No Bees Necessary For Almonds

No Bees Necessary

Craig Ledbetter, a geneticist at the Agricultural Research Service’s (ARS) Crop Diseases, Pests and Genetics Research Unit near Parlier, CA, is developing a new line of self-pollinating almond trees. The new varieties may provide growers with alternatives to traditional bee-pollinated almond trees, in response to the Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) crisis and other factors in recent years that have dramatically reduced honeybee populations. The line of self-pollinating trees has other benefits, as well, says Ledbetter.

“Self-pollinating almond trees will benefit growers at both bloom and harvest,” he says. “Because they are self-pollinating, only one variety needs to be planted in the orchard, as opposed to two or three in an orchard with conventional cultural systems. The self-pollinating trees will produce almonds with only wind pollination, but of course will produce more with the addition of bees to the orchard. Sometimes bees are in short supply or simply expensive during bloom and the self-pollinating trees will provide a crop, even with the bee shortage. At harvest, with only a single variety in the orchard, the producer doesn’t have the problem of drying down the early-harvest variety while at the same time putting stress on the later-harvest variety or varieties.”

To learn about how almond shell carbon could potentially be used for water purification,

While self-pollinating almond trees are not new — the Tuono variety from Spain has been in production for centuries — Ledbetter’s new line of self-pollinating almond trees has the promise of harvesting almonds that have similar characteristics to Nonpareil, which sells for higher prices.

The older Tuono variety’s seed coat is hairy and it has a very thick shell, making only 32% of the kernel edible, compared to up to 65% for Nonpareil. Conversely, the Tuono’s thick shell is beneficial in that it provides more resistance to navel orangeworm, the primary pest of almonds in California, and other pests. An integrated pest management program to reduce navel orangeworm damage and broad-spectrum insecticide use is underway at the Parlier research facility, led by Joel Siegel and assisted by entomologists Bas Kuenen and Chuck Burks.

Best Of Both Worlds

Though both Tuono and Nonpareil varieties have good characteristics, almonds with traits from both varieties would be ideal, and that’s pretty much what Ledbetter and his collaborators have created. Using Tuono as the male (pollen) parent, conventionally hybridized with California-adapted almond cultivars, the scientists made crosses at bloom time and came back at harvest to collect the nuts. They then grew those nuts into seedlings and surrounded branches with insect-proof nylon bags to exclude pollinator insects. The seedlings bloomed and some produced fruit inside the bags. The scientists knew that these seedlings were the self-pollinators, because no foreign pollen had been introduced into the bags.

Ledbetter and his team planted the first seedlings in 1996, which produced a small harvest; 10 years later the trees produced excellent results. In November 2008, after a very good fall harvest, Ledbetter and his team brought eight promising selections from the self-pollinating breeding program to the Almond Board of California for evaluation of taste and appearance. The board was pleased with the selections’ skin color, oil content, and flavor, as well as the similarities between the selections and the Nonpareil variety.

“What separates the Parlier-developed selections and Nonpareil, of course, is that these ARS almond trees need no external pollination,” says Ledbetter. “Ours is a very good-looking kernel that’s very comparable to that seen in Nonpareil.”

Growers can expect to see the ARS self-pollinating almond trees on the market within the next three years at the very least, following additional yield and quality trials, says Ledbetter.

“We must prove the yield potential and kernel quality of our self-pollinating varieties prior to releasing them to producers,” he says. “If they do not yield sufficiently, and have kernels of acceptable quality, they will be unworthy of production. For our most advanced selections, we have determined that the kernels are of sufficient quality, compared with industry standards (Nonpareil, Carmel, Padre). Currently we are examining yield potential of some of our most advanced selections. With another year of yield data, and assuming the yield remains consistent with past harvests, we will have sufficient data to begin the process of variety release.”

