By Dr. Thomas T. Yamashita
From the moment an almond tree flower blooms, each blossom has at most 96 hours during which the flower is receptive to pollination. If Mother Nature is not so cooperative, cool and/or wet spring weather will minimize the opportunity for effective pollination. Further, most trees host reasonable bud populations. A mature Nonpareil tree will typically hold roughly 350,000 flower buds, each requiring about 1.8 Kcal of energy for the spring push, or about 611,000 Kcal of energy to theoretically set all the buds.
However, almond trees only harvest a small fraction of this energy, due to a variety of factors.
Depending on the health status of the orchard, most trees will be able to effectively utilize only about 25,000 to 30,000 Kcal, or enough to set between 7,150 and 8,575 nuts per tree, or a corresponding 1,770 to 2,125 pounds of almonds per acre. In this realm there are many influencing factors such as:
- Nitrogen fertilization and resultant Kcal drain from energy of nitrogen assimilation
- Effects of heat stress-induced shut down of photosynthesis the season before, taking away from energy and carbon harvest
- Water stress reduction of photosynthesis
- Natural and induced attrition of the root system thereby limiting balanced mineral harvest and production sites for important cytokinin hormones
- Other miscellaneous causes
Although more detailed analysis of these factors is beyond the scope of this article, all can be summarized under the general heading of “Energy Relations.” The more intricate and defined processes that are affected in almond set resides in the (1) germination of the pollen grain and (2) rate at which the pollen tube grows within the 96 hour window to a position near the ovary for transfer of nuclei and induction of positive fertilization.
Thus, agents that increase the (a) germination percentage of pollen grains and (b) rate of pollen tube growth will increase the percentage of effective pollination and set. If the technology being used also increases the degree and extent of honeybee activity, pollination and set will be additionally enhanced.
We have shown significant improvements in almond harvest yields through the careful application of Fusion 360 products.
Controlled experiments as well as full-scale farm use have demonstrated that Fusion 360 products applied between 5% and 20% bloom secures a consistent increase in set and yield through selective nutritional enrichment. Over the last several decades of study, yield improvement ranged from a low of 10% (in excellent pollination seasons) to more than 137% (in sub-optimal pollination seasons). Essentially, such treatments provide a small boost in already ideal conditions, but a massive increase versus untreated trees in more challenging scenarios.
The pollination and yield enhancement technology does not rely upon synthetic stimulants or growth regulators. Rather, it addresses the heart of effective pollination deterrence: ensuring that balanced minerals, selective complex carbon units and metabolic accelerators are applied at just the right time to tip the scale in the grower’s direction.