Century Orchards grows 700ha of almonds at Loxton in South Australia’s Riverland, with about half their trees Nonpareil, with the balance mostly a mix of Carmel, Peerless, Price and Monterey.
All trees are on drippers and 100ha of their orchard is younger trees, with some of these only recently coming into production.
Three quarters of Century’s almonds go to export markets including Europe, China, India and the Middle East, with the rest sold domestically.
Century technical officer Gemma Nunn says 2022-23 has been a very difficult growing season, with above average rainfall and very high disease pressure. In most seasons the main disease issues for Century Orchards are hull rot and rust.
“We normally spray roughly every three weeks, whether its fungicide or nutrient sprays depending on the season and disease pressure. This season we’ve had consistent rainfall events, which makes scheduling sprays very difficult,” Ms Nunn says.
“Rust has been a major problem this season, mainly in the older trees. It gets into the tops and it can be difficult to get good spray coverage up there in our older taller trees,” she says.
“We’ve also seen hull rot in the majority of our varieties this season, not just in Nonpareil, where it would normally be the biggest issue.
“We also wouldn’t normally see hull rot in our younger trees like we did this season.”
As technical officer, she opted to use SEGURIS Flexi.
“We had seen data on it at the Almonds Australia conference and were interested to see how it stacked up against existing products in our rotation,” Ms Nunn explains.
“We used the it at hull split in late January on about 100ha of predominantly younger trees, but also on some older blocks,” she says.
“Other fungicide and nutrient sprays were applied at other times as per their normal program.
“The data collected showed a noticeable difference in disease levels on blocks where SEGURIS Flexi was applied.
“We put on one application of SEGURIS Flexi at 125 mL/100L at hull split and compared it to our current hull split fungicide as well as some other options.”
Ms Nunn says spraying SEGURIS Flexi at hull split definitely helped suppress hull rot compared to the blocks sprayed with other products at that timing.
She also highlighted the increased flexibility offered by SEGURIS Flexi compared to other products in the market. With sustainability at the forefront of Century’s operations, fungicides with a single mode of action are a major advantage for their spray program.
“The single mode of action means it’s more host specific, so there’s less impact on non-target organisms. It also allows for easier rotation in our spray program, so hopefully resistance can be kept at bay for a longer period,” Ms Nunn added.
“The 14- day withholding period is also great, especially in our younger varieties, which are harvested first. It gives us more flexibility than other products with 21- or 28-day withholding periods.”
Ms Nunn is also planning further trials to look at the most effective way to incorporate SEGURIS Flexi into their spray program in coming seasons.
“Any yield benefits can’t really be quantified this season as the main impacts of improved hull rot suppression won’t be seen until next season,” she says.
“We’ll sit down after harvest and have a look at price comparisons and seasonal conditions, but SEGURIS Flexi will potentially be a bigger part of our spray program next season.”