Leave a Reply

Nuts Stories
Mark Jansen
Photo: Blue Diamond Growers
Nuts
January 27, 2016
Almond Industry 2016 Preview
American and Western Fruit Grower talked with Blue Diamond Growers President and CEO Mark Jansen about the health of the Read More
(Photo credit: Lindsay Turner)
Nuts
January 26, 2016
Thefts Plaguing California Tree Nut Industry
Thieves have been taking off with truckloads of tree nuts valued as much as a half million dollars, and catching Read More
NASA's global temperature heat map for 2015
Citrus
January 22, 2016
It’s Official: 2015 Was Earth’s Warmest Year On Record
NASA, NOAA analyses reveal record-shattering statistics regarding global temperatures this past year. Read More
Example of an extended weather forecast
Citrus
January 21, 2016
Chance Of Profits Up For Growers Tuned Into The Weather
UF/IFAS study confirms how paying attention to the 10-day forecast can affect a farmer’s bottom line. Read More
Weeds in strawberry for web
Apples & Pears
January 20, 2016
Herbicide Flood Irrigation Application Approved for California Orchards And Vineyards
Crops include stone fruit, pome fruit, grapes, tree nuts, and olives. Read More
almond orchard
Nuts
January 20, 2016
Regional Trials Pinpoint Almond Varieties With Highest Potential
Since the 1970s, the Almond Board of California has been trialing varieties regionally to determine the best and brightest trees Read More
baskets of produce
Citrus
January 20, 2016
USDA Report: Pesticide Residues Not A Food Safety Concern
Following monthly samplings, survey finds more than 99% of products sampled fall below EPA tolerances for pesticide residues. Read More
The Latest
Nuts
February 3, 2016
Avoid Tree Nut Cargo Theft
American Fruit Grower® and Western Fruit Grower® recently reported on a rash of nut thefts, in which truckloads of nuts Read More
Nuts
February 3, 2016
Tips To Help Secure A Good Beekeeper Agr…
Pollination is one of the most important aspects of almond growing, and this time of year, making sure you have Read More
Fruits
February 2, 2016
EPA Releases List Of Products Labeled Fo…
Agency gives recommendations on products to protect hives against parasites. Read More
Nuts
January 27, 2016
Almond Industry 2016 Preview
American and Western Fruit Grower talked with Blue Diamond Growers President and CEO Mark Jansen about the health of the Read More
Nuts
January 26, 2016
Thefts Plaguing California Tree Nut Indu…
Thieves have been taking off with truckloads of tree nuts valued as much as a half million dollars, and catching Read More
Citrus
January 22, 2016
It’s Official: 2015 Was Earth’s Wa…
NASA, NOAA analyses reveal record-shattering statistics regarding global temperatures this past year. Read More
Citrus
January 21, 2016
Chance Of Profits Up For Growers Tuned I…
UF/IFAS study confirms how paying attention to the 10-day forecast can affect a farmer’s bottom line. Read More
Apples & Pears
January 20, 2016
Herbicide Flood Irrigation Application A…
Crops include stone fruit, pome fruit, grapes, tree nuts, and olives. Read More
Nuts
January 20, 2016
Regional Trials Pinpoint Almond Varietie…
Since the 1970s, the Almond Board of California has been trialing varieties regionally to determine the best and brightest trees Read More
Citrus
January 20, 2016
USDA Report: Pesticide Residues Not A Fo…
Following monthly samplings, survey finds more than 99% of products sampled fall below EPA tolerances for pesticide residues. Read More
Nuts
January 15, 2016
Researchers Crack Walnut Genome
Genetic sequencing paves the way for better breeding. Read More
Citrus
January 13, 2016
American Farm Bureau Elects New Presiden…
Georgia farmer Zippy Duvall to take leadership reins from retiring Bob Stallman. Read More
Farm Management
January 8, 2016
USDA Says China Slowing U.S. Agriculture…
International trade is a major factor in the American agricultural economy. A key player is China. In fact China’s impact Read More
Farm Management
January 5, 2016
Southeast Fruit And Nut Growers Cheer Fo…
Peach, pecan, and berry growers in Georgia and other Southeast states experienced unseasonably warm temperatures for much of November and Read More
Fruits
January 2, 2016
USDA Surveys Honey Bee Colony Health
Growers, beekeepers asked to record cost for pollination services, production, to create baseline as part of larger strategy to promote bee health. Read More
Citrus
December 30, 2015
El Niño Continues To Look Strong
Latest satellite images show strong resemblance to those taken in 1997, which was a California super-soaker. Read More
Citrus
December 30, 2015
GenNext Growers, Where Are You?
This issue marks our first of its kind State of the Industry report. We, the editorial team of American Fruit Read More
Apples & Pears
December 28, 2015
FruitGrowerConnect Solves Growers’ Probl…
More than 35 grower and supplier operations gathered at the beautiful Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego in November for Read More
[gravityform id="62" title="false" description="false"]