of new commitments leave the California supply well over 80% committed. California almond shipments through April are at record levels. With the May 1 Subjective Estimate of 2014 crop at 1.95 billion lbs., several markets have been actively buying the remaining 2013 crop in early May. 

2014 California Almond Market Forecast – May 2, 2014

Today NASS reported the Subjective Estimate for the 2014 crop is 1.95 billion pounds.  This is 2.5% below last year’s production of 2.0 billion pounds. Last year’s estimate was within 1% of the actual 2013 crop.  On average, the Subjective Estimate over the last five years has been within 5% of actual crop receipts. For the past two years, the Subjective Estimate has been at or above actual receipts.

Despite receiving good precipitation for March and April, the effect of the continuing drought conditions and early season high temperatures will have an impact on the crop in terms of total quantity, sizing and quality as we still have 3-4 months before harvest.  The crop we eventually harvest may be different than what we see on the trees today.

Many markets remain very low on inventory and California industry shipments continue to move at a robust pace.  We project carry-out inventory of 350 million pounds in July.  There is strong demand across global markets as we move into the summer months.
 

April 2014 Orchard Update 

2014 HARVEST

Pollinator harvest (i.e. 50% of the 2014 crop) started on the 25/3/14 and as at the 29/4/14 we have approximately another 4 to five days to complete the 2014 harvest.  We started transporting Pollinator varieties to Almondco on the 25/4/14. At the time of writing this report 12.5mm of rain had fallen on the orchards and as a result stopped the harvest which cannot be recommenced until the almonds dry out. By the 25/4/14 the entire 2014 Non Pareil crop had been delivered to Almondco and the crop has been cracked.

Final yield results are not yet available, however the 2014 Non Pareil crop, which is 50% of the harvest, is expected to be approximately 22% less than the 2013 Non Pareil harvest result. We still have to crack all the pollinating varieties before we can determine the final 2014 harvest result. The pollinator varieties account for the other 50% of the 2014 crop and depending on whether the pollinators produce more or less than the Non Pareil variety, the final 2014 crop variance compared with the actual 2013 crop may result in a move up or down from the 22% variance referred to above. The degree of the variance will differ from Project to Project and the final 2014 yield results for each Project is expected to be plus or minus the 22% differential referred to.

ON THE ORCHARD

As the 2014 harvest comes to an end we are now focusing on:

  1. Bud building nutritional sprays to help strengthen the buds in preparation for the approaching pollination period commencing in early August. 
  2. Fungicide sprays to reduce the population of harmful bacteria in the orchards. 
  3. Leaf drop foliar sprays to remove any remaining leaves on the trees to ensure they go 
    into dormancy during the winter properly and rest prior to the rapid spring regrowth period. 
  4. Commencing the late autumn/ winter pruning program, which normally lasts about ten weeks and can have up to 30 contractors pruning on any day. 
  5. Finalising an orchard weedicide spray of all orchards after harvest. We are not able to do general weedicide spraying in the orchard once harvest commences and weed populations with successive rains can be challenging to negotiate for harvest crews throughout the harvest. 
  6. Completing the new orchard program for 2014/2015 and budgets that take into account the expected future crops, growth rates of the trees and prevailing orchard conditions. 
  7. Agreeing with suppliers of bee hives to the orchards, the final numbers required and 
    the placement of the hives in the orchard. This year Government Apiary Inspectors have selected our orchards to conduct a pilot program to understand why the running of the pollination service on our orchard works so well. 
    The information the inspectors obtain from observing the health and condition of 
    hives we contract and the way we manage the pollination service provided to us by bee keepers, will they hope give them valuable information about how other almond orchards could better manage the pollination of their almonds.

All these activities and more are planned to help us strengthen the trees and developing buds, to increase the likelihood the trees will set and hold more of the flowers they produce early in August.

NEWS OUT OF THE USA

Almond Insights – 2014 Almond Crop Update

Observers have reported that the almond crop in the Sacramento Valley is developing well under the influence of the generally good weather conditions. Above average temperatures and adequate sunshine have combined to provide good support for the crop while also helping to reduce disease pressure. Many orchards have been shedding nuts that the trees are unable to carry to maturity, a normal process that typically occurs in greater amounts in the Carmel, California types and Butte/Padre plantings than in the Nonpareil. Observers and growers alike are reporting that they believe the crop to be approximately ten days ahead of last year.

In the central region, Nonpareil nuts along the west side have reached their full size and have begun to solidify. The date at which the first nuts are fully solidified will provide the best reference of maturity and an indication of the start of the harvest. Growers and observers in this area believe that the crop is running approximately one week ahead of last year.

Beneficial weather conditions for the majority of the period have allowed growers to complete required orchard tasks with few difficulties. Fertilizers have been applied as needed, as have fungicide treatments designed to prevent disease infections on the crop as well as the trees. In the north, pressure from insect pests has been low this year and to this point, few difficulties have been encountered.

Water remains a prime concern - for all in the Sacramento Valley. Rainfall during March and April has provided some degree of relief in the form of a small amount of additional run-off captured for storage. Most growers have been working to ensure that their privately owned wells are in good condition as they will be depending heavily upon groundwater in order to complete the 2014 growing season.

In the central part of the region deliveries from local irrigation districts began during early April.

Many growers are highly dependent on privately owned deep wells for their water this year. In addition to being quite expensive, ground water can also be of questionable quality, with the most serious problems presented by high pH and dissolved salts which can create a significant yellowing of the leaf tissue as the excessively alkaline water ties up the nutrients needed for crop development. In addition to the rather striking color, these orchards are exhibiting a lack of spur development.

Growers in the most severely impacted areas are managing what water they do have very tightly. For some, rather than managing with an eye towards maximizing yield, the goal has become to maintain the orchard and keep the trees alive. Some plantings are already exhibiting moderate signs of stress as their owners implement deficit irrigation strategies.

Further south, in the San Joaquin Valley, groundwater supplies will be critical to growers in the southern San Joaquin. Some have already reported difficulties with their wells. Pump and well companies are working around the clock to maintain systems and have been unable to keep up with the demand for service. Excessive stress has not yet been reported, but will most certainly appear as they move into the late spring and summer months.

ALMOND PRICES

The almond price table on the website to show the April 2014 almond price will be updated once the relevant data is received by AIL.
 

MARCH 2014 UPDATE

2014 HARVEST

Harvesting of the Non Pareil crop, which is approximately 50% of the total crop, was completed on the 24/3/14, compared with the 21/2/13 last year. Deliveries of harvested almonds to the cracking shed at Almondco near Renmark South Australia started on the 28/2/14. From the 28/2/14 to the 31/3/14 we have delivered 2,573 tonnes of “field weight” harvested Non Pareil almonds which includes husk, shell and almond kernels. Foreign material such as  dirt, sticks and stones etc. can also  be picked up during the harvest process. Deliveries to the cracking shed have been timely from the commencement of deliveries with minimal down time. Deliveries normally are only delayed due to rain events preventing almonds being loaded onto B-doubles on the almond pad, or for some reason the cracking plant cannot accept deliveries of almonds on a particular day. From limited records to date, kernel size looks good this year.

Rain events this year have made it challenging to dry almonds in the field to allowable levels, which is a maximum of 6.5% moisture. Almonds delivered to the cracking shed above this moisture content have to be dried to be within specification and this leads to some additional processing costs. As a consequence, we try to minimise the amount of almonds delivered to Almondco above maximum moisture levels, however it is possible some loads are delivered above maximum specifications, because of sampling variances on the orchards and at Almondco when the nuts are cracked. To keep the harvest progressing this year we have been drying almonds on the stock pile pads rather than risk leaving them in the field to be wet by successive rainfall events which could result in a reduction in kernel quality and the resultant increase in processing costs.

Almonds dropped on the ground during early wind events in the orchard, subsequent rain events and the incidence of Hull Rot in the orchards due to climatic conditions prevailing during hull split, have contributed to staining of some batches of Non Pareil almonds processed. Insect damage in the orchard generally looks lower to date than last year with some deliveries being processed higher for insect damage, probably as a result of higher incidences of insects in various areas of the orchards. The incidence of Hull Rot in the orchards this year has made it difficult to remove all almonds from the trees in some areas of the orchard. It has taken additional work in some areas to get as many almonds as possible off the trees to maximise the harvest.

The harvesting of the pollinator varieties of almonds is currently underway and to date we do not have any meaningful results as to the volume of almonds that will be harvested.

Early cracking results indicate that the final result of the 2014 harvest for both the Non Pariel and pollinator varieties will be lower than the original 2014 crop estimates completed in late 2013 and this decline is expected to be quite significant.  We understand that this disappointing result is being experienced by not only AIL orchards, but across other orchards in the industry. We are further examining whether there are specific reasons for the lower than estimated crop or whether it is just seasonal conditions which has led to such an unfortunate outcome. It is even more disappointing to us given that the prospect for a good crop earlier in the season was initially favourable.

