Almond growers know nitrogen is important to yields, and decades of research help to inform growers on the 4 R’s: Right rate, time, place, and material.
But that doesn’t make balancing nitrogen easy.
Figuring out the right rate can be a complex calculation, which is why the University of California Cooperative Extension provides growers with resources to help fill out Nitrogen Management Plan Worksheets.
Filling out those worksheets was the subject at a recent field day in Chowchilla.
Growers should carefully consider available nitrogen left over in the soil, the type of nitrogen they’re applying, and orchard age, among other factors, according to UC’s Phoebe Gordon, a University of California orchard systems advisor for Madera and Merced counties.
“If your trees need more nitrogen, they’ll tell you with soil tests or vigor,” Gordon said. “First year trees can get burned with too much nitrogen.”
Right material isn’t as simple as looking at material type: for instance, when it comes to compost, Gordon said growers should get compost tested to know what it’s nitrogen content is.
Testing should include soil beyond one foot deep, Gordon said.
“If you’re only testing the top foot of soil, you’re going to be underestimating nitrogen availability,” she said.
UC experts also shared information on nitrogen applications for young trees.
Cover crops can provide lots of nitrogen availability in the first year, but that nitrogen must be in the root zone, she said.
Gordon, who is based in Madera, can be reached at (559) 675-7879 and at email@example.com.
To see a Nitrogen Management Plan Worksheet filled out with numbers as an example, open the image below.