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Naval orange worm (NOW) in pistachio image

May/June 2024
Growers provide insight into most pressing pests and diseases
By Debbie Eisele

Tree nut growers across the nation are prepared to tackle another season that may be filled with challenges from pests and diseases. A recent survey conducted by National Nut Grower shed light on the most prevalent issues, concerns and the type of support being sought to combat these hurdles.

Crops challenges

Almonds, pecans, pistachios and walnuts are among the primary crops grown by respondents. However, a notable diversity in crops was also observed among survey participants, with some growers also cultivating melons and other varieties.

When asked about the most significant pest challenges in recent years, a myriad of issues emerged.

2024 Pest and Disease Survey Report Download image

Among the surveyed growers, 78% reported challenges with birds, which can cause significant damage to nut crops. Aphids was noted as a persistent problem in orchards by 61% of participants. The notorious navel orangeworm (NOW) stood out as a primary concern due to its potential devastation by 57% of respondents. Additional challenges included mites (13%) and various beetles (26%).

Disease management is also a significant concern for tree nut growers. Over the past couple of years, they have been affected by a range of diseases. Trunk diseases, including phytophthora, were reported by 19% of respondents. Scab was identified by 14% of growers as another concern.

Bacterial blast, affecting 9% of orchards, Botryosphaeria, a concern for 9% of growers, Phytophthora root rot, crown gall and various cankers were also mentioned by survey participants.

As 2024 continues, growers noted they anticipate continued challenges from diseases including phytophthora, which remains a concern with reports of new infections already emerging, noted by 5% of respondents; for scab, 5% expressed concerns about its impact on their orchards; and brown rot, rust and alternaria were also cited as potential threats.

2024 grower concerns

Many growers expressed continued worries about familiar foes. Birds, aphids and NOW remained at the top of the list, with 67%, 57% and 52% of respondents respectively expressing concern about these pests. Growers also said they anticipate challenges from pests like Japanese beetles (17%), mealybugs (9%), and leaffooted plant bugs (9%).


Support and solutions needed

Growers voiced that they need comprehensive support and information to combat these challenges. They expressed a desire for the latest research, management techniques and tools to effectively address pest issues. Additionally, there is a growing demand for organic alternatives to conventional pesticides, reflecting an industry-wide push towards sustainable practices.

“Any new solutions that might use less harmful pesticides,” said one survey participant.

Concerns about disease management were echoed by a grower who stated: “Trunk diseases, namely phytophthora new treatments, management techniques or chemicals to control or eradicate the disease.”

In addressing disease concerns, growers shared that they seek information on a range of topics, from fungicide trials to control measures. They expressed a desire for updated research, effective treatments and guidance on best practices. Additionally, there is a call for greater awareness and support in combating diseases like phytophthora and scab.

As tree nut growers gear up for the challenges of the 2024 season, collaboration, innovation and access to timely information will be key. By addressing the concerns highlighted in the survey and providing comprehensive support, the industry can work together towards sustainable pest and disease management practices.


Debbie Eisele is the editorial director for the Specialty Ag Division at Great American Media Services. Publications: Fruit Growers News, Vegetable Growers News, Organic Grower, National Nut Grower, Spudman, Produce Processing, Greenhouse Product News, Big Grower, Hemp Production News, Cannabis Product News

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