California almond growers will have much to celebrate at The Almond Conference this year at the Sacramento Convention Center Dec. 11-13. Almond shipments have been growing at an average rate of 12% for the last five years, and have doubled in the last 10.
The move from the board’s Modesto home base to a larger venue comes with a packed agenda that includes workshops, presentations, symposia, special guests, and an expanded trade show — all to be topped off at the final night’s Gala Dinner with a performance by Las Vegas, Broadway, and TV entertainers Penn and Teller.
As far as the conference program, one thing hasn’t changed: It once again kicks off with a sustainability workshop, which is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, Dec. 11, from 1:00-4:00 p.m. Three other workshops will be held Tuesday afternoon: sprayer calibration (1:00-2:30 p.m.), honey bee colony assessment (2:45-4:00 p.m.), and economics of almond production (1:00-2:30 p.m.).
• Spray coverage: The missing link in IPM — Adjusting your sprayer will improve
coverage, resulting in more effective pest control. At this workshop, you will learn about new research that shows how much efficacy can be improved when spray rigs are properly set up. And recent data demonstrates the amount of drift that can be prevented with timely and accurate calibration. Attend this workshop to learn the best method to calibrate your sprayer to save on inputs, improve coverage, and reduce drift to meet increasing regulatory requirements.
• Honey bee colony assessment — Growers should know how to assess colony strength to be sure they meet contract requirements, and beekeepers should be aware of the process that is used to evaluate colony strength. At this workshop, growers and beekeepers will learn how colony strength is measured, and will be introduced to a new e-learning course developed by Shannon Mueller, Fresno County farm adviser and honey bee and pollination specialist. The course consists of 10 modules covering all aspects of hive development and evaluation to help beekeepers understand what they need to do to bring eight-frame colonies to almond orchards in time for pollination, and for growers to learn how to estimate colony strength, using either frame count or cluster count methods.
• Economics of almond production — The economics of growing almonds are complex; growers need to understand not just the costs of growing this year’s crop, but what is happening with other crops in the state. Returns on investment are affected by today’s grower operational costs as well as by tomorrow’s considerations — e.g., tax implications and succession planning.
No More Tents
The Sacramento Convention Center offers plenty of room to include more exhibits at the trade show, providing growers and handlers with the opportunity to visit more suppliers, manufacturers, and services than ever before in comfortable surroundings. The exhibit hall features improved traffic flow and a lounge for conference attendees.
Luncheons will be held on Wednesday and Thursday; a special guest speaker will be featured on Wednesday, and a lunch with workshops on sprayer calibration, honey bee colony assessment, and economics of almond production (repeats from Tuesday) will be offered on Thursday.
The California Almond industry social highlight of the year, the Gala Dinner, takes place on Thursday evening. New this year will be a silent auction to benefit the California FFA Association’s scholarship funds.