We will be communicating the results of our examinations to all Growers on a Project specific basis over the coming weeks as the final results of the 2014 harvest are more readily ascertainable. At that time we would also expect to provide to Growers an indication of the likely impact the 2014 harvest result will have on net growing fees in 2015.

On a positive note, given the substantial investment in the tree growing program both last year and this year, from our observations at the orchard, the trees have very good bud development for flowering in August 2014 and they are looking especially healthy. Therefore, we have confidence that, depending on weather related events between now and the 2015 harvest, we could significantly improve on the 2014 crop result in 2015 and beyond. Recent new management appointments at the orchard also give us confidence that we could expect to see continuous improvement in crop results in the future.  

ON THE ORCHARD

Carob Moth insect damage, which we first noticed in our orchard last year, will be an ongoing problem from now on and will have to be managed very carefully, to minimise kernel damage each year. Depending on the level of staining and insect damage to the almonds they can still be processed.

A new insect pest has emerged this year in orchards across the industry called the Carpophilus Beetle. This beetle is a common pest in stone fruit. The beetle can multiply rapidly and cause a lot of damage to the almond kernel. We understand significant damage has been done to almond crops in some affected orchards. We have been constantly monitoring our orchards for the Carpophilus Beetle and to date we have not observed any infestation. The industry is realising one of the best control measures for Carob Moth and Carpophilus Beetle control is to practice very good orchard hygiene post harvest, which our orchard manager and the industry generally are increasingly focusing on. This means removing as many nuts as possible from the orchard to prevent over wintering host sites for the insects to survive the winter. This practice in turn reduces the population of insects in the orchard that can emerge in the spring to multiply, which reduces the population in total that can infest and damage the almonds at critical times of the year. Insecticide sprays are an option but they are very expensive.

Hull rot is a fungal disease that infects the space between the shell and husk just as the husk opens. Under the right conditions of moisture due to rain events and humidity, the black fungus grows rapidly and can kill branches the infected nuts are on and stain almonds, in particular the open shell variety Non Pareil. There is no fungal control for Hull Rot and given the advanced stage of nut development when Hull Rot occurs, i.e. just as the almonds are splitting in their final stages of maturity, applying control chemicals would be prohibitive, because of the associated food safety issues. Any almonds left behind after harvest we have to try and remove during late autumn and early winter, to minimise carry over populations of Carob Moth and potentially Carpophilus Beetle.

All the insect control measures put in place to protect the almond trees themselves and the crops they produce as described above will result in an increase in the costs associated with the on ground operations at the orchard.

NEWS OUT OF THE USA

Blue Diamond Almonds USA – Industry Update

The March California Almond Industry Position Report was released recently. Shipments for March were 151.3 million lbs, up 8% from the prior year. YTD total shipments increased to 1,370.6 million lbs, up 4% from the prior year. The 2013 crop edged over 2.0 billion lbs as expected.  Inventory at the end of March was 890 million lbs, with 2013 crop carry-out projecting to be between 345-365 million lbs.

Once again, The U.S. market continues to lead growth, up 9% for the month and 13% YTD. The Asia-Pacific markets, with light inventories, showed a 2% increase over last year. Japan and India both showed double-digit increases in shipments for March, though India is still down 25% YTD, European markets continue to ship steadily, up 20% YTD in Western Europe. The Middle East/Africa region was up 38% in March, and is up 15% YTD.

2013 Crop commitments increased to 8% YTD over last year. New commitments in March were 117 million lbs, an increase of 33% from February indicating that global demand continues to adapt to 2013’s higher pricing.

NASS issues their Acreage report on April 24, followed by the Subjective Crop Estimate on May 1, and finally the Objective Crop Estimate on June 30.

Blue Diamond Almonds USA – 2014 Crop Update

Above normal daytime temperatures and mild overnight lows have pushed the nuts of all varieties aggressively through their jackets and promoted a rapid increase in nut size. Nuts of all varieties are now in the latter stages of the natural differentiation process wherein those nuts the trees are unable to carry to harvest are sequestered from the flow of nutrients and are cast to the ground. Nuts will continue to be shed over the coming weeks.

Growers welcomed the recent rains, hoping to replace an irrigation or two should enough rain fall and to gain additional runoff from any snow that falls in the Sierra Nevada watershed. However, the recent rains have increased the potential for fungal infections and growers are monitoring their plantings closely.

 Update on Water

In the Northern region, in spite of the supposed benefit of the areas geographic location, growers in the Sacramento Valley are also concerned about the availability of water for the 2014-growing season. Growers drawing their water from the federal Central Valley Project have been told that they will receive no water this year, forcing them to scramble to secure water from other sources where possible. As the period ended, word that water may be available from other water districts in the region has provided a degree of hope that some growers may be able to supplement supplies from their private wells. However, it remains to be seen how much may be available and at what cost.

In the Central region, water also remains the prime production consideration for all in the region. Calculations using data available from the California Irrigation Management Information System, CIMIS, show that the orchards are currently consuming approximately from 0.5 to 0.75 acre/inches of water per week. Consumption will increase in the coming weeks, amplifying the need for irrigation. While the recent rains have provided a small amount of relief, primarily by delaying irrigation or two, growers in northern areas of the region have been also encouraged by talk of their districts possibly benefiting from additional runoff needed to increase storage levels in their reservoirs.

While producers in the San Joaquin Irrigation District, which serves the Escalon, Manteca and Ripon areas, are expecting full allocations of water for the 2014 growing season, those in other districts are facing significant reductions in the amount of water available from their normal sources. The Modesto Irrigation District has increased its expected allocation from 18 inches to 24 inches. Normal allocations are in the range of 36 to 40 inches per acre. Deliveries from the Modesto District are expected to start on April 9th, while deliveries from the Turlock Irrigation District are scheduled to begin April 3rd, with growers there limited to 20 inches.

In the Southern region, growers in the Merced Irrigation District have been informed that they will receive only 6 acre/inches this year and that first deliveries will not be available until April 21st. Allocations from the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project remain at zero. However, allocations to the Central California Irrigation District, the San Luis Canal Company, Firebaugh Canal Water District and Columbia Canal Company, collectively known as the “Exchange Contractors” serving areas along the west side of Stanislaus, Merced, Madera and Fresno Counties have been restored to 40% of contracted amounts. These district’s superior water rights have provided growers there with some relief, benefitting from a relaxation in Delta pumping restrictions made possible by the runoff from the recent rains.

Producers in areas facing limited supplies have been scrambling to secure water from alternative sources, where they are available. Prices for available supplies of water have already reached as high as $2,200 per acre/foot. Many with lands normally planted to annual crops will not be farming those fields this year, opting to transfer the water from fallowed lands to their orchards. Some have even mentioned intentions to rent open or unplanted land solely for the purpose of acquiring access to the land’s water allocation. Many will be dependent on ground water from private wells, particularly those in the Merced Irrigation District. Some growers have already noted impacts from groundwater with high pH levels, which have reduced vigor and caused a yellowing of the tree’s foliage as nutrient availability becomes reduced due to the elevated pH.

Further south, water consumption and the supplies needed to bring the crop to maturity stand as the foremost point of concern for all growers in the region. While growers in the Central California Irrigation District, the San Luis Canal Company, Firebaugh Canal Water District and Columbia Canal Company, collectively known as the “Exchange Contractors” have been notified that they will receive 40% of their contracted amounts due to their superior water rights, growers served by the reservoirs behind the Friant Dam and Hidden Dam on the east side of the valley will receive no water this year in order to meet the Exchange Contractor obligations. Growers throughout the southern San Joaquin Valley have been scrambling to secure available water and to reinforce their supplies of water available from privately owned wells. The recent rains have provided little relief.

 ALMOND PRICES

We have updated the almond price table on the website to show the March 2014 almond price. Unfortunately, the international almond prices have come off their highs of January & February & our AUD has firmed against the greenback resulting in cheaper landed prices into Australia


FEBRUARY 2014 UPDATE

ON THE ORCHARD

We have completed our pre-harvest fertiliser applications. We apply a general nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium fertigation just prior to harvest, to give the trees enough nutrition when the roots are still very active and they can absorb the fertiliser through the roots and create stores of energy to help them in the late winter and early spring set and hold the maximum crop possible. The almond tree flowers very early, around the beginning of August each year, when the temperatures are very low. The tree has to be able to set a large crop of almonds and hold that crop with minimal leaves to feed it in the early spring, so it has to rely on the stores it has in the tree from the previous season to do this. We budget to supply an adequate level of nutrients in the late summer period to try and maximise the amount of stores in the tree for the early spring period to help the tree set and hold a good crop.

Leaf colour and health are still very good and bud development for next year is also looking very good at this time. These observations are very encouraging to us and indicate that subject to major environmental impacts on production prior to the 2015 harvest, we could see continuing improvement in crop yields in 2015 and beyond.

