Cultivating Success: Almond Nutrient Management Q&A

Ask An Agronomist: Unraveling the Secrets of Growing Almonds with Agronomist Christi Falen

January 25, 2024
3 mins
Christi Falen
Agronomy Technical Services Manager, ICL Growing Solutions NA

Why is growing almonds considered a long game, and what factors contribute to the longevity of almond trees?

Growing almonds is a long-term commitment because almond trees can live for 20 years or more. Ensuring the longevity of almond orchards requires careful management to yield the best crops not only in the present but also in the future. Factors such as proper nutrient and irrigation management, and strategic planning play crucial roles in sustaining almond orchards over an extended period.  

How does balanced nutrition impact almond production, and what role do agronomists play in achieving this balance?

Balanced nutrition is essential for almond production, just as it is for any crop. Agronomists collaborate with growers to determine the specific nutritional needs of the crop based on soil and tissue samples. They consider both macro and micronutrients to optimize the overall nutrition profile, ensuring the health and productivity of almond trees.  

Can you elaborate on the significance of macronutrients like nitrogen and potassium in almond production?

 Nitrogen (N) and potassium (K) are critical macronutrients needed in larger quantities for almond production. The variability of K levels in California almond orchards, along with the impact of moisture on tree utilization, poses challenges. Ongoing research explores technologies to quantify and manage potassium levels effectively. Proper management of these macronutrients is essential for optimal almond tree health and yield.  

What role do micronutrients play in almond production, and how can innovations like Nova ELEVATE™ enhance yields?

 Micronutrients play a crucial role in improving almond production by enhancing nitrogen-use efficiency, mitigating stress, and increasing yield. Nova ELEVATE™, a water-soluble fertilizer containing micronutrients like cobalt and molybdenum, has shown promising results. Research conducted by Dr. Patrick Brown, Professor of Plant Nutrition at the University of California, Davis, demonstrated a 20% increase in yield with small-scale applications of the micronutrients in Nova ELEVATE™, emphasizing the potential benefits of micronutrient innovations.  

 How do micronutrients help almond trees withstand stress, and what are some common stressors in almond orchards?

Micronutrients aid almond trees in coping with various stressors such as dry conditions, frost, and heat. For instance, boron toxicity during stressful conditions can severely damage almond trees. Nova ELEVATE™ and balanced nutrition contribute to tree health, helping mitigate the effects of stress and ensuring the resilience of almond orchards.  

Can you shed light on the importance of nutrient management in the long-term sustainability of almond orchards?

Nutrient management is critical for the sustained health and productivity of almond orchards over the years. Post-harvest applications of nutrients, such as nitrogen, potassium, and calcium, play a crucial role in tree recovery and set the stage for robust growth in the following year. Additionally, innovative practices, including the use of cover crops, compost, and products like Polysulphate®, contribute to the long-term sustainability of almond orchards.  

How can growers optimize nutrient use efficiency and reduce costs in almond production?

Growers can optimize nutrient use efficiency by adopting tools and technologies for real-time monitoring of nutrient and moisture content. Combining these technologies with standard practices like soil testing and tissue analysis helps understand baseline nutrient requirements. This integrated approach enhances nutrient use efficiency, ultimately saving costs in the long run.  

Can you share insights into the role of Polysulphate® (polyhalite) in almond production and its benefits for almond trees?

Polysulphate®, a natural, OMRI-approved mineral, contains potassium, sulfur, calcium, and magnesium in gradual-release form. It provides a steady nutrient release, promoting tree health and overall productivity, particularly beneficial during the dormant period while contributing to the long-term success of almond orchards.  

What advice do you have for almond growers looking to ensure the health and productivity of their orchards for the long term?

It is important to have a balanced nutrition plan that considers not only the current year but stretches into the future. This involves leveraging products like Polysulphate®, adopting cost-effective management strategies, and embracing technologies for real-time monitoring. By prioritizing the long game and implementing sustainable practices, almond growers can move towards a healthier and more productive agricultural future. 


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About our Agronomist

Christi Falen, ICL Growing Solutions, Agronomy Technical Services Manager, brings over 25 years of experience including roles in university extension, plant nutrition, and crop protection. Christi earned a BS in Natural Resource Management from the University of Alaska and an MS in Soil Science from the University of Idaho.