Date of Award

12-2011

Degree Name

MS in Agriculture - Crop Science

Department

Horticulture and Crop Science

Advisor

Mary Pedersen

Abstract

Almonds are one of the first commercial nut trees to bloom in early spring and thus are susceptible to temperature patterns prior to and during bloom which affect bloom timing, bloom length, pollination and nut set. Data used in this project include yearly dates of 90% bloom from 1996-2006, bloom length in days and final crop yields in pounds per tree for Nonpareil and Mission varieties. Data were collected from the University of California Cooperative Extension reports on the 1993-2006 Regional Almond Variety Trials in Butte, San Joaquin and Kern Counties. Temperature pattern models in the form of Chill Hours (Chill Hour Model), Chill Units (Chill Unit Model), Chill Portions (Chill Portion Model) and Growing Degree Hours (GDH°) (Heat Model) prior to bloom were used to predict the date of 90% bloom for each variety, site and year. Temperature model results were compared to averaged actual dates of 90% bloom by site and variety used to predict bloom timing (Calendar Model). The relationship between bloom length in days and GDH° during bloom and the relationship between bloom length, GDH° during bloom and final crop yields were also evaluated. The average error in predicting the 90% bloom date for both Nonpareil and Mission was smaller using the Calendar Model compared to the four temperature pattern models. The Chill Portion model did not have significantly higher average error in predicting the date of 90% bloom than the Calendar model in Nonpareil. The Chill Unit and Chill Portion models had smaller errors in predicting 90% bloom date than the Chill Hour or GDH° model in Mission. GDH° during bloom was positively correlated with bloom length. GDH° during the first four days of Nonpareil bloom was significantly correlated with crop yields, with each additional GDH° during bloom correlated with a 0.4 lbs./tree increase in crop yield. Further research is needed on specific temperature thresholds and their relationship to physiological changes during almond bloom and pollination. The practice of monitoring chilling and heat accumulation will allow growers to anticipate bloom, prepare to optimize bee activity during bloom, and plan for possible crop yield variations due to adverse weather conditions during bloom in almonds.

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