Carob Moth populations appear to have been contained by the spraying we did in late January to help control this pest. We have observed some almonds with Carob Moth damage in the orchard which will result in extra sorting costs and possible reductions in crop, but to date we estimate the damage is less than 1% to 2% overall. Any remaining almonds on the trees after harvest will have to be removed to reduce the overwintering sites for Carob Moth populations to breed and become an even bigger issue next harvest. This pest will be an ongoing problem we will have to manage to minimise any damage to the almonds and will probably be more prevalent in some years than others depending on prevailing weather conditions.

Extreme temperatures from the 6/2/14 to the 12/2/14 inclusive ranging from 38 degrees C to 44.8 degrees C during the period, resulted in significantly higher water use in February than budgeted. The irrigation system was working at capacity during this time to try and ensure the almonds matured correctly and we did not suffer from any loss in kernel size or weight and have a lot of almonds sticking to the tree that could not be shaken off.  The additional water used in February may mean out of budget additional temporary water may have to be purchased prior to the end of the irrigation season this year which ends on the 30/6/14.

2014 Harvest

Hull split was at 95% to 100% on the most advanced trees on the 7/2/14. When the almonds are ripe enough to enable them to be shaken off the tree, the hull splits and reveals the shell of the almond inside. Tree shaking to remove almonds from trees commenced in these areas on the 9/2/14 compared with the 8/2/13 last year. Tree shaking is undertaken using a machine known as a “shaker”  which clamps the trunk of the tree and physically shakes the tree to dislodge the nuts from the branches. This process will not usually damage the tree. Generally speaking, the almonds are shaking well this year and the trees are shaking clean of almonds. Some areas have held a few almonds and we have not been able to get them off the tree during the shaking  process, but these areas to date have not been significant. Harvesting or the picking up of the almonds off the orchard floor started on the 25/2/13 compared with the 16/2/13 last year. The delay in starting harvest this year was due to a 38mm rain event from the 13/2/14 to the 14/2/14 inclusive. We had to wait for the almonds, which had already been shaken and were on the ground, to dry out for just over a week, before we could start picking them up. We invested in additional harvesting capacity this year and even though we had a later start to the commencement of harvest than last year, we believe we are on a similar acceptable time line to complete harvest at around the same time as last year, subject to future weather conditions.

We test the almonds daily on site for moisture content. If we pick up almonds greater than a moisture content of 6.5 % and deliver them to the cracking plant, additional charges will be incurred for drying and subsequently the quality of these almonds may be downgraded. For excessively wet almonds, rejection at the cracking plant is likely and the almonds will be sent back to the grower for drying. Almondco only pay out on almonds at or below a 5.5% moisture content or will adjust the weight of any almonds down to a 5.5% moisture content if they are delivered and accepted above this level.

The first almond deliveries to the Almondco cracking shed commenced on 3/3/14 compared with the 21/2/13 last year. The delay in sending the first load of almonds to the cracking shed this year was due to the delayed commencement of the harvest, as referred to earlier in this report. In normal year, we expect that during the harvest period we may not be able to harvest for up to 21 days. Whilst this is frustrating, it is manageable. Rain events can lead to quality issues such as stained or mouldy almonds presenting in the almond sample, and in cases such as these the almonds have to be removed by the processor at additional cost to the grower. They also can cause disease outbreaks immediately preceding and during harvest in the orchard, that reduce the quality of the almonds and the potential yield for the following year. To date while we have observed some evidence of damage caused by for example Hull Rot and Almond Scab, however the incidence of the diseases appears to have been confined to low areas in the orchards, where higher humidity exists. These areas to date have not been observed to be significant.

Our kernel quality this year looks good to date. The almonds look larger rather than smaller this year, which is beneficial to us given that larger almonds are attracting a premium this year, because the American crop harvested in August 2013 predominantly had smaller almonds.

 10  20  30  40
Almond stock piled
on the almond pad
to be
transported to
Almondco for cracking
Almond stock pile
being formed on
the almond
pad using pad
elevators
Almond stock piles
on the almond pad
being covered to
protect the stock
pile from an
impending rain event
Almonds just
shaken onto the
ground drying in
preparation for
sweeping into a
windrow prior to
being picked up


NEWS OUT OF THE USA

The photo below is of almond trees in bloom in the United States. Bloom has just finished in the US industry and they are in the early fruit set period. The US almond industry is six months out of cycle with the Australia almond industry. The US industry starts harvest in August 2014.

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The February California Almond Industry Position Report was recently released. Shipments for February were 149.3 million lbs, bringing the YTD total to 1,219.3 million lbs. YTD shipments are 3.6% above last year on a supply that is up a similar amount. The U.S. market continues to lead growth, up 26% for the month and 13.5% YTD. The Asia-Pacific markets are down 18% YTD, driven by both China and India, down 31% and 29% YTD respectively. European markets are up 17%, with Western Europe up 22%. The Middle East/Africa regions are up 13% overall, rebounding from their decline last year.

2013 Crop commitments are up by 3.7% YTD through February, with relatively light new bookings of 88 million lbs in the past month. The outlook for ending inventory on July 31 is approximately 350 million lbs. In the back half of the year, look for the U.S., market to moderate from its current rate of growth, with China and India exceeding their light second half performance of last year. From March through July of 2013, China/Hong Kong imported 31 million lbs from California and India imported 27 million lbs. Both regions look to equal or exceed that total in this year.

ALMOND PRICES

We have updated the almond price table on the website to show the February 2014 almond price. The $A firmed against the Greenback and international almond prices were a little weaker resulting in a lower $A/kg than the previous month.

OTHER NEWS ON THE ALMOND INDUSTRY

The following almond article appeared on the BBC news website recently which you may find of interest. You can click on the link below to view the article.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-26118225


JANUARY 2014 UPDATE

ON THE ORCHARD

On the 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, and 17/1/14, extreme temperatures of : 41.7, 43.9, 44.5, 43.9 and 43.9 degrees Celsius respectively were recorded in Piangil. Further extreme temperatures were recorded in Piangil on the 28th, 29th, 30th, 31st of January and on the 1st and 2nd of February of: 41.5, 38.0, 42.4, 43.2, 43.6 and 44.8 degrees Celsius respectively. These extremely high temperatures naturally had the irrigation systems at the orchard working to full capacity on each of these days. The trees tend to show signs of stress in the mid afternoon when the temperatures climb, however they seem to recover quite well at night and early morning, only to see a repeat of this trend the next very hot day.

We have not to date observed any issues with bud development in the trees due to the very high temperatures experienced. The high temperatures are advancing harvest more quickly than expected. We expect to start shaking on the 18th of February 2014 and finish harvest on the 23rd of April 2014 depending on rainfall we receive during the harvest period.

As reported last month Carob Moth numbers were on the rise from late December 2013 to mid-January 2014. One Carob Moth insect spray was applied from the 10/1/14 to the 18/1/14. After spraying, we noticed a significant drop in Carob Moths trapped in the orchard for approximately  two weeks. Subsequently, from early February numbers of Carob Moth trapped started to increase again. We are hopeful that the initial significant reduction in moth numbers will mean we incur less Carob Moth insect damage this year than last year, when we first noticed an issue with Carob Moth damage on our orchards. We will have a better idea of any economic impact of the carob moth issue once the almonds have been graded this year.  

Leaf and soil sampling was completed in January to assist us to develop the 2014/2015 fertiliser and foliar spray programs. Pre-harvest fertigation was commenced in late January to build reserves in the trees to help ensure they have sufficient nutritional stores to meet the high early demand required during bloom and early fruit set in August and September 2014.

2014 HARVEST

Fungal and bacterial diseases in the orchard have been controlled satisfactorily to date. Orchard floor preparation and weed control in preparation for harvest to enable as clean and unencumbered harvest as possible to proceed is almost complete.  Ant baiting has been done to reduce ant colony populations in the orchards, so that ants do not exist in sufficient numbers in the orchards to cause significant economic loss when they are shaken onto the ground.

Kernel size is fully developed and kernel dry weight almost complete. An estimate of kernel size indicates that the highest percentage of kernels will fall within the range 22 to 23 nuts per ounce or, 1.23gms to 1.29gms per nut. This means a percentage of nuts will be larger and smaller than the mid-range of 22/23 nuts per ounce. We are hoping for overall kernel size to be good this year, because kernel size does look reasonable and a premium is being paid for larger kernel. However, we are only able to sample a very small number of almonds to gauge kernel size, so the ultimate outcome of kernel size distribution cannot be precisely determined.

