Last week we planted our new almond orchard! We put 2,665 trees into the ground on 20 acres. Though it’s only been about a week, these trees have a good start.
As you may have read in previous articles, we do a lot of work to prepare the soil in a new orchard in order to give the trees an environment in which to thrive. Healthy, biologically active soil is key to tree growth and development. Luckily, the land on which we planted these almond trees gave us a head start. The acreage was fallow for several years. Upon initial visual inspection of the soil’s structural appearance, the soil looked average. Rachel, Farmer Al’s assistant and soil tester extraordinaire, was pleased to find that organic matter and organic carbon were at high levels. Letting fields fallow is a common practice for building soil health and we were pleased to find validation of this practice at our new acreage.
In this almond orchard and in all of the newly planted fruit orchards, we are implementing a new irrigation system- underground drip tape. Most of our established orchards use either above ground micro-emitters or above ground drip tape. With underground drip tape, we hope to reduce the evaporation losses of water associated with above ground irrigation systems and reduce our water needs.
The variety of almonds we have planted is a self-pollinating tree called Independence. But, as we are ever interested in fostering habitats for beneficial insects and pollinators, we are excited to partner with Project Apis m. Their “Seeds for Bees” program provides diverse cover crop seed to almond growers, to serve as forage for honeybees and native bees. Project Apis m. will create a custom seed mix with low moisture requirements and staggered flowering, so the bees will have ample forage when they need it.
We’ll have more updates on our almond orchard in the future but we don't expect to see a harvest until 2021. As the saying goes, patience is a virtue.