Time to Check Up on Your Almond Nutrient Budget
Alan Blaylock, Ph.D.
Dr. Alan Blaylock brings extensive North American and international experience in nutrient management to the agronomy team. University studies and service as a university extension soils specialist prepared him for a long career in the fertilizer industry. Having managed both domestic and global research and education programs, Dr. Blaylock has a wealth of experience in applying science-based nutrient management principles and products to solving practical questions. Dr. Blaylock earned Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in agronomy and horticulture from Brigham Young University and a Ph.D. in soil science from Iowa State University. He has been in agriculture his entire life — from his childhood on an irrigated farm in eastern Oregon to teaching soil science at Iowa State University to his current role as an agronomist at Nutrien. These diverse experiences helped Dr. Blaylock develop the skills to excel in translating complex scientific principles into practical solutions. Although early in his university studies he explored computer science as a profession, deep family roots in agriculture brought him back to the people and values of his heritage. His career satisfaction comes from helping others improve the performance of nutrients and cropping systems.
USDA is forecasting the third straight record almond crop for California. The USDA-NASS 2020 California Almond Subjective Forecast estimates California almond orchards will produce 3.0 billion pounds of nuts this year, up 17.6 percent from last year’s 2.6 billion-pound crop. Forecast average yields are expected to increase 10.2 percent over 2019 to almost 2,400 pounds per acre in 2020.1 Average yields in 2019 were 2,160. The 2019 California Almond Acreage Report2 estimated total almond acreage for 2019 is up 10 percent from 2018 at 1.53 million acres. Bearing acres – orchards mature enough to produce a crop – were reported at 1.18 million acres, up eight percent from the previous year. USDA estimated preliminary bearing acreage for 2020 is up about seven percent from 2019 at 1.26 million acres.
Steadily increasing almond yields resulting from better and more efficient management translate to increased nutrient removal in the harvested crop. Almond kernels are rich in nutrients, and significant amounts are removed in every harvest. University of California-Davis lists nutrient removal per acre at 65-70 pounds of nitrogen, 7-8 pounds of phosphorus, and 75-80 pounds of potassium per 1,000 pounds of harvested kernels.3 Growers should monitor soil test and leaf nutrient contents to make sure nutrients are maintained at proper levels for their yield expectations. Increased kernel harvests are a good reminder to do a review of your almond nutrient budget to maintain high yields, optimize nutrient- and water-use efficiency, avoid soil depletion below critical levels, and protect environmental resources.
1USDA-NASS. 2020 California Almond Subjective Forecast. May 2020. http://www.almonds.com/sites/default/files/content/attachments/2020_SubjectiveForecast.pdf
2 USDA-NASS. 2019 California Almond Acreage Report. April 2020. http://www.almonds.com/sites/default/files/content/attachments/2019_AcreageReport.pdf