Nuts that split early in the Non Pareil and Price varieties this year when opened, revealed a small percentage of malformed nuts. In these cases, the hull and shell of the almond to develops normally externally, but the kernel inside has not developed normally. This issue is noticed in orchards periodically. It is only in the later stages of nut maturation when the almond begins to spilt, that the malformed kernel is detected. The exact reason for malformed kernels occurring is unclear, but we believe the disorder may be related to low uptake from the soil of a trace element by the trees, possibly copper. We will take the uptake of copper by the trees into account this year when establishing our soil and foliar spay nutritional programs, to see if we can correct the problem in the future. This problem appears to be prevalent across the broader industry this year, which would suggest there is a seasonal influence causing the problem. On average, we estimate 75% of the area of the variety Non Pareil in each project has 2% malformed almonds and 25% of the area has 5% malformed almonds. However, we estimate the Price Variety only has approximately 1% malformed nuts across all orchards. The variety Carmel has not been observed to date to contain any malformed almonds. We estimate the net loss due to malformed almonds across all orchards to be 34 tonne of Non Pareil and 4 tonne of Price.

NEWS OUT OF THE USA

In the American almond industry water storage capacity in reservoirs is concerning. The industry has just completed it driest year on record, possibly for 500 years. The warm and dry winter has spurred on early bloom, perhaps ten days ahead of last year. Early bloom will increase the risk of frost. American growers are scrambling to secure water from all sources. This situation will probably see stressed orchards and possibly lighter nuts than last year which were small anyway. It is likely the 2014 crop will produce smaller kernel size than the 2013 crop. The good news is bud sets are adequate, especially for pollinisers, bee hive strength and supply in the US almond industry is better and prices are now at record levels and heading higher.

NORTH AMERICA DEMANDS FOR ALMONDS CONTINUES A STEADY DRUMBEAT

Jan2014

 

The Beat Goes On….

The pace of 2013 new crop commitments was brisk in January at 180 million lbs, with prices rising steadily throughout the month. With January shipments of 160.2 million lbs, YTD shipments continue to track 5% above the prior year. The 2013 crop is 68-69% committed entering the 2014 crop bloom. With seven months remaining before new crop is harvested, inventories are tight for mid and larger polliniser CPOs and inshell of all varieties.

North American demand continues a steady drumbeat, with the 17% increase in January shipments fueling 12% YTD growth. Shipments to Europe’s are up 22% YTD and the 57 million lb increase has more than offset the YTD decline in China of 45 million lbs.  Demand has begun to return from China as the New Year holiday is behind us and inventories are depleted. India has been active on a steady basis, and the Middle East requires coverage for Ramadan.

Major upcoming milestones that will impact future market conditions include the impending bloom, post bloom weather, the California water supply and the Subjective Estimate in May. Looking forward, new plantings of almond trees in California continue, providing for long-term continued growth in global almond consumption.

ALMOND PRICES

We have updated the almond price table on the website to show the January 2014 almond price which remains firm.


DECEMBER 2013 UPDATE

ON THE ORCHARD

In early December 2013 the shoot growth in the trees was starting to slow down and the wood was beginning to harden, which is quite normal and desirable.

Populations of mites where they were in numbers and may cause damage were sprayed and controlled successfully. Ant colonies that could cause insect damage to almonds, which would down grade the product and potentially impact returns, are being addressed.

Carob Moth numbers were increasing as our harvest approaches and the lead up to hull split in mid to late January, which is the main period of infestation. Carob Moth insect spray programs and materials were being arranged to address the threat. Carob Moth eggs are laid on the almonds near the line of splitting and the hatched larvae feed on the kernel, causing insect damage and quality down grading in the sorting process, which means we face receiving less by way of harvest proceeds for any damaged almonds. Sprays to control Carob Moth are very expensive, so we have targeted the variety most effected and the areas of the orchard where Carob Moth populations are likely to be the highest, to minimise the expense of control.

Fungal and bacterial diseases in the orchard had been controlled satisfactorily. Orchard floor preparation and weed control in preparation for harvest is well under way. We need a flat and weed free orchard floor to harvest from, so we recover as many almonds as possible from the orchard during the harvest.

Trees in the orchard have generally put on very good growth this year and we are very happy with bud development to date. These observations give us encouragement that we will have strong flower buds and good flower bud numbers in August this year, to give us the potential to continue the improvement in orchard yields in the 2015 harvest. However the ultimate yield in 2015 will depend on many factors, some of which we have observed this year, that reduce crop potential that exists at bloom.

HARVEST PREPARATION

Harvest is approaching rapidly and we are completing final preparations now. We expect we will be ready to start harvest in mid-February and look forward to getting under-way.

Kernel size is fully developed and kernel dry weight increasing. An estimate of kernel size indicates that the highest percentage of kernels will fall within the range 22 to 23 nuts per ounce or, 1.23gms to 1.29gms per nut. This means a percentage of nuts will be larger and smaller than the mid-range of 22/23 nuts per ounce. We are hoping for overall kernel size to be good this year, because kernel size does look reasonable and a premium is being paid for larger kernel. However we are only able to sample a very small number of almonds to gauge kernel size, so the ultimate outcome of kernel size distribution cannot be precisely determined.

2014 CROP ESTIMATE

Nuts that split early in the Non Pareil and Price varieties this year when opened, revealed a small percentage of malformed nuts. The disorder has enabled the hull and shell of the almond to develop normally externally, but the kernel inside has not developed normally. It is only in the later stages of nut maturation when the almond begins to spilt, that the malformed kernel was detected. The exact reason for malformed kernels occurring is unclear, but we believe the disorder may be related to low uptake from the soil of copper and possibly boron by the trees. We will take the uptake of copper and boron from the soil and by the trees into account this year when establishing our soil and foliar spay nutritional programs, to see if we can correct the problem in the future. On average we estimate 75% of the area of the variety Non Pareil in each project has 2% malformed almonds and 25% of the area has 5% malformed almonds. However the Price Variety has approximately 1% malformed nuts across all orchards. The variety Carmel has not been observed to date to contain any malformed almonds. We estimate the net loss due to malformed almonds across all orchards to be 34 tonne of Non Pareil and 4 tonne of Price. This reduces the 2014 Crop Estimate by approximately 1%.

NEWS OUT OF THE USA

U.S. Sustaining Global Almond Demand

IMG6 

 

For the second consecutive year, domestic consumption of California Almonds is driving demand. U.S. shipments have grown 11% over a year ago and in December they posted a 20% gain.  The U.S. is the most consistent, largest and greatest source of growth for California almonds.

Total global shipments for the month were flat to last year. Year to date, shipments exceed prior year by 6%.  The USA is now projecting a 2 billion pound crop, which should give the industry just enough almonds to sustain the current growth rate of 6%.

Prices are 25% higher than last year, so we are increasingly seeing which markets will pay premium prices for almonds. Sales weakness continued in two of the largest export markets, China and India. In December, China and India were off by 72% and 44% respectively. Year to date, China is off 25% while India is behind last year by 26%. There are signs that India will partially recover in January, but China remains quiet.

The total European region grew 23% for the month and sits at 21% year to date over last year.  Spain had a particularly strong month receiving nearly 60% more volume than last year.  A very weak Spanish almond crop is a key driver as Spanish processors scramble to replace the supply.

The Middle East is recovering, replacing last year’s losses with shipments up 28% over prior year for the month and climbing 39% year to date.

With demand for California Almonds firmly in place, prices are expected to remain solid as the USA progress into the bloom.

 ALMOND PRICES

The almond price table on the website to show the December 2013 almond price will be updated once the relevant data is received by AIL.


NOVEMBER 2013 UPDATE

ON THE ORCHARD

The orchard staff are optimistic that the health and growth of the trees is returning and improving significantly, which we believe is likely to result in continued improvement in yields over the coming two to three years, subject to the impact of the usual risks to production each year.

After recent heavy rain at the orchard, (i.e. approximately 29mm on the 4/12/13), we observed a few very minor isolated outbreaks of Bacterial Spot in two orchards. We are applying overhead sprays to try and contain any development of the bacteria in these orchards and spread of the disease if the weather patterns remain favourable for bacterial growth. We are also putting a protective spray on the rest of the orchard for Prune Rust and Shot Hole as a precaution, given the time of the year and prevailing weather conditions. These sprays have been budgeted for. The photos below show the symptoms of the Bacterial Spot disease on the nuts. Note the gumming and black spotting under the gum on the nuts. This is relatively minor damage and neighbouring leaves have not yet been infected and are quite healthy. Infection of leaves can result in quite badly tattered leaves. If the weather conditions warm up, rain events stop, clouds disappear and the wind picks up, the relative humidity in the orchard will drop quickly and the disease will be contained quickly. A high level of Bacterial Spot in an orchard could reduce the amount of nuts harvested from infected trees significantly, but we are not expecting this to happen this year unless weather conditions turn against us.

