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
Farm ManagementMarketing Tips From GenNext Growers
June 29, 2015
Whether your business is in its beginning stages of development or is already established and in need of increased visibility, Read More
Crop ProtectionStay A Step Ahead Of Weeds
June 26, 2015
Weed control can be a tricky and costly task made all the more difficult by herbicide resistance and the push Read More
Fumigating strawberries
FruitsThere’s More Than One Way To Nix Nematodes
June 25, 2015
Compare and contrast these five nematicide products to find out what's the best fit for your farm. Read More
NutsMinor Variations Are The X-Factor In Spray Applications
June 25, 2015
When you look at the logistics of herbicide applications, it is amazing to see how even the smallest deviations from Read More
CitrusCalifornia High Heat Warning Issued
June 23, 2015
The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) is advising all employers to protect their outdoor workers from the Read More
GenNext GrowersFostering The Next Almond Industry Leaders
June 16, 2015
The Almond Leadership Program helps young leaders prepare for a future in the industry. Read More
GenNext GrowersMeet Ryan Cosyns: Almond Leadership Program Class of 2009
June 16, 2015
The Almond Leadership program helped Cosyns see future trends and opportunities in the industry. Read More
The Latest
Farm ManagementPMA Advocates For Improvements To Proposed FSMA Mandato…
July 2, 2015
This week the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) submitted comments on behalf of its membership to FDA regarding the proposed Mandatory Read More
Business PlanningTake Climate Change — Please [Opinion]
June 30, 2015
It’s a difficult issue because people tend to think of it in terms of something tangible — like the weather. Read More
NutsWalnut Nitrogen Budgeting Critical
June 30, 2015
Applying the right amount of N is not easy because walnuts take a lot, but these days you don’t want to apply too much. Read More
Farm ManagementMarketing Tips From GenNext Growers
June 29, 2015
Whether your business is in its beginning stages of development or is already established and in need of increased visibility, Read More
Crop ProtectionStay A Step Ahead Of Weeds
June 26, 2015
Weed control can be a tricky and costly task made all the more difficult by herbicide resistance and the push Read More
Fumigating strawberries
FruitsThere’s More Than One Way To Nix Nematodes
June 25, 2015
Compare and contrast these five nematicide products to find out what's the best fit for your farm. Read More
NutsMinor Variations Are The X-Factor In Spray Applications
June 25, 2015
When you look at the logistics of herbicide applications, it is amazing to see how even the smallest deviations from Read More
CitrusCalifornia High Heat Warning Issued
June 23, 2015
The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) is advising all employers to protect their outdoor workers from the Read More
GenNext GrowersFostering The Next Almond Industry Leaders
June 16, 2015
The Almond Leadership Program helps young leaders prepare for a future in the industry. Read More
GenNext GrowersMeet Ryan Cosyns: Almond Leadership Program Class of 20…
June 16, 2015
The Almond Leadership program helped Cosyns see future trends and opportunities in the industry. Read More
CitrusPresident Obama Allocates $110M For Drought-Relief
June 16, 2015
On Friday, President Obama announced the investment of $110 million to support workers, farmers, and rural communities suffering from drought Read More
FruitsSenior Water Rights Curtailed In California’s Delta, Sa…
June 16, 2015
Growers in the San Joaquin and Sacramento watersheds and the surrounding delta have been asked to stop diversions of water Read More
CitrusParamount Farms Renamed As Part Of The Wonderful Compan…
June 9, 2015
Roll Global officially changed its name to The Wonderful Company recently. This strategic move will align the company’s long-standing passion Read More
NutsGuidelines To Manage Dust Around Your Orchard
June 9, 2015
The Almond Board of California has developed a protocol for reducing dust during almond harvest. Read More
CitrusNew Herbicide From Syngenta Receives EPA Registration
June 4, 2015
Syngenta’s new Broadworks herbicide is the first HPPD inhibitor approved by the EPA in tree nuts, citrus, and stone fruit. Read More
CitrusNealta Miticide Receives Registration In California
June 2, 2015
Nealta miticide from BASF has received registration for use in California. Nealta delivers long-lasting control of spider mites at all Read More
Food SafetyOne-Day Conference At 2015 United Fresh To Focus Entire…
June 2, 2015
GLOBALG.A.P., a farm certification standards organization, and United Fresh invite United Fresh Convention (June 8-10) attendees to stay in Chicago Read More
NutsNitrogen Budgeting Tips
June 1, 2015
Proper nitrogen budgeting saves money, improves nut quality and yields and helps the environment. The Almond Board of California has Read More