Almond Board of California — Salinity poses a significant challenge to almond growers in certain areas and can greatly impact the performance of an orchard over time, costing producers in lost income. According to Mae Culumber, nut crop advisor from the University of California Cooperative Extension, almond trees are salt-sensitive and understanding soil salt levels and water sources become crucial even before planting an orchard.
There are two types of salt stress that impact almond trees — osmotic stress and specific iron toxicity. “It’s important to know the type of problem that you’re dealing with, particularly when you have a change in water source, to know what the composition of salts is,” Culumber said.
Osmotic stress arises from salt accumulation, hampering water and nutrient uptake, leading to reduced vigor and early yield loss. If salt accumulates over time, specific iron toxicity becomes evident, causing the tree to absorb salts and accumulate in the roots, resulting in necrotic leaves. This damages the tree’s ability to photosynthesize and nourish developing kernels.
Culumber said maintaining a balance between salinity and amendments is essential and regular soil sampling helps decide between water or soil applied amendments. “Annual sampling is recommended for the soil, and we want to sample at both depth and the top zero to three inches,” Culumber said. “That will help us decide whether or not we’re going to use water applied or soil applied amendments.”
A newly introduced management guide provides insight into different salt types, their impacts on almonds and sources of stress. The Salinity Management Guide for Almonds, written by Culumber and co-produced by the Almond Board of California and UC ANR, simplifies complex calculations, and helps growers develop customized strategies based on their soil and water analyses.
“The guide tries to break it down into individual steps and tell you exactly what measurements that you need from those soil and water analysis to make those calculations. We tried to make a complicated subject of calculating these amendments into something that everyone can do based on looking at that information.”
This comprehensive guide offers a solution-driven approach to tackling salinity issues, empowering almond growers to make informed decisions and implement effective strategies for successful yields. The resource is available in a physical copy that can be ordered through ABC’s Grower Resources order form, and as a downloadable PDF on Almonds.com.