Img1 Img2 

 

HARVEST PREPARATIONS

We are currently levelling the mid row space in the orchards to produce as flat a surface as possible to harvest almonds from and spraying out the last of any weed populations in the orchards. Weed growth is under control and is not expected to impede harvest unless we receive a lot of rain over the harvest period. The orchards will be cleaned of any foreign material that could get into harvested product or damage our harvest machines prior to harvest commencing in February 2014. We are increasing our harvesting capacity this year by approximately 25% to help us harvest faster and get more almonds either delivered to the cracking shed at Lyrup in South Australia, or undercover sooner, just in case we get an early break to the season in April 2014, or we experience a wet 2014 harvest.

2014 Crop Estimate

The initial 2014 Crop Estimate has been completed for all orchards. The estimate indicates that we could expect a yield increase across all orchards combined of approximately 5% above last year. While we were hoping for a stronger increase in production this year, the general continued upward movement in production since the low point in 2011, is very encouraging. A combination of crop losses due to strong winds in September, the occurrence of Non-infectious Bud Failure in the Carmel almond variety and some heavier winter pruning implemented this winter (with the intention of helping to improve crop yields in the future) have all taken a toll on our potential production this year.

Whilst the overall crop estimate is stronger it also reveals that some orchards may in fact produce less almonds in 2014 in comparison to 2013. We would remind Growers that the 2014 crop estimate should not be assumed to necessarily be an accurate prediction of the size of the 2014 crop as it is an estimate only. A number of events such as rain, insect damage and kernel quality etc. could all, or individually, reduce our 2014 crop between now and the end of harvest, expected to be around May 2014. We will not know the actual yield result by project for the 2014 harvest until June 2014 when the crop is cracked and graded. Large kernel is expected to bring a premium price this year as the world supply of large almonds is in short supply due to the very small kernel size of the American Crop harvested this year. Kernel size will influence the final production and hence the income from the orchards this year, and this cannot be accurately determined until the processing of the crop is completed. We are hoping our kernel size this year is on the larger rather than smaller size once the final result is known.

ORCHARD STAFF

We have appointed a new Orchard Manager following the resignation of our previous long serving Orchard Manager who wished to pursue other opportunities and left the orchard with our best wishes. The new Orchard Manager is very experienced at managing large orchards. We have appointed an additional two new key staff to assist us to continue the recent improvement in tree performance and achieve target yields. The new staff appointments have already added significant value to the management team and improvement in orchard performance. The confidence of the orchard staff as a whole in the future is very positive, given the recent improvement in tree performance, world demand for almonds, almond prices and a lower $A.

NEWS OUT OF THE USA

Demand for California Almonds remains strong. Shipments for the month of November exceeded the prior year by nearly 8%. Year-to-date, shipments continue to run ahead of last year at 7.4%. Commitments for November rose by 149 million lbs., putting the 2013 California almond supply at 57% shipped and committed. The most recent estimates peg the 2013 California almond crop between 1.95 and 2.00 billion pounds. Market demand in the US continues to be robust as shipments for November rose 8% over prior year and stand at 8.7% over prior year on a year-to-date basis. Two of the largest export markets are China and India. Year-to-date, China sits at 16% behind last year while India is 22% behind last year. Partly driven by a small Spanish crop, shipments to Europe were up 59% for November against the prior year. Total yearly shipments are up 33.9 million pounds, 20% over the prior year. Exports to the Middle East have begun to show consistent signs of growth with November totals exceeding the prior year by 88%. The region is up 20.8 million pounds, 41.6%. Growth is well distributed across the Middle East countries. With demand for California Almonds firmly in place, prices are expected to remain solid as the USA progresses into the bloom.

ALMOND PRICES

We have updated the almond price table on the website to show the November 2013 almond price.

 

OCTOBER 2013 UPDATE

ON THE ORCHARD

Nut development and active shoot growth during October 2013 was good. Shoot growth at the end of October was in the range 320mm to 340mm for the varieties Non Pareil and Price and 170mm to 180 mm for the Carmel variety. Leaf colour was also good. Fruit size is 32mm to 35mm in length and kernel size 23mm to 29mm for Non Pareil which is encouraging.

Fruit set across the whole orchard is estimated to be 30% to 35% for Non Pareil and Carmel and 40% for Price, which is an acceptable level of fruit set. Fruit set is an estimate of the number of fruit set as a percentage of the estimated number of flowers on the trees in August 2013.

Broken branches from wind damage have been removed from the orchard. Water shoots that had grown in the middle of the trees in the early spring were removed across all orchards. Water shoots grow in  the spring as a result of winter pruning opening the tree centres up to light, which allows otherwise dormant buds in the centre of the tree to grow. Water shoots also prevent light entering the centre of the tree, which causes shading throughout the tree, especially in the lower tree canopy, which reduces the volume of the fruit on the tree over time. If water shoots are not removed they will use valuable nutrients and water, that could have been used by the tree to grow more productive wood for future cropping and to better size the current season’s crop

Foliar spray and weedicide programs are up to date. No disease or insect problems were observed in the orchards.

No frost events have been observed during October, which means we have reasonable expectations that losses due to frost events will not result in any crop losses this year.

NEWS OUT OF THE USA

Given the American crop this year has produced mainly small kernel size and there is a shortage of larger kernel in the world, a premium could be expected for larger kernel produced in the 2014 Australian crop. The 2013 US crop kernel size is the smallest in history. The new large is 27 to 30 nuts per ounce, which would normally be considered smaller kernel. Truly large almonds are selling for US$4.00 per pound,  with scarcity of larger kernel driving prices even higher. There is an abundance of kernel size in the range of 40 to 50 nuts per ounce, which is very small and is attracting lower prices. The October Almond Board Position Report shows continued strong growth in almond shipments and forward commitments.  For October, California almond shipments were 3% higher than last year at 228.6 million lbs. This represents the largest single month shipments in the history of the California almond industry. Year-To-date, shipments are 7% ahead of last year. Given a supply that will fall short of 2.0 billion lbs, the pace is unsustainable.

With an additional 200 million lbs of new commitments, the 2013 crop supply  is 50% sold. Firm pricing in markets around the globe reflects this reality.

The small upside on 2013 crop potential above the NASS Estimate of 1.85 billion lbs has more than been absorbed by the early demand.

AUSTRALIAN ALMOND INDUSTRY

Please follow the attached link to read “Almond Insights 2012-13” recently published by the Almond Board of Australia. We are sure that you will agree that it provides some very positive news and future optimism for the almond industry. http://australianalmonds.com.au/documents/Industry/Stats%20Reports/Australian%20Almond%20Insights%202012-13%20WEB.pdf

ALMOND PRICES

We have updated the almond price table on the website to show the October 2013 almond price.

 

SEPTEMBER 2013 UPDATE

On the Orchard

During September we observed no disease events. To date, leaf development and active shoot growth is good.

Flowering was over by the 6th September 2013 in all orchards. Early pollination prior to the 25th August 2013 was better than pollination after the 25th August 2013.

This year we have observed Non-infectious bud failure, also known as Crazy Top and Mule Tail, in approximately 10% to 15% of the Carmel almond variety, particularly in the younger trees. The occurrence of Non- Infectious Bud failure in the orchards is most likely due to hot conditions in the spring and summer of 2012. This is a genetic disorder relevant to Carmel trees, which is more evident in some years than others. Affected trees do not generally leaf out and fruit properly in the spring, (following summers that have been hot), which predisposes the Carmel trees to manifest the disorder. Some crop will be lost, mainly from the tops of those trees that are showing signs of the Non-Infectious Bud failure.  There is no known cure for the disorder and the trees often recover and growth returns to normal, until the next period of high heat which may trigger the symptoms again.

To date, we have had no frosts reported on the orchard, which is a very positive sign at this time of the year (as you may recall, the orchards have incurred losses in the recent past because of frost events). We would not expect to lose any almonds as a result of frost events from now on, although it is still possible up until early November.

Without any losses from frost damage this year or any other unexpected horticultural or climatic event going forward, we could expect a fairly good boost in overall production in the 2014 harvest.

Recent Strong Winds

As you may have gleaned from recent media coverage, several significant wind events occurred in throughout Victoria and, unfortunately, at the orchard, on the 18/9/13, 25/9/13 and the 30/9/13.  On 30/09/2013, the wind was at its worse at around 76km per hour plus wind gusts up to over 107km per hour (see Bureau of Meteorology statistics at the end of this report showing the highest winds).  These unusual winds have resulted in nut drop across all orchards. We estimate that these high winds damaged approximately 0.25% to 0.5% of branches across the orchards and uprooted approximately 30 trees.

The Price variety has suffered more wind drop than either the Non Pareil or Carmel varieties. Whilst nothing could have been done to avoid the losses we have incurred, it is disappointing to lose any nuts in this way. We hope we do not get any further strong wind events, although October is still potentially a windy month.

Total estimated potential production losses to date from nut drop and broken branches due to strong winds are estimated to be 131 tonnes across all orchards. These losses represent a significant amount of potential income that could have otherwise come from the harvest in 2014.  However, we believe that the strong attachment of the nuts to the trees resulting from our robust foliar and nutritional program applications substantially reduced the volume of nut drop due to these severe winds.

Below are some photos from the orchard below showing some of the effects of the strong winds and resultant nut drop:

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Swan Hill Observations History 30th September 2013

 

18:30EST   30/9/13

29.0°C

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44km/h

70km/h

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18:00 EST

29.0°C

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56km/h

83km/h

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17:37 EST

29.0°C

NNW
63km/h

100km/h

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17:30 EST

29.0°C

WNW
76km/h

106km/h

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17:20 EST

29.0°C

WNW
67km/h

107km/h

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17:03 EST

29.0°C

WNW
61km/h

80km/h

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17:00 EST

29.0°C

WNW
64km/h

76km/h

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16:59 EST

29.0°C

WNW
43km/h

76km/h

0.0mm

 

  
 Produced by WeatherZone based on data from Aus

ALMOND PRICES

Almond price information will be updated on our website as soon as it becomes operational again.

 

AUGUST 2013 UPDATE

ON THE ORCHARD

Flowering commenced on the 5/8/13 and was almost finished by the 31/8/13. The synchronisation of the three varieties of almond trees across the orchards, Non Pareil, Carmel and Price was very good this year, and provides the best opportunity possible for good pollination to occur, subject to weather conditions and bee hive strength.

Bee keepers reported that the last season for them was very difficult and they struggled to get the strength of hives required to pollinate the orchards from their apiaries. However, an assessment of the hives delivered concluded that the general hive strength was moderate to good with 7 to 9 frames of bees in most hives. Weather conditions during flowering this year were mixed. Within the flowering period there were 5 days of excellent bee activity, 4 days of very good activity, 8 days of good activity, 7 days of moderate activity and 3 days of poor activity. Overall the bee activity rating this season was generally good. Flower numbers were highest in the Non Pareil variety, the Carmel trees had approximately 8% to 21% less flowers than Non Pareil and Price had approximately 26% to 80% less flowers than Non Pareil. Price is a biennial bearing variety that in some years produces a lot of almonds and in alternate years produces much smaller crops which is why orchards that have Price in them are only planted in much smaller numbers. This year is a biennial year for Price. We will be working on trying to minimise the variation from year to year in the production of Price. Bud density in Non Pareil this year is good, in Carmel it is moderate and in Price it is also moderate.

We believe pollination this year of the available flowers has been good and that the fruit set is progressing well at this early stage of nut development. At present, we are increasing fertiliser applications to the trees and increasing irrigation run times as the leaves start to rapidly develop on the trees. Tree nutritional sprays and disease control sprays are being applied now with the fertiliser applications and increasing quantities of water, to maximise the retention of those flowers on the trees that have been successfully pollinated. We are managing the orchards to minimise the impact of any frost events that may occur between now and the end of October. Frost events have the potential to destroy large amounts of the potential crop developing on the trees at present. The final crop that will be harvested commencing February and finishing around end of April 2014 (harvest timing is subject to seasonal conditions at the time) will depend on the number of pollinated flowers we can keep on the trees until then. Obviously, we cannot be certain about the size of the 2014 crop at this very early stage, but we are optimistic based on the start to the season, that the recent trend of the orchards returning to better levels of production will continue in the 2014 harvest. With the significant amount of pruning that has been undertaken in the orchards this year, we expect that this will assist greatly with improved flower bud development over the next two years in the trees and as a result contribute to the potential improvement in production.

Please see below some recent photos taken at the orchard which show some of the bee hives and frames and highlight the large numbers of eggs, sealed brood, pollen (i.e. almond dark in colour and canola yellow in colour) in the hexagonal cells. The photos also include one which shows a Queen Bee in the centre of the photo. Photos of flowering at various stages in different orchards also shown below. Please click on the thumbnails below for a larger image.

Bee Hives

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Bee Box

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Queen Bee in Middle of the Frame

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Larvae, eggs and brood

 

Orchard Flowering

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2004 Orchard

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Carmel Almond Trees

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Petal Fall

 

 ALMOND MARKET UPDATE

  • Almond prices increase on the back of US data and weaker AUD.
  • The Australian 2013 crop was substantially improved on recent crops in respect to both yield and quality
  • Almond prices achieved by Australian growers is a combination of the prevailing USA pricing and AUD / USD exchange rate
  • Australia commenced shipments of new crop almonds in March 2013. At that time the international market had retreated from the highs seen in December and January and the AUD was above parity with the USD.
  • As the crop year has progressed international almond prices have increased and the AUD has corrected to around 90 cents to the USD improving parity pricing for Australian growers.
  • As a result of the above AUD parity almond prices have increased over the selling season and average price returns for the year will be dependent on the timing of sales commitments and currency conversions.

NEWS OUT OF THE USA

The USA 2013 harvest is currently underway and the following has been noted:

  • Comparatively mild temperatures prevailed in the region during August, providing almond growers with comfortable conditions for the 2013 harvest.
  • Following three years of delayed harvests, especially in 2010 and 2011, the 2013 Nonpareil harvest began on a more normal time frame.
  • Reports suggest that the quality of the almond crop harvested thus far has been very good, with low reject levels observed.
  • As predicted, kernel sizes are running towards the smaller end of the spectrum.
  • Various pollenizer varieties are maturing at accelerated pace, inspiring growers to push the Nonpareil harvest as quickly as possible. Indeed, some have noted that the only factor limiting the pace of the almond harvest has been the amount of equipment available to put in the fields.
  • As growers complete the harvest of individual plantings, critical post-season irrigations will be completed and crews will be directed to the orchards to begin pruning and other required post-harvest activities.

 

July 2013 Update

ON THE ORCHARD

The programed pre-bloom tree sprays have been completed. Bloom foliar sprays are being finished.

Winter pruning has been completed in all orchards and the pruning’s removed from the mid rows. This year the winter pruning focus was primarily on removing older wood in the lower canopy which was left in the tree to produce almonds while the tops of the trees grew new wood, when normal water supply was restored after the drought. The younger orchards also had branches in the centre of the trees removed to allow good light interception and air movement in the trees.

Full bloom for Non Pareil is expected to be around the 16/8/13. Bee hives were delivered in a timely manner as the bloom was just starting.

Weather conditions over the next two weeks will influence the number of flowers that are pollinated and ultimately produce almonds. Ideally we want as many days as possible with low wind speed (i.e. less than 20 km/hrs.), minimal to no cloud cover and a maximum temperature of 17 degrees plus. Frost is a possible threat to the number of almonds set on the tree from now until early November and we are monitoring orchard temperatures. In drip irrigated orchards there is very little that can be done to avoid frost damage so we are hoping in particular for no frost days during August and September. If the weather conditions are favourable this year out to December, we would be expecting another good harvest in 2014. However there is still a long growing season ahead with a number of risks we have to negotiate to minimise damage to the potential crop. So we cannot assume we have the almonds in the shed just yet!

Weedicide programs are up to date in the orchards.

The aim now with our orchard programs is to set as many flowers as possible and hold as many of the almonds set on the tree to harvest time, commencing February 2014.

ALMOND PRICES

We have updated the almond price table on the website to show the July 2013 almond price. The USA industry was shocked by the NASS (National Agricultural Statistics Service) Objective Estimate of 1.85 billion pounds for the 2013 US crop. The eyeball test of the crop appears much larger, but misses the quantitative sampling of kernel size. Handlers raised 2013 selling prices by $0.40 a pound in response, matching 2012 prices and very few buyers responded. The June shipments report came in at 137 million pounds, slightly below last year’s record of 141 million pounds. The more compelling news was that commitments now are reporting at 50 million pounds higher than last year. This confirms our market intelligence that there is now very little 2012 volume of any item available. European and Chinese inventories are low, they still need to buy and will slowly enter the market as there is confidence from sellers that these prices are sustainable.

NEWS OUT OF THE USA

NASS Estimate on Lower Side of Industry Expectations

The NASS Objective Estimate for the 2013 California almond crop was released, July 1, 2013 at 1.85 billion lbs. The projection is 2% below last year’s crop and down 7.5% from May’s subjective forecast. A lighter Nonpareil crop and smaller kernel sizes across all varieties are contributing to the lower projection. A smaller Nonpareil crop combined with smaller kernel measurements will likely put pressure on pricing across the size spectrum. Although on the lower side of industry expectations, the estimate fits the long-term projections of a flat spot in production growth reflecting the flatter trend in bearing acres. Concerns about water shortages, compounded by unseasonably hot weather, have tempered optimism for the 2013 crop projections to exceed the estimate.

Final Shipment Data for 2012 Almond Crop Released

The final shipment data for the 2012 almond crop, released today, shows industry shipments ending with an expected flourish. As projected in the last Almond Insights video update, July shipments exceeded 150 million lbs. The final tally of 151.1 million lbs is up 31.4 million lbs and 26% over the prior year. Shipments for the full year were down 1.69%, reflecting the reduction in overall 2012 crop supply. Pricing since early July has reflected the almost complete lack of uncommitted 2012 crop inventory. Only 2-3% of the 2012 crop supply remains uncommitted, creating premium pricing on early 2013 crop availability. As harvest of the 2013 crop commences, early results point to very small CPO sizing, consistent with the small kernel weights and dimensions seen in the NASS Objective Estimate. The 2013 crop harvest is earlier than last year, with pollenizer maturation pushing hard on the heels of the Nonpareil variety.

 

June 2013 Update

2013 CROP

Delivery of harvested almonds to the Almondco Lyrup cracking shed is almost complete with an estimated 1,100 tonnes of field weight at the end of June still to be delivered, or approximately 10% of the 2013 crop. We are only able to deliver three B-Double trucks a day, or approximately 100 tonnes of field weight a day to the Lyrup cracking shed, as this is our 2013 maximum daily delivery quota. Any rain event will wet the almond pad and prevent the loading of trucks and the delivery of almonds to the cracking shed, which prolongs the time taken to deliver the almonds. Whilst the almonds are stored on the almond pads they are covered during rain events and uncovered periodically during sunny breaks to remove condensation under the covers.

We will confirm the final 2013 harvest results in future updates.

WINTER MONTHS - ORCHARD PROGRAMS

By mid-June the almond trees are fully dormant and this is an excellent time to be pruning the trees. Trees are pruned to remove old unproductive wood and promote new growth in the spring, which will set fruit in coming years. The trees are also pruned to open the centres to let light into the middle of tree to help set crop and reduce the levels of humidity in the trees to diminish the possibility of diseases infecting the trees later in the spring.

Weed control is also underway to eliminate most of the weeds in the orchard. Weeds are always growing in the orchard and regular spraying is required to keep them under control. Weeds will build up under the trees if not destroyed throughout the winter and spring on a regular basis.
Overhead spray programs have been completed to remove the last of the leaves on the trees to ensure they go into a fully dormant state of rest, ready for flowering and regrowth in the spring. Overhead sprays have been applied to help reduce the incidence of carryover disease in the trees.
Winter Oil applications to control mites in the orchard have commenced. Winter oil is not an insecticide but destroys the mite eggs by smothering them, depriving the mite egg of oxygen. Mites in sufficient numbers can defoliate trees in late spring and weaken trees. Winter oil sprays normally eliminate the need to use insecticides in the spring. This strategy ensures the maximum number of predatory insects is retained in the orchard to further reduce mite populations and other insects that may attack the trees later in the spring and possibly the summer months.

GROWERS - FY2014

All growers in all Projects will shortly receive confirmation of the position in respect of their growing fee commitments for FY2014. Due to the size of the 2013 harvest each Project will show a much improved financial position for our Growers. It is expected that these communications will be sent to Growers during the week commencing 15 July 2013.

ALMOND PRICES

We have updated the almond price table on the website to show the June 2013 almond price. You will be pleased to see that the price continues to firm, principally due to strong product demand and a depreciating Australian Dollar. Over the June period the price has increased by more than a dollar per kilogram for all three almond varieties grown on your orchards.

NEWS OUT OF THE USA

The USA industry was shocked by the NASS (National Agricultural Statistics Service) Objective Estimate of 1.85 billion pounds for the 2013 US crop. The eyeball test of the crop appears much larger, but misses the quantitative sampling of kernel size. Handlers raised 2013 selling prices by $0.40 a pound in response, matching 2012 prices and very few buyers responded. The June shipments report came in at 137 million pounds, slightly below last year’s record of 141 million pounds. The more compelling news was that commitments now are reporting at 50 million pounds higher than last year. This confirms our market intelligence that there is now very little 2012 volume of any item available. European and Chinese inventories are low, they still need to buy and will slowly enter the market as there is confidence from sellers that these prices are sustainable.

The lower than expected NASS Objective Estimate and the very low 2012 volume remaining also underpins the firm almond price in the USA.

 

May 2013 Update

2013 Crop

• Harvest Generally

The harvest was completed on the 11/5/13 following 46 days of actual harvesting with approximately 23 days lost as a result of rain events. The rain events this year were generally of low intensity, which meant they did not have a significant impact on the progress of the harvest. By comparison the 2012 harvest took approximately 41 days to complete with 18 days of downtime.

We estimate that the 2013 harvest will deliver at least double the amount of field weight to the cracking shed as we did from the 2012 harvest.

All of the 2013 Non Pareil harvest was transported to the Lyrup cracking shed by the 30/4/13, which is 50% of the 2013 harvest. The increase in volumes of harvested product being cracked by Almondco has created delays with the delivery of our almonds to the cracking shed which will result in deliveries being made into early/mid July 2013. This delay adds some costs to the harvest and additional risk to the quality of the product due to the almonds being stored in the usual industry manner beneath tarpaulins on almond pads at either the orchard or at the cracking plant. With any heavy and/or prolonged rain event there is an increasing chance that the stored almonds could be damaged. Whilst we have investigated obtaining insurance for almonds stored in this manner our efforts have been without success.

• Non Pareil Almond Harvest Results

Preliminary results from the cracking shed, that will be adjusted down slightly for inedible product removed at Almondco, show that we have harvested 1,390,643 kg of Non Pareil compared with 697,062 kg in 2012 which is slightly less than a 100% increase across all orchards. While this result is extremely pleasing and is reflective of a very significant improvement over the last two years results, our focus remains on increased production targets in the older trees in the order of 15% to 20% to reach mature yields as quickly as possible. Some orchards have increased Non Pareil production by more than 100% and some less than this, but all orchards have increased production significantly this harvest. This result is indicative of strong signs of recovery throughout the orchards.

We will continue to strengthen and grow the trees to achieve the desired production levels, after experiencing significant reductions to production caused by the stresses placed on the trees from July 2007 to January 2011 which we have previously commented on. Our forward planning and 2013/2014 budgets have taken into account what we believe is required to achieve acceptable levels of production in the trees while, still focusing on minimising costs where we can and it is considered prudent.

• Pollinator Almond Harvest Results

We still have approximately another three weeks of deliveries however at this stage, and subject to our comments above,we are optimistic that the 2013 pollinator almond harvest, which is the remaining 50% of the 2013 crop being cracked, will be similar to the production levels achieved from the Non Pareil crop.

We will provide investors with further details in future updates.

• Harvest Issues

Carob Moth

We have noticed a significant increase in the incidence of Carob Moth damage to the Non Pareil almonds during the 2013 harvest and to a lesser extent the pollinators this year. Carob Moth lay eggs in the suture line of the almonds as they split in late January. The eggs hatch and the larva burrow into the Non Pareil kernel eating sections of the kernel in the process. This damage makes the kernel unattractive and not saleable and increases the sorting costs at Almondco to remove it. We have not had a problem with Carob Moth in the past, but it does appear as though the moth has progressed to our orchards from orchards where it has been an issue for some time further North West of us. We have taken action to ensure our orchards are clear of as many almonds as practically possible, to minimise the food source for wintering Carob Moth in the orchards, that would contribute to reinfection in January 2014 at hull split.

Fortunately this year as the spring and summer was quite dry, we encountered very few disease events in the orchard, which meant we were able to shake the trees very clean of almonds. As a consequence, the number of nuts left in the trees for Carob Moth to use as a food source during the winter should be very low. We are hoping next January if the moths become a problem, their numbers will be much lower and the damage they inflict on the Non Pareil in particular will be reduced significantly. We may have to spray to obtain control of Carob Moth infestation in January 2014, which will unfortunately be an expensive additional spray and therefore additional cost in the 2013/2014 budget.

• Final 2013 Harvest Results

The final harvest yield results for all almond varieties will be available around mid to late July once all product has been delivered to Almondco for cracking and processing. We will provide the relevant details in future orchard updates.

Future Production

As the trees return to more normal levels of production we are encouraging as much new fruiting wood in the trees as possible. This year’s pruning program, which started in early May and will be completed in late July, is designed to stimulate the growth of new fruiting wood in the trees to support future increases in crop production in the coming years. The amount of new fruiting wood in the orchard at this time and the quantity of potentially fruitful buds are a further positive sign looking towards next season and beyond. We believe the production in the various orchards, with the right horticultural conditions, will continue to increase over the next two years. Achieving mature yield targets in the older orchards continues to be our principle objective over the next two years, but production will continue to be influenced by seasonal growing conditions and any significant adverse climatic impacts. Orchard yields as we have seen in the recent past can be extremely variable from year to year depending on prevailing horticultural conditions.

The recent strong world almond price and falling Australian Dollar, together with the recent significant improvement in orchard yields, are very encouraging developments toward achieving profitability in the near future in the older orchards. At the July and August 2012 investor orchard briefing sessions around Australia, we said that we believed that we needed to see what results could be achieved from the 2013 harvest and in December 2013, after we had completed the 2014 harvest crop estimate, before considering the future direction of the orchard projects. We believe this advice has been prudent and remains current, given the significantly improved 2013 Non Pareil production, the significantly improved Australian almond price, (underpinned by a recent increase in the world almond price), strong world demand for almonds and a weakening Australian dollar.

 

March/April 2013 Update

2013 Crop

Harvest has progressed well this year with a minimal number of days lost due to wet weather. Harvest is expected to be completed by very early May, subject to rain events, which is very pleasing. The Non Pareil crop, which is 50% of the almonds harvested, has almost been cracked and early indications are that kernel size is larger rather than smaller this year and overall the crop is significantly bigger than over the previous two seasons. The crack out percentage this year in the industry has been observed to be lower than has been experienced in previous years and variable between orchards. Low crack out percentages have a tendency to reduce yields in affected orchards from any given amount of harvested product. Crack out percentage refers to the percentage of almonds recovered during cracking from a given quantity of clean field weight, that is field weight from which the dirt, sticks and stones have been removed. We also have observed some variability in cracking percentage across our various projects. Once the Non Pareil crop has been all cracked, which we would expect to be by early May, we will be able to have a better understanding of the magnitude of improvement in the crop this year compared with the recent past.

We are focusing now on safely storing our pollinators on site and transporting them to the Lyrup cracking shed as soon as possible. We expect we will have all the almonds harvested in 2013 transported to the Lyrup cracking shed and cracked by mid-June 2013. This will however depend on the number of rain days between now and mid-June, because we cannot load B-Double trucks with almonds if the almond pad is to wet.

Post Harvest

Pruning will start straight after harvest is completed and will continue until about late July 2013. Our attention is also turning rapidly to preparing the trees for bloom to encourage them to set and hold the maximum number of almonds possible in the spring and securing all the bees for pollination we require this year. Flowering and pollination is not far off in early August.

The trees continue to show improvement toward returning to much better yields than achieved in 2011 and 2012. In addition at this time we are observing some good bud development on the trees, which is an encouraging sign for the 2014 harvest. However we do need more time to properly assess the bud development this year compared with last year’s good bud numbers. In late April and May we will be fertilising and spraying the trees with nutrients to help strengthen the buds for bloom in August 2013, which will help encourage a good fruit set.

Almond Prices

World almond prices have improved significantly and are being supported by increasing world demand and a plateauing world supply. Bearing acres in the United States, the biggest almond producer in the world, is not expected to start increasing until 2015. American industry yields would reasonably be expected to stay at or near current levels for the next few years, with a chance of adverse weather conditions shorting US production in any year, which is likely to increase the world price of almonds. This situation will potentially limit world supply of almonds over the next few years. We understand that global almond consumption has grown at an 11 % compound rate for the last five years and at a rate of 15% over the last two years. These facts would suggest to us that world almond prices for the foreseeable future should remain firm and possibly slowly track upwards. If the A$ depreciates in the medium term this could suggest much stronger Australian almond prices. The outlook for almond prices, in our view, does look much more encouraging at this time.

Recent ABC Landline Program on Almond Industry and AIL

The ABC had a segment on its Landline program on Sunday, 28 April 2013 covering the Australian and world almond industry which included an interview with our orchard manager, Graham Johns. Many of our investors may have already seen this program but if not and they are interested in viewing this particular segment you can click on the link below to view the program.

The ABC Landline Program

 

FEBRUARY 2013 HARVEST UPDATE

We commenced shaking the first Non Pareil almond tree variety on Friday 8/2/13. We have three main varieties growing across the orchards (Non Pareil, Carmel and Price). Non Pareil is the first variety to ripen, around mid-February each year, with Price following about a week later. Carmel is the latest maturing variety which normally happens in late March. Weather permitting; Non Pareil and Price are normally all harvested by the end of March, with the Carmel harvest ending by the end of April.

To date, weather conditions have been much better than in the last few years and the trees have not suffered from any serious disease issues, meaning they were healthy going into the harvest. Initial reports are that the trees are shaking well with very few nuts sticking to the branches. Long range weather forecasts showed February rainfall to be well above normal, which has not eventuated to date, and for near normal rainfall from March to June 2013. These favourable forecasts could change over the coming months and, as we have experienced over the past few years, climatic events can be highly unpredictable.

We were well prepared for the harvest and our investment in extra harvesting capacity is expected to speed up the harvest significantly. Given our crop estimates, this investment should be invaluable, particularly if we do receive rainfall that slows down the harvest, forcing us to wait for the nuts to dry in the orchard. Nuts cannot be delivered to our Almondco cracker and processor above a 6% moisture content or they will be rejected and incur major additional drying charges. Rain at harvest is the biggest threat to timely harvesting (that is harvesting the maximum number of highest quality almonds). Harvesting high quality almonds also materially reduces sorting costs. We have been able to negotiate an increase in our cracking capacity this year by approximately 40% to assist us to deliver as many almonds as possible to the cracking plant before the end of June.

The crop remains visually much bigger than in previous years, especially the crops from the last two seasons, so we continue to be optimistic that our 2013 crop estimate is still achievable. In early April we should be able to provide some actual production figures for Non Pareil. The ultimate size of the crop will depend on the number of nuts we harvest as well as the average kernel weight.

From a visual perspective, the bud development on the trees at the moment looks good for the 2014 harvest. Tree growth rates have been generally good to reasonable, depending on the crop load in the individual tree. The fruiting wood appears to have a good number of buds that are looking very healthy. Subject to the inherent horticultural risks that we have all seen before, the outlook for 2014 is encouraging.

We will keep you updated as to how the harvest progresses and any other significant issues associated with your investment over the coming months.

 

JANUARY 2013

RECENT HEATWAVE

Temperatures at Piangil have been very high between 3/1/13 to the 7/1/13. The temperatures during this period were as follows:

3/01/2013 38.2 degrees
4/01/2013 44.7 degrees
5/01/2013 45.2 degrees
6/01/2013 40.7 degrees
7/01/2013 44.5 degrees
8/01/2013 38 degree max. forecast

 

Temperatures over the next week are predicted to be more favourable ranging from 26 degrees to 41 degrees. During the recent heat wave the trees have coped well due to the efficient irrigation system and this has kept the trees in very good condition without signs of any real stress. The staff at the orchard have managed the irrigation in a very proficient manner which has ensured the health of the trees under such extreme weather conditions. The forecast conditions over the next week will give the trees a break from the heat and enable them to return to more normal growing conditions. We are not expecting any reduction in the quality or quantity of the almonds as a result of the recent heat wave conditions to date.

The orchard or near surrounds have not faced any threats from an outbreak of fire. In any event, It is unlikely that a fire would spread throughout the entire orchard.

 

DECEMBER 2012

The crop estimate for all Projects has just been finalised. Given the variability in the orchards that has existed over the last two years, we have adopted a conservative approach in compiling the estimates for each Project. There was only one relatively light frost this year, in late August, that affected a very small area of trees and a there has been a return to more normal growing conditions.  We believe there will be less yield variability across the orchards this year and are hopeful the crop will come in around our estimates.

We are very pleased to be able to report that the crop estimate for each Project indicates that they are, in line with expected yield targets. As a generalisation the crop estimate for each Project indicates the trees should achieve yields similar to those expected across the industry for other large almond growers in the area for the chronological age of the trees. With the restrictions to tree performance in the recent past, this indicative return to good yields is most welcome. We still have to negotiate the harvest period and bring the crop in.

The main threat to the current crop from now until harvest commences in mid February 2013, is high rainfall events during the harvest period. At present, long term rainfall forecasts are showing that during the harvest period we could expect average to above average rainfall, but not excessively wet conditions, such as the rainfall that was experienced during the 2011 harvest. Some rain during harvest is normal and manageable, so we are hoping that we do not get excessive rain during the harvest, which could slow down the harvest and result in some crop losses should this occur.  Additional harvest machinery has been purchased to assist with getting the significantly larger crop harvested in the shortest time possible and we have invested in additional storage pad capacity to hold almonds waiting to be transported to the cracking shed for processing.

If the crop estimate is realised this will mean a significant reduction to investor growing fee invoices in 2013/2014. The almond price has recently improved also, which (if maintained) will further assist with substantial reductions of growing fee invoices in FY2014.

2005_Carmel_CA_59_Thumb.JPG 2005_NP_CA_59_Thumb.JPG 2005_Price_CA_59_Thumb.JPG

 

 These photos taken on the 12/10/12 are indicative of the density of nuts on the trees this year across all orchards. The trees are bending down under the weight of the almonds along their limbs which is a good sign. Limb breakage across all projects is minimal because we tired the trees to reduce limb breakage in the event of high crop load.